Night and Day: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
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Bryce Dallas Howard in ‘Manderlay.’
PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah

It’s official now: Lars von Trier has lost his damn mind. Because he’s so much of both a genius and a fraud, the Danish film director has always inspired debate. His latest film Manderlay will inspire no debate, however, because his stupidity and rhetorical heaviness have finally overwhelmed his visual gifts.

You see, even though von Trier’s distaste for traveling by airplane has kept him from ever visiting this country, he still sets his movies in America. The bleak portrait he presented in Dancer in the Dark and Dogville had critics crying anti-Americanism (wrongly — von Trier despises people no matter where they’re from). The country depicted in those movies was one of his own imagination rather than any real place, as the blatantly nonrealistic staging in Dogville showed.

The sequel to that movie, Manderlay makes it unhappily clear that von Trier thinks he has something to say about the actual America. Taking over the role vacated by Nicole Kidman, Bryce Dallas Howard plays a gangster’s daughter who discovers a community in the 1930s American South that still practices slavery. The resulting story offers up racial insights so stupefyingly obvious that Crash looks like a marvel of subtlety by comparison. (And you wonder why the Muslims are pissed off at Denmark right now.) If you can sit through it, Manderlay shows you what happens when a talented filmmaker chokes on his hubris.

Manderlay screens Fri-Sun at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $5.50-7.50. Call 817-738-9215.


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