One of my big resolutions for 2014 (and there are several) is to keep up with this blog, comprehensive exams be damned. The only problem, of course, is that I won’t be able to pick up a novel for at least 3 months, until said exams are comfortably in the rearview mirror of my academic career (such as it is). That leaves me with two choices: to review novels I’ve read in the past year and just didn’t have the time to write about; and to talk about other forms of creative media, like film and TV. (But really just film, because the only shows I follow are Scandal, Girls and The Newsroom, and God knows others have written more than enough on all three.) So this time, I’m going with Option Two.
My SO and I were in France over the Christmas holiday and, while visiting one of his old friends in Bordeaux, we saw a movie that’s slated for release in the US in March 2014—one that’s garnered quite a bit of . . . erotic intrigue already, in the way that borderline-pornographic films made by controversial Danish directors eager to wag fingers at the “prudishness” of Western culture are wont to do. Nymphomaniac, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf and Stellan Skarsgård, will be unveiled in two volumes, each a little more than 2 hours long, Kill Bill-style.* The uncut version is something like five-and-a-half-hours long, and parts of it were apparently unable to make it past the decency sensors of even countries like France. Considering that I thought von Trier’s penultimate film, Melancholia, was substantially less interesting than watching paint dry, I didn’t have high hopes for Nymphomaniac, but—quelle surprise—I can’t stop thinking about it, a week after the fact. It’s a fascinating movie, but, and this is an important caveat, also utterly ridiculous. I shall elucidate. Continue reading