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3 items from 2007


The Boss of It All

15 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Always full of surprises, Lars von Trier moves far from the didactic, this-is-good-for-you medicine of Manderlay and Dogville to a seemingly light comedy, The Boss of It All. Naturally, things are not that simple when dealing with one of Dogma's founding members. In this film, he is, among other things, experimenting with a new (and dubious) camera system; taking shots at pretentious actors (after having worked with and clashed with stars like Nicole Kidman); passing sly moral judgments on globalization; and even having fun with Icelanders.

The film does mark a return to his roots, of sorts. It is in Danish with mostly Danish actors, and eschews allegory for what is remarkably close to screwball comedy. It is a refreshing change, whatever you call it, and marks his most accessible work in years. It has arrived in such an off-hand manner in the U.S. that it may escape the notice of all but the most ardent art house lovers. Too bad. It is certainly a whole lot more enjoyable than Manderlay, which felt like a trip to the dentist.

Von Trier begins with his camera tracking up the side of a soulless office building. His reflection alongside the camera is seen in the windows. Yes, a strange start to a movie, he says, but no worries: This is a comedy and harmless as such. No preaching or swaying of opinion. "This film won't cause you more than a moment's reflection," he concludes.

This fish-out-of-water comedy begins with the fact that Ravn (Peter Gantzler), a longtime director and secret owner of an IT company, is a wuss, so much so that he has created a nonexistent and perpetually absent "boss of it all" to make the unpopular decisions he is afraid to announce to his staff himself. But when he wants to sell the company to a disgruntled Icelander (director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson) -- who despises Danes in the first place -- Ravn suddenly needs that boss to exist, if only to give him the power of attorney to sign papers.

He hires an out-of-work actor, Kristoffer (Jens Albinus). But Kristoffer's line readings are so overdone at the key meeting, the Icelander storms out and demands Kristoffer come to the next meeting, power of attorney be damned. When Kristoffer introduces himself to employees, Ravn has no choice but to let the actor continue in the role for a week.

The problem is the boss of it all is different things to different people, according to the misinformation supplied by Ravn. To one woman he is gay. To another he has proposed marriage. One man, upon meeting him, slugs him. Another woman screams every time the copying machine springs to life.

In a series of skit-like scenes, Kristoffer must sort out the "back story" of his character. As he does so, he comes to like the senior employees and to feel that Ravn may be cheating them.

The comic complications grow quite wonderfully silly, and are aided by the deadpan deliveries of most of the actors. Even better, most of the film takes place in an arid office building bathed in a Nordic gray-green light, which couldn't look more awful.

Of course, the awful look may have something to do with von Trier's new whiz-bang camera system. This film, you understand, was not shot by a cinematographer. No, it was shot by Automavision, which hands control of the camera to a computer program.

This is, media notes explain, "a principle for shooting film developed with the intention of limiting human influence by inviting chance in from the cold." Which explains the odd framings, though not the internal jump cuts within scenes making everything seem unsettled and nervous.

Let's just say the movie is a success but the experiment a failure.

THE BOSS OF IT ALL

IFC First Take

A Zentrope Entertainment 21/Memfis Film International/Slot Machine/Lucky Red production

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Lars von Trier

Producers: Meta Louise Foldager, Vibeke Windelov, Signe Jensen

Executive producers: Lene Borglum, Peter Albaek

Director of photography: Automavision

Production designer: Simone Grau

Costume designer: Manon Rasmussen

Editor: Molly M. Stensgaard

Cast:

Kristoffer: Jens Albinus

Ravn: Peter Gantzler

Lise: Iben Hjejle

Nalle: Henrik Prip

Heidi A.: Mia Lyhne

Gorm: Casper Christensen

Mette: Louise Mieritz

Spencer: Jean-Marc Barr

Kisser: Sofie Grabol

Finnur: Fridrick Thor Fredriksson

Running time -- 98 minutes

No MPAA rating

»

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Foreign Spotlight: The Boss Of it All

24 May 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Lars Von Trier is a polarizing director who makes polarizing films.  It seems critics and audiences either love or hate Mr. Von Trier as a director and either love or hate the films he directs. Known for his quirky, phobia-induced behavior, his name brings pretensions to any film he releases.  His career has gone through several phases.  He debuted with his hypnotic, technically proficient Europa trilogy (The Element of Crime, Epidemic and Zentropa) which were filmed with tight pre-planned shots and obscure lighting schemas. Then he produced the Lynchian-inspired hospital drama The Kingdom (remade later by NBC with Steven King taking dubious amounts of credit). While filming the The Kingdom he took the camera off the cranes and jib-arms, utilizing a strictly hand-held format with final result looking quite verite.  Inspired by this experience he went on to find controversial dogma95 movement and dropped a trilogy of films (The Idiots, »

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The Boss of It All

23 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Palm Springs International Film Festival

PALM SPRINGS -- Taking a break between the second and third installments of his "USA: Land of Opportunities" trilogy, Lars von Trier goes for the jocular in "The Boss of It All", a slight and sprightly bit of fun that's not, however, without teeth. The Danish writer-director concocts a sort of Scandi "Office", gathering an able and willing ensemble for what he drolly describes in introductory voice-over as "a comedy, and harmless as such." It's also a delight. The film screened recently at the Palm Springs festival and is scheduled for limited stateside release in May, when it's sure to attract the von Trier faithful.

Avoiding the overt social commentary of the director's most recent work, "Boss" is perhaps closest in focus to "The Five Obstructions", his 2003 docu on the filmmaking process, in which von Trier played a devilishly entertaining game of one-upmanship with director Jorgen Leth. Here he casts a prankster's eye on actorly affectations, the director-actor relationship and the conventions of throwaway entertainment, all while lampooning the collective delusions of corporate culture.

The wonderful Jens Albinu (who starred in von Trier's 1998 comic drama "The Idiots") plays Kristoffer, an actor hired by businessman Ravn (Peter Gantzler) to play the owner of an IT company -- not onstage, but in the boardroom. During negotiations with Icelandic entrepreneur Finnur (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson), who wants to buy the firm, Kristoffer injects meaningful pauses into his "line readings" that all but stop the dealmaking cold. The perpetually unamused Finnur is convinced that all Danes are wacko. He doesn't know the half of it.

Wanting only to be loved, Ravn, a handsome and affable bear of a man, has for 10 years hidden his true status as the company's owner, pretending to be just another manager and inventing via e-mail a distant uberboss named Svend. Earnest thespian Kristoffer steps into the role with almost no "direction" from Ravn, variously dodging and playing along with the projected dreams and hostilities of the staff. Gorm (Casper Christensen) is given to violent outbursts, Mette (Louise Mieritz) is terrified whenever the copier whirs into action, assistant Heidi (Mia Lyhne) harbors deep feelings for Svend, while HR rep Lise (Iben Hjejle) not only encourages office sex but insists on it. Actor and Dogme filmmaking disciple Jean-Marc Barr plays a foreign employee who insists on speaking bungled and indecipherable Danish.

Determined to stay true to his "character," Kristoffer continually invokes one Antonio Stavro Gambini, the playwright he reveres above all others. Ravn, for reasons that become increasingly clear, prefers to keep things on the buzzword level, as vague as possible. Kristoffer hits his stride with some table-turning improv involving contracts.

The understated comic performances serve the material well, while Automavision, the credited cinematographer, keeps things aptly off-center with random computer-automated camera angles -- one of which von Trier calls to our attention as a "pointless zoom."

THE BOSS OF IT ALL

IFC Films/IFC First Take

A Zentropa Entertainments 21/Memfis Film Intl./Slot Machine/Lucky Red production

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Lars von Trier

Producers: Meta Louise Foldager, Vibeke Windelov, Signe Jensen

Executive producers: Lene Borglum, Peter Albaek Jensen

Director of photography: Automavision

Costume designer: Manon Rasmussen

Editor: Molly Malene Stensgaard

Cast:

Kristoffer: Jens Albinus

Ravn: Peter Gantzler

Finnur: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

Lise: Iben Hjejle

Mette: Louise Mieritz

Heidi A.: Mia Lyhne

Gorm: Casper Christensen

Spencer: Jean-Marc Barr

Interpreter: Benedikt Erlingsson.

Running time -- 100 minutes

No MPAA rating

»

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3 items from 2007


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