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on 9 June 2017
Very good
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on 24 April 2017
Amazing quality. Perfect in every way.
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on 1 August 2004
I was watching TV late one night and happened upon this little gem.
I have been a fan of Sam Rockwell for a few years now and so was really happy to find him on Channel 4 in the wee hours, and I liked it so much I bought it from Amazon.
Lawn Dogs is, as with most of Rockwell's films, an overlooked and underrated piece of art. The story is unusual (a little holey at times but on the main it was quirky enough to pull it off) and a little unsettling, but all in all I highly recommend it to adults who miss magic in cinema and to those who really enjoy great good acting with bite and verve.
Micha Barton (now all growed up and in the OC on E4) is such a brilliant actress, holding her own against some seriously heavyweight performers. Charming and delicate, dangerous and eccentric, her charactor's reaching out to Sam's 'lawn dog' is both understandable and heavily burdened with the responsibility that this has to be done right or it'll be horrible. Well it isn't horrible, it's charming and a love story in the truest sense of the word.
See this movie. See All of Sam Rockwell's movies - he's a small man with a GIANT talent.
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on 21 April 2004
really good film.....looks quite uninteresting but is actually amazing andvery thought provoking...it was on tv a few months back n i watched it andhave been looking for the video ever since, but nowhere seems to have itfor some reason...EVERYONE should have it...immense
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 27 November 2002
The popular (and rather dull) argument following the success of American Beauty (Sam Mendes) was that it had usurped the superior Happiness (Todd Solondz). The implication being that Solondz's tedious slab of misanthropy, that failed to match his previous work Welcome to the Dollhouse, had been robbed of both audience and acclaim by American Beauty. This was emphasised by Solondz's childish references to American Beauty in the messy Storytelling. The film that both American Beauty and Happiness cheated out of audience & acclaim is this film- Lawn Dogs (1997).
Written by Naomi Wallace, it tells the story of a friendship between a 10-year old outsider girl and a young lawn dog- who is also an outsider (though from a lower class). The film looks at the notions of class in American society by focusing on the gated community of Camelot Gardens, where Devon (the girl) lives and where Trent (the lawn dog) comes to work.
The film perhaps tackles too many issues, an agent orange/gulf syndrome disease is tacked on to themes of paranoia, paedophilia,access to firearms ,adultery,repressed homosexuality, crime ,market place viability, mob rule etc. This film may have suffered from a lack of promotion as it touches on too many wounds prevalent to Western society. Love the scene where the suburban families have a barbie to images of the Gulf War or the notion that the worst glasses in Devon's house are the best glasses in Trent's mobile home. Other wonderful scenes occur- from the nude dive to Dwight Yoakam (not unlike The Swimmer)to the Badlands-style panaroma of fields to the "I'll show you my scar" scene. Not forgetting the dreamlike shot of Devon's nightdress floating into the night- there are some very David Lynch moments here amid a political and mythological discourse.
The performances are great, the leads Sam Rockwell and Mischa Barton are particularly wonderful- I think Ms Barton could be the next Jodie Foster. This reminded me of several films- Sweetie, Walkabout, All That Heaven Allows, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, The Straight Story, Stand By Me, Whistle Down the Wind- though it is an extremely original work in its own right. Director John Duigan had already made the great The Year My Voice Broke and sequel Flirting (though he also made the dire Parole Officer...)- so he is more than at ease with this kind of story (art melodrama).
The denoument could be seen as either a shift towards magical realism or an imaginary way of ending Trent's story- I love the idea of the former. The final scene of colour shifting to monochrome of Devon in the red-ribboned tree speaking the voiceover is fantastic and ranks next to Jane Campion's Sweetie or Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective. Lawn Dogs is a modern classic that few people appear to have seen, personally I think it is more of an achievement than either American Beauty or Happiness and I hope it is watched by many in the future.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 12 February 2012
Lawn Dogs is a very well scripted, tense drama shot through with off-the-wall humour and beautifully pitched between subtle psychological study, fairy tale and social satire. It juggles these elements very successfully, but more than this it is superlatively acted by Sam Rockwell and Mischa Barton, who at ten is really astonishingly able to convey the responses of this very bright, curious young girl. It is their friendship that really gives the film its soul, the social analysis tending to caricature, but not so much that its threatening aspect doesn't register as all too real. Sam Rockwell has an extraordinary quality as the lawnmower man born on the wrong side of the tracks, unjustly jailed, and now simply going along, albeit reluctantly, with this young girl's wish to be friends. He is touched by her fascination with him in a hostile world, and has a saintly quality, and above all a working class one, which puts him beneath contempt for the posh local kids. This doesn't stop one of the girls sleeping with him ... It is possibly the best role Rockwell has had so far, really calling on a very wide range of emotions, but it is the underlying heart of his performance that lingers in the memory. Personally I would have been interested in the plot developing along different lines, I must admit: one of the youths has a gay crush on him leading to a kindhearted squeeze of the thumb from Rockwell, which I would have liked to see taken further! These youths are so detestable, you wonder whether sexual love might have been able to bring about a Damascene moment in such a spoilt brat, or is it already too late? This would also have reduced the nastiness of the film, which is fairly omnipresent, however it would have complicated the plot development which goes like an arrow and is very effective. The film has to be accepted as it is ... yet I am intrigued by other possibilities! Nevertheless most viewers probably would not share my curiosity in this direction! On the down side, I found the music a bit grating, although it suits the film well enough, and the estate was very flat visually. This showed up Trent's trailer as a more interesting space, however it makes for a less than thrilling setting for a number of scenes, even if what happens there is full of interest and terseness.
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on 13 June 2004
LD is an enchanting story of isolation & friendship, brought to us from Austalian John Duigan, director of 1991's masterpiece The Year My voice Broke, & 1989's Dead Calm. The story centers around 10 year old 'new to the neighbourhood' Devon, & 20 something 'trailer trash' lawn mower boy Trent, set against a magical & quite surreal backdrop of American middle class suburbia. The weighty & wide ranginig themes touched on, (class/ social politics, sexual repression & hypocrisy, paedophillia, violence & media induced paranoia / sensationalism, & lastly bigotry), are interwoven not only cohesively, but with great insight style & beauty. Capitalist values within a sort of 'redneck mentality', sums up the residents of the ironically named Camelot Gardens, an exclusive 'well to do' housing complex, where Devon has just moved to with her somewhat apathetic mother, & status obsessed father, who states, "the way I see it is- you got people that mow lawns & you got people that own em- & they aint never the same sorta people.." Stifled & lonely in the sterile environment, Devon lives in her own fairy tale world, filled with the obligatory fantasy elements of magic & witches. Her surpressed lust for life is let loose one afternoon as she ventures outside the high walls of the tightly secured & patrolled 'kingdom', with its uniformed houses, lawns, flower beds, sprinklers etc, all magnificently displayed in wide angle vistas through hazy sunlight, very Lynch-esque, with its juxtaposting of the seemingly orderly 'safe' suburban setting, against an underlying sinister tension. Outside she stumbles across the LM mans humble trailer dwelling in a forest clearing, & thus slowly begins the sadly misunderstood, but heartwarming & tender friendship between the two, that sees them on stolen moments & adventures, Devon experiencing the mischief & freedom sadly lacking from her self absorbed parents controll. What follows is secretive between the two, as the security guard warns Trent, "folks're nervous these days..you best keep to yourself.. if you know what I mean", as he continues to mow the lawns for the unappreciative & condescending residents, that bully taunt & blame him for any 'troubles' in the area. D & T find a deep connection in a world where they are the outsiders & have in particular one common 'mystery' experience that Devon holds dear.
As another reviewer mentioned, comparisons can be drawn to both A Beauty & Happiness, as similar issues are raised, although LD escapes all the bockbuster trappings of the former, and the more insincere 'attention grabbing' quality of the latter, & instead delivers a work of rare integrity & charm. I honestly cannot pick a fault here; the acting is flawless & Sam Rockwells (Trents') energetic performance steals the show. The storyline is well paced & moving. The cinematography with its combination of realism & surrealism, is simply enchanting & a joy to watch- loaded with symbolism; The slow motion close up of the lush lettuce leaf toppling down from the salad bowl, splashing beads of water sumptuously over the floor, as D mother has one of many 'quickie' sexual encounters with one of the local bullys; The white knee length socks with red ribbon trim left behind by D on her adventures, like a Hansel & Gretel / Red Riding Hood trail, with its connotations of childhood innocence & sexuality. The use of the American flag as a tragic symbol of a nation in 'ill health', & one of my faves, the use of Springsteens 'Dancing in the Dark', (that other side of America that speaks of freedom liberation & passion), as the two dance 'like no ones watching' on top of Trents batterd old pick up. And finally Devons midnight rooftop howl at the moon, as she discards her nighty in a display of unbridled abandon, - the camera following the white garment as it floats away against the light of the full moon.. Such qualities make it a film that can be enjoyed more than once, & reminded me of Neil Jordans 1984 'adult fantasy fairy tale' The Company of Wolves, with its take on girl to womanhood symbolism steeped in classic fairy tale literature.
The pace builds steadily to what culmanates in a finale (OH! & what a finale), that is both as tragic as it is uplifting, & as fantastical as it is believable.
This is truly a memorable film, worthy of all the festival awards it gained, including Cannes. Duigan has a gift for dealing with youthfull energy & innocence, conjuring up equal amounts of humour & charm. This is one of those 'lesser known masterpieces' that no one who enjoys film making @ its most sincere & tender should miss.
I would also heartily recommend the equally brilliant The Year My Voice Broke & Walkabout.
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on 2 May 2000
The title and subject of this movie might not aspire you to watch it, but when you do actually get around to seeing it you will love it. A young man with nothing ahead of him befriends a young girl who has no other play mates. They get along fine, until the dreaded moment when her parents think he has being touching her. This is a film that should be added to your collection, and well worth the price!
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on 9 July 2000
This film is a true masterpiece. It is funny, thought provoking and heart warming. It is wonderfully acted by a very talented cast. Sam Rockwell is a name that I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more of.
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on 6 June 2003
This film was barely shown in the UK and that's a crime, because this film, from the director of 'Sirens' and 'Deam Calm' is incredibly powerful with performances, from the likes of Sam Rockwell, that should have been given awards. It's dark, depressing, yet strangely funny and feel-good! A film that would give 'American Beauty' a run for its money!
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