FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Alfred Hitchcock |||
Alfred Hitchcock

This is perhaps an obvious choice, however, most people tend to overlook the Master of Suspense’s early work as well as the relevancy of his last film as a key element in the continuing transition and development of the genre he defined.

One of Hitchcock's early triumphs, this predecessor to the mistaken identity man on the run scenario Hitchcock turned to time and again, stars Robert Donat as the innocent wrongly accused of murder and pursued by both the police and enemy spies. This is the first example of Hitchcock’s mastery over the suspense tale, giving us a glimpse of the greatness to come.

Considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest works, this story of two men who meet by chance on a train and frivolously discuss swapping murders is a prime example of a common Hitchcock theme of the man who suddenly finds himself within a nightmare world over which he has no control. You can easily see how this film lays the ground work for the more popular “North by Northwest”.

Alfred Hitchcock's final film is a light-hearted thriller involving phony psychics, kidnappers and organized religion, all of which cross paths in the search for a missing heir and a fortune in jewels. Here, Hitchcock has brilliantly developed his signature form to include the now common, and often overused, device of plot twist, after plot twist, after plot twist. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht


Epic Movie

By BrianOrndorf

January 27th, 2007

The worst film of 2007? The race is closed, my friends. "Epic Movie," with its collection of terrible jokes, embarrassing performances, and lazy screenwriting, sets the bar for offensive cinema in the same fashion that "Date Movie" did in 2006. I write this will the most authentic amount of confusion: who finds this junk funny?

Epic Movie

I realize 2007 is very young. The year is still getting used to its legs with eleven more months of moviegoing to consume and digest, yet on January 26th, I have witnessed what is assured to be the worst film I will behold all year. Remember "Date Movie?" Well, the geniuses behind that screaming dagger of cinema have returned less than a year later to bring the world "Epic Movie."

Late last year, I underwent an experimental brain-wiping surgery that effectively took out most of the memories associated with seeing "Date Movie." I do recall a drill-like pain from watching the picture, and yawing over what directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer pathetically considered satire. Mostly, "Date" consisted of a mild tweaking of already known quantities; a poorly stitched quilt of references to pop culture highs and lows that wasn’t even close to passing for a feature film.

"Epic Movie" is crafted at precisely the same level of imagination, only this time romantic comedy pawns are pushed aside to poke a stick at recent blockbusters. It might be called "Epic Movie," but the pointed finger of parody lurches to such recent fare as "Nacho Libre," "Click," and "Borat." Not really the stuff of epics, but just writing that makes me feel foolish for putting any trickle of thought into this monstrosity of a film.

The central product of satire here is "Chronicles of Narnia," referred to as "Gnarnia" in the film. "Epic" uses the fantastical plot to style their own sticky web of lampoons, taking four "orphans" (a sincerely unfunny Kal Penn, grating Adam Campbell, a fraudulent Jayma Mays, and nondescript Faune Chamber) from their sullen lives to the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka (Crispin Glover), where they find the childlike owner is a madman who wants to use their body parts for his candy. Escaping to Gnarnia, the group meets the "White Bitch" (Jennifer Coolidge), who wants to rid her land of the foursome before they ascend to the throne with the help of "lion-man" Aslo (a hurtin’ for cash Fred Willard) and the diminutive creature, "Harry Beaver."

The above plot is really a loose idea of what the film is about. When dealing with a picture such as "Epic Movie," there's no time for structure, they just want to set up a loose base of operations to shoot the spoofs from. Opening with a "Da Vinci Code" jab with David Carradine as the dead curator ("Kill Bill" to this, Jesus...), the film jets off to cover "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Superman Returns," "Scarface," the "Harry Potter" series, and "X-Men." Of course, the latter offers a chance to spy Carmen Electra painted up all blue and lustfully like Mystique, so is this movie all that bad?

Dear lord, yes.

Seltzer and Friedberg fancy themselves a hipper version of the classic ZAZ team ("Airplane," "Naked Gun"), but they lack a basic understanding of gracious comedy. All these filmmakers want to accomplish with "Epic Movie" is an endless series of pratfalls, urine and fart jokes, crotch wallops, and dated hipster references (would you believe there's a "Punk’d" joke here? Not to mention a "Cribs" parody too. Take that, 2003!) to temporarily please their hypothetical target demo: drooling pre-teens who have suffered horrible brain injuries from skateboard accidents.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing in this torturous picture is funny, but heavens, the directors do try. They throw everything at the screen, including a "Snakes on a Plane" sequence (it might help their efforts to pick a film people have actually seen), a Kanye West Katrina plea send-up, and a shoddily produced "Lazy Sunday" rap parody with "Captain Jack Swallow" and the pirates. Oddly, nearly every scene appears to end with some character hip-hop dancing to a recent pop hit. I’m not able to explain that one away.

"Epic Movie" even pinches from the "Scary Movie" franchise by instructing actress Mays to put on her best, borderline litigious Anna Faris impression. A spoof spoofing a spoof? Did the world just swallow itself?

Like "Date Movie," "Epic Movie" is a miserably scattershot, heavy-wheezing, comedically-challenged waste of time. The headache squeezes like a vice when one considers how pleasurable this genre can be when the time and effort is placed into razzing worthy subjects with silly, considered humor. Pratfalls and the like are great fun, but not in the lazy service of filmmaking half-wits who don't go any further than Perez Hilton, MySpace, and MTV for their pool of jokes.

My rating: F