A year ago, I nearly skipped a screening of The Place Beyond the Pines due to the fact I had quite literally gone off my anxiety medication. As a result, I feared a sudden attack might sabotage me in the theater. Regardless, I attended, which turned out to be fortuitous, given I walked out wholly inspired, so immersed that I forgot myself entirely.
One week later, I attended a screening of Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder, a movie so laborious I suffered an ongoing series of attacks before the midpoint. I mean, how could this be? We’re talking Terrence Malick here … Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, etc. At the time I dismissed To The Wonder as perhaps a case of him, perhaps a case of me. Yet in retrospect, I believe that movie speaks to something more egregious, some aloof, misguided ideal of what an art house movie should be, as opposed to what it is, was or might eventually become.
More often than not, attempts at post-auteurism fall flat. The reason being people’s sense of excitement tends to evolve, while their innate sense of boredom never varies. And, make no mistake, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac IS boring – a four-hour opus of dead air with academia between. There’s sex and death and god and love and wide-screen metaphors regarding fly fishing. Yet it all amounts to little more than one director’s masturbation – an icon forcing ample loads straight down your captive throat.
I’ll spare you the details, suffice to say that Volume I is vulgar, Volume II is unnecessary, and Shia Labeouf goes flexing muscles throughout scenes. Assuming you’re interested in an opus about sexual awakening, I’d recommend the 2013 movie, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Assuming sexual addiction is your bag, I’d recommend the Steve McQueen film, Shameless. Assuming you enjoy a wide-screen metaphor about fly-fishing, I’d recommend that you revisit A River Runs Through It. Just avoid Nymphomaniac at all costs. For it’s the cinematic equivalent of watching someone puke on Lady Gaga, only it lingers on for hours and the stench sets in for days.
(Nymphomaniac: Volume I is currently available via FlixFling. It also arrives in limited release via theaters this Friday. Volume II arrives via FlixFling this Friday with a limited release date via theaters set for April 4th.)