Archive for lars von trier

My TEN Favourite 1990s CRITERION Films

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by goregirl

Have you entered my contest to win a $50 Criterion gift certificate? And if you haven’t; why in the hell not? For rules and to enter click here. In keeping with my 90s theme here are my ten favourite Criterion films from the 1990s. This is a rotten cheat of a post; it really is just an elaborate excuse to remind you about my contest and whore out some of my previous lists.

1990s Criterion films Shortlisted but not making the final cut were: Hoop Dreams (1994), Insomnia (1997), Three Colors: White (1994), Three Colors: Blue (1993), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Short Cuts (1993), Ratcatcher (1999), Cronos (1993), Clean, Shaven (1993).

The following list is in no particular order; every single one of these titles received a 5/5 from me…


Being John Malkovich (1999)

being john malkovich

Blurb from Criterion

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Or, more specifically, have you ever wanted to crawl through a portal hidden in an anonymous office building and thereby enter the cerebral cortex of John Malkovich for fifteen minutes, before being spat out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike? Then director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman have the movie for you. Melancholy marionettes, office drudgery, a frizzy-haired Cameron Diaz—but that’s not all! Surrealism, possession, John Cusack, a domesticated primate, Freud, Catherine Keener, non sequiturs, and absolutely no romance! But wait: get your Being John Malkovich now and we’ll throw in emasculation, slapstick, Abelard and Heloise, and extra Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich!


Crumb (1994)

Here is a video I posted from the soundtrack for Crumb: Cocaine – Dick Justice – Music from Crumb: A Terry Zwigoff Film…

Blurb from Criterion

Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art. Zwigoff candidly and colorfully delves into the details of Crumb’s incredible career and life, including his family of reclusive eccentrics, some of the most remarkable people you’ll ever see on-screen. At once a profound biographical portrait, a riotous examination of a man’s controversial art, and a devastating look at a troubled family, Crumb is a genuine American original.


Europa (1991)


I recently posted my 50 favourite directors and Lars Von Trier was number 18.

Blurb from Criterion

“You will now listen to my voice . . . On the count of ten you will be in Europa . . .” So begins Max von Sydow’s opening narration to Lars von Trier’s hypnotic Europa (known in the U.S. as Zentropa), a fever dream in which American pacifist Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) stumbles into a job as a sleeping-car conductor for the Zentropa railways in a Kafkaesque 1945 postwar Frankfurt. With its gorgeous black-and-white and color imagery and meticulously recreated (if then nightmarishly deconstructed) costumes and sets, Europa is one of the great Danish filmmaker’s weirdest and most wonderful works, a runaway-train ride to an oddly futuristic past.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

fear and loathing in las vegas

Terry Gilliam is another favourite director featured on my list of 50; he is number 20.

Blurb from Criterion

It is 1971, and journalist Raoul Duke barrels toward Las Vegas—accompanied by a trunkful of contraband and his slightly unhinged Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo—to cover a motorcycle race. What should be a cut-and-dried journalistic assignment quickly descends into a feverish psychedelic odyssey. Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro show no mercy in bringing Hunter S. Thompson’s excoriating dissection of the American way of life to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.


La haine (1995)

la haine

Did you know I have a list of my favourite non-horror films from the 1990s on this blog? I do! Here it is.

Blurb from Criterion

Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with La haine, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.


Hard Boiled (1992)

hard boiled

Sadly, Hard Boiled has been discontinued from Criterion’s library. It is well worth seeking out just the same!

Blurb from Criterion

Violence as poetry, rendered by a master—brilliant and passionate, John Woo’s Hard Boiled tells the story of jaded detective “Tequila” Yuen (played with controlled fury by Chow Yun-fat). Woo’s dizzying odyssey through the world of Hong Kong Triads, undercover agents, and frenzied police raids culminates unforgettably in the breathless hospital sequence. More than a cops-and-bad-guys story, Hard Boiled continually startles with its originality and dark humor.


Man Bites Dog (1992)

man bites dog

Man Bites Dog was my number three pick for my top 10 favourite horror films from 1992. To read it click here.

Blurb from Criterion

Documentary filmmakers André and Rémy have found an ideal subject in Ben. He is witty, sophisticated, intelligent, well liked—and a serial killer. As André and Rémy document Ben’s routines, they become increasingly entwined in his vicious program, sacrificing their objectivity and their morality. Controversial winner of the International Critics’ Prize at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, Man Bites Dog stunned audiences worldwide with its unflinching imagery and biting satire of media violence.


Naked Lunch (1991)

naked lunch

Naked Lunch was my number one pick for favourite horror film from 1991! To read it click here. A full review for this one will be forthcoming before months end!

Blurb from Criterion

In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s hallucinatory, once-thought-unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from the writer’s own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.


Night on Earth (1991)

night on earth

Jim Jarmusch is number 31 on my 50 favourite directors list.

Blurb from Criterion

Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this hilarious quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and languages. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films.


Shallow Grave (1994)

shallow grave

Blurb from Criterion

The diabolical thriller Shallow Grave was the first film from director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge (the smashing team behind Trainspotting). In it, three self-involved Edinburgh roommates—played by Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, and Ewan McGregor, in his first starring role—take in a brooding boarder, and when he dies of an overdose, leaving a suitcase full of money, the trio embark on a series of very bad decisions, with extraordinarily grim consequences for all. Macabre but with a streak of offbeat humor, this stylistically influential tale of guilt and derangement is a full-throttle bit of Hitchcockian nastiness.


DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #20 – #16

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on July 29, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #20 – #16

I could write endlessly about every director in my top 20. I’ve seen the vast majority of these director’s films, if not their entire library. Each one has titles in their list I have seen multiple times and hold an extra special place in my heart. Beware copious use of complimentary adjectives!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*


#20. Terry Gilliam

What I’ve Seen: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Tideland (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2005), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Fisher King (1991), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Brazil (1985), Time Bandits (1981), Jabberwocky (1977), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I’ve seen all 11 of Terry Gilliam’s full length feature films. There is something downright magical about Gilliam’s films. They are as fantastical, fairy tale-esque and funny as they are strange, dark and hallucinatory. Gilliam was a member of Monty Python but started his career in animation. He is responsible for the animation in the Monty Python skits and films. He also co-directed his first film The Holy Grail with fellow Monty Python member Terry Jones. I love the imaginative way he shows the world whether it’s through the eyes of a child, an anxious bureaucrat, an old man, or a drug-addled writer. I enjoy every film on this list, but I have an extra special affection for Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Time Bandits and of course Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Gilliam’s array of crazy camera angles and his surreal backdrops and images (I suspect inspired by his background in animation) make for a trippy and unique experience quite unlike any other. Terry Gilliam is an unconventional, creative genius; I would love to climb inside this guy’s head for a weekend.


#19. John Waters

What I’ve Seen: A Dirty Shame (2004), Cecil B. DeMented (2000), Pecker (1998), Serial Mom (1994), Cry-Baby (1990), Hairspray (1988), Polyester (1981), Desperate Living (1977), Female Trouble (1974), Pink Flamingos (1972), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Mondo Trasho (1969)

I have seen 12 of John Waters’ 13 full length feature films; I have been unable to get my hands on Eat Your Makeup. I’m crazy about the quirky bunch of regulars in Waters older films which include; Divine, David Lochary, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce, Susan Lowe, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller and Susan Walsh. They seemed willing to do just about any insane thing John Waters asked them to. They are rude and crude and hilarious! I suppose Waters’ early films appeal to a select slice of the population but they sure do tickle me. I love Waters sense of humour and his trashy retro vibe. I paid huge bucks to snag copies of Multiple Maniacs, Mondo Trasho and Female Trouble on VHS several years ago. These days most of Waters’ films are readily available. My personal favourites are Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos, Multiple Maniacs and Polyester. I have seen every John Waters film from Hairspray onward in the theatre and had a chance to see Pink Flamingos when it returned to theatres for its 25th anniversary. While Waters’ older films will always be my favourites, I have found something to enjoy in every last film on this list. I love Divine’s final romp in Hairspray, Serial Mom and Pecker. I went to see Pecker on opening night and they gave away “Pecker teabags” which is pretty funny if you’ve seen the film. There really is no one like John Waters. The man is truly a one of a kind gem who proudly embraces his standing as The Prince of Puke and The Pope of Trash.


#18. Lars von Trier

What I’ve Seen: The Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), Medea (1988), Europa (1991), Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), Dogville (2003), Manderlay (2005), The Boss of It All (2006), Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011)

Lars von Trier has directed 13 full length feature films and has two in pre-production; The Nymphomaniac and The Nymphomaniac Part 2. I have seen 12 of these films and every one is a fascination. Every von Trier film is a completely new experience. Whether the film is shot on an elaborate set, an empty soundstage or with a handheld camera they burrow into my head and stay there for days. I find his films bleak, beautiful and challenging. Von Trier’s drama gets under my skin more than most horror films. I felt emotionally drained after watching Breaking the Waves and Dogville! Von Trier in fact has actually delved into horror with his TV Show Kingdom Hospital and his 2009 film Antichrist. I saw Antichrist at the 2009 Vancouver International film festival. I have actually seen a goodly amount of Von Trier’s films in a theatre. I gave Antichrist, Madea, Europa, Breaking the Waves and Dogville a perfect score, but every single film on this list is amazing. I think Lars von Trier is one of the most creative and daring directors working today.


#17. Pedro Almodóvar

What I’ve Seen: Dark Habits (1983), What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), High Heels (1991), Kika (1993), The Flower of My Secret (1995), Live Flesh (1997), All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), Volver (2006), Broken Embraces (2009), The Skin I Live In (2011)

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has 19 full length feature films and is currently filming I’m So Excited. I have seen 16 of Almodóvar’s films; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was the first subtitled film I ever seen in a theatre, and I’ve seen several of his films on the big screen since. His films teeter the edge of melodrama exploring multiple identities, religion, death, morality, family and particularly sexuality. Almodóvar’s films beautifully capture Spain’s culture but are also intensely personal. Almodóvar has penned all his films with the exception of Live Flesh which was based on Ruth Rendell’s book. His strong female characters and their trials and tribulations are extremely appealing to me. While delving into some heavy subjects and dark themes he almost always brings a bit of humour into the fray. Almodóvar’s films are also lovely to look at, specifically his bold use of colour. I enjoyed every film on my list but my favourites are Tie me up! Tie Me Down, Matador, Law of Desire, Talk to Her, Bad Education, Volver and The Skin I Live In. I eagerly anticipate everything and anything that comes from Pedro Almodóvar; the man is an extraordinary talent who creates films that tantalize and captivate me.


#16. Martin Scorsese

What I’ve Seen: Mean Streets (1973), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), The Last Waltz (1978), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), Kundun (1997), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010)

I have seen 20 of Martin Scorsese’s 31 full length feature films; he also has two films in pre-production, The Wolf of Wall Street and Silence; Sinatra is listed on his IMDB page as “announced”. To quote the King Missile song Martin Scorsese; “He makes the best fucking films I’ve ever seen in my life! I fucking love him! I fucking love him! My favourite Scorsese films are jammed packed with male bravado, insecurity, guilt (religious and otherwise) and plenty of violence; not to mention highly quotable! Scorsese’s collaborations with Robert De Niro have birthed modern cinema’s greatest creations; I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite amoung Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas! And these are not the only shining gems in Scorcese’s crown; his brilliant documentary of The Band in The Last Waltz, his controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (is it wrong that I thought Jesus was sexy?), his excellent remake of the Hong Kong Crime thriller Infernal Affairs; The Departed and his delightfully quirky comedy After Hours are all films I gave a perfect score! What can I really say that has not been said about Scorsese already? Martin Scorsese is a fucking legend! I fucking love him! I fucking love him!


ANTICHRIST – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Denmark, horror, movies with tags , , on October 5, 2009 by goregirl

antichristI attended a screening of Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ on opening night of the Vancouver International Film Festival. Von Trier is a director who consistently creates a unique experience for the viewer. Thought-provoking, emotionally challenging and always intriguing. This is Von Trier’s first foray into the horror genre. Fans of his previous works should be prepared for something far more graphic and disturbing. There were numerous gasps and uncomfortable laughter at scenes that were obviously not intended to be humorous. ‘Antichrist’ has been knocking about in my head for three days. I kept reopening my notepad document and staring at the single sentence I wrote. It is certainly not an easy film to summarize.

still from antichrist

The cinematography is spectacular, featuring some of the most provocative and imaganitive shots I have ever seen. The film is divided into three chapters; Grief, Pain and Despair. I hadn’t read much about the film before going in, so I was really surprised by the opening scene. Assuming you’ve read little yourself, I dare not tell you about it. There are two separate events happening simultaneously, one causing agony and the other causing ecstasy. The camera goes back and forth between the two scenerios, each in slow motion. This is an extremely effective, visually stunning scene. It is an appropriate prologue for our first chapter, Grief. The film features only two characters, both of which remain nameless throughout. I will refer to them as husband and wife. The traumatic event in question causes the wife to faint and she spends a month in the hospital. The husband is a therapist and does not agree with the course of action regarding his wife’s treatment. He decides to bring her home, believing he can guide her through the healing process. Healing does not come easy in this place of remembered things. During the process he challenges her to confront her fears, which seem to stem from a place called Eden. A cottage in the woods where she had spent the previous summer working on her dissertation on medieval misogyny. Together they travel to this place of her darkest fears.

still from antichrist 2

There are graphic scenes of sex and violence throughout ‘Antichrist’. You see full penis penetration within minutes of the films start. There are numerous scenes where the couple engage in fevered sex initiated by the wife, in an attempt to mask her grief with lust. The candid sexuality in this film never felt loving, only masochistic. There are two scene’s of violence in particular that will be extremely difficult for many people to watch. I must admit to some wincing during one of the scenes myself, and I am far more weathered to violence than most.

Dafoe and Gainsbourg are brilliant. Dafoe’s character is very clinical in his approach, although he states he loves his wife, he exudes very little warmth. He is therapist first and husband second. Torn at times between his role as therapist and husband, he becomes frustrated with his wife’s progress stating to her “this will not do!” His wife accuses him of indifference and cites his absense from her trip taken the previous summer. At this point in the film, it seems that in her grief she wants nothing more than to lash out and hurt him. But as the film progresses it becomes apparent that the husband does not know the wife, and a distance had grown between them over the past several months, well before the tragedy. Gainsbourg is pain personified. Not only does she carry the grief, guilt and dispair of her own situation but those of every woman tortured, maimed and sacrificed. Her character is tragic, but is also completely and utterly mad. Somehow she manages to be frail and threatening all at once. She is unflinchingly brutal and terrifying.

still from antichrist 3

Von Trier injects plenty of expressionism into his reality. There are some startling images involving animals and nature that has an almost apocalyptic feel. I certainly do not claim to understand every moment of ‘Antichrist’, but there is definitely a heavy emphasis on religion, mythology and nature. Eden, quite unlike its portrayal in the bible, is a menacing place of fear and darkness. Nature is referred to as Satan’s church. A sound in the woods becomes the cry of all things that are about to die. Animals look you in the eye and speak, telling you that chaos reigns. In Lars Von Trier’s world, indeed it does.

‘Antichrist’ is an emotional and psychological mindblow that paints a bleak and violent picture of dispair and misery and the destructive nature of human beings. I’m not entirely sure who ‘Antichrist’ will appeal to. I loved this film, it challenged me, horrified me and its images have firmly engraved themselves on my brain. Highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Lars Von Trier

Starring: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg