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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

entry arrow4:17 AM | An American Myth of Small Town Hell

I was prepared to hate Lars Von Trier's Dogville [2003] like the cinematic hell it is reputed to be. I've read the scathing reviews, and I have since consigned my DVD copy to the oblivion of my film shelves for half a decade, biding my time before I felt I was prepared enough to watch it. But I've seen The Five Obstructions, his pseudo-sadistic experiment in film directing involving his mentor, the Danish director Jørgen Leth -- and loved it; and I've seen his notorious Anti-Christ [2009] -- and was mesmerized by it. Tonight, for no reason whatsoever, I chose to finally finish Dogville. And I loved it in all its quirkiness and cruelty, even the bracing cathartic end when Nicole Kidman's Grace chooses what must be done to her benefactors-turned-oppressors in this little town in the Rocky Mountains. (Kidman here delivers a brave performance, and cements her reputation as an actress unafraid to take risks as far as I'm concerned.) I won't go so much anymore into the film -- even Von Trier's queer (brilliant?) use of an almost bare sound stage equipped only with chalk marks to make up his vision of what an America town is all about (and this is a film that is bursting with hate for America) -- because this film has been analyzed to bits by critics who have either loved or loathed this film. I must admit it is a cruel one, but like Anti-Christ and his other films in the Dogme tradition, it seems to me very honest in its assessment about the tendencies for torment many of us possess, and which Grace finally makes a decisive nod towards the end. I don't know what that says about me as a human being to identify so much with Grace. It scares me and excites me at the same time, but there you go.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich