Sunday, October 15, 2006

DOGVILLE


Theater movie of the week:
DOGVILLE

Lars von Trier make movies that sometimes piss people off. He tries new things. sometimes it works and sometimes not - but they're almost always interesting as hell (he made the terrific Breaking the Waves that I featured here a few weeks ago). Lately, he has been making a series of films about American society. This from a man who has never set foot in the USA (he's deathly afraid of planes). He most definitely has a skewed view of American culture. Despite that, the movies are interesting, well written, and well acted. It's a fascinating thing to look at America through a foreigner's eye.

The story takes place in a small Colorado white bread mountain town (NO! Not South Park!) in the 1930's. Nicole Kidman plays Grace, a young woman who stumbles into town with the mob hot on her trail. She asks the townspeople to hide her. They do - but their help comes with a price.

The style of this movie is interesting. It was filmed entirely on a sound stage with minimal sets and scenery, thus giving it the feel of a stage play. This technique is often employed in stage productions of such plays as “Our Town”. In fact, it has a very “Our Town” kind of feel to it – but darker. Maybe – “Our Sinister Town”, or “Our Town Goes to Hell”, or “Please, For the Love of God, Stay Away From Our Town”.

Lars von Trier paints a very dark portrait of this little mountain town in the 1930’s. He
works extensively with light, sound, score and music to obtain and heighten dramatic atmosphere. Nicole Kidman's character has a dark secret that builds to the cataclysmic ending that caused some controversy when this film was released.

Here are some random thoughts concerning DOGVILLE, and the watching of it.

  1. BEWARE! This film is not for everybody. I find that lots of people can't get by that whole "play" feel of the movie, or the slow but deliberate pacing. But the payoff at the end is worth it.
  2. BEWARE #2! It's a loooonnnngggg movie - almost 3 hours. Make lots of popcorn.
  3. It's narrated by John Hurt (remember - he's the one that had the alien pop out of his chest). Unfortunately that doesn't happen here.
  4. Alternative title: "Our Town is Really F***ed Now".
  5. The name "Dogville" probably has some symbolic significance that I haven't figured out yet. If you figure it out - let me know.
  6. I haven't figured out Chloe Sevigny yet. Her career has been a real seesaw over the years. What's with that? Let's not even talk about Nicole Kidman's career!
  7. John Hurt only narrates this story. He doesn't actually appear in the film. However, he does actually appear in my other video recommendation for this week: The Proposition.
  8. Critics claim that this film is anti-American. It's not. At least not as much as many Hollywood movies.
  9. Did I mention that it was long. It takes a while for the tension to build. Be patient.
  10. See if you can estimate the budget for scenery and for props. There's a good chance that you have that much in your wallet.
Enjoy.

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