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Lars Von Trier

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Reply #330 on: May 13, 2014, 12:38:11 PM
Lars Von Trier Writing Detroit-Set Horror Movie Plus Watch 7-Minute Featurette About Restoration Of His Early Films
via The Playlist

According to Danish filmmaker Kristian Levring (whose "The Salvation" starring Mads Mikkelsen is premiering at Cannes), who worked as a script consultant on "Antichrist," von Trier is going horror. "I've always thought that Lars would be able to do a fantastic horror movie," he told Soundvenue (via Indiewire). "And I’ve told him so many times throughout the years, and in the end he said: 'I want you to stop talking about it, so I’ll write it for you instead.' "

"It takes place in Detroit, and then there is the wordplay between Detroit and 'destroyed,' " Levring added, noting that von Trier has started writing the script. "It’s about a man fighting his inner demons. That doesn’t tell that much, but that’s because we haven’t gotten any further so far." He added "....it’s real horror. Of course, there is a psychological aspect, but it’s a real horror movie. That’s what we’re aiming for, at least."

So yes, that sounds pretty promising even if it's all in very early stages (the working title is "Detroit" which is likely to change). Of course, von Trier has gone down the path of the supernatural before, most notably with the Danish series "The Kingdom." But don't get too excited about von Trier shooting the movie in America. Even though he has set previous films like "Dogville" and "Manderlay" between U.S. borders, the director's fear of flying will likely find him using a workaround for whatever he's cooking up (though if there's anyone we'd love anyone to shoot the decaying city on location, it would be von Trier).

And speaking of "The Kingdom," it's one of a handful of early works by von Trier that are getting digitally restored. Production company Zentropa has released a seven-minute featurette diving into the lengthy process of scanning the original film strips and re-editing the movies from scratch in order to preserve the director's projects (trivia: "The Kingdom" was recorded on DigiBeta, a now defunct format). Check out the video below and pray those folks doing the work get upgraded to an office with windows.


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Reply #331 on: May 19, 2014, 02:32:27 PM
Lars von Trier to Direct an Action Film?
Source: IndieWire

With Danish director Kristian Levering stating last week that fellow Dane Lars von Trier is writing a Detroit-set horror film for Levering to direct, more and more hints are being dropped about the filmmaker's other upcoming projects. After a brief, non-speaking appearance at the Berlin Film Festival's "Nymphomaniac" press conference, its director von Trier has vowed not to discuss his plans with the media, and has actually stuck with his word.

Veteran producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen recently told Screen Daily that von Trier is planning on moving into yet another genre: action. With brief flashes of action in his horror and disaster in previous efforts such as "The Kingdom," "Antichrist" and "Melancholia," it seems somehow fitting that the famed auteur would move full throttle into the action genre.

Lars von Trier's films have always flirted on the fringes or morphed genre, most clearly in "Melancholia," which actually divides itself into two parts to justify the jump from melodrama to apocalypse. Jensen said of the director's intentions, "He is talking about making a Trier version of an action movie." At this point, it can only be speculated about what exactly he would do with a "Trier version of an action movie," but be prepared, as always, for his distinctive flavor.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #332 on: September 01, 2014, 09:36:58 AM
Doing tv again.
English language, shooting in 2016.

Called The House that Jack Built


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Reply #333 on: November 29, 2014, 02:03:25 PM
Sober von Trier fears he's finished
After three years of silence, Lars von Trier has finally decided to go back on record to say that almost all of his films have been written on a high of alcohol and drugs. Now sober, the director doubts that he can create anything of value.
The manuscript for his ‘Dogville’ film was written during a 12-day high. His latest film ‘Nymphomaniac’ is the only one that has been written while sober – and it took him 18 months.



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Reply #334 on: November 30, 2014, 01:28:14 PM
Lars Von Trier says a lot of stupid shit.  This falls into that category.


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Reply #335 on: November 30, 2014, 01:43:29 PM
his tendency to be self-critical in an exaggerated way is similar to this clickhole article and i continue to relate to him as a human being on a quest of like personal understanding thinger


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Reply #336 on: September 29, 2017, 03:56:49 PM

This is my favorite youtube clip so I thought i'd translate it:
"This installation stands here and reminds me of Bergman and his cock. His cock was a big problem to him because he was always horny like hell. And he was aging as well. So we can only assume that this very old Bergman sat somewhere and jerked off like a lunatic... at Fårö, in his monastery, in his amazing library and in his damn cinema. In the midst of the Swedish cultural heritage, with all his power, this old idiot sat somewhere and masturbated like crazy. He said it himself, that it was hard to get old and still be as horny. Then I cannot imagine that he didn't jerked off. It is completely impossible to imagine... But maybe we shouldn't emphasize this on a television program about Bergman. But Bergman himself thought it was important. Maybe he had a very small seminal vesicle, which meant that he had to wait several days to get enough sperm to get a ejaculation that was noticeable, the poor old man...
...but he meant a lot to me, the dumb idiot."

Lars Von Trier says a lot of stupid shit.  This falls into that category.

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Reply #337 on: October 17, 2017, 11:56:35 AM
Quote from: Björk
i am inspired by the women everywhere who are speaking up online to tell about my experience with a danish director . because i come from a country that is one of the worlds place closest to equality between the sexes and at the time i came from position of strength in the music world with hard earned independence , it was extremely clear to me when i walked into the actresses profession that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it . i became aware of that it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will and the institution of film allows it . when i turned the director down repeatedly he sulked and punished me and created for his team an impressive net of illusion where i was framed as the difficult one . because of my strength , my great team and because i had nothing to loose having no ambitions in the acting world , i walked away from it and recovered in a years time . i am worried though that other actresses working with the same man did not . the director was fully aware of this game and i am sure of that the film he made after was based on his experiences with me . because i was the first one that stood up to him and didn't let him get away with it

and in my opinion he had a more fair and meaningful relationship with his actresses after my confrontation so there is hope

let's hope this statement supports the actresses and actors all over

let's stop this

there is a wave of change in the world



Jeremy Blackman [15|Oct 01:24 PM]:   "Björk also states that she's 'sure' that the film that the director made next 'was based on his experiences with me'"
Jeremy Blackman [15|Oct 01:24 PM]:   That would be Dogville
Jeremy Blackman [15|Oct 01:25 PM]:   Which *spoiler* includes a lot of sexual harassment and assault

Drenk [15|Oct 02:29 PM]:   I think it will change a little bit for the better.
Drenk [15|Oct 02:30 PM]:   Less impunity.
Drenk [15|Oct 02:32 PM]:   Then men in power think they can do everything they want. And misoginy won't go.
Reelist [15|Oct 02:33 PM]:   Before things get better, Woody Allen needs to die
Drenk [15|Oct 02:38 PM]:   The thing is, having read articles about it, I know he hasn't been judged seriously, but I can't say I absolutely believed he raped his step-daughter.
Drenk [15|Oct 02:39 PM]:   I know Dylan Farrow says so. But adults thinking they have been raped in their childhood, fabricating the memory, is a thing.
Drenk [15|Oct 02:40 PM]:   I'm not defending Allen. I just don't know.
Drenk [15|Oct 02:42 PM]:   I don't even think it's about believing everyone. Victims should feel free to talk and should be taken seriously. But they can't talk because they risk their work/aren't taken seriously.
Reelist [15|Oct 06:42 PM]:   That's the real shift that's been happening, because Harvey Weinstein's victims were such high profile people
Drenk [15|Oct 06:45 PM]:   Yes, but Harvey Weinstein was such an extreme version of what is happening almost everywhere...and even *that* lasted for years...Even if victims will feel like people are on their side now, I think it won't cause a seismic change.
Drenk [15|Oct 06:46 PM]:   About it, I read a lot about the "crisis in masculinity". It's a real issue. I mean, Trump hasn't only been elected because people are racist.
Drenk [15|Oct 07:05 PM]:   Of course, it's not surprising that Donald Trump was very happy to brag about sexual harassment. On tape.
Drenk [15|Oct 07:06 PM]:   I remember watching him a few days before the election. He looked exhausted. And I thought: "Yeah. What's the point. It's the end. He's lost."
Drenk [15|Oct 07:06 PM]:   Well. He didn't.
Drenk [15|Oct 07:07 PM]:   It's still hard to believe that it happened. Something that I thought could definitely not happened.
Drenk [15|Oct 07:07 PM]:   Something insane.
Drenk [15|Oct 07:07 PM]:   It probably will never make sense.
Lottery [15|Oct 08:22 PM]:   That shit will puzzle me forever. Says more about his voters than anything, really. So perhaps it's not that puzzling, they're just shit people.

KJ [15|Oct 09:29 PM]:   that björk post freaks me out. trier is my favorite director after pta, and I have idolized him and watched his films over and over. so it definitely feels weird and unexpected to read that post. I don't know how to react.
KJ [15|Oct 10:47 PM]:   I will follow the news about it, because it should become a huge deal here in sweden and danmark. it's just so fucking weird. I always thought he seemed like a nice guy beneath the media act.
KJ [15|Oct 10:51 PM]:   I understand why björk didn't continued acting after that experience. she has always been framed to be the one that was hard to work with in documentaries and articles about the filming. that must have been horrible.

Drenk [16|Oct 09:27 AM]:   I'm not surprised by LVT. An alcoholic in a position of power...

Drenk [17|Oct 08:49 AM]:   Bjork details what LVT did in a new fb post

Quote from: Björk
in the spirit of #metoo i would like to lend women around the world a hand with a more detailed description of my experience with a danish director . it feels extremely difficult to come out with something of this nature into the public , especially when immediately ridiculed by offenders . i fully sympathise with everyone who hesitates , even for years . but i feel it is the right time especially now when it could make a change . here comes a list of the encounters that i think count as sexual harassment :

1 after each take the director ran up to me and wrapped his arms around me for a long time in front of all crew or alone and stroked me sometimes for minutes against my wishes

2 when after 2 months of this i said he had to stop the touching , he exploded and broke a chair in front of everyone on set . like someone who has always been allowed to fondle his actresses . then we all got sent home .

3 during the whole filming process there were constant awkward paralysing unwanted whispered sexual offers from him with graphic descriptions , sometimes with his wife standing next to us .

4 while filming in sweden , he threatened to climb from his room´s balcony over to mine in the middle of the night with a clear sexual intention , while his wife was in the room next door . i escaped to my friends room . this was what finally woke me up to the severity of all this and made me stand my ground

5 fabricated stories in the press about me being difficult by his producer . this matches beautifully the weinstein methods and bullying . i have never eaten a shirt . not sure that is even possible .

6 i didnt comply or agree on being sexually harassed . that was then portrayed as me being difficult . if being difficult is standing up to being treated like that , i´ll own it .


let´s break this curse


"Hunger is the purest sin"

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Reply #338 on: October 17, 2017, 12:28:54 PM
^ See above.

I guess I'm not totally surprised that Lars is/was such a creep. That doesn't make this less sad and disturbing, though. It feels especially horrible that Björk was his target. She and her work has meant a lot to me over the years, nearly as much as LVT's.

At the risk of viewing this through rose-colored glasses, I'm thinking about this part:

the director was fully aware of this game and i am sure of that the film he made after [Dogville] was based on his experiences with me . because i was the first one that stood up to him and didn't let him get away with it

and in my opinion he had a more fair and meaningful relationship with his actresses after my confrontation so there is hope

Dogville is the most hard-hitting, nuanced, empathy-producing film about sexual harassment and assault that I've ever seen. Is it possible that Lars was wrestling with his own horribleness and ended up self-loathing his way through that film?

It's like he wanted to view himself as Tom Edison, who had desires but believed he was noble. But Lars was actually more like Jack (the blind man). And of course Dogville is ultimately just as stinging in its indictment of Tom Edison. Dogville, by the end, is absolutely full of terrifying predatory men. That's basically the whole point of the movie.

I'm also reminded of Stellan Skarsgard in Nymphomaniac. That character seems like a caretaker but turns out to be a predator, which is such an ultimate betrayal. In the same way, a film director is supposed to take care of you and make you feel comfortable. When they turn out to be a predator, I can only imagine how that would feel seeing your safety net disappear, and you're in the hands of someone who just wants to use you.

Dogville and Antichrist are deeply feminist movies. Even Melancholia is feminist. (The men in that film are entitled, whiny, and completely useless.) And I keep thinking back to Bjork describing how strongly she pushed back against Lars and how she confronted him. I genuinely wonder how responsible she is for the creative trajectory of his career.
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Reply #339 on: May 01, 2018, 07:47:25 PM


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Reply #341 on: May 15, 2018, 09:45:33 PM
Lars von Trier’s Library of Pleasurable Things



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Reply #342 on: December 03, 2018, 12:42:11 PM
Lars von Trier on filmmaking and fear: ‘Sometimes, alcohol is the only thing that will help’

His new film, the typically shocking The House That Jack Built, is supposed to be the director’s big comeback. But his demons seem to have the upper hand

Lars von Trier has a new film coming out and, no surprise, it is a full-blown assault on the senses. The House That Jack Built casts Matt Dillon, that 80s beefcake, as a smirking psychopath who views his killings as performance art and his grisly trophies as stand-alone installations. Jack kills without remorse, and seemingly without consequence, merrily bouncing from one atrocity to the next. There is a mass shooting in a sunlit meadow, sexual violence inside a cramped apartment and a scene in which a small boy cuts the legs off a duck. Von Trier’s story is intentionally brutal; it dares you to stick with it. But the shock of watching the film is nothing compared with the shock of meeting its maker.

It is perhaps the fate of all enfants terribles to eventually slip up and be trampled – either by their own demons or by the weight of public opinion. But Von Trier has fallen harder than most and been steamrollered more thoroughly. For years, like his character Jack, the Danish director rolled the dice and rode his luck. He was the impish scourge of bourgeois sensibilities, a gleeful chronicler of so much human cruelty. Now he is physically spent and emotionally shot. His tussle with alcohol and depression has taken its toll. He believes his ill-starred 13th feature will be his movie swan song. “When I saw it on screen, I felt that very strongly,” he says. “It looked to me like some kind of last testament.”

We speak in May at a big, rented property in the suburbs of Cannes, Von Trier’s gated retreat from the festival fray. On the face of it, the place offers a serene haven. The director’s production staff are quietly tucking into their breakfast; David Bowie’s Heroes is playing at a discreet volume. But outside, the swimming pool pump has become detached from its moorings. It rears its head, like a snake, to spray water at the windows. The publicist thinks the machine has probably eaten some leaves and is puking them up. She shouts: “Keep away from the pool! The pump’s gone insane!”

The director is sitting at a table behind a door marked “Private”, specs perched on his nose. The word “FUCK” is tattooed across his knuckles. His hands are shaking and his speech is laboured; he keeps losing his thread. Von Trier explains that the tremors are caused by antidepressants, although they may also be caused by alcohol withdrawal. He is largely sober these days, but recently fell off the wagon. “It’s hard to be in Cannes and not drink,” he says.

Cannes, for better or worse, runs clean through the director, like lettering through a stick of rock. It has been the scene of his greatest victories and his worst defeat; his Agincourt and his Waterloo. He won the Palme d’Or for Dancer in the Dark, and sent the festival into uproar with the scandalous Antichrist. Then, in 2011, came an infamous press conference in which he airily joked about sympathising with Hitler. He was expelled by the organisers and subsequently investigated by the Danish police. Many saw this humiliation as the man’s just deserts. “The thing about Lars is that he always plays this game of teasing the grownups, pushing the boundaries,” his friend and fellow director Thomas Vinterberg told me afterwards. “And nobody ever said no to him until that day. He found his wall and it was right in front of him in Cannes, which I thought was beautiful. You couldn’t have written it better.”

Von Trier begs to differ. The furore was horrible; it marks him to this day. “It was really tough,” he says. “Because I was persona non grata for seven years, and I was also threatened with five years in jail in Marseille, which, I think, neither you nor I would benefit very much from.”

He didn’t seriously believe he was going to prison, did he? “Well, I’m easily scared. I’m sure that if two officers from your local police force turned up at your door, telling you how you were going to be handcuffed and taken to a cell, then you’d be scared, too. So it was a really hard punishment.” He gives a mirthless laugh. “I mean I never thought they would have me killed. But, yeah, it was painful.”

The House That Jack Built is meant to be his triumphant Cannes comeback, heralding the return of the prodigal son. Instead, it becomes more akin to a public flogging. I think the film is tremendous: a baroque provocation, ironised and stylised in every aspect apart from its violence, which it shows as gut-wrenching and horrific, resolutely unglamorised. But most others disagree. Von Trier’s picture is described as vile, vomitous and vacuous. It prompts more than 100 walkouts at the morning screening. The director insists that the official premiere was better. He says: “The audience was kind to me, which was touching. When you get older, you get more touched by these things.”

He gropes for his water glass as if lifting heavy furniture. His hands shake, and the water slops. The whole endeavour is almost too agonising to watch. Von Trier is only 62, but he carries himself like a man in his 80s.

His health, he admits, remains a work-in-progress. “I’m working on my alcoholism, which is good. I had an eight-month period where I didn’t drink, and I’ll get back to that again soon. But I have this alcohol ‘tool’ that I use when I have to. And, if I have a really big anxiety attack, it’s the only thing that will help.”

I am now wondering to what extent alcohol has influenced his career. Has he ever been drunk when directing his films? “Hmm,” he says. “Well, it depends on the form of the day. I mean, it’s not a spur to work; it’s only self-medication. But when you feel that level of anxiety you’ll do anything to push it away. So, sometimes it helps. It gives you the room to come out with what you already had in mind.”

Von Trier likes to say that everything in life scares him except the content of his films. Directing, therefore, has been a means of harnessing his demons, of shedding light on dark corners. His greatest pictures (Dogville, Antichrist, The Idiots) amount to flayed human epics with all the nerve endings exposed. The danger is that the demons and darkness have a habit of spilling over into real life. Helena Bonham Carter turned down the lead role in Breaking the Waves because she decided the director was “a bit of a weirdo”. Paul Bettany had such a terrible time making Dogville that he refuses to watch the film. Von Trier, Bettany felt, was a control freak and an autocrat. “He’s a precociously brilliant director,” he says. “But he has no interest in what the actors think.”

Off set, too, there have been other problems. Recently, the Danish authorities were called to investigate claims of sexual harassment at his film company, Zentropa. The organisation’s co-founder, Peter Aalbæk Jensen, reportedly groped the breasts of young interns and ordered them to strip at the office Christmas party. Jensen’s subsequent apology hardly did him any favours. He said he had always liked “slapping asses” and felt rather sad that he now had to stop.

I suggest that what Zentropa bosses may have regarded as a culture of sexual liberation was a clear case of systemic abuse. But Von Trier, alarmingly, remains reluctant to condemn it.

“Well, you know Peter,” he says. “He’s crazy. I’m crazy. Zentropa is crazy, to some degree. But when I look at the corporation – in this house, for instance – the young people are all having a good time.” He pauses. “I don’t even know what Peter is meant to have done.”

“Slapped asses,” I tell him.

“Slapped asses,” he says. “Yeah. But that’s what we all want to do. He’s living his dream. Yeah, it’s not OK. Nobody should be forced to do something they don’t want to do. That’s a very important rule. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that something wrong was done.”

It would be helpful to cast Von Trier as an innocent bystander here. But the evidence suggests this may not be entirely true. Last year, Björk hinted, without naming names, that he had harassed her during the making of Dancer in the Dark. Specifically, the singer said that she received “unwanted whispered sexual offers … with graphic descriptions”. Von Trier denied any wrongdoing. I have also heard a story that he once stripped naked in front of Nicole Kidman.

The director blinks. “I did what?”

Stripped naked in front of Nicole Kidman. This would have been on the set of Dogville.

Von Trier snorts. “Well, again, as with Peter, it sounds likely. But Nicole was ready to come back and do more films with me, so it can’t have shocked her very much.” Another snort. “But, yeah, it’s a crazy business. And it was a little bit our lives, as well. That’s where the films came from – that sense of freedom.” All of which may well be true. But freedom for whom and at the expense of who else? Dogville, incredibly, just turned a shade or two darker.

Today, he accepts that the culture has changed. He can’t make his films in the way he once did, although he feels that this is more down to his own frailty than to a wider corrective in the world at large. He explains that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder; that he is not physically fit to be on set any more. In the future, he thinks he might make some short films. A few days here and there, nothing very taxing. Shooting a feature is too exhausting, too stressful. The House That Jack Built finally convinced him of that.

I can’t quite believe this has always been the case. Von Trier’s best work is such an exuberant dance, so obviously fuelled by abandon and risk, it is hard to accept it was all born out of torment. There must have been one film that was pure pleasure to make.

Von Trier mulls this over and recalls Melancholia. This was his acclaimed apocalypse drama from 2011, the film that indirectly landed him in all that hot water at Cannes. “Melancholia was the one where we had the most fun,” he says. “We were so drunk. It was a fantastic experience. We were all so drunk.”

This is his problem in a nutshell. He associates the source of all pleasure with the very thing that may kill him. “Well, yeah,” he says, as though I have just remarked that the sea is blue. “But it was a very important part of that particular film.”

He admits that his characters are alter egos of sorts. He was raging Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist, depressive Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia, victimised Kidman in Dogville (possibly also wheedling Bettany, who becomes her main captor). So, it is no surprise that he feels an affinity with Matt Dillon’s Jack, who fondly believes he is getting away with his crimes, only to belatedly twig that he is being pitched straight to hell. Because, for all its anarchic spirit, Von Trier’s work inhabits a strict moral universe. It is a place of saints, martyrs and sinners. And if Jack comes to believe in the concept of divine retribution, it must follow that the director does, too.

“No, no,” he says. “It is a picture, remember? The film implies that Jack has a romantic attachment to that notion. I really don’t – I’m not religious at all. But I did just read a book by Stephen Hawking, and he says this thing that has stuck with me. He says that we begin as stardust and we end as stardust. And that’s a liberating feeling – not in a religious sense, but in an emotional sense. I like the idea that there are multiverses. I like the photo from the Hubble telescope that defines the universe, that shows the stardust. That’s liberating for me. I take a comfort from that.”

In the late 90s, he made a TV show called The Kingdom and installed himself as its master of ceremonies. Von Trier would appear in a tuxedo at the end of each episode, commenting on the action with a live-wire wit. He was ablaze with charisma, full of punk mischief, not entirely to be trusted. But that was a different man, another multiverse. Today, the director seems corroded, defeated. He says that it typically takes five years to emerge from a bout of depression. He estimates that he is about 18 months through the trip.

Outside the house, the pump continues spewing water. The production crew have gathered poolside to observe its meltdown. I shake Von Trier’s hand and urge him to look after himself because I have rarely met someone so in need of close policing. “Yes, OK,” he replies. “I will try not to get drunk.” But, for some reason, this prospect strikes him as deeply amusing. He is still chuckling to himself as the door swings shut.

The House That Jack Built is out on 14 December


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Reply #343 on: December 29, 2018, 12:40:09 PM

by Lindsey Romain for Ebert.com

The first time I watched “Nymphomaniac,” it was cold and it was late and a slant of light from a street lamp striped the floor of my studio apartment, casting ugly shadows on the wall behind my laptop. Innocuous items—a mug full of pens, a bottle of vitamins, a porcelain deer—grew in size, a grotesque sprawl that hovered, claws-raised, over the screen below. I watched all four hours of the two-part film through strained eyes, the shadows eventually morphing into stringed black creatures before dissolving as daytime encroached. I remember them because they evoked the very sensation that comes over me when I watch a new Lars von Trier film: judgment and condemnation. As if I willed them to life to consider my sin.

There is inherent shame that comes from my fascination with von Trier. It is the shame of being a woman, and therefore a target of his artistic rage. The shame of knowing full well the things he’s done, like drunkenly calling himself a Nazi at a Cannes press conference, or getting naked on set in front of female actors, or telling Nicole Kidman he wanted to “tie her up and whip her” during rehearsals for “Dogville,” or sexually harassing Björk on the set of “Dancer in the Dark.” Things I acknowledge, and that sit like cold lumps in the back of my throat when I eagerly return to “Breaking the Waves,” “Melancholia,” and “Antichrist.” Movies I adore, that invoke something beneath my skin, and that grow in meaning as I grow in age: Bess McNeil’s (Emily Watson) mania and complicated relationship with religion in “Breaking the Waves”; Justine’s (Kirsten Dunst) cosmic depression in “Melancholia”; Charlotte Gainsbourg’s She and her deep, psychosexual self-hatred in “Antichrist.” All feelings I’ve vacillated between in my adulthood, but also feelings that are drenched in the poisoned blood of their creator, irrevocably tied to his mounting misdeeds—and perhaps mine, too.

Watching von Trier is entering into a deranged agreement. All parties are guilty, and good morale is sacrificed. But to enter willingly as a woman adds an extra layer of malignancy. His “Antichrist”-and-beyond era is especially troublesome, as his focus narrowed to a field of vision that sees only the pain perpetuated against women, often by themselves: a woman slicing off her clitoris with a rusty pair of scissors, another ravished by depression and burned to a crisp in a cosmic apocalypse, and another so addicted to sex that she’s found beaten and urinated on in her film’s opening chapter.

And then there’s von Trier’s latest, sickest work, “The House that Jack Built,” a two-and-a-half-hour Hell journey through the baroque mind of a modern-day serial killer, played by Matt Dillon. The film tracks Jack as he hones his sadism, weaponizing his latent misogyny and picking off women—any woman, really, but the ones that annoy him most are assigned the cruelest fate. In the opening chapter, he finds his first victim (Uma Thurman) on the side of the road as she’s having car trouble. He drives her to a nearby mechanic, and she taunts and annoys him—accuses him of looking like a serial killer, practically begging him to do her in—until he eventually murders her by bashing her face with a tire-jack. We see, throughout the movie, glimpses at the results: the bloody, caved-in skull of a beautiful woman who was murdered for simply seeing through the veneer of a destructive male ego.

This continues on, each segment wildly outdoing itself. Jack strangles a woman (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) in her home and then drags her body behind his car, her face shredding into goo on the asphalt. He stalks a mother (Sofie Gråbøl) and her two sons, then ghoulishly arranges their bodies in a mock picnic, forcing her to feed her dead child a slice of pie before shooting her in the head. He insults his girlfriend (Riley Keough) before trapping her in her apartment and amputating her breasts, one of which he later re-fashions into a wallet. He stores his victims in an industrial freezer, he takes photographs of their bodies in rigor mortis, posing them to the desired effect. He calls himself “Mr. Sophistication” and speaks highly of art despite his failed architectural endeavors and clumsy kills. He’s a MAGA Hannibal Lecter, accidentally auspicious.

The psychopath-as-artist metaphor (if you can even call something discussed ad nauseam in the text a “metaphor”) is the great theme of “The House That Jack Built,” a too-obvious meditation on von Trier’s own career. As Jack narrates his story like the BTK killer on trial—methodically, unsympathetically—to “Verge,” a clear allusion to Dante’s Virgil, his reflections mutate into a pastiche of von Trier’s own filmography. Quite literally, too: We see scenes from his films play out in one of Jack’s long rants about separating art from artist, dejecting the idea that art is inherently therapeutic. Jack’s ego is a shadow play of the media character von Trier has become, a puppet of the absurd and narcissistic.

Why, then, do I find myself so enraptured by “The House That Jack Built”? I, of course, find no comfort in the images of bloodied female bodies, their anatomy splayed carnally and ridiculously in progressively deranged ways. I do not sympathize, empathize, or even remotely feel in any small way for Jack, nor does he for himself, I don’t think. There’s nothing to love in the film’s ornate nihilism or violence against not just women, but also animals and children.

And yet, and yet … I am fascinated by the film’s empathetic purview of the harsh conditions women live under, the horrors foisted on our bodies and souls by wicked men like Jack, who get away—over and over and over and over again—with the most despicable crimes imaginable, some so normalized they remain downright conspicuous. Indeed, "The House that Jack Built" has been slapped with the same incongruent criticisms as works like "Antichrist" and "Nymphomaniac"; that it’s a “huge fuck you” to its viewers, that it’s “self-congratulatory,” that it’s “empty and repugnant.”

But I share none of that resentment. I see, instead, a man reconciling with his id, making a mockery of the behavior he’s both monetized and perverted, and that he keeps getting away with. The film, to me, reads as both self-critical and critical of the audience who paid to sit through it. If von Trier is Jack—and of course he is—there is much to be gleaned from how often he points to Jack’s continued unearned salvation. At one point, after driving his second victim’s body through the streets, leaving a literal blood trail, rain begins to fall, a “divine” act that erases all the morbid evidence almost immediately. Later, Jack hijacks a police car and parks it outside his storage facility, the siren still blaring, mere meters away from his lewd freezer full of mutilated bodies, as if he’s begging to be found—and yet before he can be caught, he’s saved, yet again, by Verge’s intervention. Jack is a comically inept criminal, and yet he evades persecution over and over, as men are wont to do. In my reading, von Trier isn’t winking at his ability to slink through the cracks as he continues making art: he’s outright mocking the systems that allow people like him—the wealthy, white, artistic male elite—to do so. In the end, Jack isn’t saved or forgiven or set free. He’s cast into the deepest fires of Hell. When the credits hit, Buster Poindexter’s “Hit the Road Jack” blares, as if to glorify in Jack’s sudden departure. “Don’t you come back no more.”

Indeed, there are rumors that “The House That Jack Built” will be von Trier’s final film. I could think of no better way for a controversial filmmaker to bow out: With a blatant condemnation of himself and the systems that let men like Jack win. Maybe it is a “fuck you.” And maybe we deserve it.


Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #344 on: December 29, 2018, 12:47:31 PM
"The House that Jack Built" has been slapped with the same incongruent criticisms as works like "Antichrist" and "Nymphomaniac"; that it’s a “huge fuck you” to its viewers, that it’s “self-congratulatory,” that it’s “empty and repugnant.”

But I share none of that resentment. I see, instead, a man reconciling with his id, making a mockery of the behavior he’s both monetized and perverted, and that he keeps getting away with. The film, to me, reads as both self-critical and critical of the audience who paid to sit through it.

"Hunger is the purest sin"