Surly Snobby

Friday, April 09, 2004

Kidman & Clarkson

I went to see a disappointing movie yesterday. Dogville is one of the more self-important pieces of claptrap I’ve seen in a while. My normal reaction when I see a von Trier movie, such as Breaking the Waves or the very distressing Dancer in the Dark is to leave swearing that I’ll never see another von Trier movie again simply because they are so intense and depressing. And I always go back to see how he’s torturing some new leading lady and the audience. After Dogville, however, I have made this promise to myself because the movie is depressing and just not very good.

How can you go wrong in a movie with both Nicole Kidman and Patricia Clarkson? It must difficult since they both turn in their usual magnificent performances, but it was successfully mishandled nevertheless. The movie's fatal flaw is that von Trier seems to have a message to get across, but what was it exactly? I thought at first that maybe it was a commentary on the treatment of new arrivals to the West. Then I thought maybe it was a more general comment on how the strong treat the weak. And then recalling the wispy lady martyrs in his other movies, I thought maybe this was his ham handed stab at feminist commentary.

Well, I was wrong. All my attempts to find a message in this potentially fascinating movie were blown apart at the closing credits. Literally at the credits. It’s just a plain ol’ rant about how evil American society. Well, geez Lars. I live in Canada. All I have to do is walk down the street and I’m bound to hear something anti-American, but thanks for accepting my money to be permitted the privilege of hearing your informed views on the matter.

What’s that? Informed views? Von Trier is very proud of how has never set foot in the States and how he has no plans to do so? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if you’re going to make some sort of grand statement, shouldn’t you really get a feel for what you’re commenting on? I dimly remember from my university days that primary sources carry much more weight than anecdotal evidence. Maybe von Trier should go take a look before he begins to comment on the internal workings of a country that isn’t his. Well, because we all know how awful the States is anyways. It’s just a given, right? It is just and right to comment on the States, but it falls flat when backed up by nothing but rhetoric and self-importance. If the movie had been about American imperialism, that would be one thing. But it was simply a hypocritical rehash that we've all seen before despite it's original packaging.

Now, why is it that we are very politically correctly abhor ethnocentrism, except for as it applies to Americans. I have actually heard people who would not accept this abut any other group of people, justify that they can make all the generalizations because they have American friends who are “different from that”, so that somehow means they know what they’re talking about. That’s the oldest and most flawed argument in cultural debate, no one would say, “I have Jewish/Muslim/Black etc friends so…” without being thoroughly castigated. But if it’s Americans, feel free to make as many generalizations and be as rude as you like.

I am no fan of the current American government. Their internal policy is disgusting and their foreign policy is terrifying. I wholeheartedly hope that they are voted out in November. I have also experienced American arrogance (as well as French, British, Swedish, and especially Canadian arrogance, by the way) but this does not give me leave to vilify an entire population when half of them were misled and the other half do not support the current administration. But, you’re allowed to do so when it comes to Americans, and only Americans. This politically correct hypocrisy is fascinating to observe.

Now please don’t talk to me about evil American foreign policy and tell me stories about stupid Americans who’ve come up to Canada in July expecting to ski. I am against the current foreign policies too. I also used to work with tourists, so I know that there are stupid ones from everywhere and smart ones from everywhere as well. People should just think a little before they open their mouth, that’s all.

What a rant. All because of that silly movie too. The good news is that the heat broke in the theatre, transforming it into a sauna, so we all got free passes. Yay! I got my money back after paying to see this drivel. Then Sexy Librarian (not the author of the link somewhere to the right of these words) and I went and drank martinis and tried to get something out of the movie, and failed. The conversation then understandably turned to boys, as all good conversations over martinis should.

And now I have a hangover and have to clean my messy apartment as I have a friend from Montreal staying here for the long weekend. I like my life.



Haphazardly thrown together by Surly
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