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I'm blogging about my cat.  That makes me cool!

I'm blogging about my cat. That makes me cool!

My efforts to write a thoughtful blog entry are being squashed this new kitten we’ve adopted.  She’s very cute, which is nature’s way of keep me from killing her for walking all over my keyboard while I’m typing or biting my glasses while I’m trying to read. 

So, I’ve more or less given up on reading film reviews in The New York Times, which are less frequently review the film supposedly up for consideration than the reviewer using that film as a springboard for a whole lot of cleverness.  That said, I totally loved A. O. Scott’s review last week of the new Lars Von Trier film, Antichrist.   As it happens, I don’t much care for Lars von Trier, which is why I read the review.  I was hoping for blood — and got it!  Full disclosure:  I liked the first few episodes of Lars von Trier’s TV show (released in the U.S. as) The Kingdom, but the program soon went downhill, as did von Trier’s films.  I thought Breaking the Waves was unberarable crap gussied up as art.  Who’s with me?  In my view, he’s the kind of filmmaker who can only exist in Northern Europe – a product of long, unending winters and public funding for the arts.  Though, to be honest, those are two things I kind of like.

The New York Times also tells us that the Battle of Agincourt wasn’t really such a big deal, thus crushing your belief that Shakespeare always told the truth.  On top of that, it turns out that women who dress like men aren’t fooling anyone, and if men are deceived by them, they’re unlikely to marry these women once the secret is out.  Also, Flute and Bottom were probably gay.

3 Responses to “”

  1. Ammon says:

    I mostly agree with you about von Trier — to me, Dogma 95 is Dogma in the worst sense — intentionally deforming art for the sake of a theory of art.

    That said, the documentary von Trier makes called The Five Obstructions is fantastic. In it, von Trier has one of his directorial idols, Jurgen Leth, remake his classic short film The Perfect Human in the context of five different obstructions. As far as I’m concerned, each of the five obstructions is a good example of all that’s wrong wtih Dogma 95 — But . . . Leth always triumphs and produces art nonetheless! At least that’s how I see it. A friend of mine who likes von Trier more than i do is convinced Von Trier has educated him by the end.

    But it’s really, really good, I promise.

    And the cat is cute. We just got a new kitten, too. And he gets in my way too…

  2. Nancy Kempf says:

    Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is arriving in theaters. For some reason I always look forward to a new Lars von Trier film. I shouldn’t, but I always do. I must fall prey to some embarrassingly shallow fallacy that because he’s a Dane, I’ll get some deep Kierkegaardian existential insight.

    I like the stylization and the sheer audacity of von Trier’s films, and the themes upon which, on the surface, they seem to be premised, with the promise of revelations into deep Manichean dualities of the human soul. I like disturbing art that challenges us to explorations of evil, the tragic nature of human existence, the anguish of love and guilt and loss. I pass up on the DVD with the blurb, “It will touch your heart.” No, I like depressing movies — really depressing.

    But von Trier is inevitably so over the top that he sacrifices dialectic for spectacle.

    His Dogma95 manifesto informs the hand-held camera (for almost three hours, no less) in Breaking the Waves. If that isn’t enough to induce nausea, the ending, dripping with kitschy mysticism, will. Bjork’s performance in the quite un-Dogma-esque Dancer in the Dark (though von Trier relies on that nauseating hand-held camera again) is a tour de force, but stopping the action to allow for musical numbers — even if they are meant as episodes of respite from the tragic situation in which the protagonist is otherwise engulfed — gives the film a jolting quality.

    His USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy (Dogville, Manderlay, and the still-in-production Wasington) purports to be “a series of sermons on America’s sins and hypocrisy.” With diametrically opposed stylization — bare sound stages where the sets are marked only by lines on the floor and a few stray props — these films set out to explore questions of slavery, greed, and misogyny. But do they? After all, as many critics complained, von Trier has never himself visited the Western hemisphere.

    As David Liss remarks in his blog (which got me started on the subject of von Trier in the first place), von Trier is “the kind of filmmaker who can only exist in Northern Europe – a product of long, unending winters and public funding for the arts. Though, to be honest, those are two things I kind of like.”

    A. O. Scott, writing in the NY Times observes that “The scandal of Antichrist is not that it is grisly or upsetting but that it is so ponderous, so conceptually thin and so dull.” Scott goes on, von Trier “is…a bit of a snob, a filmmaker who undermines his pulpy instincts with high-flown, vaguely political ideas.”

    And that’s just the problem. The ideas are not rigorously explored. They are not deserving of their high-flunged-ness. Even Kierkegaard, that author of such cheerful titles as The Concept of Anxiety, Sickness Unto Death, and Fear and Trembling, would spend years exploring Socrates in order to write The Concept of Irony, a work of which a contemporary reviewer remarked, “…not only treats of irony but is irony.”

    So I will faithfully escort myself to the theater to see (Scott says “endure”) Antichrist, but if the critical response (even reader reviews where one usually finds some cultish devotion) are any indication, I am going to be disappointed. Yet again it sounds as though we are given an intellectually shallow premise slathered over with gratuitous gimmicks rather than a thoughtful examination of the human condition that might lead to a philosophy of insight.

    Lars, don’t take yourself so seriously; if Kierkegaard could find irony in the depths, maybe you can, too.

  3. We just brought in another rescue cat from the local shelter last workweek. I will never be able to understand how anyone could desert or worse leave out a cat. A good deal of individuals believe that cats can fend for themselves since they are predators. They are darned self-directed and powerful small critters, but once a cat has been domesticized it not only loses its ability to live in the wild, but the individual who brought the cat in has a duty to care for it. It really saddens me to know that anyone could abandon a cat. That is why I try to serve as best I can by taking in rescue cats.

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