The Antichrist that is Lars Von Trier

After being left feeling astounded at the masterpiece that was 2011’s Melancholia, I took it upon myself to delve into this director’s back catalogue.

I started off with Dancer in the Dark, thinking this was going to be some uplifting tale of a blind woman who rose up from her difficult social circumstances to make it into the glamorous world of Hollywood, boy was I wrong…what I got was theft, murder and death by hanging, all to the hypnotising soundtrack of Bjork. It was brutal seeing the suffering this woman went through to try and prevent her son from suffering the same illness that she did, but it just left me feeling cold and empty.

My most significant memory of this film was this…which came years before I even saw it.

Next I tried Dogville. I read about the themes which interested me as well as the casting of Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany. However after about 20 minutes I gave up, unable to get to grips with the chalk lined setting. I’d like to revisit this film but its 178 minute long running time along with the ‘unrealistic’ setting doesn’t exactly spark my interest.

Afterwards I turned to Breaking the Waves, which I’m still avoiding. I’ve heard it’s Von Trier’s best work and although again the narrative themes sound appealing, just imagining these compared to what I’ve seen already fills me with dread.

This brings me to the main event, Antichrist, a film I’ve been daring myself to watch for at least a year and didn’t build up the courage until last night. Well, I had already read a scene by scene synopsis to really let myself know what I was in for – this actually made it sound much more gruesome than what actually unfolded.

The opening shower sex scene was horrible; I didn’t need to see that penetration. The actual death of the child left me completely unaffected. Without going into an ENTIRE plot summary, ‘She’ (Charlotte Gainsbourg) becomes deeply depressed and anxious after this death, which I forgot to mention occurred at the same time as the ‘act of love’ was in full action. ‘He’ (William Dafoe) is a psychologist who tries to help his wife through this, eventually taking a trip to ‘Eden’, a forest which She admits to being the place she fears the most.

This was where I expected an all-out gore-fest. What I got was a nasty scene where She masturbated underneath a tree, before having sex with He, then throwing a piece of wood, rock, or whatever onto his penis. She then proceeds to masturbate him, while blood spurts out of his penis. He remains unconscious the whole time, while She then screwdrives her way through his leg and pushes and pulls a finger out of the bloody hole. She then cuts off her clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors, He wakes up and strangles her then burns her body and attempts to make his way out of the woods.

Oh by the way, there’s also a talking fox.

Antichrist contains many elements which intrigue me – She wrote her thesis on the persecution of women through the ages, the work She read while researching this then led to her concluding that women are evil and I assume the burning of her body was some kind of metaphor for this. However I really don’t see what all the fuss was about apart from including gutsy performances by mainstreamish actors. I’m renowned for my fear of horror and was actually disappointed by the lack of extremity I’d heard so much talk of.

On the other hand, Melancholia is a genuine piece of art. Von Trier’s next project is ‘The Nymphomaniac’. Having just watched the trailer for this, I can’t see myself venturing out to the local Cineworld to view it, but will likely make the effort to catch it on DVD. It does make me wonder what torture he’ll plan for his female characters next. Think I’ll choose The Idiots as my next venture into this director’s work, apparently it includes some humour.

Here’s the Nymphomaniac trailer (I think we can all agree that the casting of Shia LaBeouf is enough to make us feel a little bit squeamish towards it):

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Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

In Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, director Michael Rapaport documents the formation of the hip hop group right up to the current day. Containing interviews with the three members as well as a host of music stars, including Pharrell Williams and the Beastie Boys, this film shows just how influential A Tribe Called Quest have been to the hip hop genre since the 80s.

Detailing every aspect of their history, from their childhoods in Queens to their many disagreements and Phyfe’s struggle with diabetes, the group do not shy away from any subject matter. It is striking how open and caring each of them seem, often becoming quite emotional when recounting moments from their past.

Rapaport switches between interviews and archival footage, first recounting their musical achievements, influences and album releases before focusing on the band’s split and feud between Q-Tip and Phyfe. This aspect takes up quite a lot of the running time, resulting in a slightly uneven pace but does not stop Beats, Rhymes and Life from being a humorous and meaningful film for all involved and the audience. Complimented with great music, this can be enjoyed for fans of the group and newcomers alike.


The Veronica Mars Movie: What we Know

Despite my mixed feelings about Kickstarter funding (Tom Lenk – I’m looking at you and your lack of rewards three years later), the success of the Veronica Mars movie project is a huge victory for the show’s fans, while also highlighting the ever-changing nature of the film industry. Such as with Netflix’s original programming achievements such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards,  viewers now hold a greater amount of control over the media they consume. They can view such shows when they want and in whatever format they want.

Despite Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and lead actress Kristen Bell having been willing and ready to create the movie for many years now, the studio whom owned the rights to the show were unconvinced of such a projects likelihood of turning a profit. However, now, thanks to the generosity of the show’s Marshmallows, the film is now complete, and will be released within the next few months. So what do we know about the Veronica Mars  movie?

– It’s scheduled for release in US cinemas in March this year.

– It’s unclear whether the film will have an international release, but the DVD will be available to buy from April.

– Most of the show’s original main cast will return, including – Veronica (Kristen Bell), Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), Logan (Jason Dohring), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), Dick (Ryan Hansen), Gia (Krysten Ritter), Mac (Tina Majorino), and Leo (Max Greenfield).

– There will also be appearances from other famous faces, such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Justin Long and James Franco.

– Veronica is now a big shot lawyer, but will return to Neptune to help out in a case involving old-flame Logan Echolls.

– There will be a Neptune High ten year school reunion, where sparks are likely to fly.

– From the trailer, it is clear that Veronica has someone new in her life, but on her return to her old town, old feelings may (hopefully) re-emerge with Logan.

Check out the trailer for yourself below:


Sheldon Cooper’s Best Moments

The Bad Fish Paradigm

The Itchy Brain Simulation

The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

The Wheaton Recurrence

The Launch Acceleration

also this:


Joss Whedon has a Problem with the Word Feminist

In Whedon’s recent speech at an Equality Now benefit (of which he is an Advisory Board member), he encapsulates current problems with the term ‘feminist’, and instead offers an alternative expression.

Speaking of gender equality, Whedon states: “You either believe women are people or you don’t. It’s that simple.”

 


Breaking Bad’s Alternate Ending

An alternate ending to Breaking Bad has just surfaced on YouTube, in which Bryan Cranston’s Hal from Malcolm in the Middle wakes up during the night and describes his nightmare – the plot of Breaking Bad – to wife Lois (Jane Kaczmarek). The short clip also makes references to other pop culture artefacts – Hal tells Lois that Hank ‘looked like the guy from The Shield’, and she eventually tells him to ‘Go to sleep Scarface’.

Besides it being very cool that the actors took time to shoot this clip – and indulge fans of the extensively circulated thought to relate Breaking Bad’s ending with Malcolm in the Middle – it also adds an intertextual layer to both shows: forever connecting one with the other.


Australia has a Black History – Utopia Review

In new documentary Utopia, the Australian journalist John Pilger sets out to examine the suffering felt by his native country’s indigenous population, a problem caused by the British Empire’s colonisation of Australia.

Pilger’s film is a noble attempt to highlight the poverty and awful living conditions felt by the Aboriginal people, an issue that most of the world – and Australia’s European descendants – remain blissfully unaware of. This is made evident when Pilger interviews individuals whilst they are celebrating Australia Day, enquiring as to what the original population should take away from the country’s national day. Each interviewee shows incredible ignorance of the subject, stating that the Aboriginal’s want to live that way – in shacks with no running water or functioning toilet. Pilger also conducts interviews with members – past and present – of Australia’s government whose job it was to protect these people, and failed. Footage of Aboriginal living conditions today compared with that filmed several decades ago seems to show that nothing has changed at all.

In Utopia, Pilger firmly asserts that for such a wealthy country, Australia’s indigenous people should not be living this way; and that, this vast land was in fact never for the taking in the first place. These are issues that everyone should know about, but with a long running time combined with a slow, ponderous pace, the film may not appeal to the audiences that need to be informed.

UTOPIA is in cinemas from 15 November with a Nationwide Q&A with John Pilger on Monday 18 November at Picturehouse Cinemas. Available on DVD 2 December

www.utopiajohnpilger.co.uk

http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/News/item/Utopia_Plus_Satellite_Q_A_With_John_Pilger/