WORST OF THE FEST (RUNNER-UP)
In the wake of Crash‘s 2005 Oscar win, there was a rash of similarly structured (and similarly heavy-handed) multi-story, big cast explorations of The Way We Live Now: The Air I Breathe, Powder Blue, American Gun, etc. And if you thought we were done with those, well, I’ve got bad news for you. Writer/director/actor Tim Blake Nelson (who, once upon a time, made great movies like Eye of God) crafts a New York ensemble piece that plays less like drama and more like a checklist: he tackles cancer, drug abuse, alcoholism, self-mutilation, teen sex, adultery, and random violent crime, all with sledgehammer subtlety and comical overkill. It’s 90 minutes of people reciting speeches at each other, and the fact that those people are played by actors as skilled as Glenn Close, Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Michael K. Williams, Mickey Sumner, Gretchen Moll, and Corey Stoll makes it all the more wasteful and frustrating.
WORST OF THE FEST
Look, make a movie about a depraved sociopath if you want to, but at least do it with some artistry. There’s little of that — or wit, or insight, or narrative logic — to be found in the latest from cult director Adrian Garcia Bogliano, in which a henpecked nebbish kidnaps a teenage girl and spends a few days brutalizing and humiliating her. Of course, she gets her gory revenge, but in about the silliest manner imaginable; on the way there, we’re treated to sloppy storytelling, ickily leering camerawork, lousy makeup and effects, and several inexplicable plot turns. Extreme cinema fans may well glom on to its gory aesthetic and general nihilism, but it left this viewer wanting a shower.