NYMPHOMANIAC (Lars von Trier, 2014): 7.7
[Review of 4 hour cut, split in two]
Now that I’ve seen the whole thing I can say how wonderful this film started, with a sort of wit and zest that proves von Trier was working at his most earnest… and best. He also lets himself interject, seriously question his purpose, his tendencies, his obsessions. And while it suffers a bit of a comedown in the second half as Joe starts to unravel, the film still has a certain amount of verve to it, never degrading itself to misery porn. No, Joe is a real character he has on his hands, and fortunately, he never really abandons the character just so he can show us some REAL fucked up shit. That is, von Trier seems to be working out some real tough stuff with a sense of humor and cleverness that a man of his obvious intellect and talent worked hard to put into an accomplished film. And then he blows it with a stinker of an ending that feels like a joke. I’m sure he loves his ending and I’m sure it tickles him to death that he told a 4 hour joke with such a punchline, but man, it really feels like he just didn’t trust himself to land this movie so he backed out with a half assed, juvenile raspberry to the audience. Oh well.
JOE (David Gordon Green, 2014): 8.2
There was a movie a couple years ago about a kid trying to make it on their own amid deplorable conditions, an abusive father, and rampant alcohol abuse. That movie was called BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and it tried to depict such circumstances and the community therein as purer, more earnest, and more soulful than we bougie do-gooders could ever be in our comfortable suburban dwellings. JOE says fuck that bullshit. People are people and whether they are a product of their apocalyptically run-down environment or are struggling to rise ever so slightly above it, they will be weak, they will be strong, they will be good, they will be evil, they will do the best they can, they will fail. David Gordon Green and his outstanding cast does so well in depicting this backwater southern town as a sort of purgatory, a place that is warped by everyone’s punishment they think they deserve. Yet, there are those that don’t deserve to be down there. JOE might be about the opposing forces in this place, between those who wish to drag others down with them into the muck and those who can muster the strength to let the innocent stand on their shoulders while they drown.