Author Topic: NYMPH()MANIAC  (Read 53640 times)

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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #165 on: March 29, 2014, 10:06:21 PM »
+5
When Shia LaBeouf is the best thing about your film, you know something has gone horribly wrong.

This is a genuinely bad movie. There are good scenes, even a few great scenes, but you really notice them when they're happening. (Not a good sign.)

Here's the biggest problem. Nymphomaniac is a super efficient subtext-draining machine. We are not allowed to do much interpretation, because not only is it done for us, it's forced upon us in the moment. Whenever something mysterious or potentially profound was happening and I was forming my thoughts on it, the film itself would interrupt me, with Seligman's voice, telling me what to think. He is a pest.

It's kind of merciless how you're guided through each chapter. It's as if you're trying to read a book and a teacher is standing there yelling footnotes at you. Simply does not work.

With LVT I expect confrontation; this was hand-holding. I never felt frightened or confused or challenged. This is an edgeless Lars Von Trier that I never want to see again.

In one moment, Seligman describes to Joe (and, obnoxiously, to us) how his asexuality makes him an ideal audience for her story, and how that's interesting. This is literally a character in a movie interpreting itself. We don't tolerate characters randomly introducing themselves with a brief speech about their characteristics, so why should we tolerate this? When that happened, I wasn't sure whether to cringe or facepalm, and I no longer had patience for the overexpository nonsense. But just like the relentless train that runs by Seligman's apartment, it would come back again and again. (If this is supposed to be a meta joke, it's an ineffectual one.)

The actress switch was, to put it mildly, not convincing (and didn't work as a meta joke either). I mean let's be honest here... suddenly she aged 25 years and still had a baby, and Shia LaBeouf had aged one day. I think Lars was just determined to use Charlotte Gainsbourg (who doesn't even strike me as essential for the role) and simply got lazy about making it work. Hey, how about you switch to Shia LeBeouf's replacement at the same time? And maybe as a bonus have an actual time jump there?

Now, some less mild spoilers...

The scene with the African guys was pointless. Its only purpose seems to have been (1) so Lars could get that shot with two bouncing black penises in the foreground and (2) to spice up Joe's character with a sprinkling of racism. When the scene ended I was like oh, that whole thing was just a joke. Oh. Okay then. I guess it was amusing. Except it was kind of dumb and silly that they didn't notice her leaving.

The Antichrist reference kind of infuriated me, actually, and served to highlight by explicit contrast how toothless this movie is.

These are probably my favorite scenes:

- Joe's first encounter with Jerome
- Uma's scene
- The chord sequence that ended Part I
- Joe's final confrontation with Jerome & P

Unfortunately I feel like I could do without the rest.

i truly do not understand the overwhelmingly positive response to this. i love lars but this was his most sub par, boring movie by a mile. the ending felt as though it was ghostwritten by a toddler. i swear i'm not trolling. i just don't understand why people would value this on the same level as his other work. uma's great, though.

No, you're right, the ending was garbage. And it's definitely Lars who was trolling us.
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wilder

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #166 on: April 05, 2014, 04:25:22 PM »
+7
This is a fascinating movie, despite any flaws, but I found myself more partial to Volume I than Volume II, which became largely frustrating for me.

MAJOR SPOILERS

Most of Lars' films are kinds of fables, sometimes beginning with dubious psychological foundations, but what makes them work is the consistency by which they play by their own rules. In Breaking the Waves, after Jan's accident on the oil rig that leaves him paralyzed, Jan tells Bess that she must go sleep with other men and then recount her experiences to him, that it's the only way to keep himself alive, if he loses that part of himself he's done for. Does this make complete sense? Not really. Do we buy it as a foundation for the remaining story? Yes, but only because this sort of bent truth that Lars puts forth is held steadfast and is utilized with consistency.

In Nymphomaniac's last support group scene, Joe stands up and declares herself different than all the others, a societal outcast, embracing the word 'Nymphomaniac' instead of ‘Sex Addict’. Here we feel that Joe is not just avoiding categorization, but is accepting, in the face of total opposition, that she is a creature of a fundamentally different kind - not one with rote psychological traumas she's compensating for that can be corrected with therapy, but a person who was born with essentially different needs, good or bad, that are unmodifiable. This is LVT proposing an expansion of what we consider the human experience, widening the definition, giving Joe's needs validity in the same way any other sexual orientation may be allowed as natural despite societal projections.

The later scene with the two African men is problematic. It works as another checkmark on Joe's list of what she considers exotic experiences, but really what I thought the point of this scene  was (until later), was the resulting conversation with Seligman about the word "negro". Joe claims, despite Seligman's protests, that by using the word she is calling "a spade a spade" instead of pandering to political correctness. As the conversation evolves, Seligman, established as very well-read and something approaching an intellectual, very nearly has his opinion turned about the use of the word. What underpins this scene is an embracement of uncomfortable truths, in the same way that Joe accepts the word 'Nymphomaniac', which implies impossibility of change, instead of sex addict as a personal label. Seligman's turning is a bit of confirmation that Joe isn't in typical denial about her possibility of change that plagues most addicts, but is in fact something else, something rarer, and that by hearing Joe's story recounted we are stepping into a less explored but completely valid zone of human discovery (at least in Lars' universe).

The hiccup happens later (one of many) when, as the sun is rising, Joe claims she wants to be that one-in-million sex addict who can be cured, an idea that was offered to her by her earlier support group leader. This comes almost out of nowhere, apparently prompted by Joe’s finding the solitary tree at the top of the mountain, and completely negates everything we've seen up until this point. Joe's nonsensical turn here, in which she essentially denounces all we were led to believe prior (concerning Nymphomania vs. sex addiction as completely different conditions) strips that extra meaning from the earlier discussion of the word negro in regards to the African men scene and reduces it to something flirting with exploitation. The scene with Joe recounting her discovery of the tree at the top of the mountain all by its lonesome worked as a payoff for her childhood discussions with her dad (Christian Slater) in the forest, harking back to her father's descriptions of trees as souls. The final shot in that sequence was poetic — Joe standing amongst the indifferent vastness with only the sideways-growing branches dwarfing her in the frame. It worked as a visual metaphor for her plight the entire movie, however, by using it as a trigger for hope, Joe perceiving the tree as fighting against the odds of its existence, as a sign of her own possibility of being “cured”, it diminishes the image’s original meaning and changes it to be a launching pad for her late transformation that is a lot less affecting. It changes the meaning of the entire movie to the far less interesting notion that 'Joe is just a sex addict in denial’, a betrayal of the rules the movie purported to be playing by.

By canceling out the curse of Joe, Nymphomaniac ceases to be a story of martyrdom, of carrying the burden of a permanent cross, and becomes something more murky. Whatever Lars was trying to say, the story becomes corrupted by the events that transpire in the second half of Volume II, once Willem Defoe enters the picture. While the scenes that resulted from Joe's employment by Defoe weren't necessarily bad in isolation, that entire story thread wasn't informed by anything we'd seen up until that point, aside from Joe's apparent qualifications for debt collection in terms of her nymphomania, which is a contrivance that doesn’t evolve our understanding of her. The connection between Joe's condition and the later scenes where she uses her sexual knowledge to extort money from clients is slim and a strange direction for the movie to go. What ultimately results from Joe's involvement in this area are threads of jealousy, lesbian experimentation, and questions of murder in regards to good or evil. The narrative, by this point, has become confused.

Apart from working in an illegal realm outside of the normal confines of society, which Joe’s nymphomania has pushed her to do, we are no longer following the foreground affects of Joe's condition on her life. Joe sets up the telling of her story, the entire excuse for the film in the first place, as a way to prove to Seligman that she is an “evil person”. We are then led to believe that Joe’s cross to bear, her nymphomania, will be the ultimate cause of this conclusion, directly. When Joe succumbs to her wants so impulsively that she risks the welfare of her child, Marcel, we are seeing the lengths to which Joe cannot help going to satiate her desires. If Marcel had actually fallen from the apartment’s balcony and died, if that was Joe’s reasoning for her essential “evil” nature — that her nymphomania trumped her regard for another human life, I would have bought her perspective completely. Instead, the later extortion thread leads Joe to kill out of jealousy, a completely unrelated moral question. Questions of jealousy can exist totally apart from nymphomaniac tendencies, making it an arbitrary evolution in Joe’s development.

Going back a bit, P’s coming into Joe’s life also seemed somewhat ineffective. This part of the movie seems to hold three main functions: It provides an opportunity for Joe to explore lesbian attraction, one of the only sexual areas we haven’t seen her venture into by this point, it sets up the jealousy angle in regards to Jerome later on, and it creates the possibility for the scene, however, contrived, with Joe encountering the pedophile. The problem is that P’s lesbian attraction to Joe is completely coincidental, and that she (P) initiates it. It’s way too convenient that out of all the boxes Joe has yet to check (of which there are very few), P just happens to fit into the lesbian experimentation category, and is also the one to make the advances. Taking the agency out of Joe’s hands makes the bedroom scene with P somewhat meaningless, as Joe acting on an attraction to P of her own volition would have implied a truly irrepressible desperation on her part. Joe is said to be somewhat celibate by this point, apart from her interactions with men within her job, so P acting to reignite Joe’s sexual desires instead of Joe herself says nothing about the permanent “curse” of nymphomania as it should. If P hadn’t done this, it is possible that Joe would have found her peace, which, again, is an idea in conflict with what the film sets up in the first place. 

Joe’s empathy for the pedophile’s circumstance, having not acted on his impulses and harmed another human being, is interpreted by her as honorable. She states explicitly that for this she thinks he deserves “a thousand medals”. As Joe is relating her own incurable condition, her own curse, to his, we can only conclude that in the event that Joe was not harming anyone in following her natural instincts, Joe believes nymphomania is fine — which is why her son Marcel should have died, it would have been a direct consequence of her pursuing her compulsions. I thought that what we glean as an audience from this extortion scene with the pedophile was good, but that the means by which it was arrived at was unnecessarily complicated. Why couldn’t Joe encounter a secret pedophile in another setting? It seemed like the only successful development of the whole debt collection bit was our increased understanding of Joe taken from this scene, but it could have occurred more simply elsewhere.

Also, given that Seligman has this role of offering counterpoint, not merely foil, to Joe’s beliefs, I found it odd that in the final minutes of the movie, when Joe muses on the idea that if a man had lived the life she had he wouldn’t be judged so unfairly, he didn’t digress into a discussion about the biological investment women have in sex vs men. It seemed to me that this discussion was glaringly avoided, and I'm unsure of why.

Though the end with Joe shooting Seligman felt wrong, Seligman's advances in the final minutes of the movie didn't come off as completely unwarranted to me. Here is a man who, despite claiming empathy, ultimately perpetuates Joe's suffering. It's a bit wonky, and I don't know what else LVT could have done with it, but Seligman basically attempting to rape Joe after positioning himself as her first real friend felt like an appropriate conclusion to this extremely dark story.

Despite Volume II’s inconsistencies, the film as a whole has too many good things about it to be dismissed. Any film that inspires this much contemplation for me is worth seeing (repeatedly).

jenkins

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #167 on: April 05, 2014, 05:06:27 PM »
+2
Despite Volume II’s inconsistencies, the film as a whole has too many good things about it to be dismissed. Any film that inspires this much contemplation for me is worth seeing (repeatedly).
you're so adorable. enjoyed the whole post and you're becoming like my jared leto spirit animal, what i think jared letos and spirit animals could be like. you tickled me for a future day when i wanna 1/2 the nymphos

Cloudy

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #168 on: April 10, 2014, 03:04:15 AM »
0
For a few days I've been trying to summon the reasons for why I thought this didn't work for me...and I blame the film for not making me hate it enough or like it enough, which is very unlike Trier. I'd disagree with Wilder in saying that I don't really crave to watch this again at all. I don't recall scenes that I find myself itching to dive back into. Each image felt like an overwritten representation rather than truth......if you're into Godard you'll dig it.

Pubrick

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #169 on: April 10, 2014, 06:08:37 AM »
0
....if you're into Godard you'll dig it.

Single handedly made me lose hope for this film.
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wilder

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #170 on: April 10, 2014, 10:17:40 AM »
+1
I don't recall scenes that I find myself itching to dive back into. Each image felt like an overwritten representation rather than truth

I get what you mean in a way. I found Vol. 1 immensely entertaining, though. To be honest I was completely disinterested in the trailers, and not having liked Melancholia or Antichrist, wasn't sure if I was going to bother seeing it at all. So glad I did. For me the strength of the film lies in its construction. Though obviously very different stories, the closest thing it reminded me of was Eyes Wide Shut, where you have all these episodic adventures that in combination add up to something much larger, an exploration of a subject so fundamental and in some ways endless that the tip of the iceberg shown leaves your mind to wonder deeper about the events you've seen and their implication on everything else you know about relationships, or in the case of Nymphomaniac, on carnal desire and the possible groundlessness of some psychological truths we accept so readily (I don't think I'm even hitting on it exactly with that description).

......if you're into Godard you'll dig it.

I'm not much of a fan of Godard at all, and don't see the connection aside from the numerical graphics overlaid in some scenes. Can you elaborate?

Cloudy

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #171 on: April 10, 2014, 11:42:49 AM »
0
Just to be clear, I really like and agree with both of your posts on the film. But a lot of those good qualities are in an allegorical sphere rather than just plain simple cinematic feelings (Godard). Part 1 was really entertaining, but in a TV entertainment way. I regret waiting to see this in theaters because it's his least cinematic film. It's as if he made it to be seen on your laptop. The script was probably a way more enjoyable experience to read than the film itself.
To know where I'm coming from: I love Breaking the waves, Dancer, antichrist, melancholia

Thought (Part 1) was a good time at the movies, just not LVT.

ElPandaRoyal

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #172 on: April 14, 2014, 04:52:41 PM »
+1
SPOILERS MAYBE!! I Dunno, whatever, it's just me rambling.

This didn't help me improve my relationship with von Trier at all. Quite the contrary. To me it just read as a collection of banalities interweaved with some inane philosophical/historical/artistic conversations. I tried to watch it as drama, I tried to see it as comedy, it didn't work either way. The narrative structure felt like I was watching a hardcore version of Slumdog Millionaire. And I'm almost forced to use one of my least favorite things one can say about a movie: pretentious. Either that or downright insulting, the ending felt like what eating a big pile of shit must feel like. And this time there aren't even great performances to make it at least mildly interesting. As for the hardcore sex scenes, I actually felt like the first one (a blowjob on the train that shows you these girls are not just talking shit, they're there to go all the way) was strong enough to be there, as was the whole pedophile penis shot (which is probably the only great scene in the two parts and what it's really all about, sex as a strong indicative of your personality, something you can't run away from, something that encapsultes what you are, but is immediately followed by a cringe worthy dialogue about pedofilia - it's what I call a cliched politically incorrect speech, just like the dialogue about the N word for instance, so on the nose you can actually see booger. Not that what's being said isn't rightly put, it's just that it seems like its being shout by an annoying 15 year old. As for the rest of the hardcore shots, they're there for shock value, nothing else. I'm sorry von Trier fans, but I just can't get into this or any of his stuff from the past 10 years.

/END RAMBLING.
Si

Alexandro

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #173 on: April 17, 2014, 04:32:48 PM »
0
yeah, I gotta admit (sadly) that JB's review is spot on, and wilder's is pretty much so too, except for the part that the film has too many good things to dismiss. four hours is a long time to not come up with good things, and the film manages that, but in the end it just chokes itself with exposition and over explanations.

wilder

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #174 on: April 28, 2014, 05:41:08 AM »
+1
Blu-ray from Magnolia on July 8, 2014

jenkins

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #175 on: July 12, 2014, 01:22:26 PM »
0
really delighted by how conversational this thread is

the ending is like someone punches a baby and the 2nd part is less vibrant as a whole. group agreement i think

thought the first part had more luscious story textures, except my personal emotions hum surprising sexual tensions as i vividly remember my s&m; hands roped and bottom-half leather-strapped to the couch, you know, my naked ass a hotspot, those sequences i felt past the screen and i remember them as my own weird strange stories but lars can we talk about your ending. you're blowing it

saw this is as a theatrical 1/2. an elderly couple sat behind us, in the third back row, which i selected for anxiety-safety reasons. i forgot about the news, interviews, responses, expectations, etc. and movies like the nymphos are for sure why i want to be in a theater. omitted part about all the scenes that made me laugh

wilder

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #176 on: August 20, 2014, 12:02:10 PM »
0
Director's Cut blu-ray on November 25, 2013

wilder

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #177 on: August 29, 2014, 12:09:41 AM »
0
Three clips from the director's cut of Vol. II

Lottery

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #178 on: September 05, 2014, 09:30:56 AM »
0
Damn man, the teaser for the Director's Cut is seriously NSFW for real.

Bethie

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Re: NYMPH()MANIAC
« Reply #179 on: September 05, 2014, 09:11:25 PM »
0
I agree with yall about this movie being laaaame. I think I invested too much time to be given that ending.
who likes movies anyway

 

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