Since I’m not one of the many lucky film-writing elite (obviously, since I’m just here on little old WordPress doing a secondhand account through shit I’ve only read) out in Cannes, I wasn’t in attendance earlier this evening when Denmark-born writer/director Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist had its first-ever screening. Where was I? Taking a long, well-earned nap after a late night out and a 9am-starting softball double-header. The only I would’ve been in that screening was if I coughed up millenium duckets for a plane ticket to Cannes and pulled a Danny Ocean move to get into the theater.
But I’m starting to wish that I had. A week or so ago, I included Antichrist as one of the three films that has me wishing I was out in Cannes for this week (written about in a Theater of Mine post, check the archives). As if the film’s trailer and basic premise (that the Antichrist, not the Lord, infiltrated the Garden of Eden) didn’t promise polarizing things enough, the actual flick apparently caused one of the loudest, angriest, expressive crowd reactions that some Cannes-regulars have ever witnessed. And mostly not for good reason. Boos, hisses, outbursts of laughter at scenes “ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed sexual mutilation.” [Reuter‘s Mike Collett-White] Scattered applause was heard, too, but claps were the minority. “Fuck outta here!” responses the majority.
Even if the film truly is the megaton-bomb debacle that these writers are pegging it, I still need to see it. ASAP. At the very least, there’s a damn talking fox for crying out loud! Nonsensically intriguing!
Who gives a hoot. Just check this passage from Roger Ebert’s strong instant-reaction piece, and keep in mind that Ebert has been a prominent critic for decades now. Imagine how many films he’s seen. Now, this:
“This is the most despairing film I’ve ever have seen.”
Typo aside, I’m sold. [More from Ebert’s piece and other Antichrist screening reactions after the jump]
More from Ebert’s story……BONKERS SPOILER ALERT:
“The film involves a couple, He and She, whose infant child falls out a window and smashes to the pavement while they are making explicit love. They feel devastating grief. He, a psychologist, takes She off psychotropic medications, and they go to live in their secluded hideaway in the forest, a cottage named Eden.He subjects her to probing questions and the discussion of the Meaning of it All, which must affect her like a needle to an inflamed tooth. Oh, He is quite intelligent and insightful, and brings passive aggression to a brutally intimate level. Then she wounds him, and while he’s unconscious she used a large woodscrew to drill a hole through his keg and bolt a grindstone to it. He drags himself into the forest and tries to hide in an animal burrow. She finds him, and pounds him with a shovel to force him deeper. Then she tries to bury him alive.”
From Ebert’s words to the scathing reception of Jeffrey Wells, written on his great site Hollywood-Elsewhere.com, post headline being “ANTICHRIST = Fartbomb”:
“It’s an out-and-out disaster — one of the most absurdly on-the-nose, heavy-handed and unintentionally comedic calamities I’ve ever seen in my life. On top of which it’s dedicated to the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, whose rotted and decomposed body is now quite possibly clawing its way out of the grave to stalk the earth, find an axe and slay Von Trier in his bed.”
Try this write-up on for size, now. A positive one, for balance’s sake. Some key words used here have me particularly jazzed. Seems this writer, Indie Wire’s Anthony Kaufman, is a fan:
“Described in early reports as a horror film, ‘Antichrist’ certainly has its moments of shock and suspense-and a notable dose of body horror, specifically. But it would be wrong to liken the film to an ‘Exorcist’ or some strange spin on the rape-revenge narrative (i.e. ‘I Spit on Your Grave’). While it shares some weird sexual politics with those movies, ‘Antichrist’ doesn’t generate fear in the same way. In several scenes, Von Trier’s sense of foreboding recalls David Lynch, as trees, bushes and images of animal flesh take on a similar sense of uncanny dread.”
I think I’ve just figured out what 2009’s film equivalent to ’08’s Martyrs and ’07’s Inside is. As in, the obscure head-raping film that I long to see while reading a cavalcade of press and festival reviews.
Roger Ebert’s article: Roger Ebert’s Journal: For even now already is it in the world
Jeffrey Wells’ post: ANTICHRIST = Fartbomb
Anthony Kaufman’s article: Off The Edge: The Primal Power of Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist”