I used to tell all my potential first-time nightlife industry employees a little ditty before they actually agreed to come aboard. If you are a regular reader (well, you must be quite irregular for that) you have heard this before… and now you’ll here it again: I told the people working for me to have an exit strategy. The money is good. The people, the celebrities, the action can be an addiction – but the life, except for a few, has an expiration date. When it’s over, you have to have a way to support yourself. It ends when you need a change but no one will hire you because they want younger, or you just can’t put in the hours anymore, or the "distractions" of the night become a real problem. I would tell them nightlife is like a rollercoaster…you pay a little money to get on and the first thing you do is go up a great hill and from there at the top it seems like you can see forever, when in reality you are seeing just a bit more. Then its a fast ride down and around, thrills spill treacherous curves, some screams, some fear, some exhilaration, and when it’s over you end up basically where you started, spent a little time, had some fun. Many creatures of the night are putting themselves through school or are actors or artists or dancers. They are pursuing dreams in a place built on them. They often service stars, people who were just like them a decade ago. Failure and shattered hopes often are a heavy burden as time goes on. Breaking out is hard to do. The odds are stacked against them. Emily Lazar left NY behind to chase her dreams on the left coast. She used to work with me. She’s a rock star trying to let the world realize that.
In November of 2011, when I sat down with the cast of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, I spoke with Charlotte Gainsbourg about her next grueling cinematic endeavor, to which he told me that she’d be starring in Lars’ next film about a nymphomaniac. Naturally, Alexander Skarsgård excitedly responded, “My dad’s going to be in that too!”
Let’s face it. When it comes to Monday mornings, we’re all Melancholia’s Justine—walking to work in slow motion, ankles wrapped in muddy vines dragging us down as we crawl into what feels like the great demise. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it’s the beginning of another week and whether you spent your weekend trading in the concrete of the city for some late summer greenery, or perhaps used your time wisely to hide away in a darkened movie theater, I’m sure you’re already looking forward to diving into bed tonight with a good film.
But with myriad sites and thousands of films to choose from, making a decision that properly suits the existential dilemma you’ve transferred onto your viewing selection, proves daunting. So to help, I’ve rounded up the best of what’s streaming online this week from the Warner Archive Instant library. From Martin Scorsese’s absurdly brilliant After Hours and Who’s That Knocking at My Door to Robert Altman’s dark and smokey McCabe & Mrs. Miller and a bit of everything in between, here’s what you should be watching from beneath the sheets this week. Enjoy.
Day for Night
The drama on screen is nothing compared to the drama behind the camera! During production of the film "Je Vous Presente Pamela" (May I Introduce Pamela), the actresses are drunk and emotionally unstable. The male lead’s affair with the script girl is getting rocky. And the shoot is beset by endless technical problems in director François Trauffaut’s loving and humorous homage to the cinema.
Paul Hackett’s (Griffin Dunne) terrible night happens in the SoHo area of downtown Manhattan when he goes to keep a date with Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). Nothing in his humdrum life as a word processor has prepared him for his surreal encounters with Marcy; her far-out artist roommate Kiki (Linda Fiorentino); cocktail waitress Julie (Teri Garr); ice cream vendor Gail (Catherine O’Hara); June (Verna Bloom), who lives in the basement of a nightclub; and Mark (Robert Plunket) who is ripe for his first gay experience. Now, Paul longs only for the safety of his upper-East Side apartment … but will he ever make it home?
Fashion photographer Thomas (David Hemmings) casually takes a somewhat voyeuristic shot of a man and a young woman in each other’s arms on a park bench. The young woman (Vanessa Redgrave) follows Thomas home and makes love to him in exchange for the photograph. But Thomas keeps the negative, and when he enlarges it, what had seemed a carnal moment, appears to be murder. Thomas returns to the park, and discovers that the man in the photograph is dead. Yet when Thomas enlarges the photo again, he notices a shadow in the bushes that could be barrel of the gun. Is the woman with whom Thomas made love a murderer? Reality seems to change with each blow-up he makes.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Martin Scorcese directs Ellen Burstyn delivers an Academy Award-winning performance, in the feature that inspired the long-running sitcom "Alice". At 32, Alice Hyatt (Burstyn) watches her dreams slipping away. Instead of a career as a singer, she has an abusive husband, an ill-mannered 12-year-old son and a life in small-town Oklahoma. But when her husband dies in a traffic accident, Alice heads west to pursue her dreams, working as a lounge singer along the way. Life, however, never seems to go according to plan, and Alice must again face a choice between love and the career that seems as elusive as ever.
"Gooble-gobble…we accept her…one of us," goes the haunting chant of Freaks. Yet it would be decades before this widely banned morality play gained acceptance as a cult masterpiece. Tod Browning (1931’s Dracula) directs this landmark movie in which the true freaks are not the story’s sideshow performers, but "normals" who mock and abuse them. Browning, a former circus contortionist, cast real-life sideshow professionals. A living torso who nimbly lights his own cigarette despite having no arms or legs, microcephalics (whom the film calls "pinheads") – they and others play the big-top troupers who inflict a terrible revenge on a trapeze artist who treats them as subhumans. In 1994, Freaks was selected for the National Film Registry’s archive of cinematic treasures.
Centuries-old Egyptian vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and her centuries-old lover, John (David Bowie), feed on urban nightclub goers. But while Miriam can bestow a very long life on her lovers, she cannot grant them her immortality. When John starts to rapidly age, Miriam seduces Sarah (Susan Sarandon), a doctor researching premature aging.
Based on the best-selling Vincent Bugliosi book of the same name, Helter Skelter is a made-for-TV account of the investigation and prosecution of Charles Manson (Steve Railsback), who was convicted of leading a group of followers (known as "The Family") to murder seven people in California, including actress Sharon Tate. The film takes a Law & Order-like approach, starting with the discovery of the murders, which leads to the police gathering snippets of evidence that they eventually connect to the bigger picture. The second half of the movie concentrates on how District Attorney Bugliosi (George DiCenzo) attains a conviction despite the enormous amount of press coverage the case received. Nancy Wolfe, Christina Hart, and Cathey Paine portray the three loyal Manson Family members who were the co-defendants at his trial.
Who’s That Knocking At my Door
American legend Martin Scorsese ("GoodFellas," "Taxi Driver") made his feature directorial debut with this autobiographical drama starring frequent Scorsese collaborator Harvey Keitel, who makes his film debut. J.R. (Keitel) is a typical Italian-American on the streets of New York. When he gets involved with a local girl, he decides to get married and settle down, but when he learns that she was once raped, he cannot handle it. More explicitly linked with Catholic guilt that Scorsese’s later work, we see what happens to J.R. when his religious guilt catches up with him. Full of Scorsese touches, in both embryonic and fully-fleshed form.
The Illustrated Man
Three classic tales by great American fabulist Ray Bradbury from his storied Illustrated Man collection, The Veldt, The Long Rain, The Last Night of the World get the big screen treatment, linked by a pair of extraordinary performers (Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom) and the anthology’s central conceit. Jack Smight’s film has benefited from the passage of time, which has seen SF’s place as the literature of ideas become supplanted by the spectacle of cinema Sci-Fi. Also stars Robert Drivas.
The first part of his "paranoia trilogy," Alan J. Pakula’s 1971 thriller details the troubled life of a Manhattan prostitute stalked by one of her tricks. Investigating the disappearance of his friend Tom Gruneman (Robert Milli), rural Pennsylvania private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland) follows a lead provided by Gruneman’s associate Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) to seek out a call girl who Gruneman knew in New York City. The call girl is Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), an aspiring actress who turns tricks for the cash and to be free of emotional bondage. Klute follows Bree’s every move, observing the city’s decadence and her isolation, eventually contacting her about Gruneman. Bree claims not to know Gruneman, but she does reveal that she has received threats from a john. As Bree becomes involved in Klute’s search and realizes that she is in danger, she reluctantly falls in love with Klute, despite her wish to remain unattached to any man. When she finally comes face to face with the killer, however, she is forced to reconsider her detached urban life.
Producer Arthur Freed gathered together a bevy of MGM musical luminaries including Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Lena Horne and Gene Kelly for this all-star Technicolor spectacular revue produced in the style of the great Florenz Ziegfeld. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, and introduced by William Powell re-creating his 1936 screen role as Ziegfeld.
Love in the Afternoon
In his first pairing with co-writer I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder plays tribute to the effervescent romantic comedies of Ernst Lubitsch with this May-December romance starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper. Hepburn plays Ariane Chavasse, a coltish young conservatory cellist who yearns for a more mature understanding of life. Overhearing a client of her private detective father (frequent Lubitsch collaborator Maurice Chevalier) threatening to murder American playboy Frank Flannagan (Cooper), Ariane decides to warn Frank of the danger herself. Sparks fly when the two meet up, and the worldly Frank finds he is no match for ‘innocent’ Ariane. But Ariane’s gumshoe pop is still on the case… I.A.L. Diamond was not the only future-frequent player for team Wilder to work on the film, production designer Alexandre Trauner delivers the first of his six Wilder collaborations in stunning fashion. Trauner’s sets weave the city of Paris in and out of the mise-en-scene, magically blending the real and the romantic. Franz Waxmen’s score, in turn, sends the romance soaring.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
A gambler and a prostitute go into business together in a grimy Western mining town as they cater to the vices of the morally bankrupt residents. But their success attracts notice by corporate interests that are too big and too ruthless for the pair to fight. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie star in this altered take on the American Western from famed director Robert Altman. Based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton.
From famed director Sidney Pollack comes this suspenseful adventure about Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), an American determined to rescue his employer’s kidnapped daughter from the Japanese mafia in Kyoto. Written by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne .
Private eye Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman) is dedicated to his job, but his dedication does not make him happy or powerful in his personal life, and his wife (Susan Clark) is cheating on him. Aging actress Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward) hires Harry to find her trust-funded daughter Delly (Melanie Griffith), distracting Harry from his marital problems as he tracks the lascivious runaway teen to Florida. In the Keys, Harry has an affair of his own with Paula (Jennifer Warren), and he succeeds in locating Delly, even as he learns that finding her is only the beginning of a much larger case. As the "accidental" deaths multiply, Harry discovers that everyone has his or her own motives and that he cannot do much to stem the tide of deep-seated depravity. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
Of Human Bondage
Laurence Harvey and the legendary Kim Novak star in this adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham classic of sexual obssession. Philip Carey (Harvey), a club-footed artist who decides to pursue a medical career after two unsuccessful years in Paris, meets waitress Mildred Rogers (Novak) and falls in love. However, Rogers takes advantage of Carey’s affections time and again as he finds himself unable or unwilling to resist her mercenary advances on his heart and spirit.
Wait Until Dark
A photographer’s blind wife, trapped in her New York apartment by an evil trio who are ready to murder to retrieve a heroin-filled doll hidden in her apartment, cleverly outwits them. Music by Henry Mancini. Based on the long running Broadway play by Frederick Knott.
Paroled criminal Max Dembo (Dustin Hoffman) is compelled to withstand the calculated cruelties of slimy parole officer Earl Frank (M. Emmet Walsh). The more Max tries to go straight, the more he is defeated by circumstance or hectored by the sadistic Frank. It becomes clear after a while that neither Max nor his fellow ex-cons will be able to survive looking for legitimate work. Max is too "far gone" as a human being to succeed at anything other than crime. He goes back to his old thieving ways, inveigling reformed crook Jerry Schue (Harry Dean Stanton) into helping him. A climactic "big caper" goes tragically awry, thanks in great part to the tragic flaws in Max’s personality. Based on a novel by Edward Bunker, Straight Time is possibly the most realistic cinematic probe into the sociopathic psyche of the career criminal. Famed theatrical director and instructor Ulu Grosbard directed, with an uncredited assist from star Hoffman; it was their second film together, after Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
Until the End of the World
Shot in fifteen cities, seven countries and across four continents, famed director Wim Wenders film is part love story, part dream quest, part Sci-Fi apocalypse, and, in the words of Wenders himself “the ultimate road movie.” From the palazzos of Venice to the wilds of the Australian outback, the film challenges and delights, thanks to its wondrous vision and equally wondrous ensemble, including William Hurt, Sam Neill and Max Von Sydow. The year is 1991 and it is a time of great sophistication in personal communications, travel and lifestyle. Video telephones, monitors and hand-held tracking machines make it possible to observe the movements of people anywhere on the globe, yet the hearts and minds of Earth’s inhabitants are more isolated than ever (sound familiar?). But a nuclear satellite has spun out of control and now the world waits in terror to see if, and where!, it will land.
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Bob Rafelson’s remake of 1946’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, with a screenplay by the award-winning playwright David Mamet, stars Jack Nicholson as Frank Chambers, a depression-era drifter who ends up at a diner run by Nick Papadakis (John Colicos), who offers Frank a job. Frank takes him up on the offer, but quickly begins a torrid affair with Nick’s wife Cora (Jessica Lange). The adulterous lovers soon hatch a plan to kill Nick and share in the insurance payout. The second big-screen adaptation of the James M. Cain novel, the film garnered a certain degree of notoriety for the explicit sex scenes between Lange and Nicholson.
Meeting in a sexually charged carny shooting contest, young lovers Bart (John Dall) and Annie (Peggy Cummins) are driven by impulses of violence and arousal they don’t fully understand. As their passions grows, the cordite barks and the two become bank robbers on the run, eluding roadblocks and roaring into movie history as one of the benchmark Film Noir works. Joseph H. Lewis directs this ferocious thriller that set the blueprint of killer couple flicks for years to come, buoyed by the electrifying performances of its two leads. Screenplay co-written by winner Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday, The Brave One) working during the Hollywood blacklist as Millard Kaufman.
“Even so, I must admire your skill. You are so gracefully insane,” says Anne Sexton’s poem “Elegy in the Classroom.” And throughout cinematic history we’ve seen countless characterizations of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the throws of psychosis, or those who have completely lost their footing in the world. These roles—from Mabel Longhetti in John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence to Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia—create poignant vehicles in which women can dive down into the depths of their own souls and bring forth some of the most incredible performances of their career.
This weekend, Woody Allen’s latest summer film Blue Jasmine premieres, and for the myriad reasons why this is one of his best films in years, it’s undeniable that Cate Blanchett and the completely bewitching performance she gives is by far the most enticing part. In my review of the film, I said noted that: In the way that you felt exhausted—both physically and emotionally—after seeing Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master—the actor’s stamina in the role a marvel to watch—I left my screening of Blue Jasmine feeling more shaky and distressed than when I entered, my own anxiety and emotions unraveled by Blanchett’s bewitching performance.
And as the best part of truly enjoying a film is to leave with that sort of strong physical reaction, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best unhinged female performances onscreen. From the terribly ill and psychologically possessed to those caught in the throws of everyday life’s small trauma, here are some of our favorites. Center your emotions and enjoy.
Gena Rowlands as Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence
A housewife amidst an emotional breakdown who loves deeply but cannot express properly the pain within her heart.
Béatrice Dalle as Betty Blue in Betty Blue
A volatile and highly-sexual woman who, after experiencing an emotional trauma, mentally unravels never to return.
Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge in Magnolia
A pill-popping housewife who finally realizes her misdoings on her husband’s deathbed.
Kirsten Dunst as Justine Melancholia
A manic depressive who finds herself finally at peace as the world comes to an end.
Harriet Andersson as Karin in Through a Glass Darkly
A young woman recently released from the mental hospital suffers from hysteria on vacation with her husband and father.
Naomi Watts as Betty Elms / Diane Selwyn in Mulholland Drive
A possessed and devastated woman has become the shell of a person struggling to exist outside of a nightmare.
Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream
A lonely and self-conscious mother thinks she’s found the way to regain youth and admiration and loses her mind in the pursuit.
Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet
An emotionally unstable and horrifically frightened woman at the center of a murder.
Bibi Andersson as Alma in Persona
A nurse put in charge of a mentally ill woman who finds their psyches melding into one.
Gena Rowlands as Myrtle Gordon in Opening Night
An aging actress has an emotional and existential crisis after realizing her own morality and is haunted by the ghost of youth.
Candace Hilligoss as Mary Henry in Carnival of Souls
After a traumatic accident a woman is beckonded and possessed by an abandoned carnival.
Elizabeth Taylor as Martha Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf
A mercurial aging woman in the throws of domestic turmoil.
Charlotte Gainsbourg as She in Antichrist
A distressed, grieving woman goes to the woods with her husband and succumbs to the evils of nature.
Margit Carstensen as Petra von Kant in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
An absolutely shattered, selfish woman hopelessly in love with a woman whose affections have waned.
Theresa Russell as Milena Flaherty in Bad Timing
A highly-emotional and volatile woman in love with a stoic man whose repressed urges push her away and lead her to a breakdown.
Julianne Moore as Carol White in Safe
An affluent housewives grows increasingly ill and falls prey to chemical sensitivity.
Laura Dern as Nikki Grace / Susan Blue in Inland Empire
The world becomes a surreal nightmare when an actress adopts a persona.
Juliette Binoche as Julie Vignon – de Courcy in Three Colors: Blue
A woman grieving the death of her husband and child.
Fueled by his own fears and desires, director Lars von Trier has always turned that which plagues him into art. His anxious mind forces him to create and as a result, we’re given the most psychologically penetrating and visceral films, each one touching a new part of the pain of human existence and the surrounding terror in our lives.
And back when Lars had just wrapped Melancholia and was in preparations for his next cinematic undertaking, he told Nils Thorsen that he was "researching nymphomania and Marquis de Safe," going on to say that he’s found that, "40 percent of all nymphomaniacs are also cutters…but again, it’s politically incorrect to speak of nymphomania, because the concept in itself is seen to indicate that we cannot relate to female sexuality. As I understand, many of them cannot obtain satisfaction, so they use sex like cutting because it is something within their control. I suppose they carry around a fear or pain they conceal beneath."
Text on black background: “Although the director on principle is of the opinionthat you should be able to show everything, he accepts, under protest, that thiswill not be possible here. He will therefore stay within the limits of the law andoccasionally use blurred images.
If there’s any young actor I trust would make a phenomenal writer and director, it’s Brady Corbet. Not only has be proven to be exceedingly talented and intelligent but at 24-years-old he’s already been able to study under the brilliant minds of Michael Haneke with Funny Games, Lars von Trier with Melancholia, Gregg Araki with Mysterious Skin, and Sean Durkin with Martha Marcy May Marlene. And with his latest film, Antonio Campos’ visceral and haunting psychological thriller Simon Killer—which premieres this Friday at IFC—he and Campos built the story together, collaborating to craft something deeply powerful—a perfect vehicle for their like-minded dark sensibility.
And off the heat of Simon Killer‘s premiere and last week’s announcement that Corbet would be starring alongside in Benecio del Toro in Paradise Lost, The Hollywood Reporter tells us that the dynamic actor is now set to write and direct a French-set period drama. But this is definitely more thrilling than shocking; no stranger to getting behind the camera, he directed the short "Protect You + Me" which won an honorable mention at Sundance in 2009 and also shares a co-writing credit on his upcoming film Sleepwalker.
What’s always intrigued me about Corbet was despite his charm, good looks, and talent he’s never been sucked into the typical Hollywood fare, always making wise decisions to take on interesting roles with international and acclaimed directors. And although little is known thus far about the film—save the fact that he will not be starring in it—it’s certainly intruiging. There’s something about the films he works on that all feel cut from the same cloth and when imagining a feature he would pen and direct, it’s difficult to not imagine this falling in the same vein. So needless to say, I’m excited.
Check back later this week for our interview Campos and Corbet on Simon Killer and watch his 10-minute chilling short below.
When a company like Magnolia picks up your film, you know you’re in good hands. In a time when seeing quality films in theaters is becoming less and less possible, companies like that are making art house accessable, getting real works of cinema to a mass audience—even if the viewing experience isn’t quite the same. When a film like Melancholia was released on VOD, it opened up the visibility of the film hugely for those people in towns sans independent theaters that would never be screening a Lars von Trier movie. However, it did still have a 145 screen theatrical run and honesty, watching it from home was not comparable to viewing it in a theater—that final crescendo so loud and magnificent the theater seemed to shake.
And a few months ago, it was announced that Magnolia would also be putting out Lars von Trier’s highly anticipated Nymphomaniac on VOD for everyone to take pleasure in—which will surely cause a stir amongst a more conservative crowd. But now, it’s been announced that Terrence Malick’s last poem of images and emotions To the Wonder—set to premiere on April 12th in theaters—will also be given a VOD date as well with the release. And, of course, as this is a Malick picture, the film is a total cinematically beautiful visual delight. From the sweeping plains of Oklahoma to the neon-lit Sonic drive-thru, Malick’s latest meditation on the pain of love will now be open to a wider audience. It’s a shame for those who don’t have an enormous television and high-quality sound system, but imagine the joy of knowing you can still take part in viewing something amazing somewhere in which you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to—watching this on your home television is certainly better than not viewing it at all.
When I spoke to director Ti West back in September, we got to chatting about the VOD model, to which he said:
The hardest thing about accepting VOD as a filmmaker is that you spend a year of your life meticulously crafting these technical aspects of a movie to be seen on a big screen, in the dark, with loud sounds. So when someone’s like, “Oh, I’m watched it on my phone…” The ulcers that I got over the last year trying to do this right and spending all the time and money to do, and then you watch it on your phone? It’s just really defeating. But paying to watch it on VOD supports the movie and supports the company releasing the movie, which makes it seem like it’s important. If the movies seems like a good investment, then more movies like that will get made, which is great for me. But if you live somewhere with an indie scene, then yeah, you should probably go see it in the theater because that’s how it was meant to be seen. That opportunity is getting smaller and smaller by the minute so you should embrace that.
So yes, see To the Wonder in a theater please—if you can. And if not, black your windows and nestle up with a cup of tea or whiskey and a good blanket.
Filmmakers create their work to be played large and loud, not to be watched on your laptop—the visceral difference between watching Lars von Trier’s doomsday ballet Melancholia in a theater, the floor and walls shaking from the enormous the sound of the picture, compared to the comfort of viewing it modestly in your living room. But with the landscape of Hollywood today and the state of distribution, more and more films are finding themselves available in your homes rather than your local cinemas. And although some of that initial spark may be lost, watching a film on VOD is certainly better than not watching a film at all.
The limited theatrical/VOD model allows a film to garner an audience where there typically would be none, expanding the entire scope of independent film altogether. And off the $3 million success of their release of Melancholia, Magnolia Pictures is saddling up with a $2 million bid for Lars’ psycho-erotic drama Nymphomanic. The film is set to premiere at Cannes this spring and even without a trailer or pre-screenings, the hype around the film has been enough to know that Magnolia shouldn’t be worried about bringing in an audience. We’ve seen stills from the picture and know the general gist of what the Charlotte Gainsbourg-led movie will portray, but it’s Lars so who really knows? With the subject matter and Lars’ notorious fondness for extremes, who knows what sort of rating this will even receive and who would otherwise get the chance to see it. Releasing the film on VOD will definitely make for an exciting and more expansive conversation on the film as it scatters into homes across America.
And with the model in effect for the past few years, filmmakers have been embracing this route—especially those like Ti West who told me back in Septmeber that:
It’s the sad nature of independent film and the age where we’re at theatrically. I’m here in Savannah, and there’s not an independent movie theater here that’s showing V/H/S. If I wanted to see The House of the Devil, tough shit; I’d have to drive five hours to Atlanta. My other option is to pay ten bucks and watch it, hopefully, on my 50-inch plasma TV with my $200 Best Buy sound system. It’s become conceivable that for not too much money, you can have a decent home watching experience. The hardest thing about accepting VOD as a filmmaker is that you spend a year of your life meticulously crafting these technical aspects of a movie to be seen on a big screen, in the dark, with loud sounds. So when someone’s like, “Oh, I’m watched it on my phone…” The ulcers that I got over the last year trying to do this right and spending all the time and money to do, and then you watch it on your phone? It’s just really defeating. But paying to watch it on VOD supports the movie and supports the company releasing the movie, which makes it seem like it’s important. If the movies seems like a good investment, then more movies like that will get made, which is great for me. But if you live somewhere with an indie scene, then yeah, you should probably go see it in the theater because that’s how it was meant to be seen. That opportunity is getting smaller and smaller by the minute so you should embrace that.
Without a wealth of knowledge on the project—save a brief synopsis and some photos of the cast looking appropriately somber—the follow up to Lars von Trier’s end of the world ballet Melancholia, the psycho-erotic drama Nymphomaniac, has topped my list of anticipated films for the next year. And today we’re given a first look, albiet slight. The still from the film features von Trier muse Charlotte Gainsbourg lying helpless, injured after being attacked in a snowy back alley. Nymphomaniac focuses on her character and unfolds in eight chapters, as Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Stacy Martin, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Connie Nielsen, Udo Kier and Jean-Marc Barr rotate in and out of the picture.
In an interview for Melancholia, Lars spoke about working on his next project and the influence of beginning to read again:
It’s an interesting point why the hell films have to be so stupid! Why do all lines have to be about something? A plot. when books have a red thread, they only brush it momentarily….Whereas a film is completely tied to the plot. Even a Tarkovsky film has nowhere near the same depth as a novel. It could be fun to take some of the novel’s qualities—even that they talk nineteen to the dozen, which is what I like in Dostoyevsky—and include that.
It’s interesting to think how this would factor into his own writing, translating his next film into something even more powerful. Moving onto talking directly about Nymphomaniac or his second title option, Shit in the Bedsore, he went onto say that, "But it’s no fun if they’re just humping away all the time…then it’ll just be a porn flick."
To go a little more in depth, Nymphomaniac is a "wild and poetic story of a woman’s erotic journey from birth to age 50 as told my the main character." Gainsbourg plays Joe, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac whon, on a cold winter’s evening, meets the old, charming bachelor Seligman (played by Skarsgard). After finding Joe in an alley, Seligman brings her home where he "cares for her wounds while asking her about her life." As he listens, the eight chapters unfold as she recounts the "lushly branched-out and multi-faceted story of her life, rich in associations, and interjecting incidents.