Sunday, December 04, 2005

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck... (1976)

Thin documentary by Werner Herzog about cattle auctioneers. It does fit neatly into his studies of obsession -- here, it's less about individual obsession and more about group obsession, with the reverential treatment of the auctioneers speaking to the values of an entire culture based around cattle sales. Plus, there's something to be said for the Western obsession with competition and rankings; I mean, it's amazing enough that there are auctioneer competitions, but how the hell do you judge one better than another? They all kinda sound the same to me. Therein lies the film's main problem: While there's a certain auditory fascination in listening to the cadences of the auctioneers, there needs to be more than that. Twenty uninterrupted minutes of watching auctioneers ply their trade is a bit much by my count, thanks, and Herzog's sit-back-and-let-the-camera-tell-the-story style doesn't reveal anything here, just as his voiceover is curiously useless. In other words, not top-drawer Herzog.

Grade: C+


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