Monday, October 23, 2006

Austrian men love the cockroach

The latest film I've seen is Hundstage, or Dog Days -- an Austrian film in the style of Short Cuts, Magnolia, Code Unknown, etc: a peek into the lives of various characters whose lives interact with one another's on some insanely hot summer days.

Generally speaking, I like this movie device, simply because it really is one of the most realistic ways of looking at our lives outside of a documentary format. Sure, the stories can be somewhat contrived (I thought Crash was very disappointing, for example), but in essence we all know people who know people that we don't know, so on that level these films succeed.

Some of the key characters in Dog Days include a young retarded woman who is constantly looking to hitch a ride, almost always managing to do so; a security-systems salesman; an old widower and his helper; a separated husband and wife who still live together following the death of their son; and a mature unmarried couple.

In many ways, this is a brutal, ugly film. It focuses almost exclusively on the nasty side of people and the dirty secrets that most would probably want to keep hidden. But you are drawn to these characters, really wanting to know what is going to happen to them next, even though you suspect it can't be anything good. And mostly your suspicions are right.

The two standout scenes are those in which people are forced to sing "La Cucaracha". These have at least as much tension to them as most latter-day horror movies.

If you like the films of Michael Haneke, you will probably like this. It's no fun, and its underlying theme seems to be that Austrian men are mostly really horrible, but it's well made, gripping, and challenging.
I give it 65 out of 100.

Next: Palindromes


Blogger Red said...

Throughout this film, I just had no idea where it was going to go next. It was suspenseful and unpredictable, while still feeling horribly realistic.

One of the stand-out scenes for me was when the security guy decides to find a guilty party (any guilty party) for the scratching of the cars. You just know it's going downhill from then on... People are nasty, man.

I wouldn't watch it again in a hurry, but I thought it was great.

23 October, 2006 07:55  
Blogger Milla said...

I will check this film out, thank you for your reviews. I cannot miss my chance of seeing someone other than Speedy Gonzalez sing 'La Cucaracha'.

23 October, 2006 12:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a very talented director and realistic actors. I love when a movie can put you into the movie enough to actually care what happens to the characters. Good review!

23 October, 2006 13:17  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

I forgot to mention it in the review, but it's worth noting that most of the actors were non-professionals and/or first-timers, while the director comes from a documentary background, this being his first non-documentary film.

23 October, 2006 13:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've actually never heard of this. Will have to see if I can find it. I have seen Palindromes though...I'll be interested in hearing what you though.

65 out of 100....

Nice rating system. ;)

23 October, 2006 16:53  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow... i'll have to look into this. thanks, as always, for the movie reviews... my netflix que is growing :)

23 October, 2006 20:51  
Blogger Shep said...

Uh-oh. Palindromes. I haven't bin that disappointed in a film for ages. I still remember the bad taste in my mouth walking back through Clapham Common in the rain all those years ago, cursing the Picturehouse for building up and knocking down my expectations...

24 October, 2006 00:12  
Blogger Will said...

Don't blame the Picturehouse, Shep!

24 October, 2006 16:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Steve: Hope to get the Palindromes review up soon. Gotta watch it first, obviously.

Martha: We're going to have to take a break from our LoveFilm thing (similar to your Netflix) because we just don't have the time to watch much at the mo. Glad your list is growing, though.

Shep: Bad, is it? Well, wish me luck then...

Will: Yeah, I thought that was a bit harsh, but don't tell Shep I said so.

24 October, 2006 16:36  

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