Woodshock

In Brief: A totally incoherent mess.

How much wood could a wood shock shock if a wood shock could shock wood? I know that statement makes no sense. However, in context of the movie Woodshock — which stars Kirsten Dunst — it makes all the sense in the world. Why? Because Woodshock is completely incoherent.

I was so underwhelmed after seeing the film, I told the studio representative at the critic’s screening that it was the worst movie ever done. And that’s ever with a capital E. No let’s make that EVER in complete caps.

That was two weeks ago. Since then I have mellowed somewhat and now no longer consider Woodshock to be the worst movie ever done. That isn’t exoneration. Not even close. The film is still — at best — an incoherent mess and a complete waste of a talented actress but it is not the worst movie ever done.

Did you see Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the Thai movie that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010? That is the worst movie ever done and I’m still flabbergasted that the judges could even stay awake through it much less give it the Palme d’Or.

But they did.

Anyway, I digress. And sadly, I’m not going to be very nice to this movie. It’s one I wanted to like and before I totally tear this one down, I’d like to encourage sisters and writer/directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy to continue to make movies and to try again. I did love — which I will note later — their cinematography, editing and music.

Dunst plays Theresa. At the film’s beginning her mom dies. Theresa is depressed but has a nice boyfriend. Or at least he seems nice. We’re not sure why she doesn’t connect with him better but she doesn’t. Depressed, Theresa doesn’t want to go back to work at the pot shop. Her boss there isn’t so nice. Oh, and that’s pot as in marijuana. And pot as in I suspect the Mulleavys smoked way too much of it while doing the movie.

Okay, that’s not nice. If this was a court I’d apologize to the sisters and tell the judge I withdraw my comment. The movie has a drug-haze incoherence about it. Perhaps that’s on purpose to emphasize Theresa’s confusion. At the same time, it also adds an emphasis to ours. You’ll have a hell of a time trying to figure out what’s going on and why.

Or maybe that’s because after 30-minutes of watching Dunst stare into space and wander aimlessly through the story, you not only won’t be able to figure out what’s going on and why, but you also won’t care.

Directors like David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Twin Peaks) and Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, To the Wonder) can do this style and get raves and A-list actors flock to be in them. I am not a big fan of their style either and on many occasions I’ve accused Lynch of dropping acid (LSD) when he starts and movie and coming down about mid-movie and totally changing not only the plot direction but the sexual identity of his characters.

They get away with it but the Mulleavy’s — at least at this point — cannot. The movie making experience of the two sisters is limited. And that’s limited with a capital L. They are best known for doing the ballet costumes for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. The Mulleavy’s also own the high-end clothing label Rodarte. To me it’s a huge leap from designing clothes to designing a good movie.

Dunst’s Theresa is depressed and decides to end her own life by smoking herself to death with a lethal marijuana concoction. A what? A lethal — oh, never mind. It’s time to stop and it is not worth beating the movie any more than I’ve already done.

I know this is a rant but I do have two positives. The music and the cinematography. Peter Flinckenberg’s camera work and Julia Bloch and Dino Jonsater’s editing are stylish and mind-boggling in places. Good work. The music is hypnotic and is a brilliant fit for this young woman’s confusion.

Raeburn, Flinckenberg, Bloch and Jonsater’s exceptional work deserves a better movie and a more coherent plot.

To the sisters I’d say, movie making is not designing costumes. It’s designing something that needs substance. Oh, like a real plot and some interesting dialogue and somewhere to go with both. This is your first try and do try again. The film’s style is riveting.

But all this — again — leads me to my comment to the studio representative and to my original thoughts that this is the worst movie of all time. The music, cinematography and editing saved the film. Period. Oh, it didn’t save it enough to recommend. But it did save Woodshock from being the worst movie ever.

In a way, that’s a positive.

Director: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole, Pilou Asbaek, Steph DuVall, Jack Kilmer, Susan Traylor

Rated R for mature themes. The film is a mess. No other, or better way to say it. All that saves it from the rare zero is the cinematography, editing and the music. Give this a 1/2 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.

Click here for showtimes and theaters.

5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.

Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.

Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.

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