I am familiar with Von Trier’s work in a sporadic way. I loved Breaking the Waves. It had an intense power behind the story. I felt insulted by Dancer in the Dark when I saw it in the theaters, but have come to appreciate it over the years. I have not seen many of his films (I own Europa on DVD, but have yet to watch it), but my curiosity in his latest work is beyond any interest in the Von Trier catalog.
I hated Requiem For a Dream when I first saw, but slowly grew fond of it after repeated viewings. I met director Darren Aronofsky at a press screening for The Wrestler and told him about my response to the movie, and he said, “That just means you’re normal.”
I also had the privilege to see Irreversible with Director Gasper Noe present at the Miami Film Festival a few years back. I have not forgiven him, however. I thought the film was pure malice toward the audience and a gimmicky, hackneyed job to top it off, and I thought the young fans fawning over his work and feeding his ego at the screening were a bunch of robot drones with stunted emotions.
Not too long ago, I sat through Taxidermia, a Hungarian movie that played at the Cosford this past month. It dwelled on bodily functions in practically every other scene. Then it ended with a close-up of a self-evisceration and taxidermy that felt like it went on for 10 minutes (it may have been longer). That movie is still stewing in my mind before I can give it any kind of credit or just dismiss it, but I hear the director, György Pálfi, is being considered for directing a Hollywood film already.
Either way, movies that shock and disturb have inspired me to think and pass judgement on their qualities either way, and I look forward to offering a thoughtful commentary on Antichrist over the weekend. The fact that the film has so far scored a 50% on the Rotten Tomatoes website is telling on how divided the audience is on this latest work by Von Trier.