Dogville, or how I spent the worst three hours of my life


Dogville easily wins the title "Worst Film Ever Made". It was not just a movie that makes you feel like you want to kill yourself (Requiem for a Dream) or offensive (Cadillac Man) or plotless (Lost in Translation) or poorly made (I'm going to go with the Fat Boys' Disorderlies for that one). Dogville was all of this, wrapped into one misshapen, dripping and smelly package.

First, there is the issue of the set. They didn't have one. Instead it was white tape and stenciled letters on a black soundstage floor. There is an occasional prop and the merest "suggestion" of a set. This was either done is a completely misguided attempt to be "arty" or because the film had only $14.96 with which to make a set. Either way it is completely inexcusable.

Then there is the plot. Basically, 20 or so unwashed people that looked like they escaped from Walton's mountain spend three hours raping Nichole Kidman. Shannon even spotted a ball sack in the first rape. But it gets even stupider. After being suspected of stealing some money, they decide to shackle Kidman's neck to a giant heavy wheel attached to a chain. Stupid, yes? But wait! They also weld a shop bell to her neck shackle. The visual effect is completely over the top. So she is chained to a bed and used as the village's "feminine repository".

The dialogue is also a problem. The characters are completely underdeveloped (you really only "get to know" three of them and even those are shallow). One character, Tom, speaks like the pot head who lived down the hall from me in college with all of his pseudo-philosophy and intellectualism. Kidman herself shows none of the character. She plays a woman who is basically crapped on constantly but she just keeps on taking it, not with a Pollyanna smile and a shrug or with indignation, but with no emotion beyond just the tiniest brow furrow of frustration. The audience never has the slightest clue until the end as to why she takes it or if anything is going on in her head at all.

Then there is the anti-American sentiment. The film is set in America and the village people have a hearty 4th of July celebration right before things become even uglier. But the final slap in the face is during the credits, when pictures of dirty depression era Americans roll to the tune of Bowie's "Young Americans". I read a NY Times interview with the director who said that the movie could take place anywhere but the director clearly has a problem with the USA (which is probably why he refuses to visit).

I could go on, about the filthy looking 8 year old who demanded a spanking from Kidman in a creepy sexual manner that made me pucker, or how, when shooting a baby at point blank range the actor lifted it up and shot it at a completely unnatural position just so the camera got a clear picture of what was going on, or the "message" of the movie which is that true forgiveness and believing the best about others is just arrogance and that only by killing everyone can we truly escape our problems. All that plus the camera transitions looked to have been done by a blind man.

Many people walked out of the theater. I wish I had been one of them.

So beyond the worst movie ever, I had a lovely weekend. Shannon and I spent almost all day together on Saturday. We ended up wearing matching outfits, so we looked like a really cutesy lesbian couple all day. We went to the Pewabic Pottery sale (I also associate pottery with the sisters of Sappho) and I bought some very cute tiles, half of them have animals on them. Now I'll need to find a craft project in which to use them.

Leo is going to Milwaukee on Wednesday and he'll be there through Sunday. So I will have to find something to occupy myself. Not only do we have that separation, but I just got my spring/summer schedule and it looks like I will be gone for the next 10 weeks out of 16. Twice I'll be in Europe (once in Germany and once in France) so I won't even be home on the weekends.

Get a good look at me now, because you won't see me again until September!

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