'Antichrist'/ 'Hunger'- McQueen & Von Trier's Shocking Tendencies

I've had time to reflect upon Lars Von Trier's frustrating Antichrist & have arrived at this conclusion: It is the work of a man that doesn't know what he wants and the work of a man that doesn't give a crying fuck what his audience wants. That isn't necessarily a bad thing- but in his case it is. If Von Trier has given us some of the best movies of the past 20 years (Breaking The Waves, Dancer In The Dark), he doesn't succeed in bringing his artful resonance to this one. The movie was booed at Cannes and still has no distributor- I can definitely see why. The story revolves around a couple that has lost their child- they retreat to the woods as a form of therapy and instead find there is spiritual evil in their surroundings. Willem Dafoe and the incredible Charlotte Gainsbourg play The nameless couple- only referred to in the credits as HE and SHE.

I wouldn't want to spoil what happens next- especially since that's the reason why this movie is selling out festival circuits around the world & was the first movie to sell out at this month's Toronto Film fest. The curiosity of moviegoers all around the world is overwhelming and they want to know exactly what happens in the movies last 20 minutes- which involves some of the weirdest most brutally violent acts I have seen in a while. I won't give anything away and don't really think it's a big deal. Some have said Von Trier has lost his head & others have quietly stated that it is just a minor work in a great director's career. The movie shocked me, infuriated me and annoyed me. It is NOT a great movie and is -in fact- a true disappointment. This time Von Trier's Ego has gotten the best of him but his ambition is nevertheless highly imaginative.

One of the rare finds of 2009 has got to be Steve McQueen's Feature directing debut Hunger. A powerful, shocking statement on Prisoners of war. Set during the IRA and British conflict in the 80's and having to do with the Hunger strike of IRA prisoners. It's highly reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay, in its depiction of the brutality happening inside the prison as guards beat upon prisoners. It's also an artistic triumph punctured by McQueen's ability to get you into his unique and original set up.

McQueen started off as a minimalist artist in art galleries and only during the past year went into feature film- I recommend he stays there, this is where he belongs. Some of the influences you see in Hunger vary from director to director- especially Stanley Kubrick, who's minimalism is definitely not hidden in his reputation. I was affected by Hunger's shock value & its no holds barred filmmaking. Like any great movie in these dog days of summer, it's hard to find -because of its rebellious & independent roots- but if you can get your hands on this one you won't be disappointed by its bravura and staggering reality. Hands down one of the best movies of this or any year.