When I walked out of "Dogville," I was absolutely convinced I had seen an amazing film, a real masterpiece. I have more mixed feelings about this one. Part of this is due, I'm sure, to the fact that the novelty of the stark setting/Dogma approach has completely worn off. Imagine a sequel to "Pulp Fiction" that preserved exactly the same story-telling techniques. Wouldn't hit you very hard, would it? So I was a bit disappointed there wasn't a slight change-up in this regard. The bareness of the setting didn't have quite the same philosophical weight and intimate relation to the content of the film as it did in "Dogville," in my opinion.
Secondly, I'm just not convinced the "interpretations" of this film, no matter which one you go with (imperialism, straight commentary on slavery and American race relations/liberal attitudes), are all that deep or informative. I think "Dogville," partly because it mixed a religious commentary with a commentary on class, nation, selfishness, etc. (culminating in the discussion between father and daughter at the end of the film) had a lot more going for it in terms of things to puzzle over.
But overall, my biggest concern is that the stunning effect of "Dogville," which came so much from the viewer's having to think about form and content at the same time, just can't be recaptured if Von Trier doesn't change something formally in the third installment. I doubt he will.
Trying to figure out whodunnit, who's who, what happened before and what happened after, who the mystery man is...looking for clues...watching a film frame by frame...constructing elaborate theories just to explain a basic plot.
These are infantile, teenage hipster pursuits, not real intellectual activities. Don't try to pawn off your little obsessions as artistic endeavors.
There are some great films out there that don't need to become completely incoherent just to stir up interest...David Lynch even made one of them (Blue Velvet) long ago. Find them and watch them instead of wasting your time with these pretentious stunts that amount to nothing more than a pretty-looking, hip game of Clue.
I'm glad it's enough for all of you for a film to stoke your "feelings" and pull you in "emotionally" and that it satisfies you when a director just splashes a bunch of drama and horror and tantalizing imagery onto the screen. It must be wonderful to go through life all loose and feely like that.
Don't think about the film, you say, just surrender to the screen! Get some artistic integrity, people. "Coherence" is not an optional element that "artists" can just afford to dispense with. David Lynch is perfectly capable of making a coherent film that still has a strong emotional and visual impact, as anyone who has seen Blue Velvet knows. But he doesn't seem to have been trying too hard to combine those elements since he made that film (except, maybe, for Wild at Heart).
If you want emotion and feeling, put on your IPod and listen to your favorite hipster band. A really good film demands more than this sloppy artistic standard.
First, the flashbacks were a waste (as many have commented).
The "logic" and "twist" do not even make sense this time.
Jigsaw is testing Amanda? Already done that! At the end, Jigsaw says to Jeff, "I am the one responsible for the death of your son...and I have your daughter." So wait a minute. This time, Jigsaw MADE Jeff become a vengeful man unable to forgive the killer of his son? I thought Jigsaw was supposed to kidnap/torture people who were wasting their lives. Now he PROVOKES people into becoming the types of people he doesn't want them to be? And: what's up with the murder of the female cop at the beginning of this one? We barely got to know her, and her murder had NO connection to the main "test" of the film (that of Jeff). The first three gory scenes in the movie make it look like this will be about the investigation of the missing detective from Saw II...then that part just drops out of the film.
Saw I and Saw II were totally contained movies...the "twists" at the end may not have made perfect sense, but at least the killings themselves were confined within a coherent frame.
This movie has NO coherence, in short. A good torture/horror film cannot JUST be gory, because when the gore doesn't mean anything, it loses its effect (this is why Seven is an effective/disturbing film, for instance).
Best parts of this movie: brain surgery, doctor getting her head blown off, guy on the twist torture machine Next Saw: Amanda isn't actually dead, wakes up
Extremely well filmed, great shots/sequences, etc. The action is good.
What I did not like about this movie is the very high school English teacher fashion in which it goes about portraying the main character's depression/psychosis, or whatever other conditions we wish to diagnose her with. Cracks in the sidewalk? Walls cracking? COME ON! This may have been innovative "at its time" or "for a film," but these seem lame rationalizations. (Another example of the more or less infantile nature of "great" films in comparison to even competently-executed literature.) It seems to me this is a "psychological thriller" that does no justice to the psychology of its character. We get some indications of a connection between the character's past (family photo in which she gazes vacantly into the distance) and her current state--also very high school English teacher here. Ah! It all started in her childhood! (Doesn't it always?) But nothing much more insightful than this.
This film needed a more climactic ending. When the kids first get to the house, I thought, "nice touch." But nothing that happens in the house is freakier or really much worse than what was happening before (except that the characters finally get killed, presumably). Say what you want about horror movies being freakier when you "don't see" the horror in question (although I would argue this is a formula invented in old horror movies by very artistic directors that does not work well in every situation)--but SOMETHING more needed to happen here--another person/thing in the house who we never FULLY see, for instance. Even a bit more of an extended shot of whatever had happened to Mike would have made this better.
It had no message, so I loved it! Go America! Pass me another Budweiser!
If you liked this movie, you might be a redneck. Leave it up to the citizens of an oblivious, myopic, imperialist country like ours to love a movie that "redeems" the events of September 11. Leave it up to such citizens to like a movie because it does NOT make a political comment, or any other kind of comment, and is, instead, a story of courage and the "triumph" of the "human spirit." How very refreshing. It all reminds me of the sarcastic musings of a Beckett character, who says that before he dies, he hopes to become more able to find "the good in the bad, the bad in the worse." People, if we're always finding the mote of hope in the sea of tragedy, then why should we consider ANYTHING a tragedy? The reactions most people have to this movie are a symptom of a disease--and they are a hint that September 11 has basically changed nothing about the way we think about the world. They are a sign that "it" will probably happen AGAIN. So--go watch this flick, crunch your popcorn, shed a few sappy tears, then get back into your Hummer, fill up with 70 bucks of gas, run over a few homeless people (why can't they just get a job?!), and continue about your day.
Don't be ashamed to dislike this film. Don't be ashamed to call it slow. I like many slow films--to complain that something is slow is not a sign necessarily of stupidity or impatience. I've read the Bible, for example. Now THAT is slow. But it's also GOOD. And that's the problem with this film: it is slow AND bad. I suspect that this is what people who call it slow are really complaining of. The "philosophy" or "meditation" of the characters in this film is trite and full of bathos. It's straining for deepness, and many a viewer will constantly feel this strain. Almost every monologue or long exchange is weepy and overdone. The story would be much better captured by a novelist. Some people, apparently, are content to watch a bunch of mesmerizing images flicker by on a screen, but that's not enough for me...so I didn't like this.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as much of a film snob as anyone out there...but if you want to see a French film in which two characters spend the entire time arguing about a relationship, I strongly recommend skipping this tedious and basically shallow flick and watching instead Hiroshima Mon Amour or Last Year at Marienbad (both directed by Alain Resnais).
Gabrielle is a strange film...the loud, tense music, the effects of lighting, the experimental flashing of words on the screen...all are wasted, in my opinion, on the more or less trite and endlessly circular argument the two characters carry out throughout the film. The music, especially, often seems to bear no relationship at all or an extremely overblown one to the scene it is involved with.
A lot of the reviews you will read here say you should think of this film as more of an opera or a play...but this is a FILM...and the story needs to be suited to that medium. It ISN'T!!!
I think Hostel is a bit more subtle than some have given it credit for.
***spoiler First, it can't be a coincidence that the whole torture Americans thread appears in the context of our current political climate. Also, it seems fitting that the character some are calling a "hero" in the movie gets away partly because he knows a foreign language and is able to kindle the additional sympathy of his torturer. I don't think we're necessarily supposed to feel any more sympathetic toward him than we do toward his friends--it just happens that his slightly wider world knowledge helps save him.
***spoiler Next, I think the scene in which the American businessman preparing to torture a victim talks to the "hero" is far and away the best part of the movie. The guy is just creepy. But believable. I consider this in some ways a Tarantino touch, evoking the great rants some of his famous characters go on in other films. It also reminds me (a comparison I have not seen elsewhere) of American Psycho. In this case, the theme of the psychotic American businessman driven to murder by the emptiness of his existence is drastically downplayed, but it IS there. It would not have taken much for Roth, should he have wanted to, to turn this film into a more explicitly powerful social/political/economic commentary. Whether it was Tarantino or Roth who is ultimately responsible for this touch (the businessman) I am not sure.
***spoiler (kind of) Finally, there has been a lot of debate about whether it is worse to actually see violence (drills going into legs, etc.) or to be left to imagine the worst. This film basically takes the latter approach. Personally I am divided about the issue. In the end, though, I think this one would have been a bit more effective had the torture been more directly shown.
This can't compare to some of the TRULY sick films that have been made (Sado, Cannibal Holocaust), but I think it's as disturbing in its way as the re-make of Texas Chainsaw or either of the Saw films.