In 1972, John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank, leading to a 14 hour hostage situation and the death of his partner in crime. The ordeal caused a media sensation and was depicted in the Oscar nominated film Dog Day Afternoon just few years later.
The Dog profiles Wojtowicz in the later years of his life as he continued to relish the little bit of recognition that echoed from his fifteen minutes of fame. While he’s certainly an interesting character, the self described ‘pervert’ and ‘chauvinist’ shows the opposite of remorse for his actions. He tells everyone who will listen that he is ‘the dog’, embellishing the story and signing autographs. He is a ham who can be fun to watch, but he probably shouldn’t have been given the further vindication that this documentary from Allison Berg and François Kerauden provides for him. The fact that this happens to be the third one might make this particular profile less than vital.
As those who have seen the fictional Sidney Lumet film may remember, it’s revealed partway through that Wojtowicz’s primary motivation for the robbery is to pay for his lover’s sexual reassignment surgery. The documentary concentrates heavily on Wojtowicz’s very active sex life; how he loved, wed, and fucked indiscriminately. While he may have seen himself as empowering to the gay community, he’s a terrible spokesperson that any movement would probably want to disassociate themselves from.
Despite being over ten years in the making (he died in 2006), the documentary feels a little slapped together. It jumps between people and events with no real apparent rhyme or reason. Even with all of the above issues, though, The Dog still a good story with entertaining characters that supersede any problems with ethics and execution.
The Bloor Hot Docs cinema is screening a double bill of The Dog and Dog Day Afternoon on Saturday, August 16 with The Dog at 6:30pm and Dog Day Afternoon at 8:45pm.
Also at The Bloor this week:
Once again, a quiet week. No other new films. An Honest Liar continues from last week to this week, and the only special event is a special Shakespeare on Screen screening of a recent staging of MacBeth from the renowned Globe Theatre on Sunday at 1pm.