- Man Bites Dog (1992) is a Belgian dark comedy about a film crew that follows the daily routine of a serial killer as he goes on killing and hurting people. But as time moves on, even they start participating in his wrongdoings.
This is one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen and it is a great satire on media. It talks about how people working in that industry would often themselves commit crimes in order to get a sensational story. They would go till any lengths to get something violent and controversial.
Benoit Poolveoorde is the lead and he is very charming. He’s always giving his thoughts on various subjects and he is hilarious. You are made to identify and relate with him. But every time he commits a crime, the film makes us question ourselves over whether we enjoyed seeing him do that. And I think that’s extremely smart. The film shows how we often lose our humanity in order to just enjoy ourselves. You’ll be laughing as he goes on killing people in the first half but after a point you’ll ask yourself, “should I be laughing at this?”. This message is what the directors are trying to convey to us.
The film is made in a mokumentary format and it often feels like the events that we are seeing are actually real. I think this stylistic choice was pretty great because it suits the film’s shoe string budget. Man Bites Dog is an amazing example of independent filmmaking. It’s been made in the hands of barely 3-4 people, that too students. And they’ve succeeded in showing an entertaining character study and in making us actually think about humanity.
- RIO BRAVO (1959)
Rio Bravo is about the sheriff of a small town in Texas who must keep custody of a murderer whose powerful brother is trying to get him out of there. The sheriff and his deputies – a “bar fly” and an “old cripple” must find a way to ensure that they are not able to help him escape.
Howard Hawks is one of the most important figures in American cinema, with this film I loved how he’s blocked and framed every scene. He positions every character in very interesting places in the frame. This aspect of the film could be studied in film schools. I like how he portrays the lead in his films. His lead character is always this cool and professional guy. He’s given this persona or attitude that makes us believe that he is capable enough to deal with whatever problem comes his way. This idea of masculinity went on to inspire many films.
Rio Bravo is what Tarantino calls a “hangout movie”. It’s not heavy on plot, you just see these characters hanging out, and by the time the movie is over you are friends with them. I loved the dialogues, the whole movie relies on the constant bickering between these characters. This approach to story telling actually made me care for them.
The characters have all been given a lot of layers. We are told a lot about their past. It’s entertaining to see them struggle in these dangerous situations. The film focuses a lot on their relationships with each other. John Wayne, the biggest Western star of that time is very charismatic and so are Dean Martin, Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson. They all share great chemistry. The production design is stunning, and the action sequences are uniquely classy.
All in all, Rio Bravo is a well directed western with crisp dialogues and great performances. The pacing may be an issue for those who are new to this genre, but just stick with it, because once you’re sucked into this world, you’ll have a great time.