But before we start the chopping, a word of caution. Here at Film Threat, we do not take pleasure in writing bad reviews. If anything, we try to cut as much slack as humanly possible, especially with smaller independent features and shorts created by first-time filmmakers who are not yet immune to the vitriol of the critical community.
For filmmakers who receive a bad review here or elsewhere, please remember that reviews are ultimately the opinions of individual writers and are not meant to be taken as unimpeachable fact. Indeed, many films which are today considered to be classics were barbecued by critics when they first appeared.
With this is mind, let’s sail into the rocky waters of wobbly cinema and consider several films whose lack of wide distribution may have actually been a blessing in disguise…and then some!
1. THE BARBER OF SIBERIA ^ Nikita Mikhalkov’s overstuffed 1998 Russian turkey finally flapped its way across the Atlantic for a quick peek on the festival circuit…and it was certainly not worth the trip! This bombastic and incoherent epic of 1880s Moscow features one of the all-time-worst performances by Julia Ormond as an obnoxious American adventuress who wrecks the life of a not-too-youthful military cadet played by 38-year-old Oleg Menshikov. ^ STATUS: Not available in United States in any release channel.
2. THE ELUSIVE PYGMY HIPPOPOTAMUS ^ This is perhaps the lamest nature documentary ever made: 30 minutes of lethargic hippos waddling about a zoo enclosure. There is also a brief segment on ants, although the zoological connection between the ant and the hippo is never explained. ^ STATUS: Currently on home video…we won’t mention the label to spare its distributor from shame.
3. NO ONE SLEEPS ^ You won’t sleep with this one, but you’ll either laugh yourself sick or scream with pain at this tacky, incomprehensible thriller in which a gay German doctoral student slinks about the leather bars and coffee houses of San Francisco trying to prove the Pentagon created AIDS in a botched prison experiment. At one point during the action, the frustrated hero takes off his shirt and starts doing push-ups…a far more entertaining activity than watching this junk. ^ STATUS: Currently on home video…we won’t mention the label to spare its distributor from shame.
4. HACK ^ An abysmal non-comedy about a pretentious college filmmaker whose bumbling attempt to create a cinematic thesis project is doomed to failure. The young folks behind this dud should haven been taken out of film school and thrown in reform school. ^ STATUS: Not currently in release.
5. NORTH BEACH ^ It is a cruel irony that one of the most charming neighborhoods in America, the North Beach section of San Francisco, was the setting for one of the least charming films of the year. This excessively verbose exercise focuses on a bad-boy artist who literally becomes the talk of the town when he is caught cheating on gal-pal. One-time ’90s starlet Gabrielle Anwar shows up as a nosy waitress, which gives a sad indication of how far her career sank. ^ STATUS: Still on festival circuit; no theatrical or home video premiere announced.
6. FAR FROM BISMARCK ^ Imagine “The Day of the Locust” mixed illogically with “The Big Sleep” and you have this muck about a humorless gumshoe investigating a homicide at a Hollywood poseur party. No laughs, no thrills, no rhyme or reason…why did they even bother? ^ STATUS: Still on festival circuit; no theatrical or home video premiere announced.
Get the rest of the list in the next part of THE 10 WORST UNSEEN FILMS OF 2001>>>