Frontier

A wafer-thin premise that might have sustained a 10-minute short is stretched to the point of cruel and unusual punishment in "Frontier," a no-budget digital-video indie that appears to have been made for a small circle of friends, most of whom are listed in the credits. All credits and dialogue are in "Bulbovian," a language created by writer-director David Zellner, but English subtitles are provided for the few who might care.

With:
With: Wiley Wiggins, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Stephanie Wilson.

A wafer-thin premise that might have sustained a 10-minute short is stretched to the point of cruel and unusual punishment in “Frontier,” a no-budget digital-video indie that appears to have been made for a small circle of friends, most of whom are listed in the credits. Pic purports to be based on surviving fragment of “Froktog,” a masterpiece by the imaginary Mulnar Typsthat from the fictional land of Bulbovia. All credits and dialogue are in “Bulbovian,” a language created by writer-director David Zellner, but English subtitles are provided for the few who might care.

Broadly but weakly satirizing lyrical-folktale Russian cinema that flowered decades ago, “Frontier” focuses on the misadventures of two members of the Bulbovian Expansionist Research Corps. Assigned to survey a wilderness area, the two soldiers promptly go native in ways obviously intended to be funny. When one challenges a local to a fight — a ceremonial battle in which both participants wear raw chickens for boxing gloves — the jokes fall flat and the actors vamp desperately while tedium fogs the viewer’s mind. Tech credits are unimpressive.

Frontier

Production: A Bulbofilm/Fortified production. Produced by Nathan Zellner. Directed, written by David Zellner.

Crew: Camera (color, digital video), Matt Hullum, Jay Duplass; editor, R. Coutier; art direction, costume design, Elsa Hedgepath. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Midnight Screenings), Austin, Texas, March 11, 2001. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Wiley Wiggins, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Stephanie Wilson.

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