When you see: 'Produced by Philip J. Roth, Directed by Philip J. Roth, Written by Philip J. Roth, you know you're in for trouble.
So it is with Total Reality and The Last Line of Defence. Rather than trash these movies with a thousand adjectives, better to mention a few of his other great works: Boa vs. Python, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Dragon Dynasty, Dragon Storm, Dragon Fighter, Phantom Force, Interceptor Force 2, Interceptors and so on.
The best way to describe these movies is with an analogy. Imagine you were shooting a film about basketball. Now, as every adolescent knows, you're only interested in the slam dunk [the finer details of how the ball made it to the net in the first place inconsequential] but even Philip J Roth knows he can't fill a movie with only that, so he inserts scintillating, connected dialogue like: "Pass me that ball." "Oh yeah, come and get it!" "Listen buddy, do you know who yer talking to?"
The woodenness of the cast in each of these films is a Roth trademark and makes Steven Segal look positively animated. The scenes seem to be ... well, they're difficult to describe. Imagine a clearly minor character who is never going to win the girl [Roth is nothing if not melodramatic]. This character puts his hand inside an erotic bomb which will destroy the universe, becomes all powerful, suddenly obeys stage directions to get angry and does so until told to switch it off and that's how it continues.
Now, some of you will see this as being in the genre of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, in other words, quite watchable in a macabre way and with a modicum of humour.
No, sorry, the Roth films are just plain bad, failing to engage the viewer in any significant way.
Not as bad though as my candidate for Worst Film of All Time: The Hottie and the Nottie, Executive Producer Paris Hilton, starring Paris Hilton. The tagline is "That's hot. That's not."
The plot is that there is a Hottie, Paris Hilton, who gets all the boys. Out of a sense of altruism, she refuses to go out and party unless her ugly ex-school chum, the Nottie, also gets a date but ... surprisingly, all the boys recoil from her.
[T]he film's disingenuousness is as transparent as executive producer Hilton's nightie, which she wears with more conviction than dialogue like, "A life without orgasms is like a world without flowers."
With it's opening weekend smash takings of $27,696, for an overall outlay of $8 million, one can only surmise that Hilton was trying to undershadow Gigli, which set a record for the biggest second-weekend drop in box office gross of any film in wide release since that statistic was kept.
Maybe we can agree, to an extent, on the most horrendous films but it's probably going to be tough to call the best movies ever. It completely depends, does it not, on what you see as a great movie.
For me it needs a blend of elements, no one element dominating - a bit of action [well, a lot really], believable and intelligent dialogue, wrily humorous moments, a romantic sub-plot which affects the main plot direction, actors who can act and who believe in what they're doing, great production values and with lines and scenes which remain with you ever afterwards, e.g. play it again, Sam.
Of the modern crop, I'd put Casino Royale right up there and from the olden day crop, perhaps The Third Man.