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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:14 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
Oh, I think lots of films are boring too, usually ones that hordes of people call "awesome." But this says more about me than it does about the films. Calling a film "boring" or "pretentious" always does.

All adjectives reduce at some point to an entirely subjective framework. It's a convenient verbal fiction to talk about qualities as though they lie in the thing itself. But I don't take boring (or exciting, or funny, sad, suspenseful, ect.) as being a description of me so much as a description of whatever weird thing has happened at the intersection of me and some movie, which is not quite me and probably not quite the movie, either. Then I state what happened as a fact and try really, really hard to convince everyone else to share it and get very irritated when they do something so strange as to reject it. So, yeah.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:23 am 
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"Being a shock artist doesn't automatically elevate a director above others who employ less controversial methods."


Who's saying otherwise?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:36 am 
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"There's no such thing as a boring film though, only a disengaged viewer."


OK...A film that doesn't engage me is the kiss of death for me?
Better? ](*,)


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:42 am 
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Koukol wrote:
"Being a shock artist doesn't automatically elevate a director above others who employ less controversial methods."

Who's saying otherwise?
I thought that was the implication of von Trier having merit for not being boring, i.e. love him or hate him, there's something to be said for him prompting a strong reaction from his viewers. If that's not what you were getting at, then never mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Lars von Trier
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:04 am 
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djproject wrote:

Take the latest, which was his first public statement since his self-imposed silence after the 2011 Cannes press faux pas:
http://variety.com/2014/film/news/lars- ... 201366846/

So ... any other thoughts? Ideas? Comments? Threats? =]


Well, if you take at a look at the photos in the original interview in that Danish magazine it seems clear that he uses breaking his 'vow of silence' as another of his self-dramatisations (as usual, very effective; unfortunately I can't read the Danish text).

That doesn't mean that his problems aren't genuine, of course, but I somehow can't imagine that he'll really give up filmmaking due to a creative block (after all, his last 'block' in the mid 2000s ended with "Antichrist" and "Melancholia", two of his most important films in my view). Quite apart from the fact that he's apparently already planning a new TV series announced as "something you've never seen before".


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:12 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
Koukol wrote:
"Being a shock artist doesn't automatically elevate a director above others who employ less controversial methods."

Who's saying otherwise?
I thought that was the implication of von Trier having merit for not being boring, i.e. love him or hate him, there's something to be said for him prompting a strong reaction from his viewers. If that's not what you were getting at, then never mind.

THAT IS what I'm saying...at least for me
But I don't consider any film by Trier to be shocking.

Your reply implies that I believe a "shock artist automatically elevates a directer above others"
I think very few works of Art that shock are great.

I think most shock tactics (in all Art) is cheap and easy.
However, given a chance I've been pleasantly surprised by films like SALO and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.


My original point was I can enjoy good films (81/2) AND enjoy bad films (MONSTER A GO GO) however, if it doesn't "engage" me I'll obviously dislike it and I've found the few Trier films I've seen have engaged me because they successfully pushed my buttons.(IDIOTS had me pissed off and DANCER had me in tears)

However, I've avoided NYMPHO (so far) because it appears to be more of the same with his use of porno actors to get a rise out of the average movie going patron.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:21 pm 
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Yeah, because they're the people seeing a 5 and a half hour von Trier movie


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:13 am 

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mfunk9786 wrote:
Yeah, because they're the people seeing a 5 and a half hour von Trier movie

Yeah, it's a bit of a put-on, especially the promotional posters and such. It's not particularly titillating.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:59 pm 

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In February 2017, Von Trier said that The House That Jack Built "celebrates the idea that the life is evil and soulless"

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/f ... jack-built

I'm excited for this. But is anyone else kind of tired of all of Von Trier's movies being about how hollow existence is? I sort of wish he was still a Catholic. Back when he believed in God and so wasn't a complete nihilist, his movies had so much more humanity to them. Breaking the Waves is one of the most human and least hollow movies I've ever seen, but later he portrayed the hollowness of existence by making his movies feel hollow: there's no genuine love and no genuine goodness; there's lots of tragedy but we're not supposed to empathize with the characters who are going through it, but rather view them as if they were a bugs under a microscope, and so on.

I actually think it's possible to have the "hollowness of existence" theme without the movie itself feeling empty. Take some of the movies by Charlie Kaufman; Synecdoche is filled to the brim with humanity and beautiful aching sadness. It's just kind of annoying the Von Trier is clearly capable of making transcendentally beautiful and tragic movies like Breaking the Waves, but squanders his talents on making films that feel so empty and mechanical because he feels that's the only way to get his nihilistic points across.


Last edited by Peter-H on Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:02 pm 
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When was he ever catholic? I've never heard of that before. I thought he was raised atheist by Jews?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:10 pm 
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I find nearly all of his movies to be highly moralistic, actually. Sometimes to a fault.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:12 pm 
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The moral of Nymphomaniac was "Don't end your movie like this"


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:17 pm 

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knives wrote:
When was he ever catholic? I've never heard of that before. I thought he was raised atheist by Jews?


He talks about it sometimes. From his Wikipedia page:

In 2005, von Trier said, "I don't know if I'm all that Catholic really. I'm probably not. Denmark is a very Protestant country. Perhaps I only turned Catholic to piss off a few of my countrymen

In 2009, he said, "I'm a very bad Catholic. In fact I'm becoming more and more of an atheist."

From this 2006 interview: https://www.filmcomment.com/article/lar ... manderlay/

"Many of your films are about believing. You are religious yourself.

I am a Catholic, yes. I got baptized only 10 or 15 years ago because my parents were non-religious."

From this video: "I would like to be religious, but I've tried"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HLvTBvSf2M

I don't know. I honestly hope he becomes religious again even if it's all bullshit, because the idea that there's nothing else seems to really make him hate life based on his movies, and also in that video interview he seems legitimately saddened that he can't make himself believe that there's anything beyond this life. I feel pretty bad for him. I also think his movies would be better.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:26 pm 
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I can't say I agree with your assessment based on those quotes. It sounds like religion was an unsuccessful experiment for him at best. Also Melancholia which was made after his failure quotes has a deeper comfort in being and a deeper love than many of his films that I can parse as being from this religious phase such as Dogville which has quite the pessimistic outlook on human possibility (though as Swo says highly moralistic). As for the depression. He's clinically depressed as in suffering from a disease. No dumb hooey about religion is going to change that.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:34 pm 

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knives wrote:
I can't say I agree with your assessment based on those quotes. It sounds like religion was an unsuccessful experiment for him at best.


"I am a Catholic, yes. I got baptized only 10 or 15 years ago because my parents were non-religious."

That would seem to indicate that he was Catholic for at least 10-15 years, which sounds like more than an experiment.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:36 pm 
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That quote does not exactly denote a deep conversion.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:40 pm 
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Yeah, I'm sure it was sincere, but it doesn't indicate itself as anything more than another obstruction like Dogme from this same time which now that I think of it seems exterior to the films themselves based around catechism.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:42 pm 
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He seemingly can't discuss his conversion without pointing out it was motivated by contrarianism.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:55 pm 

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Mr Sausage wrote:
He seemingly can't discuss his conversion without pointing out it was motivated by contrarianism.

I mean, I've gone through that stage where I want to believe in god and so make myself believe, but a part of me still knows it's stupid. It's still genuine belief in a way.

knives wrote:
Yeah, I'm sure it was sincere, but it doesn't indicate itself as anything more than another obstruction like Dogme from this same time which now that I think of it seems exterior to the films themselves based around catechism.

I don't really agree. If Breaking The Waves and his later films weren't so stylistically similar, I would've never thought they were made by the same director. Their perspectives on life are so diametrically opposed that it seems to indicate that his worldview changed pretty radically as he become more of an atheist. Breaking the Waves — despite being a harrowing film — is a celebration of existence and the power of goodness and love and all that, and his later films are the polar opposite.


Last edited by Peter-H on Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:03 pm 
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Which later films are you referring to or is according to you Breaking the Waves his only catholic film? From your quotes it seems easy to assume that the features under this catholic period go from Breaking the Waves through The Boss of It All; a period which features some of his darkest and least comforting work. Alternatively before and after this period feature films like Melancholia which express a sort of humanism that do celebrate life (in a fashion). I also don't know if I would describe Breaking the Waves as being about celebrating the existence of goodness nor especially love.

It seems like you are imposing a lot of your own baggage on von Trier.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:49 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
The moral of Nymphomaniac was "Don't end your movie like this"

Thought that was the best possible ending for that film, and it redeemed a lot of the needless subplotting that goes on in the second part. But agree to disagree, I suppose!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:59 pm 

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knives wrote:
Which later films are you referring to or is according to you Breaking the Waves his only catholic film? From your quotes it seems easy to assume that the features under this catholic period go from Breaking the Waves through The Boss of It All; a period which features some of his darkest and least comforting work. Alternatively before and after this period feature films like Melancholia which express a sort of humanism that do celebrate life (in a fashion). I also don't know if I would describe Breaking the Waves as being about celebrating the existence of goodness nor especially love.

It seems like you are imposing a lot of your own baggage on von Trier.


I don't know the timeline of how strong of a Catholic Von Trier was at each point in his life; by 2005 it seems he was barely hanging on to his faith given that he said "I don't know if I'm all that Catholic really. I'm probably not. Denmark is a very Protestant country. Perhaps I only turned Catholic to piss off a few of my countrymen." Maybe I'm wrong about why Breaking the Waves (and even Dancer in the Dark) seem so different in worldview compared to later works, but the main point of my original post is that most of his films try to convey the hollowness of existence by being purposely hollow, which is something I don't like, and it seems that this film will double down on that based on that quote I mentioned.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Also, I don't see how Melancholia celebrates life in any way. Claire is portrayed as genuinely loving and good, but her love and goodness is portrayed as completely impotent and useless. The improvement in Justine's condition has to do with the approach of Melancholia, and is completely unrelated to Claire caring for her. There's a telling moment towards the end where Claire asks if Justine wants to have a glass of whine with her on the porch, so that they can be together when the world ends. Justine replies to this loving gesture with "you wanna know what I think of your idea? I think it's fucking shit. Why don't we meet on the fucking toilet?" And in a way Justine is right. What does it matter if they're together and drinking wine on the porch when the world comes to an end?

Then there's that image of them sitting in the stick hut at the end, awaiting imminent doom. The child is calmed, but the adults know what's about to happen. The message seems to be that things like goodness and love are impotent and useless in the face of the hopelessness of existence (represented by Meloncholia); they are the equivalent of having a glass of wine on the porch or sitting in a stick hut while a planet is about to crash into the Earth and kill everyone, and the only people who are calmed by those kinds of things are blissfully ignorant like the child. It's as if Von Trier is saying "Goodness? Hope? Love? Why don't we meet on the fucking toilet?"

That's why I said I feel bad for Von Trier; how much would it suck to actually have that world view? Jesus.

On the other hand, Breaking The Waves is about a woman who's love and faith is so pure that she sacrifices her life for her husband, which results in him being miraculously healed, and then she's rewarded with eternity in heaven. I don't think a movie could possibly be more pro-existence than that. Breaking The Waves is about as hopeful and redemptive as a movie could possibly be, and Melancholia is about as hopeless and nihilistic as a movie could possibly be. It seems very unlikely for these two movies could have been made by the same director unless he had some major change in worldview; I can't imagine Von Trier ever making a movie like Breaking The Waves today. Even Dancer In The Dark has more redemption than any of his recent movies would ever have: the mother's pure and sacrificial love saves her child from blindness.


Last edited by Peter-H on Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:09 pm 
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Peter-H wrote:
I mean, I've gone through that stage where I want to believe in god and so make myself believe, but a part of me still knows it's stupid. It's still genuine belief in a way.

And therefore Von Trier went through it, too?

You're casting around for possible answers to something you seem to perceive, and, lacking other evidence at the moment, have convinced yourself the lone possibility you've found must be the answer. Unfortunately, the real conclusion here is that you just don't know enough about Von Trier the person. If he has in fact undergone a sea change in his outlook, there's no way to tell what caused it. It may be a loss of faith (somewhat unlikely given the admitted superficiality of his belief), but it just as easily could be growing older, or worsening depression, or the natural evolution of an already harsh and critical temperament. Until you disprove any of the other likely interpretations, you cannot claim to've found the answer. It's all just confirmation bias.

That's without mentioning how you've ignored Von Trier's often heavy-handed moralizing. Dogville is one of the least nihilistic films ever made; it is a righteous assertion of moral values if there ever was one.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Peter-H wrote:
And in a way Justine is right. What does it matter if they're together when the world comes to an end?

Then there's that image of them sitting in the stick hut at the end, awaiting imminent doom. The child is calmed, but the adults know what's about to happen. The message seems to be that things like goodness and love are impotent and useless in the face of the hopelessness of existence (represented by Meloncholia), they are the equivalent of having a glass of wine on the porch or sitting in a stick hut while a planet is about to crash into the Earth and kill everyone. The only people who are calmed by those kinds of things are ignorant like the child. It's as if Von Trier is saying "Goodness? Hope? Love? Why don't we meet on the fucking toilet?

If it doesn't matter, why are they there together at the end of the movie, and why does Von Trier draw that moment out as he does and turn it into the only other happy moment of the film? If it is all useless impotent shit, why is it important for the characters to do it and for Von Trier to show it so lovingly? Why not have them all die pathetic and alone like Kiefer Sutherland's character? I agree with knives far more than you: there is an assertion of value here, not a negation. Death, destruction, and ultimate annihilation are welcomed, not as a cleansing that reveals the pretense of all values, but as a release, a release one can either run from and die alone and selfishly, or a release one can embrace and help others to bear. Von Trier does seem to think that the reaction matters, that there is a difference between Sutherland's cowardliness and the two sisters' shared final moment.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:37 pm 

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Mr Sausage wrote:
Peter-H wrote:
I mean, I've gone through that stage where I want to believe in god and so make myself believe, but a part of me still knows it's stupid. It's still genuine belief in a way.

And therefore Von Trier went through it, too?

You're casting around for possible answers to something you seem to perceive, and, lacking other evidence at the moment, have convinced yourself the lone possibility you've found must be the answer Unfortunately, the real conclusion here is that you just don't know enough about Von Trier the person. If he has in fact undergone a sea change in his outlook, there's no way to tell what caused it. It may be a loss of faith (somewhat unlikely given the admitted superficiality of his belief), but it just as easily could be growing older, or worsening depression, or the natural evolution of an already harsh and critical temperament. Until you disprove any of the other likely interpretations, you cannot claim to've found the answer. It's all just confirmation bias.

That's without mentioning how you've ignored Von Trier's often heavy-handed moralizing. Dogville is one of the least nihilistic films ever made; it is a righteous assertion of moral values if there ever was one.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Peter-H wrote:
And in a way Justine is right. What does it matter if they're together when the world comes to an end?

Then there's that image of them sitting in the stick hut at the end, awaiting imminent doom. The child is calmed, but the adults know what's about to happen. The message seems to be that things like goodness and love are impotent and useless in the face of the hopelessness of existence (represented by Meloncholia), they are the equivalent of having a glass of wine on the porch or sitting in a stick hut while a planet is about to crash into the Earth and kill everyone. The only people who are calmed by those kinds of things are ignorant like the child. It's as if Von Trier is saying "Goodness? Hope? Love? Why don't we meet on the fucking toilet?


If it doesn't matter, why are they there together at the end of the movie, and why does Von Trier draw that moment out as he does and turn it into the only other happy moment of the film? If it is all useless impotent shit, why is it important for the characters to do it and for Von Trier to show it so lovingly? Why not have them all die pathetic and alone like Kiefer Sutherland's character? I agree with knives far more than you: there is an assertion of value here, not a negation. Death, destruction, and ultimate annihilation are welcomed, not as a cleansing that reveals the pretense of all values, but as a release, a release one can either run from and die alone and selfishly, or a release one can embrace and help others to bear. Von Trier does seem to think that the reaction matters, that there is a difference between Sutherland's cowardliness and the two sisters' shared final moment.


Yeah, you're probably right that it's wrong of me to feel so sure that the world view of Von Trier changed as a result of him becoming more atheistic.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
As for Meloncholia I think you might be right that Von Trier was trying to inject some modicum of hope into the end of the movie by basically saying "these comforts like love are pathetic — as pathetic as sitting in a stick hut waiting for the world to end — but they're all we have," but I don't know, that still seems pretty hopeless.

I suppose I'm misusing the term nihilism a bit. By nihilism I mean the view that existence is horrible and empty and basically an existential black hole, but I still think it's possible to hold that view and care about treating people well, so I think a person who believed this could make a moralistic movie like Dogville.

I guess this view isn't nihilism, more like ultra-grim existentialism.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Edit:
Then again, Dogville seems to portray humanity as completely and irredeemably evil. Yes, the people of Dogville deserved punishment, but the movie seemed to acknowledge that the specific form of punishment that Grace meted out was unjust on some level. For instance take the way that the camera focuses on a defenseless crying baby being executed. It's also the case that Grace ends up going back with her father to work for the mob, and so will presumably end up doing all sorts of evil things herself. So it seems that every character in the movie is either evil or becomes evil, and in a world where everyone is evil, what's the point of caring about morality? I'm just musing here, but maybe the movie is kind of nihilistic.


Last edited by Peter-H on Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:09 pm 
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I don't think the ending of Melancholia has anything to do with hope. There is no hope in the movie, but that does not mean there are no positive values to be asserted, either. The absence of hope is not the same as hopelessness, if that makes sense. It's a fine distinction, but an important one, between hope failing to have presence and hope not being applicable.

The end of the movie is most definitely not saying that everything is pathetic and empty and whatever. The sisters don't have have a pathetic, empty death precisely because we already have an example of that--Kiefer Sutherland's death--which stands in contradistinction to the sisters' deaths. Melancholia is, really, a perverse affirmation: oblivion is lovely.

I don't think you're necessarily misusing the term nihilism, I just think you're being a bit too top-down about things. Having applied the concept, you're reading everything in the movie through it and so subordinating all the evidence to the theory. Probably better to add up all the bits and see if they arrive at the concept. That way, you aren't forced to see every action in the film as meaningless, pathetic, and devoid of value because you aren't starting out with that assumption.


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