Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Low Points

There are some actors that are not even worth mentioning here because besides being sprinkled with a bit of luck here and there, their entire careers are low points....(cough) travolta....(gag Robin Williams). There are, however a good list of somewhat respectable actors who have actually won oscars and participated in productions that are unexcusably horrendous. In fact, the oscars should just end because although they may give an actor a boost in the payroll department, they certainly don't give a boost in the integrity department. The following is a list of low points from some of the stage and screen's finest.

10. Harvey Keitel - Monkey Trouble

We Still Love you Harvey

Those who know and love Harvey know that he has had his share of ups and downs. He had already starred in both Mean Streets and Taxi Driver and was still rejected entrance into the actor's studio. He never quite made it over the edge of obscurity in the 70's starring in such films as Fingers, Mother, Juggs and Speed,Paul Schrader's Blue Collar, and the very first episode of Kojack, but managed to become an indie darling in the 90's after the entire Tarantino thing happened. He was willing and eager to get buck naked in front of the camera and starred opposite Madonna in the travesty that was Dangerous Game. Yet in the middle of his resurgence he took the role of the evil simian keeper in Monkey Trouble.

Now it has maybe never been stated publicly but the monkey film is a legitimate genre and has been for many years. Ronald Reagen made his Bonzo Films, Clint had his Anywhich Way period, there is Going Ape with Tony Danza and even thrillers like Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear, but why did Harvey Take this role in a rather subpar film in a subpar genre? A man's gotta eat right?

(An interesting side note is that the little girl in Monkey Trouble was played by a very young Thora Birch who went on to get naked and seduce the son of a nazi in American Beauty)

9. The cast of Species (known internationally as Feces)

Sex with Aliens has Never Been Hotter

The cast of this film has had it's fair share of low points, Ben Kingsley in Bloodrayne (a film that got it's first bad review after the first draft of the script was written), Forrest Whitaker in Battlefield Earth, Michael Madsen (the poor man's Tom Sizemore and vise versa) in Free Willy, but those all came after this ill conceived sci fi flick that probably gets a thumbs up from most dudes because of the relieving yourself to a naked and hostile alien factor. This film is also a low point for artist and noted satanist H.R. Giger who basically crapped out the alien design for this one. I am sorry to say that this is even a lower point for Giger than creating the microphone stand for the singer from Korn. One interesting side note is that shortly after making this film Alfred Molina began a strict diet of triple whoppers with cheese and extreme big gulps, leading to his role as Diego Rivera in Frida.

Whitaker's character is unbearable in this film. He plays a guy who is employed by the government because he can feel the emotions of what happened in the room when he visits crime scenes. He was cast in this role because in real life he suffers from the same disorder. It is called Hyper Acute Predictability.

You can't be too hard on this film though, it is about a horny alien in the body of a supermodel who is trying to get laid so she can spawn an alien child that will spread his seed all over the planet and ultimately create a much better species than humans. Now that I think about it, this film should be removed from the list all together.

8. Faye Dunaway - Cougar Club

Ummm.....third from the right

This direct to video gem is about a couple of guys who start praying down on older women while trying to work their way up in a corrupt law firm. They begin a club that enrolls guys from all over who are interested in satisfying lonely, rich and frightening looking women who look like posters for the dangers of plastic surgery. It is a film that is so ridiculous, it is pointless to even get into the plot, but the shocking thing is the participation of Faye Dunaway who is the queen of the cougars and supplies the boys with the aging and rotting meat. The amazing thing is how the women embrace the term cougar, is that what you would want to be known as?

7. Robert DeNiro - Rocky and Bullwinkle

What's up with the Nazi garb?

Let's take a good solid look at DeNiro. He was one of the great actors of the 70's and starred in numerous films that will go down as the greatest and most groundbreaking performances in history of film. Many film critics and historians have cited Raging Bull as the greatest film of the second half of the last century and his performance in that film jump started the entire get fat for an oscar stunt that people seem to feel is still daring. The truth is however, that dodging the phone calls from you personal trainer and buying stock in Krispy Kreme being seen as an act of heroism is....well......heroic.

You would think that somebody with the clout and life experience that he has had would allow Deniro the privileges in life that many could only dream of, the company of leaders and kings, exclusive treatment and fine dining anywhere on the planet, any woman he wants, entrance to secret societies and access to secrets that are only rumors to common folk. You would think of the things that you would do with his status, and the things that you would be into. Now let's have a look at what he is into.

Now, don't get me wrong, I grew up on Rocky and Bullwinkle and think it is a damn good time, but supposedly Deniro championed this film and it was made because of his enthusiasm towards it. Having a look at the work over the last two decades that was not mailed in, it was phoned in and not even personally, he had his secretary do it (The Fan, Night And the City, Ronin, Men of Honor, the list is extensive), it is nearly impossible to think of him having enthusiasm for anything. I cannot help but think of him stuffing his mouth with popcorn while uncontrollably laughing like a total gumba while watching Dudley DoRight. The rest of us have to just go back to the grind each morning knowing that this is the type of thing that floats the boat of society's elite. Cyanide anyone?

6. Patrick Ewing - The Exorcist Part 3

Scariest moment in NBA history

It could be said that his low point was when he had to get on the stand and confess that he was serviced by hookers in the back room of an Atlanta strip club in a trial that was linking the club to the mob, but then there is the Exorcist 3 in which he was given the role of the angel of death. Now, it is a strange casting decision, but keep in mind who directed the film, William Peter Blatty, author of the book the exorcist. The popularity of the Exorcist projected him from behind the typewriter into the director's chair and gave us such masterpieces as The Ninth Configuration. The Exorcist 3 was promising to be the scariest film since the exorcist and therefore tried to recreate some of the scariest moments from the first film. Patrick Ewing was in the dream sequence and had huge wings and his head appeared to be sowed on. To add insult to injury, one of the other angels was played by male model Fabio (who went on to get his nose broken on a rollercoaster by getting hit in the face with a flying goose). All I know is that Ewing retired without a ring and this film is most likely why.

I saw this in the theater and was pretty new to the entire Exorcist thing at the time. Coincidentally, my friends older brother was there and happened to sit in the row behind us. I watched it and was trying to be scared and convince myself that this movie was good. I thought I had a solid thumbs up on this one until after the movie in the lobby, my buddy's older brother informed us that it was an utter pile of crap......and that was that.

5. Peter O'toole - King Ralph

Oh wait, he was in King Ralph...We're gonna need that back Mr. O'Toole

Let's face it, John Goodman kicks ass. He was great as the aww shucks, blue collar Satan in Barton Fink, the crazed Vietnam vet and bowler in the Big Lebowski, and the father of a dysfunctional family in Todd Solondz's Storytelling (although Robert Wisdom as the pompous creative writing teacher in the first act is pretty much impossible to top), but for every good thing he has done he has done ten bad things. There is a group of films he has been part of where the punch line of the entire film is that he is fat. There is no finer example of this than in the 1991 film King Ralph where he is the heir to the throne of England...........and he's fat.

Now putting Goodman aside, the real tragedy/travesty of this film is that it has Peter O'toole in it. Now it could very well be argued that his low point was his performance in Caligula, but who are we kidding, that movie kicks some major ass. It was an ill conceived production from the beginning being made in a time when porn kings were stretching for cinematic legitimacy. Hugh Heffner gave an honest attempt at it with the production of Roman Polanski's snorefest Macbeth, but Bob Guccioni just couldn't bring himself to not insert some porn in there. When the director would rap for the day, Guccioni would sneak in and shoot some porn scenes and have the editor sneak them in causing director Tinto Brass to rip his hair out. What other film has Malcolm Mcdowell fist a man and his new bride on his wedding day? Need I say more?

O'toole is a screen legend and was given the honorary oscar a few years back (which is pretty much the equivalent of kick in the balls), but he will never win a straight oscar for a performance. The reason why is that his performances in Lawrence of Arabia and the ill fated Jodorwsky film the Rainbow Thief is not enough for him to be forgiven of the sin that was King Ralph.

4. Dennis Hopper - Super Mario Brothers

A Low point for Dennis is truly a Low Point

You gotta love Dennis. Rumour has it that the original script to Blue Velvet had him rape Kyle Mclachlan in the field while he plays the Candy Colored Clown in the background, but it was seen as a little too much. For our sake though, Kyle's anal hymen was no longer in tact after this seen and that is just that. Dennis can do whatever he wants and it somehow does not tarnish our image of him. He can take the crappiest roles, direct subpar films, and collect art that looks like smeared dog crap and we love him for it. One of my favorite things he did was when directing colors (anyone know why the hell he was given the job of directing a movie about south central LA?) he somehow left extended scenes in the final cut of Sean Penn lifting weights to bad synth rock. I am still a little unclear on how this drove the plot forward.

This entry is a bit of a gas for me because many consider his role in Waterworld to be his low point, but who are we kidding, that movie ruled. Costner with gills? He should be able to breathe underwater in all films. Knowing that may cause me not to dry heave when I see his image on a poster for an upcoming film. The video game movie is at the nadir of all film genres but they must be doing something right, they make them all the time. It is still hard to think of them making a live action Super Mario Brothers movie, but they did and our boy Dennis played King Koopa. Although it is a definite low point, you can't let it taint your image of him. He probably got a Goya for his living room out of it, and you cannot expect much out of him. After all, my favorite moment from him was in the Corman directed Jack Nicholson written movie The Trip when Fonda with a head full of acid stumbles into Dennis' drug induced harum after stumbling across elves dancing in the forest. Hopper tells him something like, "Far out man, your in the pocket, but you can't stay here cuz I got all kinds of stuff laying around". A great cinematic moment and Dennis has and will be forgiven because of it.

3. Kirstin Scott Thomas - Under the Cherry Moon

The Most Androgynous Man in History

Quite possibly the most homoerotic film ever produced, this film introduced the world to future Oscar winner Kirstin Scott Thomas as a rich girl who could have anything she wants and somehow falls under the spell of the most androgynous man in the history of the world. You know you are in trouble on this one when the end of the opening credits says "directed by Prince". The two main characters of the film are Prince and Jerome Benton of the Time, who, instead of being Morris Days' service boy bringing him a mirror and throwing chics in dumpsters at his beckoned call, is Prince's slave who does things for him like put rose pedals in the water as he bathes and arranges for him to screw and swindle rich older women. These two can hardly have a conversation without their lips almost touching and their relationship is questionable at best. In a nutshell Kirstin Scott Thomas is a rich whore who actually falls in love with Prince until he is shot by her father. The scene where Prince is shot and stumbles to his death is among the best death scenes ever.

This film is a great example of somebody getting cinematic power who has no business dabbling in the medium because he managed to capitalize on his initial popularity with a successful film. I think everyone around Prince was afraid to say that the movie Purple Rain may have made money, but it was far from good (kind of like how people were afraid to tell Costner that he had lost his mind while making the Postman). The lessons I took from that one were that the key to a girl's heart is a fist to her face, and don't make the mistake of having children because if you do, they will live in your basement for their entire lives, waking you up at some ungodly hour each night when they roll in on a purple motorcyle wearing tight leather, lace and mascara.

Thank the Lord that these films were made though, the world is a better place because of it.

2. Jeremy Irons - Dungeons and Dragons

Wow this must have been some paycheck

I suppose to fairly review this film I would have had to stay awake through it, but this early days of CG classic has to be the low point for Jeremy Irons. Forget the fact that it has Marlon Wayans dressed in some ridiculous medeival garb running around acting like he is in a sketch from in living color, this is definitely Irons' show as the bad guy. The first five minutes that set up the plot have some of the best overacting that he has ever done (imagine that). It was as if the director was so stunned that he actually had Irons that he just let him go with the material and was too intimidated to make any suggestions. In all fairness, a strong performance from Irons could not have saved this one.

While I was watching this, my wife asked me what D&D is and I said, "A game that Joel Tacorda has based his life upon". Enough said....

1. Raul Julia - Street Fighter

He deserved better

This is truly a tragedy. Having done films such as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Romero, Raul Julia had a respectable yet somewhat spotty career (for now, we will just forget that the Addams Family ever happened), but the last role he played before his untimely death was that of M. Bison in the live action Street Fighter movie. (Rumor has it that the character in the game who looks exactly like Mike Tyson was supposed to be called M. Tyson, but being at the zenith of his ass kicking career Tyson would have sued Capcom's balls off so they changed the guy in the Nazi uniform's name to M. Bison and called the Tyson Character Balrog).In all fairness, it was a paycheck even though it was opposite Van Damme, but if he only knew that this would be his final work, I think he would have thought this out a little more.

....and just for kicks

0. Joel Tacorda - In search of Anger

That's your buddy

It could be said that the film he made for his political science class at Foothill College ( in which he turned into a producer that made Saul Zantz look uncircumsized and ended up with a result that made Al Jolson look politically correct but somehow wowed a multiracial crowd and made him rise to stardom in the class) would be his low point, but then came my film In Search of Anger several years later.

Tacorda spent his entire time in front of the camera taunting me and and saying how I am going to fail in finding legendary satanic filmmaker Kenneth Anger, while eating bad desserts at Denny's and reading books penned by Lloyd Kaufman. While shooting, he kept arguing that he has no desire to be in the film and was in LA to scout schools while being taken on my downward spiral/joyride that ultimately lead to Anger, but he ended up being the conflict in the film that was missing.

When I had cut together a few scenes and showed them to him he said, "This film makes me look like a complete asshole", and proceeded to act passively aggressive towards me for a few weeks. When I finally asked him what his problem was it came out in the same sort of tirade as when I once ripped on his Watchmen lithographs after a comic convention, "YOU ARE MAKING A FILM THAT MAKES ME LOOK LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE!!!" In all fairness Tacorda, I was just working with what you gave me. Much like the work of certain legendary animators the film was applauded and booed, but Tacorda was definitely the star. I can just add this to the list of things that he will go to the grave pissed off at me about.

One of my favorite conversations ever was with Tacorda when I was about 13. It went something like this:

Me - "I don't understand why you are mad at me..."

Tacorda - "Aaron.....that is part of the reason why...."


Joel said...

This list was very enjoyable until I found out that I was part of the list. All I can say is Mickey Rourke called and he wants his bad career choices back...

Francisco said...

The only reason why Raúl Juliá took the role as M. Bison was because of his grandchildren. He mentioned to his family that they offered him that role and his grandchildren went wild. They brought their Street Fighter II action figures and started screaming "That's great, grandpa! You are going to be him! And you are going to fight him! And you are going to do this move, and that move!" He couldn't say no to that movie after that.