Friday, May 20, 2011

Yes, I Understand That Lars Von Trier Is A Dumbass. Go And See "Melancholia," Anyway.

The staff here at Movie Feast loves cult cinema and our readers are the beneficiaries (or victims) of our preferred viewing habits. However that doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to important events in mainstream cinema.

Case in point.

Unless you live under a rock or something, you've probably read dozens of articles concerning the controversial comments of Lars Von Trier, director of films such as Dancer In The Dark and Antichrist.

I won't run over old ground here by repeating Von Trier's rather insouciant and reckless commentary, suffice to say that I personally feel that they were the inane ramblings of someone trying to sell a movie under the impression that any publicity is good publicity.

The problem is that like some directors (or artists in general), Von Trier best expresses himself through his work (or worst if you've read Evil Ash's review of Antichrist). You cannot give people like that a microphone and expect good things to happen. For better or worse, guys like that have a habit of saying exactly what is on their mind.

The addage of "If you don't have something nice to say...." is lost on these folks.

The tragedy here is the potential backlash towards his latest film, the apocalyptic sci-fi exposition known as Melancholia. It is inevitable that resistance to show this movie (or the overwhelming desire to put it on a screen) will be driven by reaction to Trier's comments instead of reaction to the film. As with anyone else's work, I am sure that there will be reasons to either love or hate Melancholia that have absolutely nothing to do with Von Trier's ill-timed comments.

Decisions about the merits of Melancholia should be drawn from the film itself rather than the puerile and idiotic statements of Von Trier. Von Trier's banter only shows that he chose the right profession when he decided to be a director.

His career as a stand-up comedian would've gone up in flames his first time onstage.

As for the question of whether or not I support the Cannes executive board to ban Von Trier, the answer is "absolutely." I don't reward bad behavior in my household from my daughter so why should the Cannes executive board? Let Von Trier tell Nazi jokes on his own time in his own home around people that understand where he is coming from.

If he can't conduct himself in a public forum in a manner expected from a professional, then he needs to stay out of the public eye or at least hire a good publicist to speak for him at these sorts of events.

I think I feel the sorriest for the Israeli distributor of Von Trier's work. It is going to be a quiet summer for that guy.


Emily said...

Von Trier is like the kid in your class who you REALLY want to do well, but he just can't behave for five minutes to pull it off and yet you still make excuses for him. I LOVE his films and am constantly defending them against charges of misogyny. I think he makes films ABOUT misogyny, but not misogynist films.

Anyway, the comments just irk me. I agree with you that they're probably more from a misguided place of publicity whoring than actual Naziism, but DUDE! Stop giving people a reason to hate you and just make your films!

Sigh. I'm totally seeing Melancholia because Von Trier is easily, to me, one of the most fascinating filmmakers working today. He's just also a minor idiot.

Doug Tilley said...

While I don't think the Von Trier ban will stand - if he wants to swing his Five Obstructions film with Scorsese at Cannes in two years, I guarantee they'll bend over backwards to let him in, I suppose I can't feel too harshly about the decision to ban him at this time. I don't think many people think he's a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer, but he frankly needs to be taught a lesson to be slightly more tactful if he is going to be attempting to promote his material. He's already a hard sell - and Melancholia seems to be continuing that streak - so making it harder on himself is ill advised. Maybe he's just creating an obstruction for himself. :)

I still think he can be a masterful filmmaker, and one of the few who is continually trying to push boundaries by instituting limitations. But I long ago learned to separate artists from art - I certainly wouldn't enjoy Roman Polanski's work if I couldn't - so I don't expect his ill-stated sentiments to inform my reactions to his work in the future.

J.T. said...

And now Lars says in an interview that he's "no Mel Gibson" but is proud of getting thrown out of Cannes.

Silly man. Did you learn nothing from WarGames? Sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.