DVD Review: Dogville

“If one had the power to put it to right it was one’s duty to do so – for the sake of other towns, for the sake of humanity”

Lars von Trier’s films are usually highly divisive (for the people working on them as much as the people watching them) but I have to say I love Dogville. Perhaps love is the wrong word for so brutal a film but I just find it so fascinating in the way that it exposes humanity for who we really are and the depths to which we too easily sink in the name of self-interest.

Visually it is unique as it strips away all the artifice of the film set to leave nothing but chalk outlines of the scenery of the Colorado mountain township of Dogville where the story takes place. Such a bare staging heightens the theatricality of the piece and also its nature as a parable, one that those who dislike the film seem intent to ignore, an irony von Trier would certainly relish.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Dogville”

Review: The Boss of it All, Soho

“We begin our story in Denmark. With an actor.”

Given the publicity-garnering controversial nature of much of his work, it is a little surprising that The Boss of it All actually marks the first time one of Lars von Trier’s films has made it onto a UK stage but then again, perhaps not – Antichrist the musical anyone, an immersive version of Nymphomaniac..? Jack McNamara should then be applauded for such a bold move with his first adaptation for renowned touring company New Perspectives, not least because it really is very good.

It is an astutely observed office comedy – Gerry Howell plays Kristoffer, an unemployed actor who is taken on by an IT company in dire straits to pretend to be the boss so that others can make the necessary difficult decisions under cover. It is a role to which he discovers he was born, slotting perfectly into the all-too-recognisable world of office politics with its petty rivalries and inexplicable peculiarities but sure enough, when it comes to pulling the trigger, he finds he might have gotten in a bit too deep. Continue reading “Review: The Boss of it All, Soho”

DVD Review: Dancer in the Dark

“I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen the dark
I’ve seen the brightness in one little spark”

Is there quite so uncompromising a director as Lars von Trier? Watching his films can sometimes feel punishing in its intensity, either exhilarating or exasperating depending on how you connect with the Dogme 95 manifesto that he co-founded. Strictly speaking, Dancer in the Dark doesn’t adhere closely to stipulated austerity of those rules but it is most definitely in the ballpark and as with so much of his work, it becomes near-unwatchable at the climax as it completely breaks your heart in the most brutal of ways.

With a tempestuous relationship with von Trier that has been well documented, Björk takes on the lead role of Selma, a Czech immigrant scraping by in a factory in Washington state, saving the pennies she earns for an operation for her son which will prevent a hereditary degenerative condition from robbing him of his sight. She is suffering in silence though, unable to tell people how blind she is becoming for fear of being sacked, and when a nefarious neighbour steals her money, he sets in chain a tragic sequence of events. Continue reading “DVD Review: Dancer in the Dark”