The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
"Zentropa" is a strange, haunting, labyrinthine film about a naive American in Germany just after the end of World War II. The American, named Leo, doesn't quite know what he's doing there; he has come to take a role in rebuilding the country because, he explains, it's about time Germany was shown some kindness. No matter how that sounds, he is not a Nazi sympathizer or even particularly pro-German - just confused. His uncle, who works on the railroad, gets Leo a job as a conductor on a Pullman car, and he is gradually drawn into a whirlpool of Germany's shames and secrets.
This process begins when Leo (Jean-Marc Barr) meets a sexy heiress (Barbara Sukowa) on the train. She seduces him and then takes him home to meet her family, which owns the company - named Zentropa - which manufactures the trains. These were the very trains that took Jews to their deaths during the war, but now they run a humdrum daily schedule, and the woman's Uncle Kessler (Ernst-Hugo Jaregard) poses as another one of those good Germans who were only doing their jobs.
Another guest at the house is a shadowy American intelligence man (Eddie Constantine, who has played the gravel-voiced Yankee in countless European productions). He has the goods on Uncle Kessler and can prove he was a war criminal, but it is all just confusing to Leo. Americans have been portrayed as naive innocents abroad for generations, but rarely has an American been more feckless than Leo, who goes back to his job on what increasingly looks like his own personal death train.
The narrative is told in a deliberately disjointed style by the film's Danish director, Lars Von Trier, whose strength is in the film's astonishing visuals. He shoots in black and white and color, he uses double-exposures, optical effects and trick photography, he places his characters inside a manylayered visual universe so that they sometimes seem like insects, caught between glass for our closer examination.