May 23, 2007
The Boss of It All."Given its overwhelming density of execution, it's strange that some have considered Lars Von Trier's new film a light-hearted experience," writes Ed Gonzalez in Slant. "Fuck me if I know what Boss of It All has to say about capitalism in its part of Europe or the relationship between Danish and Icelandic persons, but I do know its mouth-agape sense of comic brinkmanship puts it in the league of The Office." "As its farcical situations fall into place, The Boss of It All turns out to have quite a lot to say, actually, about loyalty, the temptation of the almighty dollar, and corporate buck-passing as a kind of Olympic sport," writes Scott Foundas in the Voice. "It also feels like a revealing checkup on its creator's career." Updated through 5/27. "The movie is organized around a structural joke," Stephen Holden reminds us in the New York Times. "It uses a new camera technique called Automavision, whose purpose is to limit human control over cinematography. Shots that begin from a fixed camera position are randomly tilted, angled and zoomed by a computer. A character may suddenly disappear from the frame. The technique is a metaphor for the movie's vision of a corporate culture running amok in its own insane rules." "Like an off-the-cuff sketch, a dense tangle of provocative ideas is there, but the execution is wanting," finds Nicolas Rapold in the L Magazine. Updates: Yes, it's an "office comedy," concurs Michael Joshua Rowin at Stop Smiling. "What doesn't come through in a brief description is just how unfunny it is. Von Trier's strength is as a melodramatic ironist - even when ambitious, shoot-for-the-rafters projects like Dancer in the Dark go horribly awry, a ferocious instinct for boundary-pushing entertainment comes through. The Boss of It All, however conceptually interesting, is a limp, dreary affair." "[T]he one last saving grace of this only marginally entertaining film is its refusal to avail itself of an ironically heroic sentimentality set up by its own narrative trajectory," writes Andrew Sarris in the New York Observer. "Mr von Trier is ultimately too much the cynic and pessimist to permit a false feel-good ending. And for that, at least, I respect him." Nick Dawson talks with the director for Filmmaker. What's more: "Von Trier also gave Filmmaker an exclusive picture showing his response to overhyped reports in the media that depression has all but ended his film career." Updates, 5/24: "The Boss of it All is a comedy, and very successful in that regard," writes Eric Kohn in the New York Press. "But it also perceptively identifies elements of loneliness and futility in daily existence, giving the plot its scathing edge. 'Although you can see my reflection, this film won't be worth a moment's reflection,' Von Trier playfully claims as his camera swoops by a window, briefly revealing his face. It's less a lie than a challenge." R Emmet Sweeney at the Reeler: "The comic invention never flags, with superb bits that unveil the deep-seated hatred between Icelanders and Danes, the persuasive power of syrupy melodrama and the guilt-free pleasure of passing the buck (all the way to the absurdist peak of the 'boss of the boss of it all')." Update, 5/25: "Somehow, the sadism and icy alienation, which can seem contrived and manipulative in Von Trier's tragedies, feels perfectly natural when set in an absurd corporate world," notes Nerve's Bilge Ebiri. Update, 5/26: Daniel Kasman: "In what is probably the film's most meta-comedic move as well as its most brutal and inevitable skewering of capitalism, the abstraction of sets and props of von Trier's last two movies has been transposed to the abstraction of corporate life: the location may be real, the lighting natural, but what these people are talking about, what they are doing, is as abstract and undefined as any of the chalk outline gardens and see-through houses of Dogville." Update, 5/27: Caryn James argues in the New York Times that Boss "puts Mr von Trier in a great tradition of directors who have been freed artistically by making little movies at strategic points in their careers, films that paradoxically often turn out to be better than their overtly ambitious, budget-bloated works."
Posted by dwhudson at May 23, 2007 1:55 AM