You no doubt read Greg Gerke’s deeply critical post about Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. Curtis White has now posted his own much more positive impressions of the film. I’ve tried convincing the two of them to go at it like me and Chris Higgs—I even introduced them during AWP—but they’re being too polite. Chime in in the comments section, demanding blood!
(My own thoughts on Tree are here. I have nothing to say about Anonymous.)
Every Friday at Big Other, I’m posting links to feature-length films that are up at YouTube. And I’m doing it for you!
In the opening extreme slow-motion shots (the only appetizing thing in the Melancholia, though these brief scenes seem to be leftovers of his style in Antichrist), Lars Von Trier pays homage to no less than four masters: Ingmar Bergman (the close-up of Kirsten Dunst), Alan Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (the giant hedge garden, with tree shadows this time), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (the slow planetary movements to classical music), all of Andrei Tarkovsky, but specifically Solaris (the Breughel painting) and The Mirror (objects falling in slow-motion, a fire seen through a window)—the end of the world scenario while people bob and weave around an opulent country house is right out of Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice. Von Trier’s whole opening sequence mirrors the opening to his Antichrist (using Handel’s music instead of Wagner) which scintillatingly displayed intercourse and the death of a child. One can only hope that Von Trier will go beyond homage and create something compelling, but it is not to be.
This is what I know about sex, there is a hole, there is a stick, and it all works out in the end, and occasionally “in the end,” if you know what I mean. And duh, sometimes two sticks and/or two holes can get along just fine, I went to college. The idea of penetration can only exist because we feel outside of things, but what if we are put inside, a gopher hole maybe, or in a gallery peaking into a room made to make us feel inside a hole. What if aesthetics is humanity’s commercial, something to seem better than it is. Duchamp’s cunt is shaved because Courbet’s used up all the hair. We all know about the male gaze, but the gopher gaze didn’t get a thesis written about it, until now, well not exactly.