It’s a horror film. It’s a battle-of-the-sexes drama. It’s a cabin-in-the-woods supernatural thriller. It’s shocking, controversial, provocative, explicit etc. Lars von Trier is just messing with you. Don’t get so worked up. He likes to poke (figurative) wild animals with (metaphorical) sticks to see what bites. Of course, the sense that he’s provoking his audiences shouldn’t be an excuse to dismiss his movies out of hand – they clearly get a lot of attention, and so he must be pushing just the right combination of buttons to incite so much reaction. Since the film so deftly elicits a set of stock reactions, I thought I’d withhold my own thoughts on the film and instead invite you to build your own review to the film based on the multiple choices below. Save yourself some time, and your knees some jerking, and select your responses in each of the categories most commonly used to talk about Antichrist:
Another in my occasional series of random round-ups, which basically allows me to throw together a barely connected bunch of references and links without having to take too much care over structure and coherence. Hey, I don’t want regular readers to get spoiled…
Miru Kim takes amazing photos of herself naked in public, mostly in her hometown of New York. Sounds sensationalist and lurid, but these images are delicately affecting, as in the above picture of the artist crouched in the Revere Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn. You can hear her delivering a short lecture on her work at the TED conference from December 2008 here. It’s a fascinating tale of “guerrilla historians” capturing derelict, hidden or underground urban spaces, and looking for “the unconscious of the city”. The fragile incongruence, not to mention the extreme vulnerability, of her body in these spaces is designed to humanise them, though you might just as easily see in them a haunting revelation of the leftovers of industrialisation, barely equipped to support human life.
I’ve been keeping up with 30 Rock, Tina Fey’s light-touch sitcom, now in its third season: it’s extraordinary how US TV producers can knock out episodes of this quality so fast and so consistently. In less than three years, they’ve produced more than fifty large doses of prime comedy, populated with an effortlessly nuanced set of stock characters. My personal favourite is Tracy Jordan, a barely concealed exaggeration of actor Tracy Morgan’s downspiralling public image. Shamelessly plugging a back catalogue of movie roles that even Eddie Murphy might shy away from, he points to some uncomfortable truths about the job opportunities available to black film stars, ploughing through a dignity-free c.v. of drag-and-disguise character comedies, including Honky Grandma be Trippin’, Fat Bitch (in which he places a plus-sized Rottweiler), Black Cop/White Cop, and the immortal Who Dat Ninga, which I can’t even type without laughing. You can see a compilation of Tracy’s adorably monomaniacal best bits here.
At the House of Mirth and Movies, in one of the most generous feats of blogging of recent months, Justine Smith has compiled a Female Film Canon, citing 100 of her favourite films about female protagonists and their experiences. Pay her a visit, thank her for the hard work.
A new and terrifying blog appeared on my radar this month, in the form of Kindertrauma, a funnier-than-it-sounds exploration of the films, characters, toys and images that scared you when you were a kid (though it mostly assumes that you’re in your thirties). Emphatically unsuitable for coulrophobes. If you fit the site’s target demographic, you’ll be relieved to find that you’re not the only one whose skin crawled to the same beat.
Wondering what Isabella Rossellini’s been up to lately? Well, you may or may not be surprised to find that she’s been making a series of short films about animal sex to air on the Sundance channel. I know – at least two of my dreams just came true. You can watch the films, entitled Green Porno (clicking from this website will save you the indignity of a Google search), here. The real pleasure comes from watching the star of Blue Velvet dress up and act out the, er… facts. And you might learn something. I particularly recommend the Starfish episode.
Finally, in this most random of random round-ups, a diversion for the last stragglers who need convincing about the breakneck pace of climate change. James Balog runs the Extreme Ice Survey; you can hear an extensive interview with him on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air show with Terry Gross, where he explains how he set up twenty-six timelapse cameras to record the melting of glaciers and icebergs. The Earth moves at its own pace, and this kind of photography cuts through the time barrier to allow us to conceive of its changing landscapes; cameras augment the human senses, and hopefully in this case they can help to compel the mind. The astonishing beauty of such awesome destruction is a daunting sight to take in.
OK, one last thing. Lars von Trier has made a horror film in which Willem Dafoe shags Charlotte Gainsbourg in the roots of a tree. Don’t tell me you’re surprised.