This Week in Cinema: January 26-February 01, 2014

dogville

I think the main problem with a town like Dogville is that it’s named Dogville!

Another handful of movies this week,

Hable con ella (Talk to Her, 2002, Pedro Almodóvar, Spain) ***

There’s some sort of disconnect between myself and Pedro Almodóvar. I appreciate his films, and I even love certain aspects of them, but in the end they feel too slight to me. Hable con ella is the same, as I appreciated much of it but when the movie had finished I felt unfulfilled. At first I thought this was mainly due to some of the animal stuff in the film that I wasn’t a fan of. But, the more I think about the film the more something about it seems off. I’m going to keep watching films from Señor Almodóvar, but so far I don’t love his work like seems to be the case with most other cinephiles.

Dogville (2003, Lars von Trier, Denmark/Finland/France/Germany/Italy/Netherlands/Norway/Sweden/United Kingdom) ***1/2

An audacious film, but one that is striking and thought provoking. The staged nature is an interesting choice, one that lends itself to the performances provided by all involved. I do get the sense that had Lars von Trier done this as an actual play he would be heralded as a great playwright. But, that’s not what he did, instead he made a movie using the stage style, a choice that was more daring and ultimately more rewarding artistically. As sad as it may be I can get behind the main theme of the film, because for the most part I do believe that human beings are terrible and are capable of doing terrible things to one another. The first film I’ve loved from Herre von Trier, and I hope he’s capable of producing more works like Dogville.

Turbo (2013, David Soren, United States of America) **1/2

Competently made and overall a decent film. It’s so rote though, too much of “Well, we’ve seen this a bunch of times before.” With the narrative being so played out it’s tough to invest in the characters or remain interested in where the narrative goes. Also, I’ve noticed that a lot of the lesser DreamWorks Animation films have too clean of an animated style. The effect is that the image is too glossy and crystal clear resulting in animation took looks and feels overly fake and manufactured.

Prisoners (2013, Denis Villeneuve, United States of America) ***

Shave about a half hour off of this film and I might be writing about a truly great motion picture. As is Prisoners is a pretty good thriller that spends so much time on its theme that said theme is wielded like a sledgehammer. The idea of social constructs being inherently weak and letting people down is a great theme, and one that I did enjoy watching be explored. Denis Villeneuve makes the choice to treat his audience like they couldn’t possibly understand the themes he’s exploring. This leads to the horrendous Paul Dano being just as horrendous as ever. Hugh Jackman making sure that his yelling conveys that the family structure is breaking down, and so on and so forth. Prisoners is a decent film, but it handles its material in far too heavy of a manner.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013, Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn, United States of America) **1/2

The imagination present in the world building and character creation is still amazing to take in. The lack of imagination in the narrative and the humor is where the film falls apart. The humor in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is so juvenile, and I mean stupid juvenile. My limit to fart and shit jokes is usually one or two, but this film goes to that well at least seven or eight times. The story is old hat, and the whimsy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs never has a chance to entrench itself, and the film slowly falls apart with each passing second.

Wrap-Up:

A week that started off okay and ended with a whimper, but it did feature one truly great film. Lars von Trier’s Dogville takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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2 responses to “This Week in Cinema: January 26-February 01, 2014

  1. I’ve only ever seen one of Lars von Trier’s films, and it was the highly controversial (like the rest of them) Idiots, I might have to look into Dogville!

  2. I had previously seen Antichrist, which I was lukewarm on. He’s certainly a director looking to push boundaries, and for that alone he deserves to at least be checked out by most cinephiles.

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