Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dogville is fantastic. There are people who've called it anti-cinema, but I don't agree. I think that there are some rules that cinema should adhere to, otherwise a work could become a different medium, but most of the time, I'm entertained and delighted that people like Lars Von Trier are still pushing up against the boundaries of what people would imagine and categorize as a film.

To explain, the entirety of Dogville takes place in a warehouse, with no real sets, just a couple of props and labels on the ground that say "Elm St." or "Chuck & Vera" or "Gooseberry Bushes" or "Dog." The actors walk around pretending to walk in and out of doors, etc. I guess the idea is in the absence of props and sets, you really concentrate solely on the characters: their emotions, expressions, reactions. That's the main conceit. The story isn't much of a departure as far as the more popular Von Trier films go (which is mostly a woman suffering every indignity until the breaking point, i.e. madness or death). However, there's a great twist at the end that makes it worthwhile, and almost vindicates the suffering he put his previous characters through.

There are things he does with the experiment that are possible only because it's film, which validates the experiment in my mind. Most importantly, point of view and editing. He can compose shots we won't see if it were theater (top shots, for example), juxtaposing, framing, using negative space, etc. He can go back and forth between separate conversations much smoother, or use jump-cuts.

Even though this is the first part of his USA trilogy, the story would probably fit in with his previous Golden Heart trilogy, as Von Trier himself has admitted. But it's probably that twist at the end that really differentiates it.

Anyway, it's good, it's worth it, watch it, enjoy it. Leaving the theater, you could really feel that everyone was talking about it, and it felt great. Kudos to Cinemanila for getting me in a real film mood again. Even when I'm home I'm watching more. And am just excited for the possibilities, and am glad to be reminded that possibilities exist, and can be exploited with grace and aplomb.

Check out the website of Dogville, too. It's quite good. The trailer, for example, shows nothing from the film, but excerpts from a behind-the-scenes documentary called Dogville Confessions (which I now really want to see), where cast and crew could vent their frustrations or anything else in "confession booths" that were on set during production.


Another film I'm looking forward to.


Ate Cyn redesigned the website of her fiancee. It's not just a great redesign, there's some new material I haven't seen before, too (her fiancee is Arnold Arre, by the way). The watercolor works, in particular, are amazing.

Also check out her website for Sandwich, which is terrific. Nice to see they've got wallpapers. And banners, if you want 'em.

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