Posts Tagged ‘Cannes Film Festival’

Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Melancholia, Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany, 2011

Written and Directed by Lars von Trier

Melancholia is a very difficult and challenging film, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed every moment of it, but enjoyment is hardly the point when dealing with such a deep and intelligent examination of despair. Lars von Trier’s latest is by no means my favorite of his films, but I do feel much more charitable about than he apparently does. Here is what the great Danish artist / provocateur has to say, excerpted from his statement on the film’s official website: “This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a transplanted organ … I am confused now and feel guilty. What have I done? Is it ‘exit Trier?’ I cling to the hope that there may be a bone splinter amid all the cream that may, after all, crack a fragile tooth … I close my eyes and hope!”

As gifted a filmmaker as von Trier certainly is, he doesn’t seem to quite have the knack for self-promotion. Then again, this could be yet another example of the perverse, impish delight he seems to take in his own self-destruction, as most recently evidenced in his controversial “I am a Nazi” joke at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This is oddly appropriate to Melancholia, which, as the title suggests, is largely about the mysterious, fascinating pull of deep, all-encompassing depression, as well as the beauty and peace to be found in the complete destruction of absolutely everything. In fact, the latter – the incredibly gorgeous apocalyptic images that bookend the film – mainly functions as a metaphor for the former. The planet Melancholia, which has supposedly been “hiding behind the sun,” threatens to destroy all life on Earth as it draws near, yet it is also described as the most beautiful sight we will ever see. Depression may be always lurking just behind the nurturing light of life, but when it finally shows itself, we find that it is more absorbing and actually enjoyable, in a perverse way, than happiness. Read More

The Art Of Darkness – Apocalypse Now & Full Metal Jacket

Posted 17 Jun 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Apocalypse Now, USA, 1979

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Full Metal Jacket, UK / USA, 1987

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

pocalypse Now is considered by many to be the greatest war film ever made. “War is hell,” the cliche proclaims, but it seems to be entertaining hell. Along with other ghastly subjects such as murder and vampirism, war ranks among the most popular and commonly used subject matter of filmed entertainment, and no war has yielded more or better films than the one in Vietnam between 1955 and 1975. Whether detailing the effects of the war by studying its aftermath or getting right into the heart of the battles, the Vietnam War has proven to be a source of boundless interest for filmmakers and moviegoers alike. Perhaps it is the moral ambiguity of Vietnam that makes it the most interesting war for film adaptations, and no films illustrate this ambiguity better than Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) and Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket (1987). Read More

Enter The Void

Posted 25 Jan 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Enter the Void, France / Germany / Italy, 2009

Directed by Gaspar Noe

Enter The Void is a strange and unique film experience. French filmmaker Gaspar Noe has always been known for the intensity of his vision. His 1998 debut, I Stand Alone, features one of the most unlikable protagonists in cinema history (Philippe Nahon’s brilliantly realized “The Butcher”), as well as moments of shockingly realistic violence and subject matter that includes incest and the brutal beating of a pregnant woman (who, it must be noted, is at least as unlikable as The Butcher himself). His highly polarizing 2002 follow-up, Irreversible, managed to drastically raise the already high ante with its horrifyingly unflinching and lengthy depictions of murder and rape; it may have had more theatrical walkouts than any single film in history, and has only arguably been topped by Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) as the most disturbing film ever shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, with his latest feature Enter the Void, Noe seems to be pushing audience tolerance levels even further, albeit in a very different way. While I Stand Alone was essentially a one man show for The Butcher’s virulent hatred of pretty much everything and everyone (kind of like a French Taxi Driver, for people who thought the original was too cute and cuddly), and Irreversible showed extraordinary technical prowess with its impossible camera angles and chronologically backwards narrative (inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Memento), both films show a great artistic restraint and clarity of vision by comparison to the sprawling head-trip that is Enter the Void. For one thing, Void is nearly an hour longer than Noe’s previous features, taking the viewer on a wild and occasionally tedious ride full of even more dizzying and impossible cinematography than Irreversible. The film is nothing if not original, and Noe’s determination to push the boundaries of what cinema can do must be admired. Read More