Friday, October 07, 2011


Going to try to be better about putting up quick-hitter movie reviews as I maneuver through the fall season. Wish me luck.

2011, Lars Von Trier

As if it were even a question, Melancholia removes any doubt: Lars Von Trier is totally an "I don't even own a television" person. The infuriating thing about LVT is that he can make a damn movie. The thing looks like a million bucks at all times (self-consciously so, but whatever), and you will definitely see some images that you've never seen in a movie before, so credit where it's due. I don't think he rewards his actors very well (Kirsten Dunst is impressive but loathsome; Gainsbourg is affecting but pathetic), but he gives them a lot to do.

But God damn, does his smug, miserablist worldview weigh heavily on anything he does. It just crushes everything in its path. In Antichrist, that crushing, self-promotional nihilism was laughable. I mean, "chaos reigns"? Try to stay angry at something that dumb. In Melancholia, the effect is simultaneously insulting and exhausting as LVT is constantly trying to shove the end of the world in your face.

And it's so incredibly insular! No televisions, as I mentioned. No newspapers. All information gleaned from "what the scientists are saying" or else the odd Google search that turns up these sad 1998-looking one-sheets foretelling interplanetary doom. Which I guess is the point. This is a movie about the world ending, only "the world" according to Von Trier is small enough to fit on a postage stamp.

Random observations:

-- The first half of the movie takes place at a wedding reception and was constantly reminding me of my beloved Rachel Getting Married. Only replace all the scenes of world-music jamming in RGM with close-up shots of Kirsten Dunst's sad face and you've got it.

-- I suppose I should not be surprised by this, but I was kind of blown away by how big Kirsten Dunst's boobs are. For some reason, she never really came across as a booby girl to me. Maybe because she's so skinny? Though I was reminded after the movie about Spider-Man, which, yes, they did look pretty big in this movie. Anyway, obviously LVT makes her get naked.

-- Kirsten's character is loathsome throughout, but she lost me early on. Anybody who declines the invitation to spend her wedding night atop a ready and willing Alexander Skarsgard has lost all my sympathy.

-- In case you were curious, LVT's recommendations for the inevitable end of the world: don't bother with optimism or finding a moment to appreciate the beauty of the universe. Better to just feel incredibly smug that your constant, self-obsessed depression now appears to be prophetic.

-- Charlotte Gainsbourg has the face of a ghoul.

-- Brady Corbett is the male equivalent of Jennifer Ehle, for me. I've seen him in a billion things, and every time I see him in a new thing, it takes me half the movie to figure out who he is. (See also: Mark Strong.)