Lars von Trier's Antichrist (trailer here) is turning out to be this year's Irreversible — the movie you hate or love, or love to hate, or hate loving because you love what it hates showing you so lovingly in such hateful detail.
[... I pause for a moment while contemplating the fact that I just typed all that with a straight face.]
I'm really not sure what to make of von Trier. I've seen Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark, and could not bring myself to write coherent reviews of either of them. They were both masterfully made — "well-made" has become one of those praising with faint damnation type of remarks — but they were so determined to get an emotional reaction, any reaction, that they didn't care if the reaction was aimed at the movie, at von Trier, at whatever. I resented that, because under von Trier's spurious emotional attacks I suspected there were some pretty good movies.
There was also a good deal of the M word, misogyny, being thrown around. This I find hard to swallow, if only because I think the most unapologetically misogynist films I've seen are the ones that have contempt for women while pretending not to — Sex and the City, or The Devil Wears Prada, are two of the big contenders. (Something tells me I'm going to end up writing an essay about that before too long.)
I'm faintly surprised, then, that I'm looking forward to Antichrist. Not because I'm a masochist and enjoy subjecting myself to emotional violence, but because for all his flaws von Trier is at least following his own muse even if it leads him clean off a cliff. I'd rather see someone fail spectacularly than play it safe ... as long as they don't use that as an excuse to turn in inferior work.