Nymphomaniac Volume I & Volume II Is the Pick of the Week

I suppose every film lover keeps some sort of list of films they feel they should watch at some point. Mine is an ever increasingly growing and perpetually changing list. The films I watch from that list are chosen from a variety of factors ranging from free time to accessibility to mood. There are quite a few films that I very much want to watch but that I feel like I have to be in a certain head space to really appreciate.

There are some directors whose work often falls into this category. I generally love the films of Ingmar Bergman but his movies are so heady and intellectual that I can only watch them when I know I won’t be interrupted and when I can fully give myself over to the experience of taking in the entire film.

Lars von Trier is a director who I continue to hear good things about and whose films look utterly fascinating and yet I’ve never watched a one. They all just seem so difficult to digest that I never force myself to watch. I know I should, I even think I’d enjoy the experience. All of his films are on that list of mine, wanting to be watched. But somehow I keep putting it off.

Much like most of his films, this latest one has had its fair share of controversy. Most of this surrounds the use of unsimulated sex. The fact that the film stars some pretty big names like Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, and Willem Dafoe created quite a bit of excitement. In fact, von Trier let the actors simulate the sex and then digitally superimposed the genitals of porn stars actually doing the deed.

To make things more confusing originally the film had a 5-and-1/2-hour run time, but has since been cut down (without the director’s involvement) into two films with a total time of four hours. This is what we are getting in this release. There are as of yet no plans to release the complete uncut version.

All of which brings me back to my list. I very much want to give Lars von Trier his due. He’s made too many critically acclaimed films and been far too controversial a figure for me to not check out his films. I’m not sure Nymphomaniac is really the best starting place, especially considering how much has been cut out, and yet it seems as good a place as any. Let’s just hope I have the stamina.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Bad Words: Jason Bateman’s directorial debut stars himself as a 40-year-old male who uses a loophole to enter an 8th-grade spelling bee. The reviews have mostly been good, and I rather like Bateman so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Jodorowsky’s Dune: Director Alejandro Jodorowsky once tried to make a movie out of Frank Herbert’s much loved sci-fi novel Dune. He failed. Director Frank Pavich made a documentary out of that failure. I very much enjoyed a similar documentary entitled Lost In La Mancha, which was a failed attempt to make a movie out of Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam. I know less about Jodorowsky than I do Gilliam but I’m totally on board with this.

Mat Brewster

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