2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

Members' Marquees

Critical Contacts

Lobby Reading

The Video Store

Reel Resources

The Blog Bijou

-Admit One
-Artistic Delusions
-Belligerent Bunny's Bad Movie Shrine
-Beware of Blog
-The Brain Drain
Biancolo Notes
-The Big Ticket
-Bitter Cinema
-Black & White World
-Bull Durham's Hot Corner
-Brewed Fresh Daily
-Camille's Film Journal
-The Chutry Experiment
-Cineblog (II)
-Cine Club
-Cinegraphic.Net: The Avante-Garde Film and Video Blog
-Cinema 24
-Cinema News
-Il Cinema Secondo (Italian)
-Cineaste (Russian)
-Cinema Toast
-Concentrated Nonsense
-Confessions of an Indie Filmmaker
-Cult Movies I Dare You to Watch
-Cutting to the Chase
-Cynthia Rockwell's Waiting Room
-The Daily Despair
-The Daily Digest
-Day for Night
-Delta Sierra Arts
-Dinky's Docket
-Distorting the Medium
-Donald Melanson On Movies
-Electric Movies
-Fade In: Blog
-Feeling Listless
-Filmfilter (German)
-Filmtagebuch (German)
-Film Talk
-Five Easy Pieces
-Frank Booth
-A Girl and A Gun
-Glazed Donuts
-GreenCine Daily
-Harlequin Knights
-He Loved Him Some Movies
-The Hobo Reviews
-Hot Buttered Death
-Iggy's Movie Review Weblog
-Iguano Film Blog
-In Development
-Japanese Films' Journal
-Joe Sixpack's Film Blog
-Joe's Weblog & Film Project News
-Junk for Code
-Kumari's Movie Blog
-Lights Out Films
-Like Anna Karina's Sweater (Filmbrain)
-Listen Missy
-Magnolia Girl
-Marley's Ghost
-Media Yenta
-Michael I. Trent
-Moov Goog
-Motime Like the Present
-Movie Boy
-Movie Criticism For the Retarded
-A Movie Diary
-The Movie Generation
-The Movie Marketing Blog
-Movie Retard
-The Movie Review
-Moving Pictures
-Nando's Blog
-Netflix Fan
-Or Kill Me
-Out of Ambit
-Out of Focus
-Paolo - Cinema's Radio Weblog (Italian)
-Pigs and Battleships
-Plot Kicks In
-Pop Culture Junkies
-The Projector
-Qwipster's Movie Reviews
-Reel Reviews (Podcast)
-Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
-The Screening Room
-Screen Watcher
-Short and Sweet
-The Silver Screen
-Stinky Cinema
-Sunset Blvd
-Tagline: A Movie Weblog
Talking Pictures
Tea for One
-Tom Vick's Asian Cinema Blog
-Trailer Park
-Truly Bad Films
Waste of Tape
-Wayne's Movie Blog
Whippin Picadilly
Wittgenstein's Bunnies
-Yay! Movies!
McBain Recommends
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Kill Bill vol 2
Shroom Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Head On
Joker Recommends
-Top 20 List
-House of Flying Daggers
-The Aviator
-Bad Education
Yun-Fat Recommends
-Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
-Los Muertos
-Tropical Malady
Allyn Recommends
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Songs from the Second Floor
Phyrephox Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Design for Living (Lubitsch, 1933)
-War of the Worlds
-Howl's Moving Castle
Melisb Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Return
-Spirited Away
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring
Wardpet Recommends
-Finding Nemo
-Man on the Train
-28 Days Later
Lorne Recommends
-21 Grams
-Cold Mountain
-Lost in Translation
Merlot Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Man on the Train
-Safe Conduct
-The Statement
Whitney Recommends
-Femme Fatale
-Gangs of New York
-Grand Illusion
Sydhe Recommends
-In America
-Looney Tunes: Back In Action
-Whale Rider
Copywright Recommends
Top 20 List
-Flowers of Shanghai
-Road to Perdition
Stennie Recommends
Top 20 List
-A Matter of Life and Death
Rodney Recommends
Top 20 List
-The Pianist
-Talk to Her
Jeff Recommends
-Dial M for Murder
-The Game
-Star Wars Saga
Lady Wakasa Recommends
-Dracula: Page from a Virgin's Diary
-Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler
-The Last Laugh
Steve Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
Jenny Recommends
-Mean Girls
-Super Size Me
-The Warriors
Jason Recommends
Top 20 List
-Old Boy
-Million Dollar Baby
-Head On
Lons Recommends
-Before Sunset
-The Incredibles

Powered by Blogger Pro™

links open windows

(c)2002 Design by Blogscapes.com

The Blog:
Tuesday, March 30, 2004


(Warning: This review contains some spoilers)

Lars von Trier hasn't exactly been consistently great with cinema, so for the first entry in his new planned trilogy, he's decided to meld the medium with theater and literature (not to mention a bit of pop music at the end) for an all-out artistic assault in the service of a lacerating expose on human nature. Politically charged, theologically provocative, and viscerally entertaining, Dogville is an unabashed success that manages to take a ludicrous display of artifice and turn it into a trenchant and coherent -- if intentionally ambiguous -- work of visionary splendor that finds a way to punish the audience while it is satisfying their desires for all the pleasures of the medium.

Separated into novelistic, philosophical chapters (the titles of which begin with prepositional phrases befitting an Immanuel Kant tome) and narrated with dry genius by John Hurt, the movie takes the tone of The Great American Novel, not the least through its iconic period (The Great Depression), its representational characters, and the scope of its story arc. But the action takes place on an interior soundstage, with chalk outlines of buildings, a dearth of props, and expressionistic lighting and effects that resemble a small town high school play production. But of course Trier is a filmmaker, and he blocks his wonderfully-cast film actors without regard to a fourth wall, and forces his camera deep into their faces for severe close-ups and remarkable edits.

One of my problems with the approach is the motion sickness caused by Trier's clumsy operating, which creates a dizzying nausea that somehow other hand-held films avoid; since Dogville is already a clear confection of theater and film, the underscoring of its "movie-ness" with the shaky-cam on set seems like an unnecessary decision that distracts from the power of the idiosyncratic approach.

But who cares, right? Dogville is about its content, which is quite amazing considering the aggressive nature of its form. And the content speaks to a number of potential readings: the two I prefer are 1) the Grace-as-immigrant allegory, where she has to work twice as hard for half the pay because people don't like her kind and are judging her as criminal despite proof to the contrary; and 2) the Grace-as-Christ interpretation, where a saintly stranger returns to humanity only to be abused, condemned and cast aside by immoral hypocrites, and thus responds with brutal, exacting vengeance thanks to the Omnipotence of Her Father (that Trier says more about his own Catholicism with this allegory than Mel Gibson does with his didactic porno is revealing). But think what you want about what the story means -- there's enough in the specificity of it to engage the mind apart from extrapolated theories: there's the touching arc of male protagonist Tom (played masterfully by Paul Bettany), who falls in love with Grace and must face his growing anger at her romantic rebuffs; the painful scene where Patricia Clarkson's character, full of denial and lies, treats Grace with impossible cruelty; the comic ironies of the town's lack of necessity and abundance of work, the phone ringing for Grace's fate following her final acceptance into Dogville, and the disconnect between the educated austerity of Hurt's voiceover and the primal misery of its implications.

The actors are so good at embodying the inhuman weirdness of the film's conceptual abstraction with personal emotion that you almost mourn the fact that it's only three hours long. I wanted more from the likes of Jeremy Davies, Philip Baker Hall, and Zeljko Ivanek (even more slimy and detestable here than he is on the Levinson/Fontana shows for which he's known), who are relegated to relatively minor roles along with Chloe Sevigny and Lauren Bacall (neither of whom slack even in support), leaving way for Kidman's total immersion into Grace to blow us away. This is among her best acting, as her gaze is both undeniably powerful and vulnerable. Trier doesn't care if his audience is cajoled or seduced or patted on the back with moral satisfaction; he wants to accuse them of being complicit in the rotten nature of the town (especially American audiences, as the story takes place in the U.S.A. but has universal resonance regardless, something Bettany's character explicitly states) and force them to consider how they treat the underclass, how they are treated by others, and whether or not it's possible to reconcile the vengeful urge towards rebellious violence with the ethical empathy on which sophisticated members of society pride themselves. You live in Dogville, Trier is telling you, and you are one of James Caan's dogs: you did this, and you'll continue to do this. Some might consider this irrepressibly misanthropic, but I tend to believe that Trier wouldn't be so angry about the state of the world if he didn't care for it just as much. It's hard to ask any more of an artist.