Of course, not every film under the radar deserves to be on the radar. Case in point:

1. BUBBLE Having carved a lucrative niche for himself as the director of George Clooney’s home movies, Steven Soderbergh attempted to reconnect with his indie roots in this low-budget, HD-lensed tale of a fatal love triangle in a West Virginia doll factory. Alas, Soderbergh’s lethargic direction, pointless screenplay, and lethal inability to get genuine performances from a non-professional cast makes this a grueling exercise in ennui. Soderbergh should stay in Hollywood because Thomas Wolfe was right: you can’t go home again!

STATUS: It will have a simultaneous theatrical and DVD release in January (duck!).

2. MATCH POINT Will somebody please stop giving Woody Allen money to make movies? His latest debacle is this pathetic quasi-remake of “Crimes and Misdemeanors” set in a tourist’s approximation of London. The film has many of Allen’s vices (rampant misogyny, the irrational obsession with wealthy WASPs) and none of his virtues (there is an acute lack humor, irony or intelligence).

STATUS: Opening in limited release on December 28, in wider release in late January.

3. NEW WALDEN This musical (made in 1990 but only recently getting a release) is so awful that it is almost fascinating. The transcendentalist philosophy of Thoreau is the launch pad for 13 hideous pop tunes, endlessly inappropriate dance numbers, incoherent imagery (including a truck driver buried up to his neck in the sand) and the trivialization of Thoreau into a buffoon (at one point he wanders the aisles of a convenience store talking to himself while young people dressed as “forest spirits” sniff anti-freeze and eat sunglasses). Huh?

STATUS: Self-released by the filmmaker on DVD via

4. FOUR FUNNY FAMILIES How’s this for a film idea: the simultaneous staging of four Chekhov plays in a Philadelphia furniture store? And to make it worse, stage the plays as if they were Neil Simon comedies! Funny? Not by a long shot! This is the rare film where the furniture is more appealing and talented than the actors.

STATUS: Not in release (thankfully).

5. KNOCK OFF: REVENGE ON THE LOGO and WALL STREET: A WONDERING TRIP (tie). These documentaries shared a double-feature bill in New York last winter and, thus, deserve to share a berth here. Both pretend to uncover hidden aspects of New York’s commercial life (the counterfeit merchandise business for the first film, the financial industry for the second). Alas, the filmmakers for both productions appear to have Attention Deficit Disorder, as their movies shoot off on incoherent tangents that have no bearing whatsoever to their respective subject matters. The result is a double dose of confusion and pointlessness.

STATUS: In non-theatrical release only.

6. DALLAS 362 Scott Caan made his directing debut in this amateurish tale of two dumb hoodlums trying to find their way through the world. Caan spends a lot of time shirtless or in very tight t-shirts, perhaps hoping that his muscular torso will distract from his flabby directing skills. The rest of the cast must have been told they were performing for people with visual and audio disabilities, which may explain why everyone emotes with such loud and wild fury.


7. EATING OUT A straight jock pretends to be gay so he can get near a cute girl with severe fag hag obsessions, except that her gay best friend gets the hots for the straight jock. But the straight jock’s gay roommate likes the girl’s gay best friend, but that gay doesn’t even know the other gay exists. Confused? You’ll be hopelessly bored if you try to sit through this.


8. THE BOY WHO WANTED TO BE A BEAR This animated feature from Denmark tells the warped tale of a polar bear who tries to comfort his wife following the stillborn birth of a cub with an unlikely present: an Inuit baby, stolen from the home of a hunter and his wife. Needless to say, this unlike Baby Bear grows up with rather unique problems. The demented subject matter is not enhanced by the cheap animation or the terrible English dubbing. Whatever you do, don’t blame the bears.


9. THE HOLE What could’ve been a hilarious parody (a riff on the “Ringu” films in which the viewers of the cursed video find themselves turning gay) is actually little more than a dreadfully dull excuse for hunky guys to pretend they’re having intercourse. It’s not soft-core, it’s soft-bore.


10. GO FOR ZUCKER! This crass German comedy gained international headlines because it focuses on a contemporary Jewish family’s wacky misadventures. However, German cinema is not exactly famous for its sense of humor and this emetic mess is among the least amusing comedies to unspool in ages. Go away, Zucker!

STATUS: Opens theatrically in January.

DISHONORABLE MENTION: The documentary eXposed goes behind the scenes at a gay porn production, but only discovers a lot of dull men who love to talk about themselves; Campfire barely ignites in its tale of a woman’s proto-feminist epiphany in Israel of the early 1980s; Blue Tongue is a dismal Australian short about a boy who prefer the company of a lizard to a fat girl; The Firebird confirms why ballet and cinema never mix well; A Sidewalk Astronomer looks to the stars and trips over its own clumsy feet; Dorian Blues is yet another hideously icky-cute gay coming-of-age comedy; L’Enfant is Belgium’s gift to the world of bad movies; and The Hidden Blade is among the most monotonous samurai films to cross the Pacific.

Posted on December 20, 2005 in Features by

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