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Man Bites Dog: The Criterion Collection

1992's Man Bites Dog (or in French C'est arrivé pres de chez , which translates to "It happened in your neighborhood") is a masterful comedy-turned-social satire that is as funny as it's pitch black. Done in mock-documentary style, Dog follows the exploits of a serial killer named Ben (co-director Benoit Poelvoorde), who has made a life of killing. The film shows his family (played by Poelvoorde's real-life family members) and his friends, but perhaps most importantly how Ben goes about his routine to finance his life and tastes through homicide. Yet the more time the film crew — led by their director Rémy (co-director Rémy Belvaux) — spend with him, the more they become complicit in Ben's crimes, as Ben finances the project that accidentally keeps killing off the sound men. When it was released stateside, Man Bites Dog made a splash due to its shocking depictions of violence, but like any good black comedy, it has to be unflinching to have purpose, or be funny. Directed by three young French film students (Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Poelvoorde), the film understands that, in a picture like this, comedy doesn't come from the violence but from the person who creates it. And though the story isn't much to look at, the filmmakers subtly keep increasing the involvement of both the audience and the documentarians who eventually take part in Ben's world. The humor comes from Poelvoorde, as he speaks endlessly about the way he goes about his killings, and his pomposity (without ever being flamboyantly so) is hilarious. But the story would be nothing if it took its violence lightly, and by the time the film comes to its moralistic conclusion, it's obvious that the Dog has a bite. Criterion's DVD release of Man Bites Dog presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and monaural French DD 1.0 (with optional English subtitles). Extras include a nine-minute interview with the directors, the trailer, stills, and a twelve-minute trailer the Dog filmmakers made during their college years for a fictitious movie. Keep-case.
—DSH



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