Daily Archives: November 7, 2009

Off Topic: 120 Days of Sodom still wins

…as most disturbing film I’ve ever seen.  Ideologically and visually, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo (aka 120 Days of Sodom) wins as most disgusting movie I’ve ever watched in Italian Exploitation Cinema when I was a college senior.  Do I regret having to sit through it?  No.  And to think Cannibal Holocaust was the previous title holder, which I also saw in the same film class.

A couple months ago, I had written a post about the intellectually revitalizing and humbling experience of reading the work of incredible writers.  I had spotlighted Larry Gross and his article on Lars Von Trier’s film Antichrist.  This Wilotte GainsfoeCharlem DeBourg exercise in von Trier hoopla finally reached my fair city.  I adore Charlotte Gainsbourg, so of course I had to watch it.  Moreover, since I’d read Gross’s article on the film, I wanted to be able to understand his thoughts more completely.

I took in a double feature today with An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009) first and Antichrist (2009) second.  I’m rather fond of the lead actress, Carey Mulligan, in Scherfig’s film, which is based on Lynn Barber’s memoir.  I liked it a lot.  Alfred Molina, who plays the father, is a scene-stealer.  Emma Thompson, the headmistress, only has about six or seven minutes of screentime, but she was quite brilliant.  Olivia Williams plays a teacher and I’d love to see an entire film about her character.   An Education watches very much like a memoir…you get an idea of the characters’ experiences, the environmental and cultural world in which they live, and you may or may not want more.  In this case, I wanted more.

Contrasting with that whimsical cinematic expedition is the craving of Grief, Despair, and Pain, or the Three Beggars as von Trier calls them.  The demographic breakdown of the audience: three males (two of them together, one solo) and me.  Average age of the males – 31.  Yours truly – two days older than Justin Timberlake.

To be honest, I don’t know what to make of Antichrist.  It’s not as exhausting or impactful as the two films that open this entry nor as compelling as Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible (2002) or Claire Denis’s Trouble Every Day.   I saw Irreversible at the Lefont on Ponce with a crowd of perhaps seven or ten (most of them male) and absolutely loved it, probably because I was still in college and was living and breathing film analysis 18/7.  Trouble Every Day I watched for grad school and liked a lot too.  Again film analysis mentality.

In terms of a visceral and psychological response, Antichrist is nowhere near these films or 120 Days of Sodom.  Thematically (even narratively), I’m inclined to believe that it could’ve been given an Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) treatment.  In fact, I’d very much like to watch a Miike remake of it.  I’ve been re-reading Larry Gross’s article and am struck by his assertion that “Antichrist is both inspired and disabled by von Trier’s ambition to link a psychodramatic art film to a horror movie.  And this boils down to the film’s evasive uncertainty about whether to represent Gainsbourg as a case of psychological trauma or an incarnation of mythic evil” (44).  I feel the very same way.  Gross remarks something utterly clever several sentences later concerning “the outskirts of Seattle,” but I won’t include it because I want you to read his article–to be sure, I enjoyed reading it much more than watching the movie.

And now for something totally unrelated, GEORGIA TECH BEAT WAKE FOREST 30 – 27 IN OVERTIME!

Click here to see photos from An Education and here for Antichrist.