2.8

Hounddog

Movies Reviews Deborah Kampmeier
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Hounddog

Release Date: Sept. 19
Director/Writer: Deborah Kampmeier
Cinematographers: ?Jim Denault, Edward Lachman, Stephen Thompson
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Piper Laurie, David Morse, Robin Wright Penn
?Studio/Run Time: ?Empire Film Group, 93 mins.

Once-controversial film is really just unsophisticated

Splashed on the pages of The New York Times and breathlessly blurbed on The Drudge Report, a controversial little film called Hounddog was the talk of Sundance in 2007. But the fever broke, and more than a year-and-a-half later the film is opening in a small number of theaters with nary a peep about its once-controversial scene.

The film follows a little girl, wonderfully played by a 12-year-old
Dakota Fanning, who lives in the Deep South with her lecherous father
and stern grandmother. The scene that caused the uproar, in which the
girl is raped in a barn, turns out to be so thick with expressionistic
shadows that the concerns for Fanning’s safety seem misplaced. It’s so
chastely shot with hints and suggestions that the actors may not have
even been on the set at the same time. Far more disturbing is the way
the girl repeatedly sings “Hound Dog” in her underwear at the
insistence of salivating adult males. It’s a gothic nightmare, a green
garden crawling with snakes.

The film’s comical treatment of the South resembles Black Snake Moan,
but instead of embracing its pulpy nature, it aims for seriousness,
then gives us cornpone performances, a lightning bolt that triggers a
tractor’s ejector seat, and a simple-minded view of saintly black folk
who possess a dangerous blues.