I really hope that all the press conference controversy surrounding Lars Von Trier's Melancholia doesn't hinder its awards chances if it had any to begin with. Ioncinema's critics panel loved the movie but at least one distributor has already bailed. I am usually quite amused by Lars Von Trier's ease at manipulating the press with his outrageous comments -- everyone falls for it every time! Suckers -- but this time, sadly, his mischief may affect his film's chances to be seen. Which... argh. It's so anti-art to be offended by someone's peronality and therefore reject their work in its entirety and, worse, prevent others from seeing it.
This type of moral outrage at bad-taste humor can often snowball in uncomfortable ways. I'm already worried that The Five Obstructions project with Martin Scorsese, which sounds thrilling, will end up derailed as well. Lars Von Trier has apologized but because he is also Lars Von Trier he's been making inflammatory follow up comments as well about enjoying the persona non grata designation.
I haven't been reading Melancholia reviews other than skimming blurbs. I'm most intrigued by IndieWire's description of the film as Von Trier's Rachel Getting Married because, well, who wouldn't want to see that? I was also intrigued by Hollywood Elsewhere's comment about Kiki's lead performance:
She's never operated in such a dark, fleshy and grandiose realm.
Though maybe you can disregard that one, since Mr. Wells doesn't seem to have a sense of how accomplished Dunst's filmography actually is. The Spider-Man trilogy sure did pull the wool over everyone's eyes in terms of her versatility and the general strength of her filmography. Rich at FourFour hasn't yet seen the movie but he sure loves Kiki's performance at the press conference.
ANYWAY... My increasingly anti-review stance is getting uncomfortable for me as a blogger/pundit/critic/loudmouth. I tend to talk more about movies AFTER their release and the world has definitely trended away from me (gulp) there, preferring to exhaust conversations before moviegoers can join in. I haven't decided quite how to work around this yet. See, I knew way too much bout LVT's Antichrist -- to connect this train of thought back to Melancholia -- before seeing it and it was very frustrating for me. What should have been a shock-fest instead was just "oh, here comes that part. I see what he did there." I know in my soul that the modern habit of digging for all and every piece of information for each new movie before experiencing it beforehand (a kindred spirit to the now commonplace Oscar-fanatic trend to take adamant Oscar sides before seeing the performances in question) is detrimental to the magic of the movies. But how to stay informed without spoiling your own capacity for surprise and joy? Are you also struggling with this? It's been getting progressively worse over the past 5 or so years. I wonder if this will cycle back culturally to valuing secrets or if it will just get worse?
If you released The Crying Game (1992) in today's moviegoing climate, for example, I bet it would never have taken off and nagged several Oscar nominations. (Oscar nominations that were completely deserved, mind you.) Its whole campaign was about keeping the secret (which wasn't exactly a last minute twist) and by the time people staring knowing the secret before seeing it -- thanks to one of those Oscar nominations -- it was already a "must see" film.
My train of thought has jumped the rails. Back to Melancholia. Do you think the jury will dare give it any prizes, if they were already so inclined, given that Lars von Trier has been expelled?