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By Adam Lippe

dogville_grace_with_chain_thingAmazing that Lars Von Trier has made the exact same movie three times and no one has noticed.

Which film does this describe? A troubled yet innocent and angelic woman tries her best to do right by her family and her small town, but her innocence causes corruption and brings out the worst in everyone around her. This results in her repeated rape/death/etc. and shows the seamy underbelly within quiet repressed societies, and the hypocrisy of those who believe strongly in moral values.

The movie could easily be read as misogynist (and impossible to deny as misanthropic), as the other character’s actions after the first hour seem rather arbitrary and inconsistent, so the woman is to be blamed for tempting them with her naivete, and because she’s a cocktease. The plot twists are calculated and frustrating downers and the conclusion is rife with bitter irony.

Breaking the Waves? Dancer in the Dark? Dogville? Yes.

Dogville is easily the worst of the three and took me 6 attempts before I was able to get through the entire 177 minutes. The movie is condescending, arrogant, and holier than thou. Broken up into 9 chapters (like Breaking the Waves), with each plot development noted on the title cards, and narrated by John Hurt, who repeatedly tells us exactly how we are supposed to feel. The title is a silly joke, the stagy and self conscious style (the entire movie is shot on one set with chalk outlines representing houses, and the actors miming the opening and closing of doors accompanied by sound effects) completely wrong for the shameless melodrama being portrayed, and the actors are simply pawns in the crassly manipulative story.

Weep for that great cast. Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Paul Bettany, Blair Brown, James Caan, Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy Davies, Ben Gazzara, Philip Baker Hall.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.