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The Fixer (1968)

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Is suggesting "retroactive abortion" fora director's mom a kind of film criticism?

I didn't want to mention this whole thing, and Vadim Rizov has already done a fine job of going over the history of Armond White's critical ad hominem attacks on Noah Baumbach movies here. Publicist Leslee Dart (who did not "ban" White from screenings of "Greenberg" -- but she originally moved him to a later one) did mention that White had called Baumbach an "asshole." ("You look at Noah Baumbach's work, and you see he's an asshole. I would say it to his face," he told Steven Boone at Big Media Vandalism. "... I don't need to meet him to know that. better than meeting him, I've seen his movies.")

Dart also noted that White had said Baumbach's mother, former Village Voice film critic Georgia Brown, "should have had an abortion." And, you know, people just expect that kind of thing from White. But did he really say that?

Roger Ebert

TIFF #2: "Antichrist" redux

Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" is poised to detonate at the Toronto Film Festival. This willfully controversial director will inspire, as he often does, a storm of controversy, debate, critics clamoring to get into advance screenings that are already jammed, and a contentious press conference. Of the 400 or so films at TIFF this year, "Antichrist" was the first that sold out in advance. It was the same last May at Cannes, and that was before it has even been seen.

Von Trier was nothing if not canny in his title for the film. By naming it "Antichrist," he provides a lens through which to view its perplexing behavior. By naming his characters only He and She, he suggests the dark side of an alternative Garden of Eden, and then disturbing his ending becomes a mirror image of Christ welcoming the faithful into the kingdom of heaven. The title instructs us where to begin. If he had named the characters John and Mary, and titled the film "A Nightmare," what conclusions might we have arrived at?

Roger Ebert

Cannes #6: A devil's advocate for "Antichrist"

Lars von Trier's new film will not leave me alone. A day after many members of the audience recoiled at its first Cannes showing, "Antichrist" is brewing a scandal here; I am reminded of the tumult following the 1976 premiere of Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses" and its castration scene. I said I was looking forward to von Trier's overnight reviews, and I haven't been disappointed. Those who thought it was good thought it was very very good ("Something completely bizarre, massively uncommercial and strangely perfect"--Damon Wise, Empire) and those who thought it was bad found it horrid ("Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart with "Antichrist"--Todd McCarthy, Variety).

I rarely find a serious film by a major director to be this disturbing. Its images are a fork in the eye. Its cruelty is unrelenting. Its despair is profound. Von Trier has a way of affecting his viewers like that. After his "Breaking the Waves" premiered at Cannes in 1996, Georgia Brown of the Village Voice fled to the rest room in emotional turmoil and Janet Maslin of the New York Times followed to comfort her. After this one, Richard and Mary Corliss blogged at that "Antichrist" presented the spectacle of a director going mad.