Posts Tagged ‘Lars von Trier’

Favorites from the decade that was

January 5, 2010

Fifty fillets of film, alphabetically ordered. Now I can finally get on with my life.

Click here to check out the list/encyclopedia.

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The ghostly and the grotesque

December 17, 2009

You can now read my review of “Antichrist” over at the Daily Cardinal’s website. The review is especially loaded with sentimental value, it being my final article of this nearly dead semester and all. Complicated movie. Complicated, complicated movie.

On a very slightly related note: Lucrecia Martel’s “The Headless Woman” (2008) is now available on DVD at Four Star Video Heaven. Highly recommended. If I could go back and revise my favorite films of ’09 list (well, I mean, I could, but I won’t), “The Headless Woman” would easily challenge for the #1 or #2 spot. Martel’s really one of the best filmmakers working today. Watching her films is like trying to stare a hole through a paper-thin wall, and I mean that as praise.

“Antichrist” coming to the Orpheum

December 10, 2009

It seems as though rumors that Lars von Trier’s now-infamous Antichrist will be making its Madison debut this Friday at the Orpheum aren’t actually rumors at all. I’ve been waiting several months to see this one, knowing all-too-well that von Trier has designed it to shock, to upset, maybe even to provoke an awkward laugh or two.

Indeed, the popular word to use when discussing von Trier’s work is “provocation,” but I’d argue that “shtick” is every bit as vital to his highly distinctive sensibility and how it does whatever it is that it seems to do: no other filmmaker working today relies as heavily on gimmicks—uncommon techniques serving as the rule rather than as the exception—to produce effects upon the viewer, thereby eliciting emotional responses other than “suspense,” “joy,” “calm,” etc. Antichrist will be complicated, no doubt, but that’s how we like ’em.

Allow me to cite my source: Dane101 (and Todd Stevens).

And, of course, the trailer:

Von Trier on the merits of looking backwards and nowhere else

October 28, 2009

Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is currently playing in small towns like New York City, and as I’ve stated many times, I’m really hoping that it reaches Madison in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, you may to check out the interview that von Trier gave to the A.V. Club’s Scott Tobias in this week’s issue of The Onion. Of particular interest is the following question-and-answer:

Tobias: Do you keep up very well with movies that are being made now?

Von Trier: No. No. […] normally, no, I don’t see newer films. I have this idea that it would be interesting to have somebody who does not look at all the new stuff. Because when you look at the new stuff, then you are kind of influenced in a bad way. You get excited by something, and then you move in that direction, and you get excited by another thing, then you move in that direction. Even when this is crumbling for me, I still have a feeling that I go more or less in the same direction without distractions.

A number of legendary directors have prided themselves on not being cinephiles (like Bresson and Kiarostami, to name a couple), but it’s rare to come across one who doesn’t reject cinephilia per se but who instead chooses to remain ignorant of contemporary cinema for creative reasons.

Given how influential von Trier has been since his initial rise to international infamy in the mid-1990s, one wonders whether all those who have aped elements of von Trier’s style have perhaps been looking for inspiration in the wrong place; in almost every recent interview von Trier has gone out of his way to mention how personally important the work of Andrei Tarkovsky (and, though not explicitly stated this go-round, of Carl Th. Dreyer) has been for him—indeed, he had the cast and crew of Antichrist watch Tarkovsky’s The Mirror prior to shooting. Though many critics have dismissed the possibility that Antichrist actually contains Tarkovskyian traces, I nevertheless think it’s something to look out for when Antichrist eventually makes it to the Badger state—if it makes it to the Badger state. (Sundance, I’m looking at you.)

Lars von Trier speaks some more

September 19, 2009

Here’s a link to yet another worthwhile interview with Antichrist director Lars von Trier, this one from the new issue of Vice Magazine. The von Trier presented here is very unlike the von Trier I’ve seen and read in the past: he’s unusually casual, candid, comfortable and unconcerned with maintaining his public image by being as provocative as possible for the sake of being as provocative as possible. Moreover, he has a handful of remarkable things to say about his recent (and much-publicized) struggle with depression and about his career:

Seriously, it’s true that I pushed Björk a lot, maybe too far, but I was also very happy with her performance. She gave everything she had. As a director you do what you can to get the performance you want, that’s your job, and sometimes you have tap into people’s past experiences and memories to bring that out. I usually have very good relationships with my actresses, but Björk and I didn’t get along.

And now she’ll never act again.
Yeah, and that’s not all, she even wrote Nicole Kidman a letter telling her not to do Dogville.

Really? What did she say?
She said I had destroyed her soul.

‘Antichrist’ arriving imminently

September 16, 2009

Not quite sure how this slipped under my radar but here’s a link to a really interesting interview with Lars von Trier, conducted by Dave Kehr, from last Sunday’s New York Times. Von Trier, who has openly called himself the best filmmaker working today (though perhaps with a less-than-perceptible degree of irony), usually comes off in interviews and press conferences as being more concerned with provocation and grandstanding than with actually discussing his art or the sensibility which determines the composition of that art; thus, this interview is refreshingly candid and insightful with regard to his latest film, the much-discussed Antichrist, which premiered this summer at Cannes.

Here’s a bit that I thought was particularly interesting, in which Charlotte Gainsbourg offers her personal take on von Trier’s feelings towards his female characters (the female protagonist is, of course, a staple of von Trier’s oeuvre):

“He puts women on a pedestal and then pushes them off, but I find that quite brilliant. There is a lot of mystery around his female characters. I can see the fear of women, but there’s no hatred.

“Of course he pictures her as the devil and all that,” she said of her character, “but he pictures himself as the devil. To me there’s a real link between him and the character.”

Von Trier also discusses his signature approach to cinematography and how it had to be revised due to the debilitating depression he was struggling to recover from while shooting Antichrist:

“I have a technique where I usually handle the camera myself,” Mr. von Trier said, “but because of this depression I was shaking so much I couldn’t hold it. It was humiliating a little bit actually.” Instead he turned over the responsibility for operating the shoulder-mounted digital camera to Anthony Dod Mantle, a cinematographer who won an Oscar for his work on “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Slumdog Millionaire thing is news to me, as is Antichrist‘s American release date of October 23rd. The initial release will be limited, but as I’ve mentioned here before, I sincerely hope that Antichrist comes to Madison in one form or another by the end of the year. Yes, it’s probably got moments of unspeakable gruesomeness. Yes, it probably takes itself a bit more seriously than it’s willing to admit. No, it probably isn’t von Trier’s masterpiece. But it’s a serious achievement by a director with a penchant for making truly envelope-pushing, convention-stomping, termite films. We always need more of those.

‘Antichrist’ in Madison?

August 4, 2009

I’m a bit late on this, but “a source at IFC Films”, the American distributor for Lars von Trier’s latest (and, by most accounts, gnarliest) film, Antichrist, insists that the film will be released in American theaters in roughly the same form as when it made its now-infamous international debut earlier this summer at Cannes. It seems like everyone and their mother is aware of some of Antichrist‘s grosser (and more affect-loaded) moments by now, but it’ll be really interesting to see how the film will be received upon its release here, the country where audiences recently squirmed themselves into knots of outrage in response to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games remake and yet turned out in droves to see Saw 5 (or whichever number they’re up to now). Moreover, it’ll be interesting to see if Antichrist ever makes its way here to Madison (where it would play, I know not); I imagine that images of genital mutilation, no matter how stylized or pregnant with symbolic significance (like the razor-blade and eyeball duet at the beginning of Un chien andalou), may be a tough sell out here. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to thumb through an official Cannes program, and the stills from Antichrist looked like really sticky, haunting stuff. Too often lost in all the controversy about the film’s disturbing elements is the fact that von Trier is one of the real termite artists working in cinema today; I, for one, will jump at the opportunity to see this film in its uncut form, though I certainly can’t promise that I won’t look away during a certain moment involving Willem Dafoe’s penis. And hopefully, when I do see the film, I’ll be seeing it at a Madisonian theater.