Thursday, January 7, 2010

This Is Why People Don't Let Me Pick Movies: Boil It First's Take On Lars Von Trier's Antichrist!

I feel like the mark of an excellent film is needing to pee halfway through the movie and being too intrigued to leave your seat. By those standards, Lars Von Trier's Antichrist is a superb movie. Building a significant amount of word of mouth buzz before its release for the graphic and disturbing nature of the movie, Antrichrist never received a proper release in the U.S. despite being the talk of many film festivals the world over. You don't, after all, earn the honor of being "The Great Genital Mutilation Film of '09" and not get talked about.

For those unfamiliar with Antichrist, the film stars my long time girl crush Charlotte Gainsbourg and the always unnerving Willem Dafoe as a married couple who, after the death of their son, retreat to their cabin in the woods to face their demons. There's also graphic sex, graphic violence, and graphically violent sex. And a talking fox. Interested yet? Between that and the aforementioned genital mutilation, I can't see how anyone would not put Antichrist at top of their Netflix cue.

I was interested in seeing Antichrist right from the start. A solid cast, a controversial filmmaker, and an onslaught of comments about "the most disturbing film ever made" resulted in Antichrist being a must see for me because I like unsettling films. Blame it on desensitization to things of a disturbing nature or just blame it on me being a little off, but the movie piqued my interest in a very real way.

After a bit of a rough day, my gentleman friend suggested we stay in and watch a movie on this strange contraption he owns called a "television". Apparently, some people's "televisions" have something called "on demand" which is like a Blockbuster in your living room, only without candy and surly college kids dressed in blue polos. On this "on demand" were a number of films you can peruse and pick, at your convenience, to watch. Buried amongst blockbuster fare and films featuring disturbingly little genital mutilation was Antichrist. Thus, my pick was made.

Either incredibly feminist or incredibly misogynistic, Von Trier made what might be a masterpiece, a far cry from the pretentious bullshit of his incomplete American trilogy of Dogville and Manderlay. (Nicole Kidman looked more gorgeous than she ever has or ever will in Dogville but the overly conceptual lack of sets, dragging storyline, and questionable involvement of Thomas Edison made the film unsalvageable, even by a sort of kick ass ending. I know the fact that I said the ending kicks ass might pique your interest but SPOILER ALERT! It's not worth it. Nicole Kidman as Grace is sick of being degraded, raped, and treated like a slave by the fine citizens of Dogville so when her mobster pa comes to take her home, she demands a full on slaughtering of the people that made her life in Dogville so unbearable. Sure, watching her shoot Paul Bettany's Thomas Edison Jr. in the head is pretty much shockingly awesome but after three hours of what can best be described as a "waste of time", it just doesn't pay off.)

Featuring a plethora of dead baby imagery (A deer with a half dead fawn corpse hanging out of its doe vagina, a bird eating its ant-covered young), Antichrist spared nothing when it came to making its viewers feel unsettled, which is something you'd probably expect after watching the opening scene. The first five minutes of Antichrist lets the viewer know exactly what they're in for - First, you see a full penetration shot. I'm not sure if it was actually Willem Dafoe's penis featured in the frame as I didn't do the research because, quite frankly, googling "Willem Dafoe's Penis" might yield frightful results. After that, you watch Gainsbourg and Dafoe's toddler son fall out their apartment window to his death. Welcome to thunderdome, ladies and gentlemen. And by "thunderdome", I mean "Another heartwarming family film by Lars Von Trier, appropriate for all ages and soon to be a featured pick on the Disney Channel after Hannah Montana."

After the shocking opening, something called "character development" starts and the brutality of Antichrist lulls momentarily. Things never get too boring however - As Gainsbourg appears to "get better" after suffering a complete mental breakdown after the death of her son, Dafoe appears to deteriorate, taking jaunts by himself in the woods surrounding their cabin, and encountering those aforementioned dead animal babies and, eventually, a fox straight out of Narnia which talks to Dafoe, telling him 'Chaos reigns" in an alarmingly deep voice. That's ominous.

Antichrist builds its suspense slowly and at many points, with its talk of Satan and all the creepy things you find in nature, could venture into run of the mill horror movie territory. A scene where Dafoe and Gainsbourg are woken up from a deep sleep by noises that sound suspiciously like heavy footsteps veers back into "creepy normalcy" when the thumps and thuds are revealed to be acorns falling on the roof. Even if you don't know anything about what's coming at the end of the film, however, atmosphere makes it apparent that something bad is going to happen to poor, traumatized Gainsbourg and her therapist husband and when Antichrist reaches its last twenty minutes, it lives up to the feverish suspense it built. Those with a weak gag reflex ought to click the back button before I describe the events that unfolded because, well, it's sort of the stuff of nightmares.

Gainsbourg attacks Dafoe, berating him for planning on leaving her. I don't think he was planning on leaving her but shit, I wouldn't blame him if he did. Bitch is crazy! Their fight turns sexual, as anytime Gainsbourg shows any emotion, she physically attacks her husband in a sexy way, confusing fear, anger, etc., for lust. The sex quickly takes a turn for the worse however and after crushing her husband's erect penis with a block of wood, Charlotte Gainsbourg proceeds to give him a hand job, which culminates in him ejaculating blood, before drilling a hole through his ankle and affixing a sharpening stone to his foot- That way he can never leave her! After a quick sprint through the woods, she returns to the cabin and proceeds to cut off her clitoris with a pair of kitchen shears that were rusty past the point of being sanitary.

And it's all shown in full frame.

That means a close up shot of Charlotte Gainsbourg's vagina becoming uncomfortably close friends with scissors.

A film hasn't made me that queasy since the very overlooked Blindness, featuring Gael Garcia Bernall and graphic rape.

My last "Amber Movie Pick" was Dead Girl, an indie film about a captive zombie who is repeatedly raped, which I'm noticing is a disturbing trend in films I watch.

This is why people don't let me pick movies.


1 comment:

  1. Leah I watched Dead Girl tonight and it was fucking awesome. I also rented I Sell The Dead and Dead Snow, so I think I'm gonna do a post on the three of them at once. I just can't get enough of the living dead!

    I need to see this ASAP. You can pick movies at our bunker anytime.