Film and TV

20 Worst Hipster Movies of All Time

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Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:29 AM
click to enlarge Zach Braff in Garden State. His next film, Wish I Was Here, opens this weekend.
  • Zach Braff in Garden State. His next film, Wish I Was Here, opens this weekend.
How to describe a hipster movie? Invoking the “I know it when I see it” rule seems an easy way out of applying a definitive label to something so nebulous, but there are a number of hallmarks to be wary of. Soundtracks consisting of indie, folk, and/or anachronistic songs that had yet to be recorded when the film actually takes place are instant red flags, as are toothless pro-individuality, anti-authority messages that can just easily be found in most children’s books. Manic pixie dream girls abound, often personifying an overabundance of quirkiness.

Worse, these films tend to be dishonest in how they present themselves. The majority make a vain attempt at distinguishing their wares via superficial edginess, only to end up reinforcing the same ideas as every other Hollywood entertainment, tricking people into thinking they're seeing something subversive in the process. Many are guilty of these cinematic sins, but the following are the most egregious.

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20. Fight Club
Fifteen years later, the movie that turned Tyler Durden into a figurehead for the disenchanted seems as edgy as a butter knife — unsurprising, considering it’s based on a Chuck Palahniuk novel. The film itself is fine, despite ranking near the bottom of David Fincher’s body of work, but the way its legacy has been co-opted by superfans who refuse to shut up about Project Mayhem and the first rule of Fight Club makes it easy to resent. Funny how a movie about thinking for yourself and questioning authority has inspired so many people to parrot its most famous lines for a decade and a half, wouldn't you say?

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19. Let the Right One In
Rarely is a cash-grab American remake (Let Me In) superior to the original, but here we are. Young adults who thought they were too cool for Twilight but were still secretly enamored with vampires went crazy for this violent coming-of-age story, which trafficked in the same depressing weather and droll sense of alienation as the equally lame Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Come to think of it, that cash-grab remake was better, too.) Both cinematic exports made Sweden look like the worst place on earth, which didn’t stop Scandinavia-inclined hipsters from falling over themselves in adoration.

See also: more L.A. Weekly film coverage
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18. Harold and Maude
Hal Asbhy’s ode to the oddest of odd couples is like the patient zero of hipster movies. Its attempt at black humor is grating in and of itself, but its real sin is in how many other films (several of which appear on this list) it’s influenced over the years. Harold’s detachment and obsession with death are but two of the faux-eccentricities to have been tweaked ever so slightly and used as signifiers of emotional depth by countless cinematic acolytes.

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17. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The only Wes Anderson movie to feel insincere, this 2004 misfire was so conspicuous in its use of the filmmaker's stylistic calling cards (slow-mo, Futura title cards, Bill Murray being Bill Murray) that it almost made his earlier, better films seem worse in retrospect. He's more than recovered in the years since, but man, what was up with those stupid red beanies?

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