New German Cinema icon Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s affection for the outsider or lost soul is reflected throughout his filmography — perhaps most strikingly in his “romantic” oeuvre, where lovers obsess over and adore each other. The Film Society of Lincoln Center explores Fassbinder’s rejection of traditional roles in their Romantic Anarchist series, which runs until November 26. Inspired by the sweet suffering, alienation, and relationship identity crises of his characters (and the Film Society’s evocative series title), we’ve collected similar unconventional movies that highlight the strange and sometimes dark needs and passions of people in… Read More
Lars Von Trier
It’s a commonplace that our lives are mediated through film and television and screens and everything else, but few writers acknowledge this condition by inverting it, by taking control of their mediation through fiction. It’s a relief, then, to come across Our Secret Life in the Movies, a collection of stories by Michael McGriff and J. M. Tyree (published this month by A Strange Object). The setup for the book: the two authors watch countless Criterion Collection films and immediately write two stories in response to each. Yet McGriff and Tyree avoid the hazards of the “clever little book” by virtue of the quality of their fictions, the range of the book’s emotional response, and, yes, the cinephilic nature of their story selections. It all makes for light yet serious and rewarding reading.
In the short stories below, McGriff and Tyree riff on Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, that film you either love to hate or hate to tirelessly defend. Enjoy. … Read More
“There are elements of Goodbye to Language you might find in any Hollywood movie — people arguing, a shootout — and even a dog, the director’s own. (Roxy wanders the countryside [“conversing”] with the lake and the river that want to tell him what humans never hear.)” writes NPR of Jean-Luc Godard’s new film. The director’s “meditation on love and history, nature and meaning” will be playing at New York’s IFC Center until November 4.
“One of the reasons the dog Roxy is very prominent in the film … is that he’s trying to get people to look at the world in a kind of an unspoiled way,” critic David Bordwell stated of Godard’s animal companion. ”There are hints throughout the film that animal consciousness is kind of closer to the world than we are, that language sets up a barrier or filter or screen between us and what’s really there. And although the film is full of language, talk, printed text and so on, nevertheless I think there’s a sense he wants the viewer to scrape away a lot of the ordinary conceptions we have about how we communicate and look at the world afresh.”
Animal-centric films tend to fall into the absurd or terrible categories, especially those where the beasts talk or act as a foil for a human character’s inner world. But Godard’s latest demonstrates one way directors can make the concept of the animal id work. Here are eight others, ranked for your convenience. … Read More
Celine Dion once famously said, “I’d like to dedicate this next song to all of the parents and all the children of the world” — to which a not-quite-as-famous YouTuber famously responded, “All the parents + all of the children of the world = fucking everybody.” Yes, one of the most fundamental facts of life is that everyone is a child and most people are eventually parents. It is the universality of these familial absolutes, perhaps, that makes “the fam” such good fuel for horror in film, even in films that wouldn’t necessarily be categorized as “horror.” In fact, there’s such a bounty of films depicting inter-family horrors that organizing a filmic family trauma reunion (aka listicle) seems quite a Freudian headache. For this reason, I’ve decided to break down the most stomach-churning family relationships onscreen into slightly more digestible… Read More
The Labor Day weekend doesn’t begin until end of day tomorrow, but c’mon, who’re we kidding — you’ve already checked out for the week, and it’s time to start making plans. And while we know some of you (shudder) sociable types will be heading out to lakes and barbeques and such destinations to enjoy the end of another summer, we’re catering (as usual) to the shut-ins, who’re taking the three day holiday weekend to catch up on some long-delayed nothing-doing. So here are a few of the recent(ish) additions to Netflix and Amazon Prime to add to your holiday weekend viewing lists; just click the title link to watch them right now. … Read More
There is a fascinating interplay between the visual cultures of film and art. Directors have frequently used imagery from painting and other art forms to shape the look and meaning of their works. Last week, website Philebrity appealed to our inner art history nerd and reminded us of a strong visual influence behind Terrence Malick’s 1978 film Days of Heaven. Click through to see the movie’s art-world doppelgänger, along with other artworks that informed frames and entire visual themes in other… Read More
We’ve been talking a lot about Lars von Trier lately, prompted by the release of Nymphomaniac, and now Criterion Collection has given us one more reason to think about his work: their new special edition of his 1996 masterpiece Breaking the Waves. It’s a key entry in the von Trier filmography, its themes echoing throughout Nymphomaniac and Melancholia, but it takes something big like the Criterion release to warrant a revisit; Breaking the Waves is both a masterful movie and one that’s incredibly difficult to subject yourself to. We’ve looked previously at great books and important albums that are just plain hard to take; here’s a few movies that warrant the same kind of… Read More
Any other bride would panic if the stretch limo carrying her to her wedding got stuck en route, too long to make a tight turn on a narrow country road. Not Justine, though. Her face lights up with perverse glee. She laughs. And we have our first sign that the heroine of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia does not respond to the world around her in precisely the way she’s supposed to. … Read More