Release Date: January 27, 2006
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Limited release

Lars von Trier attended the Bill Belichick school of fashion.

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Position Staff In Brief
20/76 Dan Krovich Von Trier's "USA Trilogy" is turning into a very fulfulling and interesting endeavor.

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Auteur Lars Von Trier's second trilogy began with a Nicole Kidman film called Dogville. This theatrical play about the intricacies of democracy immediately received a diverse Love it or Leave It reaction from critics worldwide. Some found the the underlying themes an insightful, acerbic attack on American culture, while others dismissed Von Trier as pretentious and self-serving.

What most responses indicated, though, was a willingness to see where the USA Trilogy series would go from there. Manderlay is the actualization of these responses. The movie will not, however, return its star actress.

When Nicole Kidman signed on to work with von Trier, her circumstances were much different. She was coming out of a well-publicized divorce, and she was looking to prove to the world that she was the great actress she had teased at being in Dead Calm and Flirting. Wagging tongues and, for that matter, most conventional wisdom held that she was instead only properly fit to play Mrs. Tom Cruise i.e. The Girl. This was something she had done in most of her Hollywood outings starting with Days of Thunder and Billy Bathgate and continuing up through Far and Away and The Peacemaker.

What happened during her divorce period was unexpected, though. Kidman struck gold with the mystical The Others and captivated audiences everywhere with Moulin Rouge! Even finding a spot in her schedule to shoot Dogville proved taxing but since von Trier had stood up for her, Kidman made certain to return the favor for him.

When the time came to start discussing the second production, though, all parties involved realized that Nicole Kidman no longer was a feasible participant in further efforts despite her professed intentions to find a way somehow. The trilogy could have taken as much as six years to fit into her schedule. Rather than wait for a gap on the actress's post-Stepford Wives/Bewitched calendar, Lars von Trier proceeded without her.

The irony of a trilogy predicated upon attacks upon American capitalism being shuttled by basic supply and demand not withstanding, the middle movie in the series, Manderlay, must now re-cast its central character, Grace, and move on.

In March of 2004, the production did just that as principal photography began with the largely unknown Bryce Dallas Howard assuming Kidman's role of Grace. The woman's journey in this outing will take her to the American south as she encounters slavery for the first time. While the series no longer has an A-List actress frontlining, as long as it remains a Lars von Trier production, it is by default a major awards contender at all world film festivals as well as Oscar bait. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Manderlay
Main Cast Bryce Dallas Howard, Isaach De Bankole, Willem Dafoe
Supporting Cast Michaël Abiteboul, Lauren Bacall, Jeremy Davies, Danny Glover, Chloe Sevigny, Jean-Marc Barr, Virgile Bramly, Doña Croll, Llewella Gideon, Fredric Gildea, Mona Hammond, Norah Hammond, Andrew Hardiman, Ginny Holder, Michael Johansson, Zeljko Ivanek
Director Lars Von Trier
Screenwriter Lars Von Trier
Distributor IFC Films
Rating Unrated
Running Time 139 minutes
Screen Count 2
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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