Saturday, October 01, 2005


My third film at the New York Film Festival was Manderlay. This ia a film, not a movie, if you get the distinction. Even before it began the producer warned us that we would not "enjoy" it. At the end, a couple of people actually booed. A lot more walked out in the middle.

It certainly is weird. But I should not have been surprised, given that is a Danish/Swedish/French exploration of race relations set on an Alabama cotton plantation worked by slaves who were freed by a passing gangster's daughter in 1934.

It is the second film of a trilogy by the Danish director-screenwriter Lars von Trier. The first film was Dogville, which I hadn't heard of, let alone seen. But I had seen von Trier's strange Breaking the Waves, which should have been warning enough.

Is it good? Is it bad? There's quite a bit of both, though for a 139 minute film it did hold my attention pretty well. The performances were excellent, especially Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace, the gangster's daughter, and Danny Glover as the house slave/butler. But the plot does take a leap in logic now and then--for instance, why didn't someone tell Grace what would happen if they cut down the trees?

My advice, though: unless you are really interested in this kind of film, don't bother.

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