Kirsten Dunst

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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What is Movie News After Dark? Usually it’s a nightly column that does the news. But tonight it’s about art, writing that will make you think, talking horses and Kirsten Dunst. If you can’t handle that, well then you get slapped. We begin this evening with the art of Drew Struzan in the form of this Rambo drawing featured on AICN by Eric Vespe. It’s part of a preview of the new Struzan art book that I will be buying as soon as possible, as it released today.

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Mere hours after the announcement that Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia was hitting Fantastic Fest come September (similarly, also mere hours after I rifled through my junk drawer in hopes that it held both enough money and time to get me to Austin for the fest), the official U.S. poster for the film has been released, along with news of the film’s inevitable VOD release. The film will hit theaters on November 11 in a limited release, but it will be available on VOD come October 7. Once Magnolia picked up the Palme d’Or nominee, it was pretty clear that the film would likely hit VOD first, as the distributor has made it their modus operandi to go the VOD route pre-theatrical release. The film did have a small release last month at an out of the way theater in Los Angeles County, so it remains eligible come award season.

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This year at Cannes was a year of firsts. It was a first for FSR to cover it (a situation that the larger press seemed to ignore entirely), but it was also the first time in nearly two decades that an American actress took home the Best Actress Award (known as the Prix d’interprétation féminine if you’re nasty). Kirsten Dunst took home the top acting prize for her performance in Melancholia despite its director Lars Von Trier being permanently (for the foreseeable future) kicked out of the festival. From 1985 to 1993, there was a solid run of American actresses earning the award. In that 9-year span, Americans chalked up 5 wins: Cher, Barbara Hershey twice, Meryl Streep and Holly Hunter. Then, nothing. Until now. On top of that, Tree of Life became the first American film since Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 to win the Palme d’Or. Unfortunate rhymes aside, that’s a pretty stirring achievement (although it’s not nearly as significant as Dunst’s streak-ending win considering that 3 other American films (Pulp Fiction, Elephant, and Michael Moore’s documentary) won the Golden Palm in the same time-frame between American actress wins). However, it is timely. This information shouldn’t be merely to support a sort of nationalistic pride, but also to support cinematic pride in general. The tone of the conversation in this country is often negative because there’s an industry out there that is obsessed with bottom lines and not nearly as concerned about quality or storytelling. However, these wins (at […]

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Wouldn’t you bloody well know it. Before the festival was tarnished by the Von Trier/Nazi scandal, all anyone seemed interested in talking about was the way Terrence Malick‘s latest had split the audiences in attendance almost straight down the middle. Not only that, The Tree of Life also inspired a rejuvenated debate over the nature of film, and the sometimes opposing ideals of entertainment and art. I ended my review stating that your reception of the film would depend entirely on what you valued more in your film-making experience, and it seems we now know that the Jury values the art of something over its entertainment value. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the film was already chosen before even the first minutes of footage rolled. Held up to the light, The Tree of Life looks exactly like a Cannes film, something eccentric enough, with grand enough aspirations and some sort of importance that extends beyond what we can actually see. And that troubles me somewhat: should a film win because it fits the artistic manifesto of the festival, or should it win on quality? Robert DeNiro‘s comment after the decision answers precisely that: It seemed to have the size, the importance, the tension to fit the prize. Not, “it was fantastic,” not “it moved me,” but it fit the bill.

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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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spiderman4-header

Columbia Pictures and the IMAX Corporation are press releasing this morning, letting us know that they will be releasing Spider-Man 4 on May 5, 2011 on the biggest of the big screen formats.

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Spider-Man 4 Signs a Pulitzer Winning Writer

Not even alliteration could save Spider-Man 3, but could a Pulitzer Prize winner swing in and save the day for the Spider-Man franchise? Columbia Pictures thinks so.

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Five Ways to Save Spider-Man 4 and 5

I know we don’t like thinking about Spider-Man much these days. That third movie truly put a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. But with that in mind, I think we need to look at some things that could be positive about Spider-Man sequels.

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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

There’s a lot of box-office powerhouses present in How To Lose Friends and Alienate People–Jeff Bridges, Megan Fox, Kirsten Dunst, and Danny Huston, all play roles in a film that is sending up the superficiality of Hollywood, and the self-aware movie-makers who constantly pat themselves on the back.

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Bring It On: Again?

This scoop is about something so pointless you just have to read it to find out. It involves Cheerleaders…

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Megan Fox in How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

There is something about Megan Fox that continues to keep her in our headlines — it appears as if she has become self aware, almost like SkyNet, only hotter.

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Spider-Man

After the critical debacle that was Spider-Man 3 and the eye-opening masterpiece that is The Dark Knight, does anyone really care to see a fourth Spider-Man movie with the same creative team behind it? How about a fifth?

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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