Posts Tagged ‘lars von trier’

by Andrew Mooney

Antichrist (2009) – Lars Von Trier (Dir.), Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, 

I will never look at Ents the same way ever again.

I will never look at Ents the same way ever again.

When I began this humble blog in twenty-aught-twelve Anno Domini ACDC Esquire, I decided I needed to expand my cinematic repertoire with a little more Film. That’s ‘Film’ with a capital ‘F’ for ‘Fucking Pretentious’. How appropriate was it, then, when my first course of many was the Lars Von Trier delight: Melancholia. And by delight I mean, “Bizarre dreamy fog of boobs and sadness”. Since that fateful day, locked in my room, my pajamas practically melting into my epidermis to become some kind of magical hangover-bark, I slogged my way through that 2.5 hour epic of wanton women and Kiefer Sutherland wearing glasses in severe not-torturing-people-to-save-the-world mode. It was a thing. Since then, I have also joked and jested about reaching into the Netflix Roulette jar and plucking out one of the more ‘rapey’ affairs, my main target and fear: Antichrist. Well, the fates of ordained it, the planets have aligned and chance has punched me in the dick once more, for, on that Halloween night in twenty-aught-thirteen in the year of our iPad, I drew the rapiest of the rapey. SPOILERS: it isn’t the lady who gets raped this time.

Before we begin, let me say, in these last few years wandering the sordid display of cinematic gems on display in the Flix of Net, I have grown a good deal. I have shifted from a wide-eyed moronic 23 year-old, practically still soaking in amniotic fluid (that metaphor is terrifyingly apt for this movie) to a fully grown Critique (it’s in French because it’s, you know, fancy ‘n’ shit) who grandly opines, tying the disparate threads of auteur imagination into a bundle of throbbing and mesmerizing humanity, a web of such intellectual and emotional gravity that would murder even Sandra Bullock. With that said, I would like begin with a simple statement of journalistic integrity:

EEEWEWWWWEEWWWWEEEWWWWEEWWWWW AAHA AHA AHHA MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP, MOMMY!

Just be aware there are SPOILERS in this bad boy. But then again, this movie has been out for almost 5 years. Deal with it.

Dafoe don't give no fucks about no chestnuts

Dafoe don’t give no fucks about no chestnuts

What is Antichrist? Is it a horror film? Is it smut? Is it Lars Von Trier’s wet nightmare? Is it the weirdest and least catchy Charlotte Gainsbourg music video ever made? Is it Willem Dafoe atoning for playing the stupidest incarnation of the Green Goblin ever known to man? Who the fucking fuck knows? Because Lars Von Trier sure as shit doesn’t. We begin, as you do, in super slow motion sex between a middle aged couple in the shower. And, as you do, you see full penetration. Then, while the aria peaks and both Mr. and Mrs. blow their so-called wads, their baby does its best impression of the kid from Ghostbusters 2 and tries walking out on the window ledge. Stupid baby. Much like Orlando Bloom’s career after the final Pirates of the Caribbean, the kid falls to its death. THAT’S IN THE FIRST FIVE FUCKING MINUTES. Granted, every movie could begin this way, apropos of nothing, and I’d be happy. Love Actually? Well, before the Hugh Grant gives his speech about Heathrow kissing, HOW ABOUT SOME FULL PENETRATION BABY SUICIDE. But it’s to classical music, so, you know, fancy ‘n’ shit. Wouldn’t Legally Blonde have benefitted from the terrifying countenance of Willem Dafoe’s vinegar strokes as a child hits the pavement face-first, skateboarder-style, before breaking into its overly pink beginning number? What about Monster’s Inc.? First we have to see the monsters in the real world before we can see the monsters in the their own world. And by monster, I am, of course, talking about Dafoe’s thrusting peen.

Well, after that, Gainsbourg, only credited as ‘Her’ in the credits (if you watch that far) has a mental breakdown. Dafoe (say his name like a bird call: will-em da-FOOOOOE) plays the eponymous ‘He’, a therapist who is, apparently, perturbed by NOTHING. Seriously, the entirety of Tim Burton’s Halloween Town could parade through his underpants and he’d be like, “Hmm, interesting. Where does it go on your pyramid?” THAT FUCKING PYRAMID. Anyhoo, Gainsbourg spends a majority of the film kicking, screaming, sobbing, wilting, walking in slow motion in the woods, mood-swinging, masturbating, leg-drilling, chasing her husband down like the dog he is and calling him a bastard for leaving after he painstakingly dragged his wound half-corpse of a body into a fox hole to hide. You know, like all woman. Dafoe, on the other hand, seems to have not read any of the script past that day of filming and is consistently horrified by what’s coming next…but sticks around because…well, fuck it, contract probably. That expressive half-mutant mug of his wears a look of half-interested bemusement the entire length of the film.

"I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!"

“I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!”

Anyways, after realizing that neither hospital nor home will cure the beleaguered Her, Him decides to take her to the place she fears, the completely-subtly-named and not-at-all-ironic “Eden” out in the middle of nowhere. Here, Dafoe envisions snowballing fragments of insanity, from a still-born deer hanging out of another deer’s vagina to a rather erudite fox covered in a mixture of amniotic sludge and gore (I assume he’s played by James Earl Jones because that would be AMAZING). Meanwhile, Gainsbourg goes from “understandably upset” to “genital mutilation” in fewer steps than one would expect. Everything about the movie is fairly surreal, with slow motion images of Dafoe getting rained on by chestnuts and random shots of hands coming out of tree roots as Dafoe’s flexing buttocks rhythmically ram his randy and rowdy spouse after she sprinted into nature to begin servicing herself with the fury of teen girl dry humping a cardboard cut out of Justin Bieber. I think the film piqued when Gainsbourg slams her husband in the dick with a 2×4 and then proceeds to jerk him off until he comes blood (I told you there were spoilers). I wish I was making that up. I think, at that very moment, my testicles decided “you know, this just ain’t worth it anymore” and crawled back into my lower abdomen, thus destroying any chance of actually growing any chest hair. Oh yes, then she cuts off her clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors. I can foresee this becoming a family holiday favorite. It just isn’t Christmas until someone is in the corner curled in the fetal position.

I wish I could take a brillo pad to my brain and scour that shit right off. I think it will be a couple of days before I can have sex without envisaging sanguine ejaculations or babies falling out of windows. I have seen horror movies aplenty. I am affected by precisely none of them. The Conjuring? Yeah, freaky until bitch-face-mc-witch-a-lot appears and you’re reminded this is just a silly excuse for a haunted house ride. The Shining? Granted, there is very little more terrifying than Shelley Duvall’s explosive fucking eyeballs…but the rest of it wasn’t particularly perturbing. This movie, however…I had to start icing my genitals just from sympathetic pain. Perhaps its effectiveness is tied directly to its quality.

"Bitch, what you say about my mama?" ~ Text from the Urbanized version of Bambi

“Bitch, what you say about my mama?” ~ Text from the Urbanized version of Bambi

It’s from Lars Von Trier, and Lars Von Trier is a Director with a capital D. Incidentally, that D stands for “Dear God, You’re an Asshole”. He is the genius, nay, the sadistic auteur responsible for this clit-rip-fest of a horror film. He’s also crazy (no, really, he was committed). He is, on the other hand, extremely talented and skilled. Every art form has a craft and a vision. While his vision is something so demented I would encourage a visit to the ophthalmologist, he’s insanely adept at filming things. This was the guy who came up with Dogme 95…95 rules for making movies, essentially stripping filmmaking to its essential parts. That’s like writing a novel without being allowed to use metaphors or more than two adjectives. Sure, it’s boring as a day old turd, but it requires thought and skill. There is no moment in Antichrist where you lose the awareness of the fact that this is a movie made by a Director. Shots and techniques run the gamut of modern technology, cutting back and forth through styles faster than Tim Gunn’s wit can cut through a Project Runway prep room. We’re given juxtaposition, simplicity, overt symbolism, metaphor, slow motion, black and white, disconnected soundtrack, sound-mixing tricks and treats…everything. It’s as though the man is simply content to wave his dong at the filmmaking community while spitting a raspberry at their unimpressed faces; he has to dip it in whipped cream and personally dick-wich each and every one of them. Both Gainsbourg and Dafoe give shockingly believable performances even though a good deal of that is screaming in each others’ faces while attempting to reach orgasm. Both actors draw you in with harshly naturalistic portrayals of a couple trying to come back from the brink of insanity. So, when Her drives off the crazy-bitch cliff with the zeal of a dick-punching Thelma and Louise, one can only watch with a gaping jaw and allow the ensuring chaos roll over you.

What is the movie about? Why did Von Trier make it? I haven’t been able to deduce anything close to an answer. Does he hate women? Does he see himself as the woman? Initially it certainly seems as though the film sympathizes with her plight and Dafoe’s maddening need to calm and logic his way through the emotions turns him into something of an antagonist. But then satanic texts appear, Gainsbourg goes into full Witches of Eastwick mode and all semblance of sympathy goes the way of the drill she uses to attach a 30lb weight to her husband’s shin to stop him from running away. It’s amusing to note that when Von Trier submitted this film to Cannes before it was released, they didn’t give it an award but rather an Anti-award (see what they did there? Those pretentious hilarious pricks). Cannes is a festival celebrating humanistic values and they seemed to believe this film portrayed nothing of the sort. I believe it was at this point that Von Trier said something along the lines of “Hitler wasn’t so bad.” So, yes, asshole to completion. However, as much of a throbbing dong as he is, he’s still one of the most talented filmmakers out there. I almost wish Spielberg or Del Toro could tame the beast and lock him up Marquis De Sade-style, forcing him to craft the basics of their at least mildly human visions.

He's my spirit animal.

He’s my spirit animal.

In the end, Antichrist is a confusing mess of a movie. On the one hand, it is supremely made and shockingly far more coherent than the slop that was the latter half of Melancholia. But what can be said for a movie where a wife is driven to murderous rage by the elements of nature to the point that we cheer when her husband chokes her to death? It is an exhausting quagmire of a movie, one that requires patience and endurance to complete. However, what is the reward once we do so? A flood of women a la some kind of documentary about Auschwitz, flooding down the hills and flocking to their about to be Vader funeral-ed comrade-in-vag? Dafoe limping into the sunset smiling at the previously aborted woodland creatures who are now so happy the bitch is dead that it looks as though they might break into a rendition of Bambi?

Note to self: get Lars Von Trier to direct the remake of Bambi. It begins with Bambi’s mom getting rammed in the shower and ends with Thumper looking into the camera and declaring “CHAOS REIGNS” before having rage-sex with Flower.

Happy Halloween, guys. I’m going to go weep now.

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by Andrew Mooney

My Winnipeg (2007) – Guy Maddin (Dir.), Anne Savage

First, before you do anything, watch this:

You might be asking yourself, “What just happened?” You might be asking yourself, “Wait, seriously, what the fuck just happened?” You might also be asking yourself, “Wait, guys, stop, stop…wait…WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?” And you would be right.

Winnipeg, Land of Dead Dreams

Guy Maddin is a Director (with a capital ‘D’). It’s not that he’s pretentious. It’s not that his films are almost impenetrable on a level of perplexing lunacy that’s positively Lynch-ian . It’s not that he’s a bad person. It’s that he is fucking crazy. When you watch other films by ‘Directors’ (looking at you, Von Trier) you sit back and just accept that these guys know what they’re doing and that they’re smarter than you and that there is no way you will get it so shut up and watch, you uneducated, whorish heathen. But that isn’t true with Mr. Maddin. His films are so blissfully bat-shit that one cannot help but fall into the oceanic quagmire of his rattled psyche. You hit the waters with a crash, your every inch soaking in nonsensical purity, before being knocked about by wave upon wave of sexually-confusing-melodramatic-nightmare/dream-worthy imagery. This isn’t Maddin masturbating into your eye (like some people I know…Von Trier.) , this is a man inviting you inside his head for an hour and twenty minutes.

How do you feel once you’ve escaped? Violated. A little into it. Utterly, utterly, painfully, beautifully confused. Let’s get to it then. This movie exists because the Documentary Channel thought it was a good idea to ask this guy to make something. And he did. Oh, he fucking made something. On the surface, it’s the story of Guy Maddin growing up in Winnipeg, Canada. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Canada or met a Canadian, but, in general, they are made of lollipop dreams. They have managed, as a country, to create a persona so infallible that the world thinks they’re the niceness equivalent of the second coming of Jesus.

Not according to Guy Maddin. Sheeeeeeeeit.

This film, well, it’s a psycho-analytic fever-dream of a thing, twisting and curving through the murky past of Maddin’s bizarrely abusive relationship with his mother, a brief foray into his adolescent homosexual experiences (the dude is straight…I know, right?), and an existentially metaphorical waltz through a city once golden and now crumbled into purgatorial hellscape. Here are a few items that you will witness during the truncated length of this film: he reenacts sections of his life with actors standing in for his mother and siblings (though he insists it’s his actual mother. Eesh). He exhumes his dead father and puts him under the rug in the living room because it ‘makes mother feel more comfortable’. Horses freeze in a river, populating the ice with shattered grimaces held in place for the entirety of the winter, real-life, stomach-churning ice sculptures. A map of a river repeatedly overlaid with a vagina. Ledge Man! A television show about a boy trying to commit suicide every episode and his mother convincing him not to. A gay bison stampede through a theme park. And so, so much more!

That shit actually happened. Canada is a place of death and frozen horses. And bacon that’s actually ham. Hellish.

This is a ‘documentary’ and yet there is absolutely no way to check any of these facts against reality. According to Mr. Maddin, Winnipeg has a civic law prohibiting the destruction of signage, thus the creation of the world’s largest graveyard of discarded signs. Fake Nazis invaded the city during WWII as a test to see what would actually happen if the fuhrer made it across the pond. The town has an epidemic of sleepwalkers. What do you make of this? Do you sit there, declaring what’s bullshit and what’s not? Do you call the man on his shenanigans? Or do you sit back and allow the insanity to take hold, to seep through your every pore and infect you with the oddity of pure sense. Not an ounce of this picture is coherent and yet you never question. Once the claws are in, you let it drag you along, smacking your head against the sidewalks of ‘irrationality’ and ‘Oedipal complexes’. It’s as though you’re sitting next to a good friend, showing you his/her art film. Every time you ask a question, such as ‘Did you have to dissect a pig anus? And did you have to do it to a soundtrack of the Backstreet Boys?’ they yell ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP AND WATCH’. And you do. You do shut the fuck up. And you do watch.

And I haven’t even scratched the fucking surface. His style, for whatever reason, harkens back to the melodramatic noirs of the late thirties and forties. Maddin’s voiceover is a mixture of Werner-Herzogian hilarity, peppered with misplaced metaphors and thoughts so deep, you’d need James Cameron to excavate the bottom. (Side note movie idea: James Cameron as a ‘thought diver’. He uses an Inception-like submarine to dive into your darkest dreams and nightmares…and once he gets there he calls you a ‘pussy’ and makes a billion dollars. How? Don’t ask. He’s James Fucking Cameron.) And between the eyeball-battering flashes of disconnected flotsam and jetsam, Maddin breaks in with title cards screaming subtext through your entire body. There’s no time to process or argue, you just have to wait, thinking, “Wait…wait… did that just say boobs? Guys…why did it say boobs? Guys…?”

Here are a few of my favorite title cards:

“Breast milk!”

“Man-sweat!”

“Urine!”

“The Marchpast of Flesh.”

“The Corridor of Thighs!”

“Jiggly!”

“Basements!”

This is an actual title card. The piece de resistance.

It’s as though those art students, who create six-hour performance pieces of them exfoliating their scrotums while pouring cat urine into a hollowed out doll-head and repeating ‘IRAQ, IRAQ, IRAQ,’ are slowly digested by the world at large, sucking out the creative juices that bring about such acts of bold artistic bullshit and funneling it down into a well of the collective-consciousness, an emotional runoff, a cesspit of retarded passion. As they hide their tattoos, grow back the half of their head they shaved and begin wearing clothes that weren’t found in a dumpster, their aesthetic aspirations die a quiet death. Does that energy dissipate? Or concentrate into a mix of such hellish oddity that it would make the Marquis De Sade blush. If that does indeed exist, then Maddin is the guy who found it and jumped the fuck in. He’s if those people made full-length films. Every second is an assault on the sense and the logic of reality.

All that said, this was, by far and away, my favorite viewing experience thus far. As he turned Winnipeg into the ideal of Beckettian nonexistence, I gobbled up every second. And I had no fucking clue what was happening. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in years. But we need that. We need that jump in the tracks to off-set the train of normality, sending it careening into the uncharted woods of pure possibility, killing all 350 passengers of conformity and…alright, that metaphor got weird. Point is: we need the crazy. We don’t need too much. We don’t need it all the time. But we need it, a palette cleanser for the artistic soul, a catharsis of such inexplicable queerness, it forces you to question everything in your life…until you realize that you just watched a movie. You take a breath. You eat another Twizzler and turn on The Big Bang Theory. The cycle begins again.

As a person who has severe phobias of being trapped in my Connecticut hometown, I can absolutely relate to the train that just never leaves the station, the over-riding frustration that translate directly into crushing inaction. It’s hard to encapsulate the emotions we have towards the places we grew up. These nurturing spaces transform into a malevolent specter, a symbol of comfort that becomes smothering. It’s a pillow that you know you can lay your head when the world gets rough, an eternal safe space…and yet, when you fall back and feel the warmth of slipping between sheets that you’ve felt a thousand times before…you remember that you’re falling back, not forward. You get tired. You tell yourself 5 more minutes. Ten, twenty…

Home. It’s deadly.

A day passes. And another. And another. Maybe a year. You look at the clock and rub your eyes. Most of your young life is gone. And all you’ve done is catch up with sleep.

by Andrew Mooney

Melancholia (2011) – Lars Von Trier (Dir.), Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg

She will kill you. With depression. And long running time.

Fun for the whole family!

This was the movie that started the game. It was not selected at random, rather by the fact that I wanted something hard and Von-Trier-esque and wasn’t quite ready for the rape/baby killing/talking-satan-dogs of Antichrist. This little ditty is two parts, one an exploration of a woman with severe depression systematically sabotaging her own wedding and career, and the other the story of her sister trying to hold together her family while a ‘rogue planet’ crashes into Earth. Killing everyone. It’s fun for the whole family!

In all seriousness, it’s plain to see Von Trier is a Director with a capital ‘D’. From his over-the-top opening, displaying every leitmotif that will be depicted throughout the film to the sort of abstract-visual-spark-notes of the film’s plot, you can tell you are watching a ‘Film‘. And yes, it’s good. It’s dark. It’s challenging. But you do, at points, just want to take the man and whisper tenderly in his ear, “Did your mother not hug you enough when you were a little ‘un? Do you need another Cadbury Cream Egg?” The answer, of course, is always a begrudging ‘yes’. My feelings on Cream Eggs aside, Trier has some problems. Though I’ve never seen any of his movies before, I have been bedazzled by his insane rants at film festival journalists, his offhanded comments about the merits of Nazism and his dogmatic rules about film-making; so I’m no stranger to the one-man-party that is Lars Von Trier.

The frustration with diving into the mind of a man with severe depression is that I’m simply not on his level. Of course, it’s a fascinating activity to emotionally spelunk into the depths of a manic-depressing, but you only want to stay in the hole a little while before it become infectious. Melancholia was 2.5 hours long and it felt like 5. Each part, around an hour and fifteen each, was, in essence, its own movie. The acting, particularly in the first part, is almost universally phenomenal. Finally, Ms. Dunst has restored to her true form, last seen in the 1993 tour de force Jumanji.The second get wobbly, though still pretty stellar throughout. Ms. Gainsbourg has a tendency to slip in and out of a close approximation of a British accent. It’s the end of the world. Who cares? If she wishes to renounce Britishness before the oncoming apocalypse, power to her. I would.

Oh Charlotte, be British for me...

Oh Charlotte, be British for me…

The discussion part. I could make faces at the agonizing choices Dunst’ character makes over and over and over again during the course of the film. I could raise questions about the supposed trajectory of this mythical planet ‘Melancholia’ and how it absolutely disregards the laws of General Relativity and gravitational pull. But that’s not the point. The thing that truly stuck with me after watching the whole world get blasted in a blaze of green light (SPOILER ALERT…sorry, little late on that one…) was the juxtaposition of the two halves. As ham-fisted as the opening is, it tells you right off the bat what’s going to happen. You just have to witness it. And it does happen. Slowly. Very, very slowly. Dunst throws fits at her wedding, takes impromptu baths, humps an intern on a golf course, quits her job and teases her new hubby, the very not-vampire, puppy-face, you’re-waiting-for-him-to-be-a-vampire, Alexander Skarsgard.

Not a vampire. WTF?

Not a vampire. Put it away, ladies.

It’s the juxtaposition. That’s what it’s all about. You have a wedding, this thing that is so essential to the lives of its attendees that it nearly drives them insane. The planner, a hilariously misplaced Udo Kier (whose greatest role will always be the douchiest vampire of all time in Wesley Snipes’ magnum opus: Blade) literally stops looking at Dunst because she “ruined his wedding”. Her father, a lithe John Hurt, is constantly hitting on two homely bridesmaids, both named Bettie. Her mother bursts into fits of rage saying, “I hate weddings” and then, appropriately, takes a bath. It’s pointless. All of it is pointless. She screws over a man who loves her. She quits her job. She fucks everything up. And it doesn’t matter because a planet is coming and it’s going to wipe them all out of existence. Von Trier has managed to further trivialize that which already seemed so insatiably trivial: the problems of the ultra-rich.

On the one hand you have Dunst, who, by the end, is so accepting of her fate that she just enjoys the ride. And then, on the other, you have Gainsbourg desperately trying to hold everything together. All that stress, all that worrying, all that anxiety is useless in the end. You’re still going to crawl into that little tent of sticks with your son and your bat-shit, self-possessed sister and watch the world disappear. There’s a zen-like peace to Dunst’s fatalism in the final scenes. As electricity courses from her fingertips, as the atmosphere collapses, she seems at ease in her depression-induced nirvana.

He will kill you.

Don’t Fuck With This Man

So, Mr. Von Trier may have many issues but he certainly knows how to make a technically incredible film. My only advice to him…stop being an asshole. Or maybe, be more of an asshole. It’s hard to tell. Maybe my prayers will be answered with Antichrist a little further down the line. It’s in the pot. Waiting.

I won’t ever watch Melancholia again. You should. You might enjoy it. You probably won’t. Again, that’s not the point. The aim is to take a little waltz through that wonderfully self-destructive brain of Mr. Trier and hope you make it out with all limbs intact.

Also, to those of you wondering…not to be crass, but Kirsten Dunst has incredible breasts. I had never noticed before. Like…amazing. It almost pulled me out of it when I had to say to myself, “Bravo, milady.” And then I gave a polite clap of congratulations before returning to eating toast in bed. Whole wheat toast. Peanut butter. I’m a classy mutherfucker, if you weren’t aware.