MANDERLAY | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
In the second film of his (anti-)American trilogy, Lars von Trier takes us to a slave-holding plantation -- circa 1930s (sic). The South hasn't exactly risen again because at Manderlay -- a hotbed of shocking secrets -- it never fell. The slaves, led by Wilhelm (Danny Glover), are freed upon the arrival of Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who takes command when Manderlay's aging mistress (Lauren Bacall) dies. We first met Grace, the estranged daughter of a gangster (Willem Dafoe), in Dogville (played then, with disquieting intensity, by Nicole Kidman). In both films, von Trier stages the action on a virtually bare set, with chalk outlines representing walls and streets. His dogma is just as stark and has nothing good to say about America's piteously puerile culture. Though always interesting, Manderlay is more contrived than its compelling predecessor. The final installment, Wasington (sic), will end von Trier's bleak exegesis on a place he's never visited, but that all the world knows too well. Squirrel Hill (HK)

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