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A camera crew follows a serial killer/thief around as he exercises his craft. He expounds on art, music, nature, society, and life as he offs mailmen, pensioners, and random people. Slowly he begins involving the camera crew in his activities, and they begin wondering if what they're doing is such a good idea, particularly when the killer kills a rival and the rival's brother sends a threatening letter. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I get the feeling through reading the other comments here, that many people miss (or perhaps I am wrong about it) the point of this film. First let me point out that Man Bites Dog is a brilliant film, a first rate production. However, it is disturbing and cruel and meanspirited. And it MUST be such. It is not a character sketch about a serial killer, but instead and indictment of the viewer. The main character makes us laugh at his gallows humor, but then continually throws our laughter back in our faces. We identify with him, but then are repulsed by him. Ultimately this film is a commentary on human beings and particularly their media driven obsession with violence. That is what makes this a fantastic movie.
This film is not simply about a serial killer, but about a film crew who follows him around in order to get a story (an indictment of journalistic detatchment). The media is not simply a passive observer, but an active participant in the crimes of the psychopath (this should ring bells with us regarding the recent spate of school shootings and Time magazine's decision to have the Columbine kids on the cover).
However, this is not a simplistic film that simply points its finger at an easy target like the mass media (as happens in Scream), but is much more complex. The film goes to the next level and indicts the viewer himself as perpetuating this cycle. We are entertained by the glib killer, we identify with him, he is a cool guy or at least a witty one. This sort of reminds of the type of people who went to visit John Wayne Gacy or wrote love letters to Richard Ramirez, but these are not the only people that this film is directed at, it is directed at all of us... all of us who are fascinated by carnage, who keep body counts of mass murderers, who watch every special regarding serial killers on CNBC. This film as indictment of our obsession with these murders, and this indictment is so skillfully played out that this film becomes great.
The movie works hard to cause the viewer to identify with the killer and then throws the horrors of what the killer actually does into our faces. The murder of the child in the house in the suburbs, the horrifying rape scene at the end of the film. These things are supposed to throw us back into our humanity, out of the fiction of the romantic psychopath, and they do so brilliantly. I felt really dirty and uncomfortable after watching this film and I believe that this is precisely how I was supposed to feel.
I think that the confusion regarding this film arises from these contradictions, that the film sets itself up as a comedy, but becomes something else quite quickly; something complex and somewhat ugly. The film does not allow itself to be easily pigeon-holed. Overall, an excellent film... a double-feature with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer would be an interesting experience.
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