In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.


Man Bites Dog

"What's blacker than black?"

Man Bites Dog. Now there's a sardonic film for you. Gory, gruesome and made on the world's smallest budget, this clockwork-orange-esque ultraviolent shockumentary is also hilarious, which is painful to sensitive audience members such as myself. Truth is, I'm not big on the violence genre. I don't like rape scenes and murders, so I am not disposed to like this film. I am a delicate and gentle viewer. Which makes me the perfect victim for this particular filmic joke. You see, this film makes fun of the viewer for doing exactly what they are supposed to do: view. Lemme explain. It's a visual thumbscrew. The relentless escapades of the film's main character, a fictitious mass-murderer, are interspersed with heart-warming home videos of the many meaningful relationships in his life. You quickly learn, along with the camera crew (played by the writers/film crew), that if you wish to enjoy this sparkling and dynamic performer you must prepare yourself to watch him kill anyone else who enters the screen. And you can be sure that if he is being nice to a little boy in one scene he will be murdering an old lady in the next. This kind of compromise as a viewer is devastating. And at the same time fascinating. The writers further cut the distance between subject and audience by playing themselves playing themselves in this controversial slam on the documentary form and on media in general. We are the camera crew, and the proximity is, at times, overwhelming.

The Belgians in question are Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde (who plays the truly inspired philosopher/killer Ben).

Favorite Moment: Camera and microphone get separated.


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