Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

29 October 2006

Lauren Bacall Double Feature

Now, I liked Dogville a lot. That ending really satisfied in a cool way. But Lars von Trier's follow-up to Dogville, which is entitled Manderlay is a whole other ball of wax. The film centers around a plantation in the early 1920's that is still under slavery. Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard) takes over the plantation, freeing the slaves and introducing her own (obviously colonialist) régime on the slaves. It's a move that obviously echoes the United States' nation-building agenda in Iraq. The film asks all sorts of questions about race, racialization, sexual desire, democracy and hard work. The trouble is, the film is boring beyond belief. It's so dreary, in fact, I was actively wishing that it would end by the 1-hour mark. Mona Hammond gives a lovely, moving performance as the oldest of the slaves at Manderlay, but Danny Glover is boring and Lauren Bacall is in the film so little, I barely remembered her by the end of the film. Chloë Sevigny & Jeremy Davies, who (along with Bacall) were in Dogville, have a kind of cameo, but are given nothing to do. Not recommended.

This morning I woke up at 4:00a and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to watch an old movie. Luckily I had The Big Sleep on hand from Netflix (apropos, no?). I'd never seen The Big Sleep and it had been recommended by one of my TD friends here in Tally. It did not disappoint. It's a classic, obviously, but it deserves its classic status. It's directed by Howard Hawks and based on a Raymond Chandler story. Hawks makes every woman in the film a gorgeous beauty and it's filled with sparkling dialogue and excellent delivery by Bogart, Bacall and Dorothy Malone. Totally excellent. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do.