Saturday, July 29, 2006

The musical: all gone to shit

Subject: Cinema
I want to shout out a hearty "fuck you" to Lars von Trier.

Back in the day, I never really gave that particular genre of film, the musical, much thought beyond the whole notion of "outdated" and "boring". In film school, though, I saw for the first time "Singing in the Rain". That little bit of genius changed my mind forever and helped me appreciate what it was all about. Of course, it didn't actually help me feel like watching any other musicals, but at least I developed an appreciation for them.

I knew von Trier's "Dancing in the Dark" was, well, dark going into this. It had been languishing in my GreenCine queue for quite a while as I prioritized the crazy eye-candy of Japanese cartoons over real thoughtful films. And, of course lately, dark films really weren't the sort of thing that I wanted to subject myself to.

But this one snuck it's way in, and has been sitting by the DVD player for a couple of weeks now. So I got all liquored up and subjected myself to it.

Okay, I'll admit that it's very, very good. I've always liked Bjork, of course, and I think she did a fantastic job here. von Trier's technique, a peculiarly Nordic manifesto of sorts who's name escapes me right now (it involves a sort of ad-lib from the performers, and a cinema-veritae look & feel), serves the film and the performers pretty well. Tying in the spontaneous "break into song and dance" peculiarity of the classic Hollywood musical into this Nordic-style faux-veritae was all the more interesting and endearing.

Which, of course, he goes and takes full advantage of by rubbing your nose in it, then hitting you over the head with the unavoidable conclusion like it was some heavy metallic blunt object. What was it they said in the trial, 42 times? 45?

I didn't know how it was going to end, let alone evolve, as I've avoided much of the discussion around it to this point. So for a while, I had this impending feeling of doom, this feeling of being set up for something awful on the factory floor, which didn't actually transpire. Instead, it became one of those frustrating examples of powerlessness and injustice that piss me off to no end. Which I'm sure he intended.

So like I said, a hearty "fuck you", Mr. von Trier. Thanks a fucking lot.

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