REVIEW: Get Low

Get Low
Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Written by: Chris Provenzano & C. Gaby Mitchell (screenplay)
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black

Get Low, the feature directorial debut from Aaron Schneider, is a lot of things; visually enthralling, emotionally poignant, and terrifically acted are among them.  The hardest thing to figure out about it, though, is whether or not any of it is sincere.

Recluse Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) emerges from the woods after 40 years of near-solitude to plan his funeral.  Nothing too strange about that, until he announces to the planners (Bill Murray and Lucas Black) that he wishes to not only have it while he’s still alive, but sell tickets and have people tell stories about him.  Based partly on a folk tale and partly on writer ingenuity, Get Low traces Felix and his preposterous task and sees it all the way through the ceremony.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Dogville

Dogville
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Patricia Clarkson, and James Caan

You’ll notice while watching Dogville that the town doesn’t actually exist.  Not in any literal sense that is, but in the minds of the actors and the ideals of the provoc-auteur behind it, the fictional non-town comes fully to life.  Lars von Trier, hell-bent on eliminating elements he deems unnecessary in films, has this time decided to completely remove an actual setting from his movie.  Instead all of the actors, big ones mind you, walk around a stage marked with condescending street names and flimsy outlines of houses.  You can see the entire population, and you often do.

For three rapturous hours von Trier holds and sustains a mood without anything but people, white lines, and some flimsy set pieces.  It’s a terrific feat all by itself, but added to the material is a script powered by ideas and filled with allegory.  He may have never been to America, but he sure knows how this country sees itself.  He approaches the filming as if he were watching a village of ants, often looking from above and then zooming in with his magnifying glass.

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