Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cannes Day 8: Melancholia


Melancholia (n). 1: deep sadness or gloom; melancholy: rain slithered down the windows, encouraging a creeping melancholia.


Melancholia (n). 2: when one sees a really silly movie: Jake saw an insincere piece of pretentious garbage called Melancholia, and subsequently felt the pains of melancholia


I've been putting this off for way too long. Okay, here we go:


Melancholia is Lars Von Trier's latest film, and I'm more than a little bitter about it. A really quick summary of the plot is important (I guess), so here: A woman (Dunst) goes nutty after her wedding ceremony, and a planet hiding behind the sun (named Melancholia) is about to crash into the earth. Hey, can you guess why the film is called Melancholia? Or can you guess what Von Trier is trying to say about naming the planet Melancholia? OMG, art!!111

There are a number of reasons that made me dislike the film so much, but the most salient feature about it all is the apparent joke that Von Trier seems to be putting on the audience. In other words, it's insincere.

It makes it really difficult for me to enjoy a film, especially one by an "auteur," if it doesn't strike me as something that ever really felt close or dear to the director. This doesn't really apply to noisy and explosive movies that are churned out by the Hollywood machine every week, because it's clear they are  being made to sell tickets. Artsy films are a little different, and if there's a sense that the director has something important to say, then they'll use their film as a medium to explore the depths of the skeletons in their closet.

I want to believe that Melancholia is Von Trier's message to those who feel some sort of pain and sadness, but I just can't. It's riddled with inconsistencies, random events that mean absolutely nothing to the film (and therefore the audience), poor acting, and a blatant lack of depth. I mean, there is "depth," but it's incredibly artificial. Von Trier's film is intentionally muddled with a lot of nonsense, and a lot of people are going to be fooled by it all. It makes me upset. It's like when you look at a piece of "art" and the pedant besides you lauds the piece for its subtleties, and you stare at them as if they're crazy.

This happened to me after I watched Melancholia. I met a dude in line for the next film of the day immediately following Melancholia, and we were discussing what we had just seen. "I thought it really spoke a lot to the blah blah mediums of the mind blah blah human condition blah blah intertextuality in the normative mode blah blah postmodernism," he said, contemplatively. I looked at him and said "you know, I bet you if Von Trier was listening to you right now, he'd be peeing himself laughing. He'd be saying "I can't believe it worked!""

He walked away. I didn't make a friend that day.


Maybe I'm crazy, and Lars isn't putting on a big sham of a think-piece. But first, consider the real-world conditions of what took place after the screening of the film. I walked out of Melancholia thinking it was a grandiose load of bullshit, not believing a single minute of it all. Then Lars steps up to the microphone at his press conference and trolls the entire press core by saying he "understands Hitler." There's no way he's actually a Nazi, and there's no way he actually meant most of what he said. He's known for his antics — especially at Cannes — and he's known for provoking people, so I suggest to not get suckered by his latest film. It's nothing worth spending time on, and definitely not analyzing. I already feel disgusted with myself that the last hour has been spent writing this post.

I want to highlight some of the most ridiculous things about the film, really quickly:

— The film is set in two parts. This is irrelevant.

— There's a sex scene in a field. This is also irrelevant (and unmotivated).

— The acting from Kirsten Dunst is wooden, but so is the dialogue. She took home the Best Female Actor prize for the entire Festival, but this is simply a give-away from the jury. It's clear she was shocked by Von Trier's moronic comments at the press conference, so the jury gives her a prize for being such a good sport for it all.

— Dunst gets naked. This is irrelevant. And ugh, so unmotivated. Not that I'm complaining, but y'know, I kinda like events happening for a reason in my films. You didn't hear this from me, but Dunst only gets the acting prize for her nudity. And as her co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg knows, Cannes loves awarding the brave souls who bare it all for a film (Gainsbourg got the 2009 acting prize for another Von Trier film, Antichrist, which involved some genital mutilation).

— People are comparing this film to Terry Malick's The Tree of Life, for the idiotic reason that both films involve the end of the world. Great! I'll be sure to reference The Land Before Time the next time the Jurassic Park franchise wants to revive the dinosaur movie. They're not comparable in any respect, other than the fact that they're both films. This is annoying because on one hand, Malick's masterpiece is incredibly personal and thoughtful, and you know from the first 30 seconds that it's sincere. On the other hand, you have Melancholia, and when compared to The Tree of Life, sullies Malick's work in the worst way possible.

I will say some positive things about this film. The cinematography (as pictured below) is pretty good. Okay, there. I'm going to go wash my hands now.


Hey look! It's the field where Kirsten Dunst has sex(?) for no reason at all. 


3 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2011

    fuck that, this is great.

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousJune 07, 2011

    "This happened to me after I watched Melancholia. I met a dude in line for the next film of the day immediately following Melancholia, and we were discussing what we had just seen. "I thought it really spoke a lot to the blah blah mediums of the mind blah blah human condition blah blah intertextuality in the normative mode blah blah postmodernism," he said, contemplatively. I looked at him and said "you know, I bet you if Von Trier was listening to you right now, he'd be peeing himself laughing. He'd be saying "I can't believe it worked!""

    Instead of snidely dismissing what this person said, why not actually listen? You clearly can't remember what his points were, because you were not willing to listen to them.
    This movie clearly did not resonate with youl, which is fine. But instead of dismissing it, why not actually take the intellectual challenge of trying to deal with it, trying to decipher what Von Trier was trying to do? After all, he spent a year of his life making this movie - why would he spend so much time an energy on an elaborate prank, something that had no meaning for him?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ain't it a shame that the film didn't last 15 seconds...

    Pretentious load of arty-farty, shaky camera claptrap!

    ReplyDelete