Monday, September 19, 2011

In Giddy Anticipation of von Trier's Melancholia (and the NYFF)

Well here we are again at that special time of year.  No, not football season, and not back to school time either.  Something greater than both of those things (if you consider either of those things to be great that is).  As the temperature drops and those proverbial dog days of Summer quickly (and finally dammit!) fade away, we are given not only the new season (and a grand old season it is too) but also the greatly-anticipated New York Film Festival.  Press screenings begin this week, and though I will sadly not make all of them (or even close to all of them) I will be traveling to a few days of said screenings, and Lars von Trier's infamous Cannes winner (Best Actress for Kirsten Dunst) Melancholia will be first and foremost on that list.

Seeing the von Trier film on Thursday at 10 am (after a four hour train ride leaving Harrisburg at 5 am - ugh, I hate mornings) at Walter Reade, it will be my third such catching of von Trier at the NYFF.  The first was back in 2005 when me and the missus traveled to the city to catch Manderlay (this was before I held a press pass).  After a trip to New York filled with my near non-stop anticipation of the film, combined with my incessant talk of how much I had adored Dogville (a film which my wife had yet to see at this point in the story), my better half was thinking to herself "what the Hell does he see in this von Trier guy anyway!?"  Granted, she had seen (and loved) Dancer in the Dark, but her rather lackluster response to Manderlay (a film that still stands as the only disappointment this critic can find in LvT's quite divisive oeuvre) was enough to make her ask me why I was so excited to see this 'film'.  Since the film could not live up to my expectations, I of course had no respectable answer for her and kept my mouth unusually shut.

My second encounter with the audacious Dane was in 2009 when the festival screened Antichrist.  This time I was a full-fledged member of the press and therefore watched the film with my fellow critics (most of whom I knew from afar but would never approach out of fear of seeming a cinematic rube in comparison) at Walter Reade.  A screening that was followed by a von Trier Q&A via Skype on the big screen.  I quite liked the film - one could even make a claim for my loving it - and it would eventually (after its late October release) make my Top 10 list for the year (number two behind only QT's Inglourious Basterds).  Not so incidentally, my lovely wife ended up walking out when I screened it for her a few months later.  Still only Dancer in the Dark and (now that she has finally seen it) Dogville will she admit a fondness for - otherwise LvT is about as persona non grata in her personal opinion as the director is at Cannes after his quite irreverent remarks back in May.

Now we cut to Sept. 22nd, 2011 and the screening of the man's Melancholia.  To say I am excited is to say the least - the very least.  Looking to be the director's most accessible film yet (with the help of Dunst and Sutherland, the film is a bit more mainstreamy than typical LvT), Melancholia, which will get a proper US release on Nov. 11th.  Now I don't really see any Oscar nominations in its future (its closer to mainstream acceptance than anything else the man has done, but let's face it, even sight still unseen, this is a Lars von Trier film still) but a semi-wide release is not out of the picture.  I am not going to get into any of the tabloid talk of Lvt and his Cannes remarks (other than to say, though seemingly offensive, they were probably not meant as anything other than a rambling joke getting out of control) but these unfortunate remarks could keep his film from even getting that aforementioned semi-wide release.  Nevertheless, I will be seeing it in a few days, and that is all I care about right now.

I suppose there are some other films playing at this year's festival, and I suppose even this von Trier head should make mention of them.  There are a slew I will unfortunately not get to see (ah, to be a New Yorker) and these include Steve McQueen's Shame, Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, Mia Hansen-Love's Goodbye First Love, Michael Hazanavicius' silent film The Artist and the Brothers Dardenne with The Kid With the Bike.  But enough of the negative (I will eventually see all of these films) let's accentuate the positive, shall we.  I will be catching Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, as well as Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse and Abel Ferrara's 4:44 Last Day on Earth.  Sadly three trips are the best this wayward traveler can do this year, but I will try to make them count as I will catch non-NYFF films now playing in NYC after the festival screenings and before my train ride home.

I will post pieces on each of these films as I see them, followed by full reviews as each one is eventually released in theaters.  As for now, I'll get back to my giddy (rather school girl crush) anticipation of LvT's Melancholia (gee I hope there is another Skype Q&A).


Stevee Taylor said...

I really hope you like it. I thought it was brilliant...I find I like it even more now than I did when I first saw it. I need to see it again!

Have fun!

Kevyn Knox said...

Thanx. Here's to hoping you see it again soon.

MP said...

I can't wait either! The stills are intriguing and I look forward to read your thoughts on it! Sadly, I won't make it to NYC and the release date in Quebec City isn't out yet... Maybe next year I'll try to do a pilgrimage and catch the NYFF...

MP said...

Also I'm really looking forward to Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method!

Kevyn Knox said...

Yes, the Cronenberg is another I am greatly anticipating. Hopefully will see that at the festival.

whistlingypsy said...

I don’t know if I am a fan of von Trier’s films because I have never sat through one (talk about promptings of guilt). I look forward to your post on Melancholia with great anticipation, because despite living in a large urban city, I doubt the film will make it to a theater near me. I have seen the trailer and I can think of only one word to describe it: luscious. I am also looking forward to The Artist and Hugo, both visually stunning tributes to the silent film era (despite Scorsese’s decision to film the Méliès story in 3-D). I’ll check back over the next few days to read your thoughts on Melancholia; I hope you’re not disappointed.

Kevyn Knox said...


Yes, The Artist and Hugo are two of my most anticipated films right now as well.

I do think Scorsese's filming in 3D (a thing the auteur has wanted to do since first seeing House of Wax back as a kid) works on the level of Méliès having probably worked in 3D if available.

Then again, I have not seen the film yet.

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