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Man Bites Dog - Criterion Collection
Man Bites Dog - Criterion Collection
Actors: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Jean-Marc Chenut, Olivier Cotica, Rachel Deman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2002     1hr 35min

Documentary filmmakers André and Rémy have found an ideal subject in Ben. He is witty, sophisticated, intelligent, well liked-and a serial killer. As André and Rémy document Ben's routines, they become increasingly entwine...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Jean-Marc Chenut, Olivier Cotica, Rachel Deman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/24/2002
Original Release Date: 01/15/1993
Theatrical Release Date: 01/15/1993
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 32
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR
Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
Much more brutally twisted than American Psycho. Although excruciatingly painful to watch, I was unable to do anything else.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Depraved Low Budget Shocker
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 11/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Criterion Collection brings film lovers some of the most engaging, challenging pictures ever made. National borders mean little to the folks at this DVD company; they will release American films as readily as they will European cinema or documentaries about African dictators. Moreover, Criterion does not flinch from controversial films because they contain controversial themes. Thanks to this company, we can readily obtain excellent versions of Paul Morrissey's "Flesh for Frankenstein" and "Blood for Dracula" along with the ultra violent "Robocop." I have yet to fully explore the depths of Criterion's film catalog, but their other discs must surely be as interesting as the titles I have viewed so far. Criterion finally released one of my favorite foreign films, the independent little gem entitled "C'est Arrive Pres de Chez Vous," oddly translated as "Man Bites Dog." Made in Belgium a little over a decade ago, this fascinating movie viciously satirizes the media and its love for dramatic violence. Criterion not only presents this movie with a heap of extras, they also restored the film to its uncut form. This is important because the version I watched nearly ten years ago was missing two scenes that are arguably the most shocking parts in the entire film. Filmed entirely in the style of a black and white documentary, "Man Bites Dog" is an often outrageous excursion into the underground world of a sadistic thug named Benoit, a travelogue of the daily activities and random thoughts of a bloodthirsty sociopath. Most of the time he robs the elderly of their pensions, commits burglaries, drinks himself silly, or kills innocent people for no other reason than that he feels like it. In several scenes we see Ben instructing the film crew on how to weigh down bodies so they will not float when he dumps the corpses into an abandoned rock quarry. His associates are mostly a rather seedy lot: he often visits an aging woman of questionable virtue and hangs out with an obnoxious boxer. Good old Benny is not above suddenly killing a pal in a fit of rage, or giving an old woman a fatal heart attack by screaming at the top of his lungs into her face. This guy is a piece of work, but what truly makes the film painful to watch is how Benoit gradually lures the filmmakers into sharing his gruesome crimes. In a way, and this is the real genius of "Man Bites Dog," the viewer can sometimes understand why the documentarians become involved in Benoit's shenanigans. Even as he commits the most despicable of crimes, this hooligan is truly a charming character with many endearing traits. He often waxes philosophic about such disparate topics as architecture and poetry, has a lady friend who takes him to art galleries, and his generosity to the filmmakers chronicling his life knows no bounds. Benny is always willing to buy a drink or pitch in to help pay for more film because he enjoys the company of his newfound buddies. Watching this guy play with children in the street even though he committed an atrocious crime against a youth in another scene presents the documentarians, and by extension the viewer, with a moral quandary not easily resolved. Benoit does not represent what Hannah Arendt referred to as the "banality of evil" but rather an "ambiguity of evil," and it makes pigeonholing this character at times extremely problematic. To make it even more difficult for the viewer to hate Benoit, his likeable mother and grandfather appear from time to time. But abhor him you will, especially after seeing the aftermath of a robbery in the suburbs and an encounter with a couple in an apartment after an all-night drunk. "Man Bites Dog" is a challenging film.Even worse, this movie is often quite funny in the way only the blackest of comedies can achieve. Benoit's overdramatic French dialogue is a scream, and many of his views on life are just downright hysterical. You cannot help but laugh when Benoit forces the camera crew to rebury bodies that have suddenly reappeared when the quarry goes dry. I think one of the funniest scenes in the movie occurs when a member of the documentary crew dies as a result of Benoit's activities and we see a member of the crew eulogize him on camera. When another filmmaker dies later in the film, this same guy performs another eulogy nearly indistinguishable from the first one. I have never felt as guilty about laughing during a film as I have with this one because I knew I just should not, could not, dared not find this amusing, but in the end I just could not help myself from giggling over Ben's antics.The extras on the Criterion disc are not all that impressive. There is a film short starring the actor who played Benoit that is not that good, an interview with the filmmakers that is rather short and does not reveal much about the film, a still gallery, and some reviews concerning the movie. The transfer quality of the picture is excellent, though, as are the subtitles for this French language film. As far as I know, we have never seen anything further from the people responsible for "Man Bites Dog." Perhaps these guys were one hit wonders, and if so that is a darn shame. This movie is so brilliantly conceived and executed that it is difficult to imagine that whoever made it would slide into obscurity."
Darling I don't know why I go to Extremes
Dark Mechanicus JSG | Fortified Bunker, USSA | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let's get one thing straight right now: look carefully at Criterion's cover picture for "Man Bites Dog". Zoom in on it, take your time; I'll wait.

Got it? All clear in your mind what the Bad Man with the Gun is doing on the cover? That's right, that's a baby binky flying up out of that cloud of blood and brains and clotted gore.

Why a binky? Because I expect the baby was sucking on it before our hero Ben (Benoit Poelvoorde) showed up to do his thing.

His thing is killing people: men, women, postal workers, clerks, schoolgirls, elderly women with bad tickers, little kids, entire families. Come to think of it, "killing" doesn't get close to describing what Ben does to his victims---I'm thinking 'butcher' is closer to the truth. Anyway, a man's gotta have a hobby, and Ben sticks to what he knows best: slaughtering in pretty much every fashion imaginable.

Best of all, "Man Bites Dog" charts the rampaging wild rumpus of a whacked-out Belgian killer through the streets, attics, dive bars and country lanes by means of a documentary film crew---complete with narrator, camera-man, and two sound guys!---who follow and film Benoit's every brutal move.

Why did I start by asking you to check out the DVD cover art? Because you should know what you're getting into: this is a sick film. This is a warped, deranged, merciless little nugget of pure, horrible filth. If you get offended easily, if you're disturbed by what amounts to a stinking cinematic toilet of human filth and barbarity, if you find yourself saying "I'm Appalled!" a lot---trust me, stop reading, and stay far away from "Man Bites Dog".

Alright, are the Legions of the Appalled gone? Whew, excellent---now we can talk. "C'est Arrive Pres de Chez Vous" (which means "It Happened Close to your House", bafflingly translated stateside as "Man Bites Dog"; I don't know, don't ask---but it works) is one of the sickest, bleakest, funniest flicks I have ever seen, and perhaps the only decent thing to come out of Belgium besides the waffles.

Originally a student film shot with practically zero budget, "Man Bites Dog" astounds on a technical level: the cheap, grainy film and the bumping herky-jerky warzone feel of the photography add to the seamless, searing reality. The film crew that follows our snarky assassin around is the actual film crew that masterminded this brutal nugget of horror: director Remy Belvaux (Remy the reporter), director of photography Andre Bonzel (Andre the Cameraman)---even trigger-man Benoit worked on the screenplay.

We don't exactly know what Ben is, or how he makes his money and gets around: is he an assassin, petty criminal, mass murderer, happy sadist, philosopher? Does he do contract killing, or just slaughter people for sh*ts, giggles, and money?

The point seems to be: who knows? Who cares? Who says there has to be a reason? In the meantime:

*MARVEL as Ben regales his film crew with his thoughts on art, architecture, music, and social justice! Take a jaunt with him to hear his favorite floutist Jenny (Jenny Drye, who suffers a fate that shouldn't happen to a dog)show off her pipes!

*SWOON as Ben demonstrates: the best way to suffocate a victim with a plastic bag! PLUS---how to get rid of those pesky bodies using a tarp, a little rope, and a handy drainage ditch!

*EMPATHIZE as Ben complains about the lack of good help in holding down a potential victim these days, lecturing his film crew about the one that got away!

*APPROVE as Ben hangs wif da homeyz and accepts no sh*t on his birthday. Admit it: in his shoes, you'd do the same.

*SING with Benny as he shows off his singing voice after getting thrown out of a bar! See if you're not crooning "CINEMA! CINEMAAAAA!" long after the credits roll.

LAUGH as Ben and his film crew run into another serial killer---followed about by his *own* documentary film crew! Bullets fly, celluloid rolls!

Some reviewers try to gussy this thing up as an "astute social commentary". Come on. "Man Bites Dog" is divinely inspired, and it is what it is: it is honest, brutal, deadly, black gleeful fun. "Man Bites Dog"---I'll be honest---is terrible, perhaps, but it is also liberating.

There is something in many of us---perhaps most of us---that languishes beneath the shackles of our politically correct high-minded Republic of Nice (the bane and curse of 21st century democracies, where everyone takes pains not to offend)---something that longs for firebombs, and midnight massacres, and death squads: rapine, torture, carnage on a massive scale. I'm not saying that's not demonic, but the truth is---that Demon lurks in all of us. "Man Bites Dog" opens up the pen and slips the collar off for 90 minutes.

You'll laugh; maybe, if you're still human, you'll feel guilty about it afterwards (I didn't, but I'm a jaded creature). Ben is trenchant, witty, funny, totally loyal to his friends and devoted to his parents. He is, in his own warped way, considerably moral. He just happens to have shifted left where many of us shimmied right, and kills people for amusement, mega-bucks, and GREAT door prizes!

Whatever: see it. You'll find it is entirely possible to be deeply morally offended *and* laugh like a madman.

Merci Boucoup, Criterion
dej905 | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"MBD will undoubtedly receive its equal share of lovers and loathers...this is a very hard film to watch due to its extremity of the violence. Though its content is shocking to say the least, the overall effect is a startlingly satirical look at the media's fascination at peering from the safety of our collective couches at the levels of violence that run rampant in television. An extremely tight budgeted camera crew follow a poetry spouting serial killer through the streets of Belgium in a quasi-documentary. Adhering initially to the unofficial press "rule" of not interfereing with the outcome of events, they capture the horrific details of Benoit's bloodlust, which can only be equalled with the evident psychosis in his mind as He swings from controlled to chaotic. Ben is an interesting soul- friendly, charismatic and intelligent- which provides a pleasant yet disturbing contrast to the depravity of his actions. What gives MBD that extra degree of cinematic edge is the interviews with the crew and cast (all of which coincindently use their real names in the movie, adding a greater sense of realism)...where they argue about costs, running out of equipment and film, again spurring on the documentary feel on a fictional film. When the line is crossed by the crew from neutral observers to participants, they follow the same overall repercussions as our diabolical hero. Based on Criterion's history of giving beautiful transfers, I will be optimistic that MBD will recieve the similar royal treatment. Past VHS copies had both the Unrated Cut (which was missing the gruesome scene of Ben strangling a young boy) and the Unrated Director's Cut (aforementioned scene intact). From what I've heard, the DVD will be the unedited version. This important movie's message has become even more potent as the demand for "reality" shows has risen to ludicrous levels. We may find MBD distatesful and disturbing, but are we able to look away?"