165 Man Bites Dog

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Martha
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165 Man Bites Dog

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:11 pm

Man Bites Dog

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Documentary filmmakers Andre and Remy have found an ideal subject in Ben. He is witty, sophisticated, intelligent, well liked--and a serial killer. As Andre and Remy document Ben's routines, they become increasingly entwined in his vicious program, sacrificing their objectivity and their morality. Controversial winner of the International Critics' Prize at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, Man Bites Dog stunned audiences worldwide with its unflinching imagery and biting satire of media violence.

Special Features

- New digital transfer, enhanced for widescreen televisions
- 1993 video interview with the filmmakers
- No C4 for Daniel-Daniel, a student short by the filmmakers
- Stills gallery
- Theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

#2 Post by Matt » Mon Aug 08, 2005 12:12 am

Stephen Holden's original review from the New York Times:
How can "Man Bites Dog" affect the escalating level of violence in the movies and on television? Is it part of the problem or the solution? Or is it merely a sensationalistic cinematic prank unworthy of serious discussion? Such debate is likely to be stirred up by the Belgian movie's New York Film Festival screenings this evening at 6:15 and tomorrow at midnight in Alice Tully Hall.

Two things can safely be said about this pseudo-documentary of a serial killer, which won the International Critics' Prize earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, directed and co-written by its three young producers, who also appear in it, is jam-packed with graphic violence. And its gun-toting, speed-rapping subject, Ben (Benoit Poelvoorde), has the edgy charisma of James Woods in one of his more maniacal star turns.

In the film's opening moments, Ben is shown accosting a woman in a railway car, forcing her into a compartment and biting at her coat like a mad dog. The sequence is funny in a Dadaist sort of way. Moments later, Ben is exuberantly explaining to the camera how much weight in water human corpses of different ages are likely to take on when thrown off a bridge.

A complete exhibitionist, he boasts of being nicknamed "the octopus" for his ability to wiggle so many different parts of his body independently of one another, and offers a demonstration. He has no qualms about being filmed throwing up in a restaurant after ingesting some tainted mussels. To the accompaniment of mock-pastoral fantasy sequences, he proudly recites his own ghastly romantic verses.

But the character is also casually, viciously racist and xenophobic. One of his first murders is of a black night watchman, whose trousers he unzips while titteringly inspecting the size of the man's genitals. Ben murders both for sport and for money. Forcing his way into an old woman's apartment on the pretext of doing a television interview about loneliness and old age, he puts a gun to her head, screams, "Granny snuff!" and scares her to death. He knew he wouldn't have to shoot, he boasts afterward, because on entering her apartment, he spied her heart medication. Seconds later, he has plucked her life savings from under a mattress and gleefully waved them at the camera.

As the killing spree intensifies, it becomes clear that the two-man camera crew attending Ben at all times is not about to step in and stop the violence. In fact, they are active collaborators who help prepare the action. More than that, it is their mere presence that incites him to new levels of virtuosic savagery. When Ben methodically slaughters a well-to-do couple and their little boy in their suburban home, at his instruction the sound man obligingly moves in to record the crunch of a neck being broken. The film's most disturbing scene graphically depicts a rape as well as a double murder.

"Man Bites Dog," which was filmed in grainy black-and-white and has the jerky momentum of cinema-verite, is a grisly sick joke of a film that some will find funny, others simply appalling. On one level, it is an in-joke about movie making, since one reason given for Ben's rampage is the need to steal enough money to make the documentary.

On another level, the film satirizes real-life television shows that purport to take viewers into the thick of the action. It suggests how profoundly the presence of the camera affects events, and thumbs its nose at the very notion of documentary objectivity. In one of the film's most blatant bits of satire, a film crew member shot in the line of duty is mawkishly eulogized by his surviving partner.

"Man Bites Dog" is not the only selection in this year's film festival to find a causal relationship between television and movie violence and real-life homicide. The Austrian film "Benny's Video" explores similar notions with an icy elegance that is the stylistic opposite of the semi-improvised freneticism of "Man Bites Dog."

Although "Benny's Video" pushes its pessimism a bit too insistently, it is the more resonant of the two films. "Man Bites Dog," by contrast, gets carried away with its own cleverness. It makes the audience the butt of a nasty practical joke.

richast2
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#3 Post by richast2 » Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:14 am

According to the Hollywood Reporter (by way of the BBC), Remy Balveaux has died

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Lemmy Caution
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#4 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:37 pm

Sad to hear. Age 38. Cause of death as yet unreported.
The correct spelling of his name is Rémy Belvaux.
I didn't realize that he'd switched over to doing commercials.

I usually don't watch (or enjoy) violent films, but I laughed my way through Man Bites Dog. Just found it completely hilarious.

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Mr Sausage
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#5 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Sep 07, 2006 5:08 pm

According to the Hollywood Reporter (by way of the BBC), Remy Balveaux has died
No use cluttering up this thread when we have a perfectly good thread dedicated entirely to this subject right here.
Last edited by Mr Sausage on Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lemmy Caution
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#6 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:01 am

With two posts in a year and a half, I assume you are joking about cluttering up the thread.

I would have thought Man Bites Dog would have generated alot more conversation (unless it already did elsewhere). it is a deliberately provocative film, dealing with the ways in which we are fascinated by violence, how the media prostitutes itself for a story with few ethical cocnerns, and even a parody of how difficult it is to finance a film and find an interseting subject.

I thought this was near genius, though it might get a little repetitive. I haven't re-watched it yet, because the first go-round lodged in my head so thoroughly. Also, it is a little bit of a deep immersion experience that one needs to be up for. Lastly, I'm mildly worried that it won't hold up as well on a second viewing.

Has anyone gone in for repeat viewings of MBD? Thoughts?

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pauling
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#7 Post by pauling » Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:20 am

I've watched it probably a half dozen times over the years and while it may have lost that initial nasty edge it has not lost any of it's power. I find it to be wicked, nasty fun with every viewing and it's social relevance has only grown over time.

richast2
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#8 Post by richast2 » Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:21 am

I think there may have been a longer thread for this film before all the posts disappeared. Anyway, I've seen this one several times, and it certainly holds up. What's really scary is that it's just as poignant now as it was in 1992, if not more so.

Cinesimilitude
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#9 Post by Cinesimilitude » Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:48 am

I echo the above two posts, This is one of my favorite films in the collection, I especially love showing it to people who've never seen anything like it.

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arsonfilms
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#10 Post by arsonfilms » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:07 pm

I'm very fond of breaking this one out when I have company and somebody suggests watching a "comedy."

Although there are other films in the collection I would sooner classify as favorites, I have to admit that this is one of the ones I've watched the most. It was fairly unnerving the first time I saw it, but every viewing after just got funnier and funnier, but the tension stays intact. It truly is a great film.

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Mr Sausage
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#11 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:49 pm

With two posts in a year and a half, I assume you are joking about cluttering up the thread.
Just because it's empty doesn't mean we have to throw our garbage in it. "Cluttering" in this case meaning something different than "filling."

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Lemmy Caution
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#12 Post by Lemmy Caution » Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:36 am

I'm always glad when someone revives an old thread.
Anyway, some posts appear more filling than others.

Nice to hear that Man Bites Dog holds up on repeat viewings.
Hopefully I can get to it soon, despite my serious backlog of DVDs.
Maybe I'll spring it on an unsuspecting friend.

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