Lars von TrierTalk continues to swirl around Lars von Trier’s Antichrist and reviews continue to trickle in as Variety announces that the film has been picked up for US distribution by IFC along with Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric.

At SpoutBlog, I think Karina Longworth‘s review benefits from coming after the initial wave of hype. There’s a sobriety in her dissection that is distinctly lacking in much of the earlier reviews.

Noting how the von Trier publicity photo riffs on one of Alfred Hitchcock promoting The Birds (which she calls “the film of his that most directly drew lines between female sexuality and the unpredictable horrors of nature”), she says the Master of Suspense is “a natural reference for Antichrist, insomuch as it’s a psychological thriller that looks like art but satisfies as a work of genre.” I don’t think she’s elevating Antichrist to the level of Hitchcock, but ultimately she sides with those who liked the film with reservations:

“I’m certainly not offended by it, nor do I think other members of my gender necessarily should be…My main misgiving is that its second ‘chapter’…is kind of plodding and boring, which is a problem for a film that rides a very thin line between legitimate horror and total ridiculousness. Still, I can’t imagine it would have stirred up even a fraction of the fervor if anything shown thus far in competition could match its artistry. Gorgeous to look at and made with a confidence that towers over anything else I’ve seen at Cannes this year, Antichrist frustrates attempts to dismiss Von Trier for somehow not knowing what he’s doing.”

13 Responses to “IFC bringing ‘Antichrist’ and ‘Eric’ to the US”

  1. Ahahaha – Antichrist is going to become this year’s cult classic.

  2. So…Antichrist and Basterds are the perfect double-feature this year?

  3. Sounds good to me Joel.

  4. Well, if they want to distribute it with an MPAA rating, von Trier is going to have to make some trimming.

    If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d guess it’ll go out unrated further reducing it’s already limited box office potential.

    This is not the kind of movie you judge by box office, however.

  5. Based on Ebert’s blog post I’m having a hard time believing I’d be able to sit through this one. Guess I’m still too “pure” or “sensitive”, though I can partly understand the purpose of the uber-graphic violence in this compared to something like Observe and Report.

  6. I don’t consider myself squeamish, but I’m not sure I could sit through it either.

  7. Thanks for the link to Longsworth excellent review. It’s great to read something that as you say probably benefits from being written after the initial flush of reaction to the film.

    As a psychologist I think I might just get a real kick out of seeing someone suffer who like ‘Dafoe’s character deliberately defies the advice of his wife’s doctor, takes her off mood-stabilizing medication and insists on giving her therepy himself. He’s condescending to her about her creative work, her mothering skills and her grief. Even after its demonstrated that sex helps calm her anxiety, her rejects her, joking, “Don’t screw your therapist.”

    Why are therapists in film always presented as crazy, stupid, emotionally indifferent or harsh, overly controlling, lacking boundaries, unethical or some combination of the above? At least Von Trier’s film is having fun with the stereotype.

  8. I can sit through squeamish violence (briefly looking away if need be) so long as it serves the film in a way that I judge important. Take Cronenberg, his explorations of the psychology and morality of violence benefit from the presence of violent acts in such films that are de-glamorized and visceral, thereby underscoring their true abhorrence.

  9. “Why are therapists in film always presented as crazy, stupid, emotionally indifferent or harsh, overly controlling, lacking boundaries, unethical or some combination of the above?”

    (tapping yellow pad with a pen as Sartre lays back on the couch with his eyes closed, rubbing his temples distractedly) I don’t know, Sartre, why don’t YOU tell US what YOU think?

    Karina can be a contrarian snob, but she’s sharp and when she’s not in too much of a hurry, she’s eloquent.

    What I found interesting was that she didn’t find the sexism or misogyny that troubled so many.

  10. Tee hee. Believe me Craig there is no therapist gag I’ve not heard, and each more times than I can count :-)

    Her not finding so much misogyny was encouraging to me. It’s the suffering his female characters sometimes endure that leaves me most uncomfortable about Von Trier’s work, though I do think he uses it to say something of value and not solely to express his own dark fantasies and needs.

    The comparison to Hitchcock reminded me of The Kingdom television series where Von Trier’s, dressed up in a suit, would end each episode with a epilogue/summary/look ahead that brought to mind Hitchcock’s famous prologues/introductions.

  11. Sadly, I still haven’t sat down to watch The Kingdom

  12. It’s great fun Craig. Take the chance.

  13. Didn’t someone say lately that Mr. Von Trier – at one point – remarked that his female heroes were supposed to represent HIMSELF?

    The more I think about that the more it makes sense. In an extremely odd off the wall way, of course.

    I saw BREAKING THE WAVES on TV and I paid to see DOGVILLE. The latter was only here for three weeks and I had something that I genuinely had to do the last night of screening (um…really), otherwise I would have seen it again.

    I can’t speak for his other work. But I thought those two films were completely brilliant. As a feminist, they didn’t offend me at all.

    BTW is tragic. But not misogynistic to my mind.

    DOGVILLE benefits greatly from the fact that Nicole gets to extract her revenge on all of the people who abused her. That would’ve been my line of thinking too. But I would have done something about it at the very beginning. Grace took her own sweet time building up that head of steam.

    But, from an audience member’s POV, it was well worth the wait.

    THE ANTICHRIST is not something that I would be motivated to see. It’s just not to my personal taste. But I seriously doubt that it’s going to be that icky. The situation in question didn’t really happen. So I don’t imagine that it’s going to look that realistic. It’ll go by quickly in any case.

    Sounds like a tempest in a teapot to me. Just imagine the outcry if the plot were the same and the gender roles were reversed. Then you’d REALLY hear the M word.

    Ah, that Lars. He just lives to disturb the poo poo, does he not…?

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