Hundstage * Ulrich Seidl (2001)

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dog days

“Hundstage” means “dog days”. Webster defines “dog days” as: 1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere; 2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity”.
Also here it has been way too hot for a way too long period, so I found this a proper situation to watch this film. The film shows two days in some newly built villa district in Germany and simply shows what people do on such days. Just laying aside the pool or in the garden, nagging people who give you a lift, selling alarm systems, going to swingclubs, inviting the boyfriend in the house of the ex, haressing a woman, beating the girlfriend around because the boy is too jalous, etc. The film consists of short scenes without any order or structure and the viewer is left to guess who was who. Seidl is often compared to Michael Haneke and not without a reason. Also Seidl’s filming is very sharp, explicit, taboobreaking and yet it shows daily life in our current society. This can be both confronting and disarming. Of course a woman walks around in her underwear inside the house on a hot day, but you usually don’t see that. Of course a woman prepares the arrival of her lover by putting on sexy underwear and finding her best position, but you usually don’t see that. On the other hand, a lovesick and jealous boy tries to impress his girlfriend and gets angry when he thinks she has her way with someone else; and another young man with a crooked love-life falls in love with a woman who is nice to him. Like Haneke, Seidl ‘puts the finger on the sore spot’ and enlarges the situations which make them look both natural and absurd and mostly: makes you think about things that normally seem trivial.
“Hundstage” as a film is alright. There are some very strong scenes, but also many mediocre ones. The idea is nice, but many situations have nothing to do anymore with the “dog days” and could have taken place on any day. Just a nice film to see some time, especially when you like Haneke.

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