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Spotty New York Film Festival Blogging: Lars von Trier’s Daft Antichrist

Zentropa Entertainments

It turns out what they say about Willem Dafoe is true: The man has a schlong the size of an oil tanker.* [see update below] Charlotte Gainsborough’s pudendum is nothing to sneeze at, either. Too bad both sets of privates get mutilated in close-up.

Camille Paglia will admire the basic conceit of Antichrist: Woman (Gainsborough) as the embodiment of chthonian nature, too wild and demonic to be healed by the touchy-feely pointy-head psychotherapy of her husband (Willem Dafoe). Bring on the ax, carving knife, etc. I liked the idea better when David Cronenberg did it in The Brood — when a psychiatrist’s est-like exhortation to a woman “to go all the way through” a primal trauma produced not inner peace but deformed psychotic babies that hammered people she didn’t like to death.

In this case, Gainsborough’s trauma has to do with the death of the couple’s toddler, who in a prologue jumps out a window (in lyrical slow motion) while they're making the beast with two backs (plus one humongous wiener). I thought Von Trier would be above such shots as the one of the dead child’s stuffed animal bouncing and coming to rest. But for all pretentions he’s not above much. To think the festival selection committee went for this over the Coens’ A Serious Man!

Still, I can’t hate the movie, laughably overdone as it is. Von Trier, who rarely travels, showed up at the NYFF press conference on a big screen via a computer hookup, looking as if he’s still fighting the depression that led him to make the relatively rough-hewn (compared to his last, more formal exercises) Antichrist. The famously abusive, misogynistic martinet looked so sweet and vulnerable that it put the movie in a more tender light. Depression becomes him.

UPDATE: Damn. It seems that von Trier claimed that the wang in close-up belonged to a porn star. Well, Mr. Dafoe will have to set the record straight. Milton Berle's record holds. However, my judgment of Ms. Gainsborough's privates is based on a full-body shot and not no porn-star close-up. So there.