I’m not sure how I manage to keep my simultaneous fascination with /repulsion for Lars von Trier in balance, but it’s back with a vengeance in Antichrist (Criterion), another provocation that is at once beautiful and perverse, personal and cynical, and filled with his sour vision of the emotional small-mindedness (small-heartedness?) of the human animal. This one, a portrait of marriage as a morass of anger, suspicion and power after she (Charlotte Gainsbourg) falls into a pit of suicidal depression and he (Willem Dafoe), a psychiatrist, takes personal charge of her treatment in a rural escape called Eden that von Trier twists into a diseased hell: paradise rotted.
Antichrist: Sex and Death
It all turns on the death of their infant child, which crawls through an open window and falls to its death while the parents are occupied in a slow-motion ballet of aggressive, feral sex. Anthony Dod Mantle is back behind the camera delivering Von Trier’s now familiar art-house look of carefully composed and stunningly sculpted establishing shots and framing sequences (like the B&W prelude of sex and death in the whisper of falling snow) while handheld photography takes us through the cover art frame and into their psychodrama.
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Seattle boasts the biggest film festival in the United States, in terms of both audiences and films shown. But Seattle filmgoers are also lucky enough to be within easy driving distance to the Vancouver International Film Festival, one of the five biggest festivals in North America. Coming on the heels of Toronto, it boasts a sampling of highlights from Toronto and Venice as well as a spotlight on Canadian cinema, an annual spotlight on French Cinema and the Dragons and Tigers series, one of the best collections of new Asian cinema in North America with a special focus on young talents and new filmmakers.
The sixteen day festival opened this year on Thursday, October 1 with a day of screenings leading up to the Opening Night Gala A Shine of Rainbows, an Irish tale with Connie Neilsen and Aidann Quinn, and concluded on Friday, October 16 with Closing Night Gala Queen to Play, a French romantic comedy of love and chess starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline. In between, over 215 features and documentaries (along with 160 short and mid-length films) from over 70 countries screened for audiences from Vancouver and beyond. Like Seattle, this in an international festival for the local audience. In this case, local extends south of the border to Seattle.
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