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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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The Unloved, Part 63: The House That Jack Built

The days of Lars von Trier's antics making headlines (on film websites anyway) seems to be drawing to a close. When the film had its release truncated, only a few people seemed to notice or care.  

How could this be? Von Trier lives to provoke, and has a knack for it. The minute it seemed like we had his number, he'd zig instead of zag and wind up with some crazed new confessional work of violence or sexuality that may be the key to the enigmatic Dane's methodology and emotional troubles. 

Whether or not you like the "The House That Jack Built" (just today I read Jonathan Rosenbaum decrying it and in usual Rosenbaum fashion, I agree with him even if I don't; how does he do that?), I think there's some useful things in it. He's crude as usual and we may have seen the last of him, his power at any rate has greatly diminished, but as post-mortem's for one's own cultural impact go, I think there's quite a lot to appreciate amidst the murder and carnage. But that presumes you have any interest in doing so after having watched him feint at self-diagnosis in "Antichrist," "Melancholia," "Nymphomaniac" and now "The House That Jack Built." 

As to be expected with von Trier, this essay comes with a bit of a trigger warning for spousal abuse and violence.


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