Charlotte Gainsbourg

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Misunderstood is a magnificently angry film. One can glean as much from the title, a potential evocation of everything from the Beats and Rebel Without a Cause to the sexually furious teens of Fat Girl and the New French Extremity. Asia Argento‘s third feature as director may not reference all of these different artistic moments, but it certainly fits into the larger cultural history of disaffected youth. Its adults are incompetent, acrimonious clowns whose negligence is only matched by their stupidity. Its children take after them, engaging in petty squabbles because they’ve likely never seen anyone behave any better. It is a film that sees right into the empty core of materialism and its discontents. All of this might be hard to take if it were not anchored by a defiant, cackling sense of humor and one of the most effective child protagonists of the last few years. Aria (Giulia Salerno) is a preteen trapped in the fluorescent excess of the 1980s and wedged between two sides of an incredibly unhealthy marriage. Her mother is a French expat pianist, played with a strung-out glamor by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Her father is a preening, absurdly superstitious actor struggling to be taken seriously, perfectly inhabited by Italian TV star Gabriel Garko. She also has two older half-sisters, one from each parent. No one seems to like her very much, and as the parents begin their shrieking, violent separation she is tossed back and forth like an unwanted pet.

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Pathe

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here. Jacky (Vincent Lacoste) is just like every other guy in the Kingdom of Bubunne. He’s uneducated, forced to wear a burka-like outfit every day and is entirely subservient to women. The ladies rule the land by force and tradition and make up the entirety of the military and government all the way up to the General who is in complete charge. Men can be performers of course, but their duty is in household chores meaning the best they can hope for is to have one of the many powerful women take their leash — take them as their own in marriage — and become the head of their own household. But Jacky’s dreams go beyond finding a strong and successful woman to settle down with as he has his eyes and heart set on the General’s daughter (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who’s next in line to rule the kingdom and currently searching for a husband. The competition is stiff (see pic above), but with love and a whore of a revolutionary uncle on his side he just might stand a chance. Jacky in the Kingdom of Women is, quite obviously, a satirical take on gender politics, and it hits its target more often than not with humor that runs the gamut from biting to broad to scatological. It’s as far from subtlety as it is from reality, but the gags still work throughout. Unfortunately, it […]

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Antichrist Fox

It’s hard to imagine a career as provocative and unrestrained as Lars von Trier’s taking a turn for even greater extremes. But with 2009’s Antichrist, that’s exactly what the Danish purveyor of human suffering accomplished, making a film that inspired massive walkouts, presumed on the surface to take seriously the notion of gender-inherent evil, and added a talking fox of doom to our cinematic language. The ambivalent reception (to put it as mildly as possible) of Antichrist at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival is best encapsulated by the two recognitions the film received: the Best Actress award for Charlotte Gainsbourg, and an “anti-award” recognizing the film as “the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world.” While shocking and offending audiences with portrayals of suffering women is hardly new territory for von Trier, Antichrist marked a turning point. Having abandoned for the foreseeable future his “USA: Land of Opportunities” trilogy, von Trier instead turned to a series of films less connected by continued themes, and instead threaded by the director’s open approach to filmmaking itself as a therapeutic process to combat his depression. After continuing with Melancholia, this unofficial trilogy of sorts sees its third entry with the much-discussed two-part Nymphomaniac, currently rolling out over March and April in theaters and on VOD. So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a director currently banned from the Cannes Film Festival.

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nymphomaniac film

It seems safe to assume that Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac is not a cinematic event with lots of cross-audience appeal. The epic sex drama (sexrama?) seems to appeal almost exclusively to hardcore cinephiles and, yes, fans of hardcore sex.  And it’s not just the explicit material that sets this one apart from the pack, it’s also its hefty runtime and split release. The Charlotte Gainsbourg-starring film clocks in at just over four hours, but the film has been sliced into two different volumes that will release in the U.S. at two different times, ensuring that fans will have to find two different time periods to decide, “hey, let’s head out for some emotionally draining sexual escapades at the theater, okay?” While the film opened across some parts of Europe late last year (including a handful of countries that saw the opening of both films on the same day, though in an abridged format) with dates continuing to bleed into January and February, it’s also been making the film festival rounds, most recently screening in Berlin and previously popping up as a secret screening at Sundance (only Volume 1 was played, and the late notice event went up against the world premiere of the The Raid 2, not exactly ideal conditions). The film is undoubtedly a conversation-starter, but its split is also the subject of serious chatter, principally centered on debating the merits of seeing the film at two different times and not just watching the thing in a complete manner. […]

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www.indiewire-4

Lars von Trier‘s very public love affair with our naughty parts rolls on, with its most recent cinematic actualization culminating in Nymphomaniac: Part One debuting at the Berlin Film Festival in February, and a release to general audiences March 21, 2014. The second volume, of what will combined come in at 4 1/2 hours, will arrive in theaters April 18, 2014. While von Trier has promised an excess of skin and debauch in the theatrical releases, audiences at the Berlinale will be treated with an extra explicit, 5 1/2 hour version of the tale of Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s Joe, and her  trials and travails as a lifelong nymphomaniac. Below are a healthy mix of not particularly shocking character portraits, some film stills, and the previously mentioned NSFW additions, of which topless ladies are prominently featured. If anyone feels robbed by the lack of penis inclusion in the collection, a quick Google Image Search of “naked mole rat” should scratch that itch. You’re welcome in advance.

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nymphomaniac_ver17

Titillation is to be expected. Perhaps some embarrassment, a blush, furtive glances. Revulsion comes second (and sometimes, not at all!). The recent marketing for Lars von Trier’s two-part Nymphomaniac hasn’t shied away from its subject matter in the slightest – the nudity, the orgasmic faces, and the bold tagline “FORGET ABOUT LOVE” are both bold and bruising – and the result is one of the most well-made and deeply disturbing marketing campaigns in recent memory. The excitement of seeing sex on the big screen is there, certainly, but so is the lingering sense that everything here is very, very wrong.  

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Purely in terms of trailers, the flashing images of the Nymphomaniac advertisement are shocking. As for the film itself, it’s a safe bet that Lars von Trier will have something unsettling, maybe even wince-worthy (see: Antichrist) in store, but there’s little chance it will be truly shocking to anyone who’s either had sex or seen it portrayed on screen. The images here are shocking, but only because of the alienating thrill of seeing them in a promo. However, replace the nudity and sex with explosions and gun blasts, and it’d be a mainstream action trailer. The production is most likely saving a lot of money shots for later, but this peek seems to point to newcomer Stacy Martin (as Young Joe) getting the brunt of the challenge. Then again, von Trier is known for putting his actresses through the ringer, so it’s doubtful anyone’s safe. At least not for work.

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nymphomaniac-poster-charlotte

In case you haven’t heard, Lars von Trier‘s new film Nymphomaniac is about sex. What, the title didn’t give it away?  The film made infamous by Shia LaBeouf‘s claims that he’s *stage whispers* actually having sex on camera, has been rolling along steadily on the NSFW path since von Trier announced the project. And with these fourteen positively orgasmic character posters just released, it doesn’t seem like that will be stopping any time soon.

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nympho

There are undoubtedly plenty of people who will see Lars Von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac for its artistic value, its frank look at sex and its continuation of Von Trier’s deeply disturbing (and very artsy) filmography. There are also plenty of people who will see it for one reason and one reason only: to see the craziness that is Shia LaBoeuf performing unspeakable acts onscreen.

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Nymphomaniac Trier

In the first clip from Nymphomaniac, Lars von Trier is offering some dynamite advice on how to pick up strange young men on trains for anonymous sex. I mean, it’s not von Trier directly offering tips into the camera, but it’s still pretty enticing. He’s also offered the titles of the eight chapters of the film: The Compleat Angler Jerome Mrs. H Delirium The Little Organ School The Eastern and The Western Church (The Silent Duck) The Mirror The Gun In this very brief tease from “The Compleat Angler,” von Trier offers his version of The Lady Vanishes…Into the Train Lavatory with a Boy:

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Nymphomaniac Trier

Since we’ve already seen Charlotte Gainsbourg go to crazy sexual lengths for the director, there’s little reason to think that Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac is as restrained as the new poster that Zentropa just released for the film. Either they were having a bit of fun or trying to appeal directly to a generation brought up by sexting, but either way, parentheses have never been sexier. It’s also unclear whether “coming soon” qualifies as an unavoidable pun for this particular project. Forget about love, and check it out for yourself:

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When it’s announced that experimental filmmaker Lars von Trier has a new project in the works, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to be in for something weird. When it’s announced that he’s making a movie called Nymphomaniac, then you have to consider the possibility that he might be going places that you’re not prepared to follow. What we know about the film so far is that it details the erotic experiences of a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) from her youth up to age 50, and the narrative framework of the film is a recounting of the events given to her husband (Stellan Skarsgard) from her perspective. Other than the confirmation of Gainsbourg and Skarsgård, not much is yet known about the cast that von Trier is looking to put together. And seeing as this film is set to be an anthology tale, one would imagine that the director is going to have to find a handful of actors to get the job done. Who could he possibly have his eye on for a movie about sexual experimentation? The involvement of Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe has been rumored from the start, but never confirmed. But what has been confirmed (via THR) is that the director is currently negotiating with Transformers vet Shia LaBeouf to take a role.

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Charlotte Gainsbourg Antichrist

So, here’s the official synopsis for Lars Von Trier‘s forthcoming Nymphomaniac which features Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard and an overtly suggestive title: “Nymphomaniac is the wild and poetic story of a woman’s erotic journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe. On a cold winter’s evening the old, charming bachelor, Seligman, finds Joe beaten up in an alleyway. He brings her home to his flat where he tends to her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe over the next 8 chapters recounts the lushly branched-out and multi faceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting incidents.” Associations? Interjecting Incidents? Chapters? Hot damn. We all need a cold shower right? The fascinating thing about the project is that…wait. From birth? It traces her erotic journey “from birth”?? Is Von Trier getting into Serbian Film territory? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope Gainsbourg gets more recognition for her fearlessness in working with the man. This synopsis may not be as salacious as the title, but it’s knowing that he’s already made her furiously masturbate in a forest clearing while trying to harm her husband that makes the anticipation of what he might make the actress do this time around disturbingly exciting. She’s courageous beyond measure.

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Anyone who saw the disturbing things actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was willing to do in Antichrist to get director Lars von Trier’s vision up on the screen knows that she isn’t a shy woman. But it turns out we may have just explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how far she will go for her art. Variety is reporting that Gainsbourg is in talks, once again, to star in a von Trier film, and this one will be his look at the sexual development of a woman from birth to age fifty, called Nymphomaniac. Von Trier’s upcoming erotic epic is said to be broken up into eight chapters and will be filmed with two different cuts in mind, a more softcore version to get wider distribution, and a hardcore version that will be made, well, just because I guess. When this project was first announced, von Trier explained his approach to Entertainment Weekly by saying, “As a cultural radical I can’t make a film about the sexual evolution of a woman from zero to 50 without showing penetration. I know it’s something very European. However, that doesn’t mean it will be a porn film. It principally it is a film with a lot of sex in it and also a lot of philosophy.”

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The last time Lars von Trier explored a relationship in decay, the divisive auteur could not have been more in your face. While parts of Antichrist were labeled as pure button-pushing, it was button-pushing in the greatest way possible. The director made a 2-hour endurance test, a great one at that. His latest, Melancholia, is not an endurance test. Right from the beginning prologue, which paints a picture of events to come, von Trier sucks one into his world of emotional and cynical chaos. The whole film, despite von Trier’s bombastic filmmaking nature, is surprisingly grounded. This isn’t about the destruction of earth, but of these characters. The apocalypse is only used to symbolize all of the characters’ emotional deterioration.

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After the crucible of Antichrist, Melancholia is the closest thing to a palette cleanser that Lars von Trier is capable of producing. The problem is that a palette cleanser is not what anyone should want from the director who normally pushes the envelope to the point where it can’t even be called an envelope anymore. This is von Trier at his least challenging. The film consists of two halves that almost make a whole. They both focus on a pair of sisters — the first giving more attention to depressive Justine (Kirsten Dunst) on her wedding night, the second to the troubled mother and wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) on the eve of the earth coming into contact with another planet. However, more than just characters, the pair act more as a platform for delivering archetypes, ideas and more than a bit of visual poetics.

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22 films in 11 days. One walk-out. One mighty fine steak. Such is the story of this writer’s coverage of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and now that Robert De Niro and his panel of the great and the good of world filmmaking have sat down over coffee and cheese to decide the real winners, I’d like to offer my own thoughts on who I would have liked to see win. This is all based on my personal experiences of the films, and you might notice the categories don’t match up to the split competitions of the festival itself, but I’m in charge here, and I can do what the flaming hell I want. So here we go with the best parts of the 64th Cannes Film Festival…

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Despite assertions that I would never consciously put myself through the draining experience of watching one of his films again, this morning saw the first screening of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, a film about the end of the world, as well as one that presents the triumph of melancholia, or the feeling that everything we know is hollow. So, now the credits have rolled, the world has ended and again, I find myself challenged by the dichotomy of a film that consciously aims to jar and jolt, rather than be pleasurable (is there any other way for this director though?). Like Malick’s The Tree of Life, Melancholia is experiential cinema, a film that has limited commercial appeal aside from the names attached to it, that is as much a manifestation of Von Trier as an artist as it is a film in its own right, and long after this film festival is done, it will be those two films that will command the most debate, side-by-side. Both are endurance tests, but Melancholia is something entirely different to that other film, even though both will no doubt split the festival. Is it successful? Incredibly so. Though it’s certainly not an enjoyable experience. But at the end of the day, that’s exactly what the infamous director set out to achieve.

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The good news is that Dunst just scored the leading role for an iconic director. The bad news is that he’s known for torturing his lead actresses.

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ff-antichrist

Lars von Trier’s new film is about a dysfunctional couple.

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published: 12.17.2014
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