Archive for May 31st, 2010



**** ½


By Bob Clark


When you get right down to it, good episodic-drama has very little to do with storytelling as an ends to itself. The best long-form multi-part narratives all certainly manage to tell satisfying tales with their own beginnings, middles and ends, surely enough, but simply telling those tales is never really the raison d’artre for the most compelling case histories of the medium. Episodic narrative has less to do with traditional storytelling, and more to do with providing variations on a theme, and the best examples tend to be the ones which provide the widest possible array of different variations on their particular premise while also wrapping them up in some kind of emotionally rewarding framework. Whether it be Boccaccio and Chaucer (who provided countless variations upon the themes of medieval, baudy love within the storytelling frame-tales of The Decameron and the Canterbury Tales), filmmaker George Lucas (whose repetition of visuals, dialogue and set-pieces throughout the Star Wars series turned those films into a space-opera full of its own cinematic leit-motifs) or cartoonist Chuck Jones (who provided Wile E. Coyote countless of Rube Goldberg-esque methods for how not to catch a Road Runner) storytellers depend upon patterns and variation to keep their enterprises fresh and engaging.


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by Allan Fish

(Denmark/France 2009 104m) DVD1/2

Paradise nuked

p  Meta Louise Foldager  d/w  Lars Von Trier  ph  Anthony Dod Mantle  ed  Anders Refn  art  Karl Juliusson

Willem Dafoe (husband), Charlotte Gainsbourg (wife),

Aside from the mild divertissement of The Boss of It All, Lars Von Trier had been quiet since Manderlay.  The criticism he received for that film, verging on savage vitriol, cannot help but have contributed to the depression into which he sank.  Antichrist is a return to the no-holds-barred filmmaking of Breaking the Waves and The Idiots, films to tear audiences in half and split critics so cleanly down the middle as to seem like Toshiro Mifune had sliced them asunder with his katana.  One look at the poster, at the opening credits, fills one with foreboding.  Some might compare it to The Blair Witch Project and there are similarities, but it’s the structure of the final ‘T’ in the title that illuminates most, formed as it is by an Egyptian ankh; life and death instantly seen to be in the balance.

            A married couple are plunged into despair when, whilst they make love, their small son is killed when he plummets to his death climbing guilelessly out of a window.  The husband comes to terms with it in time, helped by rationalising the event through his being a trained therapist, but his wife winds up spending over a month in hospital.  They return home, but quickly decide to go to a woodland shack which they call Eden and to which the wife had gone with their son the previous summer with the intent of finally finishing a thesis that in the end remained unfinished.  Once there, the husband tries to help his wife, but she quickly descends into alarming madness and sheer sadism.  (more…)

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