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April 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 Apr 1994 11:19:40 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I loved this movie, for all its ability to disgust and humor and make me
I was struck not only by the way it shows the camera crew's inability to
remain objective recorders of their subject, but more generally by the
way the movie shows the recorder/recorded relationship to be absolutely
permeable/reflexive.  The crew operating costs are paid by the killer's
robbery/murder-begotten money, right?  Also, the scene in which the killer
plays back a fouled up attempt at strangling a postman is intriguing.  We'
re first shown the playback on full screen, so it seems to be the product of
the crew--the Author of the documentary--then the camera pulls back to show
us that in fact we were watching the killer's "version" of his own botched
work, slowed down for analysis purposes.  Who's the "author" here, not only
of the movie, but of the crimes as well?  All the bits in which the killer
sings "Cinema, cinema; je suis le cinema" suggest that cinema IS violence.
This is a homologism which I've heard batted around often in discussions
of violent film, but never have I seen it so well (and so sarcastically)
depicted as in this film.
  I wonder if the playback scene is in conscious reference to a similar
scene in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer?  In which case Man Bites
Dog's self-reflexive references to itself as violent cinema/cinematic
violence goes one mirror deeper.
  Susan Crutchfield