It’s been an atypically quiet time for Lars Von Trier: the provocative Danish filmmaker hasn’t released a movie since “Nymphomaniac” in 2014, which means that he’s mostly been out of the press, where his ever-quotable, often controversial mouth tends to get him as much attention as the movies. But Von Trier’s starting to emerge from the shadows: the director is midway through shooting his new film, serial-killer tale “The House That Jack Built” with Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman and Riley Keough.
Furthermore, he’s just given his first interview in a while to Danish magazine Soundvenue, to mark a poll of the greatest Danish movies of the 21st century, a poll that sees the director win five films in the Top 10, including “Dogville” in first place. The outlet was kind enough to send a translation of some highlights over to us, and being Von Trier, there are plenty of highlights…
The article sees the helmer reveal that he’s midway through shooting ‘Jack,’ though he says that the process is “not so fun anymore,” and that it’s likely to be controversial because of the level of violence. “It was very hard to cast,” he tells Soundvenue. “It’s really brave people who agreed. And I was surprised, because it’s such a violent film. And I thought for the Americans, it couldn’t be violent enough.”
Like an arthouse Sean Spicer, Von Trier also continues to keep bringing up Nazis, despite the controversial statements that saw him declared, temporarily, “persona non grata” at Cannes after a press conference for “Melancholia” there. “There is a segment,” he says of ‘Jack,’ “on icon makers. And you can say a lot of things about Hitler, but that he was… he was made a brand — not a good one, but well done from an advertorial world point of view.”
He also weighs in on some other filmmakers, saying that David Lynch and the Coens are about as far away from naturalism as his tastes go. “David Lynch is the limit of what kind of oddities I can handle. The Coen Brothers are also borderline for me. There has to be some kind of naturalism one way or the other.”
But the statement that’s likely to get the most attention is about his fellow countryman and provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn. The pair were friends once, but after the “Melancholia” remarks, Refn told the press, “he’s getting old and his comedy routine is a bit tiresome,” and then last year, the younger director described Von Trier as “over the hill,” and claimed he tried to sleep with Refn’s wife.
Unsurprisingly, Von Trier isn’t taking that lying down. “He could have saved me from eternal suffering,” he says about Refn in the “Melancholia” year. “He did a press conference the day after my press conference in Cannes, that year with Hitler. And he could have said ‘Lars is an idiot, and he makes bad films but he is not a Nazi, we’ve known each other I don’t know how long.’ If he said those words, then everything… it took me three years to escape the French police.”
As for Refn’s comments last year, the director said, “He is an opportunist in an unpleasant way by just pleasing the American part of the… I don’t know, I haven’t seen his films. Yeah, the first ‘Pusher’ I liked. Of course, he is talented.” Well, that’s…diplomatic?
Expect more from Von Trier, and maybe Refn too, at next year’s Cannes, the likely home of the debut of “The House That Jack Built.” In the meantime, check out more from Soundvenue’s celebration of Danish film at their site.