Thursday, September 29, 2005

C'est arrivé près de chez vous (Man Bites Dog)

Starring: Benoît Poelvoorde

Before there was 'Natural Born Killers' there was the Belgian movie, 'Man Bites Dog'. This movie was made by Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux, andAndré Bonzel as a student project. The actors playing Ben's immediate family are his family in real life, and his grandparents manage a grocery store in the town where this was shot, as they do in the movie. (According to IMDB, they were unwitting participants in the movie.) Remy and Andre both feature in the movie as the journalist and cameraman who follow Ben around town as he rapes, maims, and kills people.

Ben is a serial killer who Remy and Andre are conducting a documentary on. The film is shot in black-and-white, which may be to make it look artistic, but is probably more because of the low budget - it is also mixed in mono. Some scenes are funny, but most are horrific in their depiction of graphic violence. The US version of this movie is missing a rather graphic scene involving a pregnant woman (so I'm told by a Belgian friend who loves this movie), which is probably a good thing, because the movie is stomach-churning as-is.

The violence in this movie is mind-numbing and it is worth watching purely because of the detachment one feels from Ben's victims (or one is forced to feel to avoid getting sick all over the carpet). Induces watching-oneself -from-above moments. The movie also puts forth the question of journalistic responsibility for the events they are filming, since Remy and Andre do nothing to stop Ben, and even participate in his crimes as the movie progresses. Given that many blame violence in the media for violent crime in society, I must say that I did not kill anyone after watching this movie.


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