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dogville is coming, part 2

Wow. The reviews are coming in, and they run the gamut from J. Hoberman in The Village Voice ("a masterpiece") to David Denby in The New Yorker ("avant-gardism for idiots"). But even Denby may not reach the extremes of Charles Taylor in Salon (here is the link, although I don't know if it's available without a subscription):

Bullies can be just as persuasive in the arts as they are on the playground and von Trier is nothing if not a consummate bully. An American critic who slams "Dogville" opens him- or herself up to the usual charges of Americans being unwilling to face the ugly truths about their country (no matter how facile or smug or uninformed those "truths" are). But any critic who rejects the film is open to being told they can't accept dark, pessimistic art, that they'd prefer nice movies. That's a very macho vision of the arts, in which the "hissing naysayers" (as one critic called those of us who reject the film -- and let me own up: When I saw it at the New York Film Festival last fall, I hissed) should just go back to our nice humanist movies and leave the heavy lifting to the tough-minded....
[Von Trier] may find all human beings equally despicable, but that doesn't mean that they suffer equally in his films. Women are von Trier's select victims. That alone doesn't make him a misogynist. What does make him a misogynist is the sadistic relish he takes in the drawn-out destruction of his female characters, which we see as if watching flies having their wings pulled off under a microscope....
The movie is being acclaimed as a great indictment of the incipient fascism in American life, or a powerful statement about human venality. And yet it's been made by a director who sees his job as that of a puppet master ("To give up control you have to trust somebody, and it's easier for me to convince females to do this, for some reason"), who is willing to sacrifice the talent on-screen and the characters they portray to the greater glory of his "vision." If von Trier's supporters are really concerned with the themes of power and freedom and enslavement he pretends to address, should they really be kissing the backside of the fascist behind the camera?

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