Dogville (2003) Review

Happy 50th Birthday to Nicole Kidman!

Instead of a birthday Top Ten, I figured I should review Dogville since I watched it recently. Looking at Kidman’s films, there are still a few big ones I need to see before doing a Top Ten anyway so maybe I’ll do that list next year if I’m still blogging. It would be an interesting list as she’s done many different types of films but I’m pretty sure that my current favorites are the underrated To Die For, guilty pleasure Malice, and great ghost story The Others. I’ve never been a huge fan but Kidman has gone up in my estimation in the last few years and I thought she was really good in the Big Little Lies TV series, based on the Liane Moriarty book. I’m looking forward to seeing her in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

Now let’s see what I thought of this three-hour-long Lars von Trier avant-garde play that explores human morality. Woohoo! PARTY! Dogville would make for a fun double feature with The Hateful Eight… 😉

Dogville (2003)

Directed & Written by Lars von Trier

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Chloë Sevigny, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Ben Gazzara, James Caan

Narrated by John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away…

My Opinion:

This is the third Lars von Trier film I’ve seen after Dancer In The Dark & Melancholia (which I reviewed HERE & which I quite liked. Sort of. I think…). His work is certainly not to everyone’s taste and, in looking up Dogville, critics’ reviews were either “this is a masterpiece” or “what a load of pretentious bollocks” (I’m paraphrasing there but it’s what they meant). I liked Dogville. I preferred Melancholia but both are unique and, so far, I like what I’ve seen of von Trier’s style and think we may have a similar view on people (although I think he seems to have even less faith in humanity than I do).

Dogville’s set up, as a play with very few props and where each house in the small town is shown as an outline from above, took less getting used to than I was expecting. The story & the acting were good enough to not really need props, special effects, etc. If you seriously hate plays I suppose you might not have the patience for this film. However, like with The Hateful Eight, this movie is unnecessarily long. Three hours! It wasn’t needed. I don’t think the extra time really added much depth to the characters – the story could have been told just as well with an hour shaved off. But I’m admittedly getting old & tired & too damn busy to sit through these extra long movies. Then again…. No. It IS too long, dammit. I’m not just being grumpy. When it’s necessary for the story, really great movies don’t feel too long. Seven Samurai doesn’t feel too long. Seven Samurai is a masterpiece.

Dogville is decent. I’m glad I sat through it (in three sittings). But it’s not a masterpiece and it’s not as important as it thinks it is. However, to automatically label it pretentious does seem unfair. Von Trier took a gamble on trying something different that certainly wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences (well, duh – that seems to describe all his films) but I think it worked pretty well overall for Dogville.

Kidman was very good and I loved John Hurt’s narration (I’ve added Dogville to My Top Ten John Hurt Movies list of all I’ve seen of his but it just misses out on being in the ten). Actually, Hurt’s voice was probably the very best thing about the film – I’m going to keep exploring his work that I missed out on. He was certainly an underrated actor. As for everyone else, they all did a very good job in making us hate the shit out of them. Paul Bettany had an especially interesting role as the only one who seemed to be on Kidman’s side but, although not directly unkind, he ends up the worst of the lot. I wanted to punch him in the damn face. So… Yeah. You’re meant to hate these characters. And you will. So they all succeed in their roles but, of course, it doesn’t make for a pleasant three hours. It’s a film worth a watch but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind before giving this one a go. I liked the concept and von Trier’s attempt to explore humanity and what could happen if we had the ability to completely take advantage of someone in need. Would we treat them kindly or not? Von Trier obviously thinks not. I wonder why he hates people so much?! But, I must admit to really liking how this film ends so maybe I’m not so different from the residents of Dogville. Which I suppose is von Trier’s obvious point. But, seriously – he could’ve gotten that point across in well under three hours. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

**Just thought I’d add this bit I read at Wikipedia, as I was unaware that this film is meant to be the first part of a trilogy:

The film is the first in von Trier’s projected USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy, which was followed by Manderlay (2005) and is projected to be completed with Washington.

I liked Dogville okay but doubt I can be bothered to watch the rest, unless the final one gets rave reviews when it’s finally made… I think I’ll next check out those Nymphomaniac films instead. Which also look like loads of fun. PARTY! 😉

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Road House (1989) Review

Road House (1989)

Directed by Rowdy Herrington

Produced by Joel Silver

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Jeff Healey, Marshall R Teague, Kathleen Wilhoite

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Road House is a 1989 American action thriller film directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer at a newly refurbished roadside bar who protects a small town in Missouri from a corrupt businessman. Sam Elliott also plays a bouncer, the mentor, friend and foil of Swayze’s character. The cast also includes Kelly Lynch as Swayze’s love interest, and Ben Gazzara as the main antagonist.

My Opinion:

SPOILERS!! This is one of those movies where I HAVE to talk about what happens in it because it’s just so horrendously awesome and I want to chat with any Road House-loving bloggers. I know you’re out there because most of you stopped by when my “review” of Steve Jobs turned into a Road House discussion instead as I’d just seen this cinematic masterpiece for the first time ever while wrapping some Christmas presents. I did watch it a second time while doing more present wrapping and my newfound love grew even stronger. Where have you been all my life, Road House?? You are amazing. I needed a postcoital cigarette after watching this movie. And I don’t even smoke!

I’ve never been a big Patrick Swayze fan as I mainly saw him as the Dirty Dancing guy and, let’s be honest, that movie is pretty fucking lame. Okay, Point Break is a favorite of mine but it’s mainly Keanu Reeves who I think of in that one. So I suppose I never even thought about watching Road House as it looked pretty damn bad. And, boy oh boy is it bad! Good bad. Awesome bad. It’s fucking ridiculous. I love it! I should’ve listened to hubby sooner as he’s been telling me for years that I should watch it. He knows me so well. Poor bastard – he married such a weird girl…

Anyway! I love how Road House starts out silly and crazy but is still a pretty straightforward story of your typical sexy, well-educated, philosophical, not-as-big-as-expected master tai chi bouncer in the skankiest, filthiest, trashiest redneck & slut bar imaginable (but with good live music, provided by Jeff Healey. the Angel Eyes guy?!).

So it’s nuts from the start but THEN, from out of nowhere, shit is exploding Michael-Bay-style and monster trucks are driving over cars and women are stripping and people are being stabbed and there are giant stuffed animals (like, real ones – not teddy bears) and polar bears are falling on people and Kelly Lynch is wearing loads of hairspray and a gingham tablecloth from a small-town cafe (and, later, apparently no panties) and throats are being ripped out (I had to rewind that bit as it was so totally unexpected) and Sam Elliott is a fucking stud as always & I’d totally sleep with his character (oh yes) and Patrick Swayze is trying to find his inner peace throughout all this bullshit by doing sexy, shirtless, glistening tai chi.

I still can’t believe it took me this long to watch the movie that’s so hilarious it causes Bill Murray & his brothers to call up Kelly Lynch’s husband every single time the Road House sex scene is on TV to say “Kelly’s having sex with Patrick Swayze right now. They’re doing it. He’s throwing her against the rocks.” But her character is a DOCTOR. Swayze’s sensitive bouncer wants a smart girl, not the skanks who strip in the filthy Double Deuce bar. Look at them “meeting cute” – they’re SO gonna fuck!:

See??:

He was really turned on by her tablecloth dress:

I admit that, while I never found Swayze sexy, he’s almost sexy in this movie. This role was great for him. He’s way cooler here than in that silly Dirty Dancing movie. (Yeah, I far prefer Road House to Dirty Dancing. I really suck at being a girl!)

But, although I admit that Swayze was good in this and that the role did really suit him, it’s Sam Elliott who steals the show. What a fucking stud. I already loved him from one of my all-time favorite movies (Mask) and, yeah, he’s pretty much playing the same sort of character in this movie as well. But that’s okay – it’s the perfect role for him.


Fucking Stud.

As if these awesome main three characters aren’t enough, though, we also get a wide variety of rednecks, sluts, blind musicians, and a corrupt small-town businessman who likes to hunt big game (why wasn’t America freaking out about Brad Wesley killing polar bears?! This polar bear should’ve been projected onto the Empire State Building!):


I told you a polar bear fell on someone…

Then there’s the big ‘ol slut always trying to screw Swayze even though she’s the property of the corrupt businessman. She does a striptease all around Jeff Healey at one point (who is really likeable in this – I didn’t know he’d done any acting!) and I have to say she has a pretty great bod. And big 80’s panties under her ugly 1981 prom dress:

I looked her up & she went on to be a stuntwoman & it looks like she was that tough, fully nude chick in the shower in Point Break (also with Swayze!). Really?! Huh! Anyway, the sluts and rednecks are great:

But nothing beats this prick:

Earring dude prick has a big manly man fight with Swayze toward the end of the film, during which he says…

Wait. What did he just say?? Never mind nobody putting baby in a corner – nobody says THAT to Patrick Swayze because he’ll rip your fucking throat out! He does! He did! Ripped it right out, Temple-Of-Doom-style!! I wasn’t expecting that in this 1989 film, even after seeing the 18 rating in the UK. Awesome. He should’ve ripped the throat out of the guy who knocked up Penny in Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing would have been greatly improved with throat-ripping & monster trucks.


The bigger the truck, the smaller the penis…

Summary:

Classic. This is the perfect “so bad it’s good” movie. You hear that phrase a lot but very few movies achieve that perfect balance. Watching this movie was seriously the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long, long time. ROAD HOUSE!!!!!

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s the trailer, which I just watched with a big dumb grin on my face:

And here are all the Road House bits from an episode of Family Guy that Emma told me about. Haha! Thanks, Emma! 🙂

**FYI – I’ve quickly done this review as the next three days I’ll be posting my end-of-year Top Ten lists & this movie has made My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2015 list. Come back tomorrow to see where it ranks! 🙂

Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) IMDB Top 250 & Argumentative August Review 

I’ve done a review of courtroom crime drama classic Anatomy Of A Murder, starring James Stewart, for the Argumentative August Blogathon hosted by MovieRob & by Ryan of Ten Stars Or Less. AND… this doubles as one of my own reviews for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge! This movie was ranked 203 out of 250 when I started my project on 01/01/2013.

You can read my review HERE. Thanks for letting me take part, guys! 🙂