July 17, 2012

Tuff Fest II: Melancholia (2011)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Lars von Trier's Melancholia is an overwhelming, stunning movie.  It's a slowly, methodically moving behemoth, gently crushing your spirit while treating your senses.  From the first moment to the last, it's an assault of swirling, neigh-gaudy images coupled with the prelude to Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and effect which is as troubling as it is pleasing.  I found this movie immensely enjoyable, but it is certainly not for everyone.

Read more after the break!

I went into this movie with a heavy bias.  I really enjoy stories involving the end of the world, I like alternate reality type things, but, more so, I love stories that are themselves surrounded by good stories.  Books that went unpublished for years because they were "too controversial," music that wasn't released because it wasn't "commercial" enough at the time, and movies that were almost not made because of various tragedies on the set.  Melancholia didn't suffer from on set tragedies as much as it had probably some of the worst PR one could imagine:  at the Cannes premier, Lars von Trier sorta said he was a Nazi.  Now, I fully believe that Lars von Trier was joking, and that, while it was dumb to try to make a Nazi joke in first place, I think he also suffered from poor comedic timing and from translation errors.  But these things should be nothing new to people who have seen von Trier movies.  He's a weird visionary known for putting forth ideas that he thinks will shock people, then realizes after he's made his statement, everybody feeling really uncomfortable and slightly offended, that he didn't really intend to portray that idea in quite the way it came out.  In fact, right before Melancholia came out, he put out a statement sort of apologizing for it, as it wasn't quite what he wanted.

I like artists who are sort of unaware of what they're doing until it's too late, because when this happens, we sometimes get something true, unfiltered, and uncensored.  These poor, sometimes horrifying half-thought decisions come though in LvT's movies at an unbelievable rate.  Most the time during his movies, Melancholia being no different, one spends half the time in awe that the things occurring on the screen are, in fact, occurring on the screen.

All of that said, I feel I must warn you that Melancholia is a slow movie.  I think the end result is more then worth it, so I say dive in head first, but don't expect Armageddon, expect 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Let it wash over you.  Let the characters and the atmosphere slowly seep into your head, and by the time the movie ends, you'll feel like you've come out of a meditative coma.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

P.S. I didn't really have another place to say it, but Kirsten Dunst was AMAZING in this movie.  It's not like she really needed to prove herself, but daaaaang she was good.

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