Thursday, March 18, 2010

STORYTIME -- an occasional column about books, movies and stories


movie review of Lars von Trier's Antichrist
released 2008
by Linda Ellen Lemaster
Dateline - Last Chance Ridge, March 18, 2010

I must have always assumed there's a celestial level of movie-making; a standard of true art that transends everything we've already seen and imagined and are paying for. Something that nobody can fit onto the five-star rating system When I saw Antichrist, I felt the excitement of witnessing -- and partaking of, and surviving -- art. I left the moviehouse changed.

Banned in our town soon after it opened, this movie struck me as expanding the boundaries of beautifully created movie-making. It appealed to my gothic, surreal, magical, photo-realistic, and dark blue tastes as well. It kept me on the edge of my seat and left me wanting to see it again. I'm grateful for this movie, and recharged about what's possible in moviemaking.

I can only rave about it: the photography was rivetting, as was the luscious revelatory waves of intensity packed throughout Antichrist. The music, and the slo-mo opening scene deserve note.

It's the untold Epic of 20th Century Obsession, one could say. A picture about the holy fruit from a Tree of isolating pair-bondage. What our society puts out as modern-day marriage. "Divide and Conquer" reduced to the level of genetic angst. Or maybe that's harsh? A picture about a couple clawing their way through each other's souls in their self-contained, respective and shared, realities on behalf of professionalism and a fouled understanding of development and succession. A couple hobbled, as we all are, by the perversions of gender and sexuality brought to us by ages of both organized violence and puritanical zealots.

If you could cut and run with your Beloved, in the wake of a shared tragedy, no ties, not even a phone, would you nestle yourselves in the bosom of The Great Mother? And could the earth and the green umbrella sooth nerves; and would your shared soul reknit, restore itself in the quiet? Or would you get too grossed out by the ticks and sticks and contrary-seeming zephyrs? Would the night-owl's coo-wooo cover you like the moon, or would he seem to portend? I've been to both places. Could you even do it soberly?

Maybe the title set me up for surprise? Antichrist -- I musta had a preconception or two? Since Willem Dafoe was in it, I knew I'd like it, so I skipped over my normal cursory preview.

Both actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and DaFoe were beyond excellent portraying lives becoming gritty -- to say the least -- and they kept it up, continually intensifying the depth of their acting and art to the incredible depth required by director Lars von Trier
to tell this important story. About the upwardly mobile professional class He and She coming unglued. And perhaps about the everywoman, the everyman and about the ghastly transpositions we may endure when we are not entirely honest within the bounds of Mother Nature?

What Burton and Taylor gave us with words and wit in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" may have blossomed forward here, with Gainsbourg and DaFoe giving us heart-rending, psyche-wrenching performances of two characters stripped to reptilian essence in a movie that flutters meaningfully between black-n-white and subtle coloring.

Loaded with metaphor and both classical and americana symbolism, but that's another whole study.

There were a lot of times in my life I wouldn't have had the fortitude and openness to see this movie. I was too "sensitive" to harsh images (violence, blood, breaking glass); movies then could restimulate unresolved ancient crashes and unhealed grief. And maybe I'd have even felt it was misogynist in my knee-jerk days? But seeing it now, I know it belongs far beyond such categorical classifications. I recommend you check out trailers and reviews before you, like me, just jump into Antichrist.

Then get a good seat and hold on.

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