haha I need to learn how to accept change. I suspect that my next viewing of MELANCHOLIA will be more than favorable. Whereas you guys were looking for transcendence, I was looking for some aggressive discord to stir me from my sleepiness. I was tired, sitting in an uncomfortable position, and looking for a middle finger in a film that decided to keep its hands to itself. Also, we didn't mention this, but from where Chris and I were sitting, the sheet/screen had a huge fold in the middle that made the film look like a house of mirrors. Did this warp our perception of it?
Just to clarify: I don't want to argue that all depictions of depression are inherently flawed. It certainly does depend upon on the character who is depressed. Depression can take many forms; it depends on how well you can empathize with the portrayal. Justine's depression is unsympathetic in the first act, but as Chris was explaining to me (and I agree), it does become something more in the second. More sympathetic? No, it's not as if she is sympathetic, more that she is...admirable. Perhaps that isn't the right word still, but she does take on a sense of quiet resignation (and even a midnight summons that does suggest everything you all have said, a sexual connection, a spiritual calling, and a naked mirroring–I see you Melancholia, now you see me!) that I find worthy of respect. There is indeed a vindication of her depression at the film's conclusion. And even a sense of gravitational unification between the planet Melancholia and the planet Justine. I can't recall if we ever saw her struggling for breath as Melancholia came near. It is instead the meeting of two caliginous sets of lips. One indifferent mass joining another. There is beauty in their union and mutual dissolution.
I'm slowly starting to come around to this picture, even as I write this post, and I suspect that its crusaders are on the winning side. Dare I say that I actually am starting to like it now the more it registers with me? I do dare. I'm starting to more or less agree with all its supporters here. Call it pussin' out if you will, but I am being compelled by more than just your encomiums. In my mind I'm laying naked before this film and I believe we are on a collision course.
My definition of punk does not mean adolescence in the way you probably assumed I meant it. I should have put the word"juvenile" in quotations to suggest that I am not accepting the term as given. I consider punk to be a negation that takes on its own affirmation (to use philosophical jargon). I think punk is in many ways against ideas of adulthood that suggest the acquiescence to authority and the status quo. I think punk says that if adulthood means conforming to certain rules or ideas of behavior, then long live adolescence. It's a juvenile mentality that is not pejorative but has been reappropriated to mean a state of mind against blind acceptance. It's "I don't want to grow up if growing up means selling the fuck out–and selling yourself out." Does that make sense? Punk can be many things, but I think one of it's strongest positions is to stir you from your comfortable ideological languor. There is a knowledge to it because it negates acceptable forms of knowledge to create its own. It's spitting at something not just for the sake of spitting but because you don't like what you see. It relates a lot to one of my other favorite movements in the 20th century–Dadaism.
Does DOGVILLE take itself too seriously? Not in my opinion. In a great conversation between vT and Paul Thomas Anderson, PTA tells Lars how much humor he found in DOGVILLE and Lars seems quite pleased. This is right after Lars was discussing how much humor he finds in Kubrick. I think there's humor in DOGVILLE, it just depends on what you find humorous. The citizens of Dogville are insular pieces of shit, and they get wiped out at the end. Then we hear Bowie's Young Americans over pictures of American poverty. Do you really think that is taking itself too seriously? It's a carnival ending (they shoot the baby for christsakes). I guess it depends on how you are looking at it (doesn't everything), but I was looking with a big ole grin, the same way I looked at FUNNY GAMES and the same way I look now as I just beat that dead horse.
There may be more humor to MELANCHOLIA than I even suspect. There may also be less irony then I was anticipating. Brandon, I think the reason you love Lars' last two films is because there is a creeping suspicion (or full-blown awareness now) in you that the irony has been replaced by something genuine. In an age of irony, I guess I can't blame you for being relieved.