Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#165: Man Bites Dog

(Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoit Poelvoorde, 1992)

This is the first film I've seen during this project that I actively didn't like. Man Bites Dog is about a crew of documentary filmmakers who follow a serial killer around, learning his thoughts on life and depicting his various murders. My biggest problem with the film is that you can figure out everything the filmmakers are saying - about the media, about violence, about the inherent contradiction in verité film - from that one sentence description of the film.

Most of the references I have seen to Man Bites Dog in the last decade have been praise of its ability to predict the artificial construct of reality television. Yet the themes explored here seem cliché and well-worn even for 1992. The non-stop violence and charming racist aggression the main character displayed were more tiresome than shocking: we've seen it all before, and after all isn't that what the filmmakers are supposed to be telling us in the first place?

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