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Movie Question

Are any of you fans of Dutch film director Lars von Trier?  Did any of you see Dogville?  If you saw it, did you like it?

I ask because among my RL friends and acquaintances I'm a minority of one in answering "Yes" to all three questions.  So, no surprise that I'll be going alone later today to see Manderlay, the sequel to Dogville, and the second film of von Trier's planned American trilogy.  Manderlay opened in New York a week ago, and opened in L.A. yesterday, where it's playing in one theatre for one week only.  I've only read three reviews of the film so far, all bad.  Dogville was also reviewed poorly for the most part, but with Manderlay the critics don't even seem interested in talking about the merits of the film as a film.  Instead, they focus in on what they perceive as von Trier's arrogance in presuming to make films about a country he's never visited.  Of course, if the story being told fit in with the way mainstream America likes to remember its past, there'd be difficulty.  But von Trier peers under rocks, and the things he finds there and puts in his films aren't pretty to look at.  Dogville was a vicious attack on moral hypocrisy as it played out in a small Rocky Mountain town in the early 1930's.  Manderlay turns the spotlight on race.

I don't expect to feel good when I walk out of the theatre tonight, but I know I'll have things to think about.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
jenni_snake
Feb. 9th, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)
Should I be surprised that I'm the only one posting? Should either of us be surprised? Lol. Perhaps people just haven't gotten around to reading it yet? Let's give them some credit.

Yes, as you can probably guess, I do enjoy Lars von Trier, I have seen Dogville, and I did like it! It was... intriguing, and really, that's all I ask for in a film. I have a very short list of 'excellent' films... I can't even really think of one film that didn't have some problem in my mind. But Hollywood shlock, if you'll excuse me, is just not my cup of tea. (shlock never makes good tea, actually) I never read reviews because I don't know who to trust, and usually trust no one, but www.rottentomatoes.com takes and organises a list of main reviewers... American reviewers, that is. It rated the overall reviews at about 74% (out of 100%) so that seems not bad (and the film was a lot better than the one that they're advertising for - looks like some stupid horror movie set on a roller coaster). Here's one review that sums up something of what I thought of the film:

"Dogville is not a masterpiece, nor is it an embarrassment. But it is a cinematic Rorschach test, as much fun to praise and to scorn as it is to watch."

Maybe we really are living on the wrong continent, because if the BBC is anything to go by (and it might not be...) looks like the film was better received abroad. Oh, no, wait, the Guardian notes that "There are good performances, powerful moments. Originality and unarguable technique are on display, in the service of a contrived and conceited film...". Conceited? I don't know... the review is good, though, take a look. I like that the reviewer notes that the anti-American charge against Von Trier is just hype, but don't agree with his subsequent conclusion that "it is just that he wants to harness the power of American history and pop culture without troubling to understand them deeply." Perhaps Madalay will prove him right, but as for Dogville, it struck me more as a moralistic tale about the indidious badness in people anywhere, not specifically in the setting it was in. The Seattle-Intelligencer called the film "muzzled by its contempt for humanity." Well, it's allegory, isn't it? The message doesn't seem to get through with happy endings, does it?

All in all, I loved most thing about the film, its amazing setting, play-like, yet cintematographic, the acting was really excellent, and it made me uncomfortable. I don't usually leave a theatre feeling good - I think I'm a bit of a masochist that way: I'm not satisfied unless I am anything but happy. When my friends came over to watch a movie in our dorms in China (where we could buy pirated DVDs for about $2 CAD) they'd flip through and then ask me with a worried look if I didn't have any happy films. Well, there's always Monster's Inc. I have nothing against a good laugh! :-D

Do tell about Mandalay... I'll add that to my list of 'things to see when I get home'.

(Oh, and a comment my cow-orker, sorry, co-worker made about the film and Von Trier in general was that he didn't like his virgin/whore complex over women... I have to say I don't really see that. The other thing that might have helped with my enjoyment of the film was that I saw it on the tail of a blank and pointless post-modernist nothing of a Scottish film called Morvern Callar... which the critics reviewed better than Dogville. If there ever was a pointless film, it was Morvern Callar. I recommend watching it if you want to end the night with a 'wtf?')
aswanargent
Feb. 9th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)
Well, that was brilliant. LJ notified me of your second comment, but not this one.

As to being surprised by the deafening silence to my post, I'm getting used to it. Also, with films (especially the art house ones that I tend to prefer), I have to remember that most of the U.S. contingent on my flist doesn't have the opportunity to see them in theatres at all. Whenever I get annoyed at L.A. I just remind myself that this is one big advantage to living here.

LOL! I first read Monster's Inc. as Monster's Ball, and was wondering a bit at the things that get a "good laugh" out of you. :-D
jenni_snake
Feb. 9th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, Monster's Ball 2 - The Musical!. I can understand your confusion! :-) I never saw Monster's Ball, though I probably should...

I will add the comment about "most of the U.S. contingent on my flist doesn't have the opportunity to see them in theatres at all" to my list describing 'sad state of affairs'. *gets annoyed at large film distributers and whole mainstream movie industy*

At least with the deafening silence (which I also tend to experience), at least we get to hear the crickets chirpping. That should put our frazzled nerves at ease. ;-)
jenni_snake
Feb. 9th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, and the other thing I wanted to say - LJ is weird on the comments sometimes, isn't it? For instance, I never got the notification that Jem had posted to my post that (finally) got people commenting. I think LJ is lazy. I suppose I can't really berate it for that, because so am I! ;-)
jenni_snake
Feb. 9th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh, if you want a nice, sad-ish, not too heavy but cute film, I reccomend 3-Iron from Korean director Kim Ki-duk.

Other films... did you ever see Farewell My Concubine? It used to be one of my favourite films until I saw Fleeing By Night, even if none of the reviewers liked it. Well, I guess it just looks like no one reviewed it.

Anyway, the point is... I don't know, what was my point?
aswanargent
Feb. 9th, 2006 09:46 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't manage to get to the film on Saturday after all, ditto Sunday, and there's been no real chance this week. My only option now is to go to the 8:30 p.m. screening tonight (the last screening before the film closes at the theatre where it's playing; it probably won't move anywhere else). The only reason I hesitate is because that means I'd have to be waiting for a bus (the first of three plus a taxi to get home) in a not-very-populated part of town at 11:00 p.m., and it would probably take me almost three hours to get home .... Okay, I've just talked myself out of it. There's an offchance that the film might move to another theatre; if it doesn't, I'll just wait for the DVD.

3-Iron had a very brief run in L.A. last year, but I missed it. I'll look for the DVD. I saw (and liked) Farewell My Concubine, but Fleeing by Night is not one I'm familiar with. I'll certainly check it out, though.

It's been rather odd not seeing you on LJ the last couple of days, although thanks to Dominique and yesterday's picture post I didn't feel totally bereft. Of course, I now know the point where Part IX has broken off; nothing like sticking the knife in your readers and twisting it a bit!
jenni_snake
Feb. 9th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
We aim to twist! ;-) I guess I better post that one, it seems to be a logical break, like Tavi said.

Too bad about Manderlay, but who knows, maybe they'll extend the run? I totally agree with you not wanting to wait to go home at 11:00pm, though, especially if no one wants to go to the film with you. You know, I was discussing with a friend or reading an article (can't remember) about Google and Yahoo! search differences, and they said that Yahoo! would likely win out in the end because it based its searches around entertainment. That just goes to show, doesn't it? No one wants to think, they want to be entertained - that's a sad state of affairs. And if anyone tells me that's how it's always been, I will vehemently disagree.
aswanargent
Feb. 10th, 2006 10:08 am (UTC)
They didn't extend the run, and the film didn't move to another theatre. *is sad* *adds Manderlay to list of pending DVD purchases*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )