Monday, July 2, 2012

Man Bites Dog - Movie Review

Before I watched it:
I had read a lot about this Belgian movie on many movie forums. I was intrigued by the fact that the movie was by a bunch of first-timers. Three of them - Remy, Andre and Benoit have written, acted, directed and produced this film. The movie was lying in my hard disk for a long time. But it was only after I saw its framed poster put up on the walls of Anurag Kashyap's residence during one of my short visits, did I finally made it a  point to watch the film.

About the movie in brief:
The movie stylized in black and white, tells the story of a few documentary makers and their experiences with a serial killer Ben. The documentary makers go around the town with Ben and take shots of Ben explaining to them how he goes about his business of killing people, his trademark traits, his methodology, his girlfriend's love for music, his own poetry and so on. The movie has been mostly shot with a hand held camera since majority of the scenes depict the documentary crew shooting Ben and his serial killing antics

The humour:
The movie is a dark comedy you could say. One instance, Ben goes goes to an old woman's house. Having seen pills for heart disease on the table, he infers that the woman has weak heart. So instead of pulling the trigger/strangling her (that he normally does) he just takes the old woman by surprise by shouting into her ear loudly. She gets an attack and dies! One other scene, he kills a black person. He makes several racist remarks as he kills him. Not enough, to check the validity of a popular claim, he actually opens the dead man's pant.

The Violence:
The movie is graphically violent to say the least. For someone who liked Clockwork Orange and the likes of it, it was no problem digesting some of the graphically disturbing portions of the film. (But others, do not complain after watching it) The film gets more violent as it progresses. In fact the documentary crew get so involved with Ben and his killing spree that they too get involved in the process. One instance, the crew along with Ben take a couple hostage and gang rapes the woman while her partner is held at gunpoint. The next morning scene shows the couple butchered to death and the crew just clean up the place and throw away the bodies.

In one other scene, Ben is having dinner with his family. He kills one of the guests, taking everyone by surprise . The gun shot comes out of no where actually! The response by the others is actually funny! They pretend as if nothing happened and greet Ben with gifts (who is now back home after recovering from an injury) The climax is mostly the downfall of Ben as he is hunted down by his enemies (not specially who) One scene in particular where Ben's relatives are killed one after another, they show his girlfriend, who plays the flute, killed in a horrifying manner )with the flute inserted painfully somewhere) and that scene itself speaks for the absurdity and the disturbing tine with which the movie carries itself through.

What I liked:
What really strikes me about the movie is that it has been shot on a modest budget. The writers have gone onto direct, produce and cast themselves. And most of the scenes are not extravagant. The writing is simple and to the point. Even the camera work is in first person perspective with the hand held camera movement mostly (no over the top crane shots, panning via dollies et all) It just goes to show hoe the crew overcame their limitations in budget to their advantage. Also, since the movie is mostly the scenes form the documentary itself, the background score is a minimum too (mostly natural ambiance) It should be a great example of making cinema for budding film makers.

That apart, the movie a random-absurd-violent journey that has been stylized well and keeps you entertained with its dark humour throughout. Acting by Ben should get special mention here. Some of the monologues in the movie, he has delivered them really well. Written well and kept crisp, do watch it one. Its a 'different' cinema.

The movie is in French. Comes with subtitles. (Some of you may not like that.. Anyway, majority of European cinema comes that way.)

Luckily the movie is available on Youtube, Check it out below:-

Oh and here is the Wiki link, if you need it.

Contributed by Poorna Chandra