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Exploration of the darkness of the human soul
If one is looking for a starter to this heart-tearing masterpiece, I suggest My Dinner With Andre from 1981. Another movie from which you get a feeling of having read a good book. Very few films render that feeling, but these two do.
Where to start describing the bouquet of feelings this masterpiece has caused in me? A good point is admiration for Nicole Kidman's mix of wit, grace, innocence scented with beauty that, as the film evolves, turns into a thick film, a pellicle of suffering and enduring, glued together with forgiveness. I do not wish to believe that those qualities can be displayed credibly without the actress actually possessing them ( :) ? ) From the point Chuck takes advantage of Grace the first time, I couldn't stop occasional shivers the just-observed caused me, so much it touched. The conclusion can be drawn after watching the film: one cannot know his/her true nature unless given a real ungoverned power over another living being. They all seem nice in the beginning. The power and a sense of opportunity of free use only amplify themselves in Dogvillians. The evil seed in Chuck spreads among all the dogs, or were they all evil a priori?
Artificial settings? One stage? Please! They are forgotten in 10 minutes. As all true works of art, this thing glows from the inside, it doesn't need a vivid facade. Long movie? I would have liked to see maybe an even longer one, but it would have probably put me into even sadder mood watching the ugliness killing the grace.
Indeed, Tom, a great illustration of the fact that humans haven't changed from the medieval or perhaps even more primitive times - still dismissing the truth about themselves as lies, the truth that only very few of them are unselfish, decent in terms of morale and even 1 cm away from the animal desires for flesh.
Grace concludes that she wouldn't have been much better had she been born in Dogville. I disagree - one can be no matter how poor but still cultured, at list on a microlevel of one person, on a macroscale culture of course doesn't develop without having material funds at its foundation. Then a human raises his head from a plug and looks up in the sky, and connects with Love, and then the decency is born in him/her as a little fire that can't be put out by any amount of torture inflicted upon her/him. The decency can also be transferred from a parent to a child.
Dogville got what it deserved, in the end, justice comes in and flushes the inner hollowness created by co-suffering with Grace, heals the pain.
Thank you, Lars, and thank you, Nicole, this work is engraved into my mind for a lifetime.
Liberty Stands Still (2002)
don't waste your time watching this dullness
All the characters in this movie, starting from the sniper and the enchained secret lover of an artist all the way to the police and SWAT team are totally lifeless due to the movie script they should have laws against, and partially due to bad acting esp. of the minor characters. The best peformance was, surprisingly, delivered by a man playing the accidental witness to the dying of a crooked cop. I got especially iritated with the characters in the police force and the SWAT team, it seemed like there was no single thinking person in the whole bunch. Kari, watch Phone Booth and try to learn how to make sniper thrillers, and good movies.
Birthday Girl (2001)
truly funny, dramatic and awakening all at once
This movie really woke me up, like it wakes up the main male character of this bravely different movie from his life slumber.
This guy John (Ben Chaplin) leads his mediocre safe life of a bank teller in a small provincial English town, until the stunningly gorgeous, wild, girl-to-die-for Nadia (Nicole Kidman), ordered by email from Russia, enters his life to become his beloved wife, by Johns plan. However a glitch turns up - Nadia does not speak a word of Johns language. Although calm and emotionless on the outside, John becomes so interested in beautiful Nadia that instead of using the full refund policy of the matching service, he buys her a dictionary to start the communication process.
What happens henceforth in the plot really shakes poor John from his slumber of a decently-paid safe-feeling clerk into a decision-making decently thinking action figure, giving the viewer a subliminal message "you would have probably acted likewise".
Kidman, Cassel & Kassovitz make a great team acting Russians and they are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, "almost" only due to the slight accent present in their Russian dialogues, however slight enough to amaze a native Russian by the hard work done to get the words sound right. Nicole Kidman proves her talent once again by playing a character quite different from the previous roles, at least from the cultural background.
The pace of the film is fast and captivating, and you certainly are not ready to quit watching when the end titles appear, you rather feel that you're in the middle of the plot, and are left with a desire to see the sequel as soon as it comes out.
My advice is to go out and get this film immediately and watch it and enjoy. To sum it up, it has an unusual plot, great acting, and ideas below the surface. Like the idea of the "rude awakening" from the artificial safe routine life of a wheel in a Society's machine, the life which members of the Fight Club were so keen to quit and the machine of which Pink Floyd sings ("Welcome to the machine!"). I bet that in the end, John was rather off with Sophia on their way to the unknown than not having met her at all.
Thank you, writers, for the great story, and everyone else for this great movie! Please make a sequel! And you can stage it whereever and name the location whatever, because the authenticity of the place is irrelevant to the 99.9999 percent of the potential viewers, I am sure of it.