Let's get one thing out in the open off the bat, I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to movies. The only one I've ever walked out on was the sequel to Dumb and Dumber. I just usually want to like them so much that I'm willing to overlook a lot. I recently saw a couple that really rendered me unable to do that. The first was Quarantine, which I saw in the middle of a weekday (the best time to see a movie in a theater). I really wanted to like this one. I liked Cloverfield, which was shot in the same style. The inhabitants of Quarantine, however are so disconnected from anything resembling reality that they kept me disconnected with them. I should have said that the one thing I can't get over is stupid characters who do stupid things. I'll give you an example which was, for me, the most glaring and representative of stupid characters everywhere. Here's the setup. Oh yeah, I guess I should put up a spoiler warning although this one is so contrived you'll actually see it coming while the previews are on.
The characters are trapped in an apartment building where some unseen pathogen is turning them one by one into ravenous killers. Who they are and why they ended up there is irrelevant because they all deserve to die anyway.
Anyway, the characters have just witnessed a deranged, pale old lady froth at the mouth and go into a frenzy, attacking a fireman and biting him. The fireman then froths at the mouth and tries to attack the others. A classic setup, right? Anyone who's seen Salem's Lot can figure this one out. A little girl who, according to her mother, has just come down with an "illness" which makes her pale and listless, runs amok and heads upstairs into a dark room. A cop finds and approaches her. He turns his flashlight on her. Notices her pale appearance. Notices the froth from her mouth. Notices her deranged behavior. And in an inspired moment, approaches, sticks his hand out, and says,"Come here Honey. We're not going to hurt you." or something to that effect. I don't have to tell you what comes next. But he had it coming.
After this, I was rooting for the unseen pathogen and, since I was the only one in the theater, cheered everytime the body count increased.
It was all handheld, so the dolly work doesn't apply.
The other movie I saw was Alien vs Predator: Requiem. I'll keep this short. Really slick, pretty cinematography. Dolly work was a centerpiece, with a lot of unmotivated booms up and pushes-in. If you shuffled all the scenes up and then strung them together and showed it to an audience, it wouldn't make any less sense than it did when I watched it. An entire platoon (or maybe a brigade) of trained, armed National Guardsmen is wiped out by aliens, yet a few pretty, twentysomething slacker types and a small town cop manage to dispatch them in various awesome ways. The worst thing was the way the hack director shot the Guardsmen slaughter. Aliens appear from seemingly thin air with no strategy or finesse. You can almost hear the Second Unit DP saying, "Let's just get through this montage and go home." There's a wide shot of a soldier with nothing behind him. Cut to a closeup of him looking around as the segmented Alien tail rises behind him. It would have made more sense if they had cut in a shot of James Doohan as Scotty beaming them down. The actual battles between Aliens and Predators were shown in such tight shots that I didn't know whether they were attempting to mate or fight. There's so much shooting, gore, and incomprehensible dialogue coupled with stupid decisions that I lost interest and folded laundry. I don't know who won and don't really care.
Now, two movies I saw recently surprised me with how good they were. The first is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I hadn't seen it in so long that I never noticed the dolly work, which some unnamed Italian nailed. Really impressive, beautiful sled work.
The other is a mostly forgotten George Clooney vehicle which I've always liked called The Peacemaker. The train sequence at the beginning is a masterstroke of dolly and crane work and editing, with little or no dialogue. It's a beautifully composed scene and the moves are perfect. Check it out.