REVIEW: Margin Call

Margin Call
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
Written by: J.C. Chandor (screenplay)
Starring: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany

Margin Call, along with Melancholia, are two movies that are helping reshape the distribution model of otherwise-limited release films.  With the help of outlets like Amazon, iTunes and other VOD (Video On Demand, get used to it) services, they are reaching audiences that arguably would never have seen them otherwise.

Of course, it helps that both of these films are exceptionally well done.  Margin Call is about the beginning of the financial crisis, examining the movers and shakers responsible for kick-starting it.  Its keen examination of this world driven purely by gambling is shot in smooth, sophisticated darkness.  Every board room is glossed over, though every frame conveys a sense of dread and impending doom (The same can be said of Melancholia).

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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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