‘The House That Jack Built’: Lars von Trier Director’s Cut Being Released in November

"The House That Jack Built"

Earlier today,  IFC announced that Lars von Trier's  "The House That Jack Built" will be getting a special release later this year. Two versions of the film will be screened — the “director’s cut” that was shown at Cannes and the “R-rated cut” that is supposed to be 'tamer,' at least by Lars von Trier standards. Both will be available on VOD and in select theaters. However, what most people are talking about today is not the IFC release announcement but rather a promotional campaign that had film journalists being robocalled at random by a creepy voice. This was most definitely a prank call and the victims are none too pleased about it, describing it as “creepy,” “aggressive,” “terrible,” and “twisted.” 

My edited thoughts from Cannes:

Lars von Trier‘s "The House That Jack Built" arrived at Cannes with a lot of heavy baggage, but, after watching it, I can safely say that it is a surprisingly scathing indictment of the director himself. The Danish filmmaker is trying to convey a damning feeling of his own art, telling us that he deserves to be guilt-driven into the deepest pits of hell, literally and figuratively. The film takes horrific serial-killing to whole new levels, it is so excessive in its violence towards women, and even children, that I can see most of Twitter losing their marbles over this 150 minute film. And yet, I found obvious parallels to von Trier's beautiful 2011 depression-drama "Melancholia." There are meditative sections that really make you ponder not just von Trier, but also what makes us human. I can't believe I'm saying this, but 'Jack' is, what people like to call, a 'universal experience.' The film, split into five sections, has Matt Dillon playing Jack, a Pacific Northwest serial-killer. Jack's background is in mechanical engineering, but he tells us he'd rather be an architect -- the house that he builds at the film's conclusion is truly a time-capsule worthy moment of horror. Jack is supposed to, metaphorically, be Von Trier, admitting his flaws as a human being and asking us if we could do the same. Von Trier,  the director, of such classics as "Breaking The Waves," "Dancer in the Dark," and "Dogville," lost me for a second there when he released his last film, 2015's "Nymphomaniac," which was trying too hard to be shocking, but ended up subjugating the viewer into  the emptiest film he's ever made. "Jack," on the other hand, is a much more meditative feature about failure and lack of self-confidence, good and bad art; the moments that stick are therapeutic ruminations that have the filmmaker in complete and utter self-doubt. The mainstream will avoid it like the plague, but cinephiles will no doubt make something out of it.

“The House That Jack Built” hits theaters in November and December. (specific dates listed here)