Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crows are assholes

I mentioned in my last rambling that Willem Dafoe is among the group of actors that I'm always happy to see whenever they pop up in a movie. If you can't give me titties, then give me an actor I'm fond of, that's what I say. Well, here's his latest role in a flick called Antichrist. My bro Dafoe stars alongside actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg as "He" and "She", not to be confused with the music duo She and Him featuring actress/singer Zooey Deschanel.

This is a film written and directed from Lars von Trier, and if you've never seen any of his films or have any idea what kind of dude he is, well, he's the kind of guy who is born with the name Lars Trier and then somewhere along the way decided to add "Von" to it. That should tell you everything about the kind of motherfucker he is. But I have to admit it, I've liked all of his flicks so far. Half of them I expected to hate, and they ended up winning me over. It's the man behind the movies that kind of puts me off, I guess. Whatever. At least he backs up all of his shit talk.

The movie starts off with the characters He and She getting it on in the shower, and because the entire sequence is shot in ultra-stylish black & white slow-motion, it looks like some kind of a perfume ad -- only I don't know of any perfume ads that feature penetration shots of a penis entering a woman's vagina (as opposed to a man's vagina?). Anyway, if you happen to know such a perfume ad, make with the YouTube link NOW.

So it's all good in the monochromatic hood, except that they also have an infant son. If that wasn't enough to spoil the proceedings, the little tyke has managed to open the baby gate and is roaming free in their apartment while Mom and Dad continue to bang away. And if that wasn't bad enough, the little bastard decides to get the ball rolling on his parents writing a Grammy winning song based on him by opening the window and falling to his death. You see him hit the ground, but to the filmmaker's credit/debit, the kid lands on heavily snowed-up pavement, meaning no splatter, so you can open your eyes now.

The black & white prologue ends and the first chapter (yup, we got chapter headings up in here) begins in color. After passing out at the funeral, She wakes up at a hospital and finds out that she's been more or less out of it for the past month. She's been beating herself up over her son's death, and while He tries to tell her that it wasn't her fault, she reveals that she's known about her boy's habit of opening up the baby gate for a while now, and she did nothing about it. So she's all fucked up.

Against her doctor's wishes, He decides to put his therapeutic skills to the test (he's a therapist) and help his lady get through/over her pain -- whether she likes it or not, it seems -- and the next half-hour or so of this movie is him treating her less like the mother of his son and more like some fuckin' 10:30 appointment by talk talk talking the shit out of her and taking notes and whatnot. For a therapist, this motherfucker likes to get all Scientology about shit, making his wife flush all her prescriptions down the toilet, and I swear early on he makes some kind of comment about how he's grateful that he isn't a medical doctor. He's got his ways.

Well, whatever they are, they don't seem to be working, because when She isn't crying her eyes out, she's banging her head against the rim of a toilet bowl and then jumping in bed, begging He (Him? Whatever.) to fuck her. I forgot how or why, but He gets the idea to take his wife on a trip to a cabin somewhere in a forest called Eden, and while I'm sure this flick takes place in the state of Washington, this is a Lars von Trier movie, so they must've shot this shit in Denmark or somewhere that isn't the good ol' USA and tried to pass it off as such. The filmmakers almost get away with it too, except the trains are too nice and everyone's driving the kind of compact cars that scream Mentos Commercial.

So, yeah, they're in the woods now and he does some more therapy shit with her and she's like No, the ground is burning my feet and he's like Whatever, now tell me what scares you the most so I can write it down on top of this pyramid I drew. This kinda stuff goes on for another twenty minutes or so, but you're still with it because you know somewhere along the way the other shoe's gonna drop, and when it does, it's going to fall from the wrong foot (that's a little inside joke for those of us who've seen the movie. It's not a funny joke, come to think of it, so my apologies).

Willem Dafoe's "He" character is hearing his lady out and taking it all down on paper but not really taking into consideration all the shit she's been telling him, for example, the thesis she was working on last summer about "gynocide" and how maybe men were right to kill women because, well, because they're women. Sure, none of that stuff should concern him. But during one of his nature walks, He finds a deer running around with a baby deer hanging dead from its pooper, and I think it's safe to say that the shit just got real -- real fucked up. And just when he doesn't think it's gonna get even weirder or more fucked up, he runs into a fox chilling out under some tall grass, chewing on its own fuckin' stomach. Okay, that's enough fucked up weirdness, he figures. Nope, it doesn't end there. The fox then looks at Dafoe, opens its mouth and says -- SAYS! -- "Chaos reigns", which is either the fox's way of telling Dafoe that the world is fucked up and evil (well, duh) or it's just bragging about having been to Fantastic Fest this year and being in on some inside joke those motherfuckers been sharing.

I've pretty much given away the first half of the movie, and the reason I don't feel bad about it is because 1) I'm an asshole, and 2) There's even more fucked up places this movie goes to that I haven't talked about. This is a movie that should be seen with your significant other, or your special lady friend, or better yet, a blind date (as long as they are of the vaginerial persuasion) and I say this because they're precisely the LAST people you should be seeing this fuckin' movie with. Because I'm all about the awkwardness, you see.

This movie has been getting strong responses (both good and bad) from critics like Roger Ebert. Ol' No Jaw has been going on about how Antichrist has been sticking to his sleep like a 12-year-old's nocturnal emission, but I would suggest taking that kind of talk with a grain of salt, because I remember his review of M. Night Shyamalan's The Embarrassing Disappointment (aka The Happening) where he went on about how it reminded him about how we're doomed to destroy each other or something. If it had been a good movie about killer wind rather than a shitty one, who knows how strongly he would've taken it. Methinks the gentleman is getting a touch too sensitive in his old age, and this is coming from one of the most overly sensitive motherfuckers on the planet (when I'm sober).

Perhaps I'm the wrong guy to hear from when it comes to a movie like this. I'm sure most people would come out of this movie completely fuckin' shaken, based on the reports I've read about people fainting at Cannes or walking out in disgust. Me, I was mildly disturbed, and even then, it was narrowed down to two physical acts committed late in the film. Maybe that's all it takes for most people to lose their shit, but unfortunately I've become too jaded to that sort of thing, due to being the kind of asshole who didn't say No whenever I was asked "Hey, do you want to see something REALLY fucked up?" as he or she clicked on Favorites.

Dafoe is awesome as always, but I really have to give it up to Gainsbourg for putting herself out there in the role of She. This is one of those "nakedly emotional" performances you always read about, and that's already above and beyond for homegirl, but then she goes even further and takes the "naked" part literally for a few scenes as well. It's one thing for a filmmaker to come up with some really nutty situations and actions in a script, and it's another for that filmmaker to direct an actor into performing said actions, but it's a whole other fucking ballpark when it comes to the actor actually agreeing to do that shit in front of a camera and crew. I've never met Charlotte Gainsbourg, but based on this movie I can tell you she's got bigger balls than me, that's for fuckin' sure.

Some people are accusing this film as being misogynistic, and I can see how and why they would think that, but I can't agree. Personally, I figure Antichrist is not being negative on any one particular sex but is instead calling out the fatal flaws with both. Whether you're a man who tends to work things out on the rational level or if you're a woman who's coming from an emotional standpoint, you're still a human being and therefore, you're both fucked because it's in your nature to be douchebags and there's nothing that can be done about it. Or something like that. There's also the whole religious and spiritual implications that I won't even begin to try to figure out, but that has more to do with me being dumb than anything else. Either way, von Trier comes off as a cheery motherfucker, doesn't he?

Lars (we're on a first name basis) seemed to have been on a "make the image as ugly as possible" trip for close to two decades now, but Antichrist is his best looking flick since way back in the day. Even when it's not shot in Perfume Ad Vision, it's got a nice look to it, even though some scenes do suffer from the blurriness that seems to be the downside of shooting in HD. I hate when that happens; one moment you're watching crystal clear images of Antonio Banderas owning motherfuckers with a machine gun or Kevin Spacey teaching young assholes how to cheat at blackjack, and the next moment it looks like you're watching PBS circa 1982. What the fuck, HD people, isn't this supposed to be the future of movies? Fix that shit.

Overall? I dug it. Sure, it gets draggy in the middle section, but the first and (especially) the last third make up for it. Here is yet another Lars von Trier flick that I ended up liking. What the fuck, Trier? Why must you continually disappoint me with your triumphs? For once, I want to see a movie from you that will justify me wanting to punch your incredibly punchable face.