Deconstructing Lars Von Trier

The following is a short response to Lars Von Trier – Deconstructing Cinema, on Channel Criswell on YouTube, one of my favorite film critics.

“Finding it organically” is the opposite of craft, not a part of it, and one of the main reasons I don’t like Von Trier.  With the exception of Dancer in the Dark, which is largely great because of Bjork, he is a remarkably indulgent director, and takes the cinematic form seriously-to-a-fault.  Even Kubrick, who obviously took himself seriously, wasn’t “experimenting” lazily with form to see what lands on the canvas.  Every time I try to watch his films, a habit he is weaning me from, my main thought throughout is some variation on ‘who cares?”  Why should I let this indulgent toad insult me and bore me any further?  Fast forward to the obligatory naked shots of Charlotte Gainsbourg having an orgasm and move on.  It is entirely possible Von Trier is ahead of his time, and doing things that I won’t personally understand for years or decades, but I don’t think so.  I think he’s branded his laziness or misanthropy as deconstruction; the second thought I have after “who cares” is always, “this work has no soul.”  I don’t care if you’re a misanthrope, but don’t hate yourself so much that you MUST be glad that an audience member complains he feels manipulated.  I even like that response, because in fact an artist IS going to manipulate SOMETHING, and ought to “feel good” about that critique.  But I think it’s a cowardly retreat for Von Trier to respond like that; the guy opened the door for him, he walked through it with a grand, self-important flourish.  Why not an effective manipulation of the medium, instead of the people, whom I suspect you despise, for deigning to watch your indulgent bullshit.  Von Trier ought to love me, because I think he’s even worse than he does.  A statement made for effect, not necessarily my heartfelt opinion, which he should but never will appreciate.  Producing the opposite of bathetic kitsch does not necessarily make it valid.

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