Saturday, October 21, 2006


Lars von Trier movie of the week:

MANDERLAY is the follow-up to the film "Dogville" that I recommended last week. Although it doesn't star Nicole Kidman, or James Caan, or any of the other actors from that film (except for the enigmatic Chloƫ Sevigny - I still haven't figured out her deal yet. Do any of you have a comment on this?). The main character (Grace) is the same, as well as the mob characters. Lars von Trier is currently making a third film in this series, called "Wasington" (not mis-spelled).

After fleeing Dogville at the end of ..... well, Dogville, Grace and the gangsters come across a plantation, while driving through 1930's American South, where slavery is still in practice. Feeling a little sensitive about that, Grace decides to stay and, with a little mob muscle, set things right. Sounds easy, but it's not. Great wrongs are not so easily undone.

As I've said before, Lars von Trier is not subtle when it comes to his message about American society/history/culture - whatever. He pretty much smashes you in the face with it like a brick in east LA . Whether you agree with him or not, it doesn't change the fact that the movie is really good, and you should base your judgment on it's own merits (I don't like or condone violence, yet Kill Bill is one of my favorite movies).

That it is a parable, which you can either apply or not apply to real life, is reinforced by the minimalism of the sets and props. The complete film was shot on a sound stage. The houses and buildings are painted outlines on the floor. To avoid any confusion, labels are painted on the ground in places ("Madam's House", "Garden Path", "Wall", "Tree", etc) There is an occasional table or other prop. You get around this very quickly (if you don't, this film is not going to work for you) and instead, you focus on what's important - like the story, the dialog, the expressions on people's faces, fashion statements, etc. The arc of this film has less to do with plot than it has with the development of a psychological thread. I think that giving too much to look at would have taken away from the existential nature of the film. It is what it is. Don't get me wrong - It does have a plot. Stuff happens!

Note: John Hurt is again the narrator - but he still doesn't appear in the film.

Warning! This movie is not for everyone. It will probably not appeal to the following.
  1. People who make a living building sets and props for movies. You just don't want to see this.
  2. People who are offended by sex in the movies - oh yes, there is some.
  3. The coalition for the protection of donkeys. We won't mention why.
  4. Southern rednecks. To be fair, I'll recommend a special video just for you.
  5. Northern rednecks. Ditto. You'll get your own movie - just not the same as #4.
  6. Most Americans. If you're an ultra-patriotic conservative fanatic, and are really easily offended whenever anybody even suggests something remotely anti-American, do yourself and me a favor and don't watch this film. Just watch some old John Wayne movies.
  7. Comment on #6: The movie is not anti-American. It just happens to take place in America. Besides, America has made mistakes in its past - who hasn't? Even Latvia has a few decades they'd like to forget.
  8. People who were really really hoping Nicole Kidman would play in the sequel, and don't take disappointment well.
  9. Sherpas. I don't know why, but they hate this movie!
  10. My apologies to you if you are a sherpa. I had to choose someone to be the object of that joke, and I figured you were far far away.
Dogville, MANDERLAY, then next stop - Wasington.


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doggonit! Where's my video recommendation thingy as was promised in this here re-view? I don wanna watch no yank lovin' movie about the ills of slavery nohow ('sides everyone knows the slaves were better off as slaves dagumit). I needs someting sedentary to do on account a me throwing out my back overmasterbatin' to guns 'n' ammo magazines!

At 3:32 PM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

I'll give you ten. The ten top movies for Southern Rednecks.

1. The Dukes of Hazzard
2. The Cannonball Run
3. The Cannonball Run II
4. Three Brides for Seven Brothers
5. Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
6. Splendor in the Grass -- just kidding
7. To Kill a Mockingbird With a Thirty-Ought Six and Watch That Sucker's Feathers Fly
8. Purty Woman
9. Breakfast at Tiffany's Beer, Bait, and Pancake Shack
10. How Stella Got Her Tooth Back


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