Nymphomaniac I & II: Magical Sadism, Sex Noir And Porn For Eggheads

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More over, Blue Is The Warmest Color. In a brazen mix and match of genres and genitals, the notorious Danish bad boy of cinema Lars von Trier would seem to be psychoanalyzing himself in this more tedious than titillating, sleazy when not intellectually stuffy showdown between the sex addict in question and her celibate savior recluse.

And while screen porn has tended to bid for a pass with the censors by dressing up its bare behinds metaphorically in moralistic taglines and scriptural platitudes, Trier blankets his own ensemble backsides. That is, with the pretentious chatter arthouse stamp of approval.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is Joe, the somewhat gender-ambivalent muse standing in for Trier’s own hangups as perhaps simultaneously appetite driven and obsessively burrowing into the seductive female mysteries that tantalize him. And don’t be surprised if his shrink turns up to demand a screenplay credit.

And not to forget that Trier abandoned his pregnant wife for their young babysitter – a scenario that might be said to sort of play out in Nymphomaniac II, when the androgynous Joe abandons her own infant for sexual pursuits. And is subsequently punished by her scorned spouse (Shia LaBeouf) and his new post-adolescent prey – who is in fact two timing the original extra-marital two timer, Joe. Don’t ask.

Meanwhile, or for the four hour ensuing duration to be precise, strictly auto-erotic hermit Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), retrieves Joe’s battered body from an alley and proceeds to nurse her back to health. While existential matters periodically intervene, related to primary conscious notions we don’t share with the animal kingdom. And not just awareness of mortality, but the possibility however precarious, of human ethics and conscience as well. And as the asexual looking, scrawny storyteller sips tea from a very large bowl. And Joe in turn seems to offer as compensation a litany of her lifetime of sordid sexual adventures precipitated in childhood, evidently of far greater interest to the erotically deprived eager bookworm, than anybody in the audience. Not at all a good sign.

Identity issues are nothing new for Trier, whether on screen or the real world. And as a child raised by a Jewish father and communist mother, the latter confessing on her deathbed to Trier that his real secret father was her nazi employer, in her quest for a man with an “artistic” gene pool. And apparently, an illustrious family of Danish composers including Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann and Niels Viggo Bentzon. And when subsequently searching for his biological father, Trier was referred by the elusive 90 year old, to his lawyers instead.

Then there’s the scandal that played out at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for Trier’s award winning Melancholia. When he took to the stage and irrelevant to the conversation in progress, rambled on about Hitler not being such a bad guy and his admiration in some ways for him. Which led to the filmmaker being booted and banned from Cannes, and his own subsequent retraction of a sort of apologetic retraction. And a potential grudge alert against the world, in the manner in which he makes his movies.

Needless to say, Nymphomaniac whether One or Two, is sure to proceed as an ordeal for the perverted protagonist of this perhaps closet biopic, and the audience alike. Counting scientifically delineated foreplay, alphabetized lovers, far-fetched female pubescent pickup lines, math and sex, proper cake forks, Jewish pastry, the hunt for men in supermarkets, and a contemplation of all the foreskins in the world, stretching from here to Mars and back again. Or, dangling the likes of Pythagorean theorem, Bach, Poe, The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.