Dogvillle ( 2003 )

4.5 stars

lately i been reviewing movies as i was watching them ( same or next day ) but that quickly turned from “reviewing” into venting my frustration at how bad these movies are - i was basically wasting your time “reviewing” movies i realistically knew you would never watch … worse than that i couldn’t wait till the end of these movies to begin venting which resulted in me editing the “review” five times or more by the time i finished watching the movie … which i am sure was annoying

well today for a change i am reviewing a movie i actually saw last year on the Samsung …

Dogville is really, really good …

the reason i am taking off half a star is 2-fold

1 - it is 3 hours long
2 - the entire movie is shot on one set like a stage play

watching a 3 hour play is a lot to ask from the viewer and i think it’s fair to take half a star off for that …

but aside from that “Dogville” is outstanding.

the entire town of “Dogville” fits on one set with only outlines of the houses, doors and windows but no walls allowing for very efficient filmmaking … this is the opposite of your typical Marvel Superhero movie that is all about multi-million-dollar special effects and zero substance …

Dogville ( the town ) is basically like one giant family in that everybody knows each other, which again is efficient because it allows the film to look at both family and social dynamics at the same time …

the movie essentially asks the question whether people are fundamentally good or fundamentally garbage ?

and in the end ( after 3 hours ) that question is answered.

i don’t want to go any deeper into the movie because that would be analysis and spoilers and you should just watch it yourself …

i recall as i was watching my real struggle was with the style of the presentation - that single set - i kept asking myself whether this is pretentious similar to a black and white film or similar to excessive film grain, to make the film more “artsy” ?

well in retrospect i would have to say NO. it was NOT to make the film artsy. it was simply a matter of priorities. this is a character driven film that was never going to make any money ( because it’s not a blockbuster ) and yet they managed to use A-list actors … my guess is they were able to pay the likes of Nicole Kidman using all the money they saved on production. I think it was the right choice and it worked.

Still … that’s a lazy way to make a movie … even though it’s all ultimately about characters and their acting when you spend a bunch of money on a TV you don’t want to then look at a black screen for 3 hours that just shows a bunch of house outlines painted on a stage … that and the length of the film are literally my only complaints, but they are very minor issues.

when i say the movie is long i do not mean that it is slow paced. there is actually quite a bit going on all the time. in fact the design of the set sort of makes it impossible for the movie to move at anything but maximum speed - there is simply nothing for the camera to linger on - the action has to be nonstop like in any play.

if the movie had beautiful cinematography like “The Revenant” ( 2015 ) for example the camera could spend minutes at a time on nothing but nature shots with nothing whatsoever happening … but in “Dogville” by necessity something is happening all the time.

So the style is well suited for the movie … and yet, i think movies like “The Revenant” should be rewarded for flying the entire crew to the arctic circle to film for our viewing pleasure … if i gave “Dogville” 5 stars it would essentially imply that cinematography counts for nothing and only gets in the way of the story …

that may in fact be true but i like beautiful cinematography and in “Dogville” clearly there is none … by design.

but the character study and social commentary is probably the best and most brutal i have ever seen.

“Dogville” is essentially similar to “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” only instead of being told from perspective of a father terrorized by a teen with supernatural powers it’s told from a perspective of a woman ( Nicole Kidman ) on the run from gangsters that seeks shelter in the small town of “Dogville” …

fun fact: one thing that convinced me to watch “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” was the fact that it had Nicole Kidman in it, because of how impressed i was by “Dogville” … and i was right. both movies have the same kind of darkness to them even though it’s from different directors.

between the two films though, Dogville is darker. both films are somewhere between a black comedy and a psychological horror film Dogville is closer to the horror side and the humor ( of which there is plenty ) is more mocking than funny ( by design ).

when i like a film i usually over-rate it at first, but over-time i reduce my rating when the feeling wears off and i can judge it more objectively.

well it’s been a year since i saw Dogville and i still think it is objectively a masterpiece.

I saw a little part of Dogville…it looked…cheap, but I’ll give it a go.
Kajillionaire first, though.

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