On one level, a self-aware meta-narrative about screenwriting & the artificial nature of cinema. On another, a film about the decline of post-war Europe, where references to the black death evoke everything from World War II, to Capitalism, to the outbreak of AIDS. Finally, a film about Trier's own perspective as a latent idealist proliferating the kind of bleak nihilism he's supposedly fighting against. Brilliant.
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Well there goes my "Remember that time Lars Von Trier had a sense of humour?" joke... Actually, legitimately, funny (and not even at the expense of humanity) and only a little bit facetious. The black and white cinematography is pretty damn magnificent. And the closing song is hilarious. Who'd've guessed?
Von Trier's b&w hybrid of thriller, horror film and behind the scenes picture is hardly successful as any of the above. Was the sole entry in his filmography I hadn't seen and probably my least favourite. Takes a long time in getting to where its going with only the final reel really having any memorable moments. Feels very much like a first feature which it certainly isn't (the masterful 'Element of Crime' was).
Probably the only Von Trier film I didn't really like. I mean it was ok, but the story felt too amateurish, focused more on trying to be clever than anything else. Which is a shame cause the b&w cinematography was astounding and it was really fun to see Von Trier act, playing himself. A lot of people here are mentioning this but it wasn't nearly as good as The Element Crime was, which is strange. Glad I saw it.
This structure laid bare Trier's directorial method of putting in whatever comes into his mind: the film in the film was as kitch as you can get, and the ending was also a cheap-but-forceful gore fest. I really liked the closing song with funny lyrics and Tannhäuser melodies in synth pop. But the greatest part was how Lars and Niels acted out sublimating a shitty situation into their work.
The ideas are less sophisticated than his incredibly ambitious debut, which is not a bad thing at all since I really liked this combination of the buddy comedy and horror. There is an enjoyable film-student feel to it with the usual cleverness, humor and strange stylistic choices. The performances by Von Trier and Vorsel playing themselves are compelling and definitely worth mentioning.