Five “Bad” Movies That I Think Are Actually Quite Good

As perhaps a “sequel” to my earlier post 5 Really Bad Good Movies, here are five movies that the general public (but certainly not everyone) have declared to be really awful movies, that I think have artistic merit as a film and are well within the range of that ambiguous defining categorization of “good.”

1: Gerry (2002)

The first instalment in a trilogy by Gus van Sant is perhaps the best. It’s plot is simple, and some will say unoriginal, but the way Van Sant does it makes it different from all the other rubbish. It’s about two men, both named Gerry (played by Casey Affleck and Matt Damon), who go on a hiking trip in Death Valley and get mindlessly, hopelessly lost. Van Sant relishes in showing countless beautiful shots of the Valley, and likes to linger these shots for quite a long time. In fact, the film contains exactly 100 shots, no more no less, whereas a normal film of its length contains thousands. Many have criticised it for being boring, slow-paced and uneventful, but I see it as a beautiful work of art that sucks you in with its raw, subtle power. Gerry is, for better or worse, the most accurate and precise description of getting lost.

2: The Brown Bunny (2003)

Perhaps the movie with the worst reputation on this list, and one which I will continue to persevere with and try to understand is Vincent Gallo’s seminal, brutally subtle but hugely affecting drama which deals with the raw hurt and heartbreak of a man whose past is so bitterly latching onto him and eating away at him, that in every single frame we see the enormous toll it has taken on him. I wrote a review of the film not too long ago, and hopefully that’s enough to convince people who couldn’t see the sense in this movie to revisit it like I did. When I first saw it, I despised it. But in time, and by rewatching it, I soon began to see what Gallo was trying (albeit inconsiderately) to get across, and it blew my mind.

3: Funny Games (1997)

Okay, maybe this isn’t a hated film, but I’ve read more bad reviews than good and I seem to be the only person I know who really liked it. This is the first in a trilogy of 3 movies which I refer to as the Mid-Career Passageway, in which Haneke directed his three best movies, this, The Piano Teacher and Cachè. Funny Games is both a condemnation and tribute to cinematic violence. There is no real plot here; just mindless, senseless violence and a menial excercise in the pointlessness of it all.

4: Vanilla Sky (2001)

While certainly paling in comparison to its highly superior original, Abre Los Ojos, Cameron Crowe’s 2001 remake is nevertheless, not crap. It manages to retain at least some of the feel of the original, and is every bit as provocative and original as Abre Los Ojos seemed to its target audience at the time. How this got 40% on Rotten Tomatoes is beyond me.

5: Pink Flamingos (1972)

Okay, this is more of a so-fun-even-though-its-disgusting-Divine-makes-me-laugh-so-fucking-hard-with-her-accent-and-oh-my-god-just-look-at-the-shitty-cinematography-of-this-ugly-underground-film-is-that-no-no-no-she-isn’t-o-m-g-she’s-eating-a-dog-turd-oh-my-god-that-must-taste-awful-I-feel-kinda-dirty-for-watching-this-it’s-really-bad movie. It’s bad, sure, we know it’s bad, but we’re compelled to watch anyway.

What are some ‘confirmed’ bad movies that you enjoy? Do you like/dislike my choices? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.


About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on June 14, 2011, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I’ve only seen Vanilla Sky out of these and I agree with you. It’s a good movie. I enjoy watching it every single time.

  2. Based on your writing, I’m more than interested in seeing a couple of these (especially The Brown Bunny, which I know you’ve blogged about before).

    Though I’m sure you’ve read Roger Ebert’s second take on The Brown Bunny, here’s the link in case you haven’t. It’s an interesting read:

    Vanilla Sky also is, I think, an excellent movie. Perhaps it was initially misunderstood? I dunno.

    I also like your choice of Pink Flamingos. There are, for me, a few “so-bad-it’s-good” films. “Road House,” the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie comes to mind because it’s so completely ridiculous. It provides way more laughs than many movies actually billed as “comedies.” Actually, there are tons of ’80s movies I think fit into this category, but I digress.

    • Yeah, 80s movies would be a whole other post so I tried to stay away from them.

      I have read Ebert’s review and more or less agree with what he wrote. If you decide to watch The Brown Bunny, go with a wide open mind and think outside the square. It’s a very character-driven movie and parts of it may seem boring, but some scenes (especially the revelation at the very end) are heartbreaking.

  3. The only one I saw on this list was Vanilla Sky and I did not like it. I have wanted to see Gerry and The Brown Bunny. I’m usually interested when everyone gets the feathers ruffled.

    • Ooh, boy. “Ruffled feathers” is a complete understatement of the backlash The Brown Bunny received. But you really have to see it to make up your mind, and you may have to watch it more than once. I did a small survey (which I’m planning to post soon) detailing people’s reactions to it, and I can gauge there’s about a 20% likelihood you’ll enjoy it the first time, but good luck and give it a go. Gerry, too.

  4. welcome to lamb. for the first post to read this was pretty impressive. i’ll definitely be back. particularly enjoyed the artwork. nice one.

    anyone who enjoyed gerry and brown bunny is a winner in my book. brown bunny may not be buffalo 66 but it really is something quite beautiful.

  5. I can’t believe Vanilla Sky got 40% on Rotten Tomatoes either. That is suprisingly high. Even my primary school teachers were savvy enough to push the cardinal rule of story telling; NEVER end with, ‘…and then I woke up.’

    This is very close to a guilty pleasures list but not quite there. I am saving my schlock favs for then.

    • Poor choice of words. No Country for Old Men ends with “and then I woke up.” But I get what you mean. I suppose the only reason I haven’t damned Vanilla Sky to Hell is my refusal to accept that Cameron Crowe has lost his charm. I think the only films on this I really properly love (with a passion) are Gerry and The Brown Bunny.

  6. Yes, I believe you get what I mean. So I have no need pointing out the difference between one of my favourite Texans reciting a dream at the end of a (dare I say ‘perfect’) film to beautifully summerise the enitre film’s theme in a disconsolate denuemont, and a third act that reveals that everything in the first two acts that you’ve invested all your time in acutually never happend. Phuh.

    As my favourite fictional film critic Jay Sherman would summise,

    “It stinks.”

  7. Had to weigh in on this list. Vanilla Sky, and I’m sorry I haven’t yet seen the original, is a brilliant spiritual treatise on incarnation and the nature of reality. The character has awakened, in the way that Neo in The Matrix expands beyond reality.

    I understand what you are saying about The Brown Bunny, but unless you care about the lead character and are in some way rooting for him, in my opinion, the knowledge gleaned isn’t worth the journey. Thirty minutes of driving, really? It did afford him the opportunity to flaunt his impressive endowment at the sacrifice of public opinion for Chloe Sevigny, but his great need for women to validate his enraged ego, even, and perhaps especially, at their expense, is precisely what was a turn off in the film.

    • I don’t think he has an enraged ego. He is a perfectly safe, normal person, and if you’re referring to his Brown Bunny character Bud Clay, he is just an awkward, hurt human being who has become badly damaged by his attachment to Daisy, who would only hurt and destroy him, rather than providing any true, reliable, healthy love.

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