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Dogville (2003)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Read what you want into it, just don't expect any coherence., 29 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*****SPOILER WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS THE ENTIRE PLOT OF THE MOVIE, BUT IMO IT'S NOT A PARTICULARLY GOOD ONE ANYWAY***** I have to start by saying don't let my rather damning review of this film discourage you from seeing it. I know people who love it. I, however, did not. If you're curious then just watch it.

It's about a small town in Colorado that receives an unexpected visitor, on the run from gangsters. After some discussion this quiet, small, conservative town collectively decides to harbour the fugitive. Their initial insistence that she is welcome to stay without any form of repayment is gradually eroded until she is reduced to the status of a slave/beast, and eventually is turned over to the gangsters by the one resident she had come to trust the most. The gangsters arrive, their boss is her father, and after a discussion with him about the inherent difficulty of ethical behaviour in humans (and a brief moment of clarity on the part of the fugitive) she swears allegiance to the father she was running away from and orders the gangsters to massacre everyone in the town and raze it to the ground.

The plot's reasonably interesting, but my problems with the film are mainly the thematic jumble and confused message of the piece. The film is about trust, betrayal, tolerance, loyalty, friendship, love, sex, abuse, isolation, revenge, compassion, the baseness of human nature under certain circumstances and...oh god, just too many other things.

It feels to me as if so much has been crammed into one film in an attempt to make it interesting to everyone, completely missing the point that if a universal theme is well explored then it WILL be interesting to everyone. We don't need a dozen themes thrown at us all at once.

This is reflected in the acting, which, despite being top-notch from all concerned, is distracting. The film doesn't work as an ensemble piece. Perhaps if the focus had been more heavily on Kidman's fugitive it might have held my attention a little more, but as it is I didn't know which characters were protagonists and which were antagonists, at any point. This might work in a murder mystery, but this film is resolutely anti-genre.

In a way it is also rather anti-film, being filmed as it is on a blandly furnished sound stage, with chalk marks on the floor delineating buildings, plants, street edges etc.

If this neutrality had been carried out throughout the rest of the piece, then the device might have worked, but it's (quite emphatically) set in Colorado. After 90 minutes (another thing, 150+ mins is just too long) I was yearning for some cinema, to see those mountains the characters keep on talking about.

There is so much potential squandered in this film that I resolutely watched the conclusion, hoping for some redeeming features, but to no avail. But as I always say, just watch it and make up your own mind.

42 out of 53 people found the following review useful:
a grower, if you are, 30 May 2006

I first became aware of Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding when they did a regular slot on the Lee & Herring review show of the juste pour rire comedy festival. I remember thinking that they were quite funny and that their main strength was in making you feel like you were just watching them talking among themselves, rather than acting a rehearsed script.

When I first saw the mighty boosh I didn't really give it a chance. I was channel-surfing late at night and, in my usual cynicism at any new comedy that the BBC releases, switched over after twenty seconds. It wasn't until about a year ago when I visited a friend and we had been out getting intoxicated that I was persuaded to watch a full episode, post-pub style. In spite of my earlier cynicism I found myself laughing, and since then it has grown on me to the point that I've just ordered the 2 series boxset.

Comparisons to Reeves and Mortimer are inevitable and I don't blame people accusing the writers of stealing some content. Of course I remember in 1990 people saying the exact same thing about Reeves & Mortimer in reference to Morecambe & Wise. As one reviewer has already said, they are standing on the shoulders of giants.

What sets the mighty boosh apart is its form. Reeves & Mortimer have never been any good at sitcom. Barrett and Fielding take the same surrealist approach to comedy but apply it to the form of sitcom with a sort of laissez-faire ease which allows the story to feel as if it's just unfolding in front of you.

I think it's interesting that some reviewers have criticised the actors for being too concerned with their image. Personally I thought one of the central jokes (if not THE central joke) of the mighty boosh was that EVERYONE is concerned with their image, and you can either admit it, preen yourself, and revel in how fabulous you look (like Vince) or you can deny it in pursuit of an elusive higher truth which (according to the show) always gets away from you and leaves you in the soup (like Howard).

This is classic double-act stuff (the vain, shallow one and the insecure, pretentious one) and these are two actors who are at home with each other and pull it off well. The supporting cast do their job very well, and Barrett and Fielding's bizarre side characters provide good, if brief, displays of their range as comic actors.

The sets in the mighty boosh are unashamedly low-budget and as far as I can tell none of it was shot on location. This (along with the curtain-up style intro which the two main characters perform (in character)at the beginning of each episode) serves to give the whole thing a thick layer of romantic irony, which neatly bridges the gap between the surreal train ride of the plot and the often mundane, very naturalistic exchanges between Howard and Vince.

In summary, the more I get into this show the more I love it for what it is; a well-crafted sloppy jelly of mixed ideas, held together with sound-acting-glue and peppered with quotable one-liners. It grows on you like cheese, which is a kind of meat, a tasty yellow beef.

That's the end of the review, but is it really the end?