Friday, November 11, 2011

MELANCHOLIA is not cynical enough

Am I the only one in the world making this argument?

Love the posts so far.

I think the lack of any vituperation coming from John and Brandon completely proves my point that this is one of the safest von Trier films yet. You know, something really is different with this one. It does seem less cynical, which surprised me.

And it’s just not that risky by his standards. Not that it had to be completely risky, but for an apocalyptic comedy-disaster movie about depression, I would have expected a bit more from him. It’s not as depressing as it could have been haha. That sounds ridiculous, but that is my most legitimate criticism of the film. It’s just not mean enough.

I told this to Chris already, but I really wanted there to be one final shot after Melancholia hits earth. I wanted to see a nice cold, empty shot of space. That’s it. Perhaps very faintly in the distance one could make out the collision of the two planets like the tiny flicker of an ember. But mostly focused on the empty and yet completely vast space of the universe. A universe that feels this destruction no more than a statue would feel a particle of dust landing on it. If the film had cut to this, I probably would have stood up and clapped. Because that subtle change would have been such a beautiful little nihilistic joke. I would have laughed, I would have clapped, I would have been happy. Maybe I’m just a weirdo, but I like jokes like that. And I feel like Lars does too.

I only say all this because I was waiting the whole time for these nihilistic jokes to come out in the film. I wanted those subtle digs that pack such a mean visceral punch, like a lot of his other films. I was quite pleased to find Kiefer Sutherland’s character dead and Melancholia coming back towards Earth just after he had promised it would all be okay and had shown Clair how it was shrinking in the distance. I agree with the assessment on how terrific a suspense device that wire thingy is. And it sets up a great joke–perhaps the best in the movie. Once the planet started coming closer to Earth, I was getting excited. I liked a majority of the ending, but I was waiting for more jokes! Maybe I missed some subtle ones, but mostly I felt like there was room for more provocation and black humor.

Here’s a telling point: Before I saw the film I read something saying that Lars called this ending the first time one of his films had actually ended negatively. Based on that, I was expecting big things from this ending. I thought we’d get something insanely provocative, nihilistic, and harshly comedic. By the end I knew we weren’t getting something so provocative, so I just wanted something subtly funny like the shot of space. Anything to give it that little cynical twist.

I don’t need all my films to be cynical (wait til you hear my love for the Dardenne’s THE SON–zero cynicism there and it’s blissful), and I don’t even want most films to be cynical. But I’ve come to expect a cetain aggressively nihilistic punk rock attitude from Lars. I just find it funny and oddly pleasing, especially in a world that takes itself too seriously. His films always feel like a great ego check to me. But with MELANCHOLIA, I feel like my man toned it down too much for a film I was expecting to be a nihilistic masterpiece. Most of y’all probably disagree, but I need my nihilism in art from time to time. It’s an outlet. Lars is one of my sanctuaries.

As I said earlier, I can’t wait for THE NYMPHOMANIC to come out and be awful and gross, and for everyone to hate it. Then I will be smiling.

Quick note: I want to see this movie again, by myself. I’ll admit that I have trouble emotionally connecting to movies when I watch them with other people (and when I’m really sleepy, as was doubly the case last night). Movies are always less intimate for me around others. Like I wrote before about THE TREE OF LIFE, I usually need just myself and a tv for real film love to occur. I need the film to speak right at me and no one else. Anyway, I owe it to Lars to try and reconnect on my own. I'm not willing to write this off as a total disappointment yet.

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