Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

Procrastinator, Vol. 2

Well folks, the title says it all.  I get it, I get it.  This is way, way, WAY overdue.  So don’t bug me about it.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to first click on this little link right here and read.  Then come back.  Bye, bye now!

For those of you who know where we are, please continue!

I finished watching Nymphomaniac Volume 2 a couple of weeks ago, but the sheer enormity of having to put my very complicated feelings into words put me off…or it could’ve been that impromptu trip to California, who knows?

All humor aside (LIAR! LIAR!), I was extremely perplexed by the second portion of this film.  After the end titles had finished scrolling, and my Roku was gently prodding me to make another selection with a dippy little smile on his animated face, I came to and realized I’d been staring off into space with a worried frown.  My husband had been calling my name for about ten seconds too—think I scared him! I was just sitting there, and staring, and all I could think was, “What the fuck was that? Was that even the same film? Who directed that? Did Lars take a vacay when I wasn’t looking!!??” And worst of all…

“I don’t think I liked that.” Gasp!!

Okay, I know I am being a bit dramatic—the two volumes are not that widely different…at first glance…but there was just something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that had sucked the joy out of watching the latest Von Trier film, and it was bugging me.  It bugged me all that night through dinner.  It bugged me as I tried to go to sleep.  It bugged me the next morning as I sipped my coffee.

Why didn’t I like it???

And then it came to me—the very soul of the second volume is different.  Smirky, somehow.  The first picture was poetic, beautiful—still positively reeking of that gorgeous Von Trier sensibility that never fails to entrance me.  Normally he seems to look at the world through macro–the tiniest detail becomes larger than life.  He celebrates nature and the female…in his own…dark and twisted way.  This film though…it wasn’t entrancing me.  It was making FUN of me.  Not laughing with me, mind you.  Laughing AT me.  And I’ll take it a step further—he’s not just pissing on audiences in general.  I feel that Von Trier is picking on his own FANS in this film.  The scene with the child wandering out onto the balcony—that scene was set up so that anyone who has ever seen Antichrist would say, “Oh shit, is he going to do this again?!? Why would he do this again? Is this a THEME now, killing children on snowy nights?!?  Oh lordy, I know what’s gonna happen next…!” Everything was a mirror image—from Charlotte Gainsbourg again neglecting her child in his moment of need, to the sad, violin music serenading the tyke to his ultimate demise, to the night snow gently dusting his face as he reaches for the sky, unaware that he’s about to plummet.

And then the kid doesn’t die.  You find that out when Jerome runs in and screams for the child, runs onto the balcony, and while you’re waiting for him to scream in horror, he instead rushes back in with the babe in his arms, scolding him.

Not that I want the kid to DIE, mind you.  But I heard Von Trier laughing and saying, “Aha! SUCKERRRRR!!!” It felt like he keeps setting up the audience and then pulling the rug out from underneath, but not in an intriguing, “Oh wow, didn’t see that coming” way.  The very spirit of it felt…jaded.  And to what purpose? Completely on a side note, I am also not sure of why, as the characters age,  we change over from the young Joe (Stacy Martin) to  the older Joe, we see Charlotte Gainsbourg now taking the lead, but do not change Shia LaBeouf to Michael Pas at the same time.  So you’re left wondering what that choice was intended for.  It doesn’t work.  No biggie, but it was just an odd and ineffectual choice.

This is not to say the film was awful and entirely without merit.  It’s still a daring piece, and Charlotte Gainsbourg is just wonderful, as is Stellan Skarsgard, although I’m not sure that the ending made sense to me.  We all know I LOVE me some Von Trier, and HE is the reason for the season.  But this doesn’t have his stamp.  It has no poetry, no exquisite imagery.  In an eerie echo of Joe’s words at the end of the first volume, I have to say, “I can’t feel anything.”


I always write these blogs with very little editing because I want the truth, and truth in writing usually comes out the first time you put it down.  Once you go back and starting changing things, you tweak the truth right outta there.  But I did re-read this, and I realized that I cannot leave this piece sitting there on that last line.  I love and respect Mr. Von Trier too much.  So I’m going to play devil’s advocate to myself a bit and put this out there:

Maybe the whole point of those two films and the way they make me feel is a reflection of my own ignorance about nymphomania, or Joe’s character in general, or the film itself.  Maybe, just MAYBE,  I AM Seligman – watching the first film about Joe, listening to her story, and getting all dreamy-eyed about the look of the water running down the bricks, and oh—isn’t that beautiful that she is so free, and lah-dee-dah, and the whole time she’s there telling me that she’s a BAD PERSON, Lars is telling me that this is NOT what I think it is, that there’s something slimy and dark beneath the surface, there’s nothing romantic or beautiful about any of this, and like Seligman, I am NOT listening, because I’m lost in some doe-eyed, over-romanticized notion of the whole thing.  Then we get to the second film, and I realize that what I was being told all along is true—there’s no romance here, sister.  There’s no big mystery.  It’s not a tantalizingly dangerous sexual encounter with an African-speaking man with a big, black cock.  It’s two guys arguing over who’s taking the front door and who’s taking the back door.  With bad lighting.

I didn’t make that up, ya pervert.  It’s in the film.

So there.  Maybe Von Trier is just showing me my own blindness and weakness.  There are no flaws in this film.  This was all a highly calculated work of art.  And I much prefer imagining that.

Oh wait…shit!!




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