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Episode 68 - Antichrist (w/ Michael Lerman)

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Film festival programmer Michael Lerman joins Devin and Amy to discuss the 2009 drama/horror film Antichrist. They break down the movie's complicated gender politics, use of animals and brave acting. Also, Michael shares his notebook full of thoughts on previous episodes. Head to the Earwolf forums to vote if Antichrist is canon-worthy.

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Maybe it benefits from repeat viewings but I don't see myself ever wanting to see it again, so I vote NO

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I vote yes. The movie is gorgeous, the acting is perfect, and any movie that makes me recoil in horror and shout at my TV should get its proper due.

 

Plus, Chaos Reigns Fox is one of cinema's all-time great characters.

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NO! However, let me say that I actually like Antichrist. I am a big fan of Lars von Trier. He is one of the few directors that makes me stretch myself every time. The reason I vote no on this is something that Amy brought up, and I was thinking it before she said it. If we are to put a von Trier film in the Cannon, for me, it has to me Melancholia. Melancholia is such a better film than Antichrist. I know Michael did not like this reason for not putting a film in the Cannon, but I think it is a valid reason. Please do Melancholia in the future. I side with Amy on this one. No for Antichrist.

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Going to be a NO for me, although I did enjoy the film. There are a ton of interpretations that I found of this film that are interesting, but I have to agree with Amy that they are not particularly deep. I didn't find any of the interesting concepts explored in a way that really made me think about them, like the brokenness of nature or the inherent evil in women as well as men. They were brought up, but not really delved into in the way I hoped they would be. Good movie though, and it was a pretty refreshing horror movie.

 

EDIT: I also found the fox to be fairly goofy...I think I get the point of it but it was just so weird that I just laughed at it.

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YES. Antichrist is a cinematic masterwork, and a truly strong, feminist statement. In a hundred years, I believe it will be one of the handful of films from this period in time that has any cultural relevance.

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I'm voting yes on Antichrist here. I also voted on the poll, so take whichever vote counts.

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I'm a soft yes on this one. It is an excellent, challenging film. But I wouldn't be too disappointed if it missed out.

 

As far as his 'depression' trilogy goes I think Melancholia is by far the better film and would 100% put it in the Canon before this one. Even though it remains one of his best reviewed movies it still doesn't seem to have a prestige level of respect when discussing film with people which I feel is disappointing.

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Its a solid NO for me. I kept laughing at moments I'm pretty sure the movie didn't want me to laugh, but at least that was a better reaction than the one Melancholia got for me, which was downright contempt. The only talking fox movie that should get into The Canon is Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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1. I have not and will not see Antichrist. I will exercise my right as a human being to not subject myself to something I feel confident will not be to my liking. Love the show. But I must feel free to exercise discretion regarding which episodes to actually watch. No watch. No vote. S'cool

 

2. Amy, I 100% agree with something you said in this episode. At least I THINK you said it. Maybe I was crazy. I just rented Rocky III and Rocky IV from my local video store. Yeah, video store. I have one of those. Jealous????? Prolly not. You're all Hollywood and fancified and.......

 

Anyway, I rented them just so as to catchup on my 80s cheese. And, yeah, you (I think....) suggested maybe putting Rocky IV into The Canon. To that, I say YEAH!!!!. It's beyond cheesy. It was prolly cheesy in 1986 or whenever. Now it's camp. But it's super-80s camp.

 

Take a step back from your serious arthouse movie conversations. Go pop. Go shallow. Go of-the-time. Pick movies that were the most (retrospectively) obviously of-their-time. Pick the most off-beat rebellious 70s flicks. The most shallowly Reagan-esque 80s flicks. The most cynical 90s-esque. The most conservative, safe-ish but colorful (in a white way) 50s films. Whatever. Give the shallow their due.

 

And start with Rocky IV. It's ridiculous. But how can one appreciate pop cinema of the 80s without appreciating something like this movie? It's delightfully dumb. But it still has depth. In its context/setting at least.

 

You've had your arthouse, lets go mainstream and silly. Soon, at least. Cinematic fluff doesn't usually get its due, but it's nonetheless the stuff so many grow up with. Please count it.

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I vote yes. A move that can (consciously) evoke such varied reactions probably deserves a place in the canon. I do agree with Amy that if we are talking about Lars von Trier there are other films that I would think of first when picking movies for the spot. I would actually love a versus with Dogville and Manderlay, not that I think Manderlay has a chance of winning but it is still way, way under-rated and is really interesting to talk about, especially in the context of those two films as a duology (and aborted trilogy?).

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An easy yes for me.

 

Great discussion going on in this episode. I've always thought the movie is as much about the fraudulence of male messianic complexes towards women as it is about the evil nature of women. But there's definitely more layers to it than just those two interpretations.

 

Kinda wish this was an Antichrist vs. The War of the Roses episode though.

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EDIT: Apologies, I'm new to this forum. It seemed it wouldn't let me start new threads/topics. So I bounced off something you said in this week's episode to launch into a recommendation here. I don't see a Delete option. So I'll just edit this. To this. I had nothing especially relevant to add. IS there a way to delete posts on this forum...?

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Just finished watching it on Netflix and it's a very easy no for me. There's an amalgam of thoughts and feelings swirling around inside of my head having just finished it, but none of them very substantive... I'm kind of ambivalent on the whole thing. It was just kind of meh, and sure, that's not the most intellectual statement, but I don't think the film really warrants any type of elevated discussion on themes, character work, story structure etc., because it all felt a bit dull and silly with bursts of inspiring production design/camera work and solid laughs. No lie, that fox saying "chaos reigns" might be the most adorably quirky moment of cinema I've experienced in a long while. Charlotte Rampling yelling, "you bastard!" over and over as Willam Dafoe hid in the tree was really funny, too. It all just felt like a third draft by a dude who was too drunk and hopped up on anti-depressants to give a damn about ironing out a solid, cohesive narrative. All the digging people have done and metaphors people have assigned to aspects of the film seem like bi-products of scattershot, undisciplined writing/filmmaking that glossed over subject matter with potential for depth that's not explored in the film itself outside of some alluring imagery or throw away lines about grief, nature, gender and "evil". When films like MELANCHOLIA and NYMPHOMANIAC actually do their themes and metaphors serious, serious justice, fleshing out what they want to say in really sharp, affecting ways, ANTICHRIST just feels like a stepping stone and one that can be completely ignored in favor of the latter two works. It's just okay... 5/10. NO on the Canon. It's just not a very good movie.

 

Also, please, please do an episode on A SEPARATION. That would be amazing. Now that's a real film, unlike this half-ass art-prank from someone who's clearly way more talented. And in regards to dogme 95 stuff, Thomas Vinterberg's THE CELEBRATION should already be in the Canon, so it's really disheartening that this film got a shot at the Canon before that one did.

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Ughhh. I agree with Amy that I'd rather have Melancholia (or even Dogville, but I'd rather go to bat for Breaking the Waves) in the Canon, and the thinking is NOT because only 1 von Trier film can get in, it's because I feel the others are better movies. I'm perfectly comfortable voting in more than one movie from the same filmmaker.

 

That being said, it's a "No" vote for me. I do think it's one any serious film fan should experience at least once, as are most of his films - and they are really experiences -, and it is fun to talk about, although based on interviews & such I'm not sure even von Trier fully knows the meaning (which is fine)... I mean, even the title, which wasn't really discussed in the episode, seems just as likely to be provocation more than anything. And provocation is such a weak factor for me; I didn't think Cannibal Holocaust should've made it in for that either. Next we'll be having Human Centipede and A Serbian Film episodes in the future I guess?

 

Strip away the endless fox-eating-its-own-tail philosophizing and we're left with an unsettling, interesting take on a genre flick. Sure, it's a neat backdrop for von Trier to have a surrogate literally wrestle with 'evil women' archetypes (I'll take this on good faith, otherwise von Trier is just an asshole), but not enough to be Canon for me. But I do agree the acting is fantastic (and with Charlotte Gainsbourg being totally non-"Hollywood sexy" sexy... well, in general. This movie is the perfect antithesis of sexy).

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YES. Antichrist is a cinematic masterwork, and a truly strong, feminist statement.

Wah??! Not sure if you're trolling or not. Would love to hear more on that.

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I have to say this is a definite yes for me. This is a a film that has stuck with me every since I saw it when I first got the DVD when it came out. It was then interesting watching the film again, and seeing just how well it held up.

 

One of the interesting things in the discussion of the episode that I've always thought about the film, is that it has very shocking moments, that are definitely there to be deliberately provocative, but they also do have a context within the film, which often the shocking elements of films do not.

 

I really don't know what it says about me that Melancholia left me cold (despite how visually stunning it look, the start and end sequences are stunning on a big screen), but I am a massive fan of Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. I think Von Trier is best when he is being a provocateur, as he is able to build great films, from a place of deliberate provocation.

 

Also, please, please do an episode on A SEPARATION. That would be amazing. Now that's a real film, unlike this half-ass art-prank from someone who's clearly way more talented. And in regards to dogme 95 stuff, Thomas Vinterberg's THE CELEBRATION should already be in the Canon, so it's really disheartening that this film got a shot at the Canon before that one did.

 

If there is an episode on THE CELEBRATION, I think it would be interesting to do it as a versus with the the second dogme 95 film THE IDIOTS. Since dogme 95 was started by Vinterberg and Von Trier, their inaugural films of the movement should be pitted against each other.

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I Vote NO. The film is beautifully shot, but I feel the erratic nature of the style choices and the sheer grotesque imagery makes it hard to watch. Personally, I feel a CANON film should be appealing and have a degree of rewatchability. I was so disturbed by this film, I don't have a desire to ever see it again, but I am glad that I did watch it.

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I'm not sure if this or the poll is the official place, so I'll post in both.

 

My vote: YES

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