Saturday, February 21, 2009

This post is not (explicitly) about music

It could be possible to trace the roots of my Bjork obsession to seeing her dressed in this little number while watching the academy awards in 2000. The audacity to so boldly and openly mock the whole red-carpet glamour thing left quite an impression on me (throw in the video to 'Human Behavior,' and I was head over heels). Anyways, the occasion for this life-changing moment occurred do to the fact that Bjork was nominated for an oscar for original best song in the movie Dancer in the Dark, in which she starred. Naturally, I've had a longstanding curiosity to see said film for quite some time, and I finally did last night thanks to the wonders of Netflix 2 week free trial period (note to self, must cancel by March 6). So, how did Bjork fare in her career's only major movie role?

Bjork herself does quite well: she is very convincing and commands the audiences attention, a feat that she maintains throughout the film's interminable 140 minute run time. The movie itself, however, is nothing short of terrible. I don't even know where to begin in my criticism. The plot is utterly improbable, and much of the time it makes absolutely no sense. The first half of the film takes place at a turgid pace, and seems to be a very realist portrayal of the struggles of a Czech immigrant working a blue collar job in the US in the 1960s to pay for an operation that will save her son from going blind. She herself is almost blind, and is running out of time to earn the money she needs. This half of the movie was actually tolerable, if not boring and painfully depressing. However, the plot completely flies off the rails in the second half, landing Bjork's character Selma in the absurdly ridiculous situation of facing death by capital punishment. Sorry for not putting up any spoiler warnings, but I would strongly discourage anyone who was thinking about seeing this movie from doing so, and now that you know the end, you don't have to. Not only was the plotline patently absurd, but the characters tended towards being very thingly drawn. The aforementioned Selm is so unrealistically simple-minded that in the big court scene she refuses to give testimony that would save her because she 'made a promise' earlier in the film to a character who would become her persecuter. The movie's saving grace is the series of remarkable performances from its entire cast, in a perfect example of making lemonade from lemons. And what a cast it is: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, the guy who played Steve Buscemi's accomplice in Fargo, the lady who played the ravaged prostitute in American Psycho, and the lady who played the farmer's wife in Men In Black. Mostly, however,  I just felt bad for the 2 leading ladies for having to maintain their composure and dignity in this pile of revolting crap.

One more thing: the movie's musical sequences were awful. Were they supposed to be self-parody? I hope so. I still love Bjork with all my soul, but Lars Von Triers can suck a dick.

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