September 5, 2010

Popee: All Dogs Go to Hollywood to Die

You'll have to be an ardent dog-lover to get into the spirit of Kim Ji-hyun's pseudo-documentary Popee. A weird mix of "true crime" re-enactments of very un-criminal moments surrounding the death of the family dog ("Popee") and naturalistic interviews with various dog owners who flounder and falter as they discuss animal consciousness ("Do dogs dream? Do they know their names? What are they thinking?"), this hour-long video -- hardly a movie -- holds a small fascination for people who like to see the raw, awkward output of weekend artists committed to decidedly non-commercial, personal endeavors. This is what happens when someone has the power to round up a bunch of friends to man the cameras and stand in front of them, talent be damned. Many of the anecdotes -- especially one concerning a woman who buys a sick German Shepherd from an unsympathetic pet shop owner -- feel overly scripted; others -- like the one about the titular dog mating with all the female dogs in the neighborhood -- reflect poorly on the owners. Evidently, Kim made a sequel called Cats six years later. In another six years, I suppose we can expect the final entry in the trilogy: Birds.

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