Posts Tagged ‘willem dafoe’

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.

by Andrew Mooney

Mississippi Burning (1988) – Alex Parker (Dir.), Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe

Law and Order: Bigotry

Well, speaking of American Nazism… The third movie out of the hat turned out to be this late 80’s fictionalization of a murder case involving Civil Rights activists in Mississippi around 1964. Again, lovely light viewing. It’s refreshing to see young Willem Dafoe, his cut so clean, his spectacles so painfully hipster, running around flashing his FBI badge at racists and trudging through the Mississippi swamps. And then there’s Gene Hackman, who, I’m becoming increasingly convinced, has never been young. The pair skirt the line of ‘buddy cop’ cliches with almost balletic grace for the length of this intense, 2-hour examination of those on the front lives of the Civil Rights movement.

I think it’s important for me to give a little background on my understanding of US History. The Civil Rights movement was never really taught in English primary schools. We spent our days pouring over the sexual appetites of inbred rulers, queens offering cakes to starving peasants and Henry VIII’s record for the longest and bloodiest key party in monarchy history. As a nation, the only export of ours that could even hold a candle to America’s, other than our outrageous supply of Sticky Pudding, is history. We have plenty of it. And it’s crazy shit. From Roundheads to Tudors, from polyamory to incest, from incompetence to Neville Chamberlain, from international colonization to mildly apologizing for international colonization, we have a pretty long list of atrocities, both domestic and international, to cover. Thus, the efforts of great men such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis were about as well-covered and emotionally present for me as those of Gandhi. Important, historical, essential…but a world away.

So, when I came to the States and discovered things such as Black History Month and Martin Luther King Jr. day, I was taken for a loop. I had so much to learn. I was dazzled by a documentary shown to me in US History class called, “Eyes on the Prize”. Specifically, I was drawn to John Lewis, a man unconcerned with fame and was far more passionate about the cause and the outcome. Basically, my respect was cultured later in life. And this was problematic because…

Nailed it.

This class, along with all my other history classes, was taught by a white male. In fact, all of my perspective was offered by white males. I use this as an excuse for my reaction to Paul Haggis’ love-note to white-middle-class mentality that is “Crash“. When stumbling from the theater, I literally said, “Now I understand race.” I was a fucking idiot. My unabashedly liberal stroke fest that was Oberlin College helped me realize that.

Rant Number One: What I just described is what most movies are. This is the reason I detest The Help. I haven’t seen it and I won’t. I have seen Crash so I’ll talk on that. It’s so easy to Disney-fy these topics to make sure white people don’t feel too bad that they lock their doors when driving at 60 mph through ‘the rapper part of town’. These ‘challenging’ dramas are called ‘counterpoints’, but are nothing more than tools used to capitalize on our need to find any, any rationalization for our deep-seeded fear of urban culture. So, bearing that in mind, let’s talk about the movie I actually watched.

Mississippi Burning, I’d like to think, is not The Help. There is no Emma Stone, with cutely frizzed hair and oversized glasses chatting with black women. There are no ‘Hell Naws’. There are no token black comedic reliefs. There is no scene where they do the washing up and play with bubbles and… (let me reiterate that I have NOT seen The Help). Mississippi Burning has Willem Dafoe yelling about ‘Bureau Procedure’. It has burning crosses. Lynching. Exploding churches. Gene Hackman describing how his father poisoned a black man’s livestock because, “If you ain’t better than a nigger, what are you better than?” It has Michael Rooker, the Lawrence Olivier of rednecks, kicking black children in the face Ralph-Macchio-style. It has suicide, domestic abuse, ‘Jew boys’ getting shot in the face and a bunch of other fun things for the whole family!

I absolutely enjoyed every second of this movie. The acting is so engrossing, I just wanted to lick Gene Hackman’s balding head in the hope I can leach some of his talent. Dafoe as well (without the balding). I had all these jokes prepared about the Green Goblin and Lex Luther solving murders…but those assholes were too good to allow any of those to pass. Bastards. Side note: Hackman’s character’s main moniker in the film is ‘Mr. Anderson’. It is impossible not to giggle every single damn time Dafoe says, “Well, Mr. Anderson…” It even suggested the concept that perhaps this is the prequel to the Matrix, in which Agent Smith is so destroyed by what he saw from the KKK that he decided to subjugate the entirety of humanity… Or maybe that’s just me. It’s probably just me. Okay, I’ll shut up now.

Its unadulterated grittiness and violence dragged the film out of the clutches of that thematic black hole that is, “White People Solve Racism!” This movie, more than anything, is a chronicle of those that had to die to break down those social barriers. It’s about hate, its birth and its inevitable conclusion. There is a reverence, coiled in brutality, that is intent on reminding you of the cost of human life in these backwater towns down south. Where Triumph of the Will was a celebration of hate and its societal peak, this is a deconstruction and obliteration of its actual practice.

I would call him the Sidney Poitier of Rednecks except for…well…awkwardness

It does fall into a couple of sand traps along the way. There are barely any significant black characters in the film. It is not ‘based on a true story’, rather ‘inspired by true events’, in the fashion that Star Wars: Episode I was inspired by the true event of George Lucas taking a shit (ed: low blow). Thus, when the title cards read that these characters were sentenced to between 5 and 10 years in prison, it’s a little inconsequential. I mean, fictional prison could actually be a nasty place for all I know. It could be like Oz (the prison show on HBO, not the whimsical land beyond the rainbow)… and nobody wants that much nonconsensual cornholing. The ending is slightly too optimistic for its own good. Yay! The racists are in jail! Done and done.

Yeah…not quite.

One of the biggest assets this film has on its side is the presence of a Rogue’s Gallery of redneck actors. We have Brad Dourif, the voice of that gigglingly murderous doll Chucky and, of course, the blueprint of modern politics that is Grima Wormtongue. At least Wormtongue, for the backstabbing little shit that he was, could not be called a racist (well, on second thought…he was aiding a genocidal war…and he did follow a man all dressed in white who called himself a ‘wizard’… side-side note: Has anyone else noticed how silly the KKK’s ranking system actually is?). Then there’s R. Lee Ermey, who, when he isn’t calling you a ‘faggot’ and talking about the merits of rifles vs. guns and shooting vs. fun, is being threatened to have his scrotum removed with a razor blade.

Also, not to give away any spoilers, but I had to do a double take near the end of the film. When Hackman calls in his bros to crack some racist skulls against the heavy bronze balls of the law, one of the guys getting out of the car was none other than the Jigsaw Killer. You know, the dude who strapped people to chairs before forcing them to eat a horse penis before their intestines exploded and their thighs get cramped or their fingers crossed or given an uncomfortably hot coffee to drink…okay, I wasn’t really paying attention from Saws 3 through 6. The point is, when that happens in the film, you know the KKK is proper fucked. All they need is a reverse bear trap to put on their heads and…

Do not watch the Saw movies. You have better things to do with your life. Seriously.

The one other niggling (careful) annoyance is the police-procedural aspect of the plot. (Read in an exasperated voice) We have one straight-laced cop, one rogue. We’ve got the fish out of water, and the roughneck local boy. We’ve got the blah blah and the blah blah. He’s got something to prove and he’s got a score to settle. Yada yada fucking yada. Both Hackman and Dafoe do an excellent work breathing life into what could have decayed into archetypical hell. Still, Dafoe’s efforts to follow procedure, as always, are frustrated. These Mississippi folk won’t let the Federal Government tell them what to do. They have rights! They aren’t going to be intimidated by the fat cats in Washington! (Sound familiar?). So…what’s the answer? Coercion. Kidnapping. Enhanced interrogation. You cheer and clap when Hackman grabs Rooker by the nuts and makes him squeal like a pig. You laugh when they pretend to almost lynch one of the KKK jerkoffs. I feel this is problematic…

Hipster Dafoe solved murders back before it was cool.

Rant Number Two. When The Dark Knight came out in theaters, like every good fanboy, I creamed myself several times. Once I had changed my pants, I got into an unexpected, brutal argument with a good friend. His theory was that The Dark Knight, this bastion of honor and justice, was a conservative propaganda film. The only point that actually made me go “Huh”, with a pensive finger upon the chin, was a specific scene. Throughout the film, the Joker is always six steps ahead of the Batman. Finally, they catch him. Then Batman smashes his head against a table. Over and over again. The audience I saw it with cheered. They cheered police brutality. I mean, don’t get me wrong…fuck that guy…but it’s the principle. It’s difficult to justify protesting Guantanamo Bay and then rushing home to catch the finale of 24. Brutality and coercion are not good. On principle. And yet, in this dramatic format, its lauded because playing by the rules don’t solve crimes. Apparently.

So…this movie is great. It’s enjoyable. Tense. Violent. It makes you think without being too didactic. The performances are top notch, including a very pre-Cohen Brothers and very not-pregnant-policewoman Frances McDormand. See it if you don’t care for the white-washing of Civil Rights History…

…Even though all the main characters are white. And the director is white. And so is the writer. And…well…

I forgot where I was going with that. Now I just feel sad.