Melancholia
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Melancholia

As far as film endorsements go, the following has multiple meanings: “You have to see it in theatres.” The opposite (“Meh, it’s a rental” or “Meh, download it”*) is what studios and cineplexes dread to hear, especially in this past year, which saw the lowest box office returns since 1995. But the former is also often reserved for the summer blockbuster that, for maximum brain-melting reasons, you need to see on the big screen. 3D has changed this, in that to enjoy the film (presuming it wasn’t post-converted) you are required to make the trek to the theater and don dorky glasses for several hours, but also with the rise of the “art house” 3D (from Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Pina and, in a way Hugo) 3D has become less cerebrally liquefying and more stimulating.

But let us return to this idea of “brain-melting,” because it is not always only for 3D, nor for action flicks. Making the rounds this week in the rep cinemas is Lars von Trier’s loathed and lauded Melancholia, which, as was previously reported (and we have experienced first hand), may cause nausea.

Von Trier’s latest plunge into the misery of living and the rapture of the apocalypse keeps with his style (based in his Dogme 95 manifesto) of shooting on hand-held cameras and embracing the natural movements of the hand which holds it: those swaying, swooshing, rocking movements. While much has been made about the sheer beauty of those elaborate Phantom-cam golf course vignettes and—at this point is it really a spoiler?—CG planets crashing into each other, we should also consider that it’s not often we have a physical reaction at the theater; moments where we literally lose control of our bodies. As home movie theaters gain popularity with technological advancements that mimic pristine sound and image quality, and as the concession stand food offerings becoming increasingly offensive, the temptation to stay at home for the cinematic experience grows stronger. But at the end of the day, unless you’re part of the 1 per cent, no home theater can compete in a realm where size does matter. Moreover, there’s nothing like vomiting in public to begin one’s understanding misery, which, if anything, von Trier would be pleased with.

*To circumvent any legal hair-splitting, ethical dilemmas, and bandwith overage issues, this is not endorsed by the author or Torontoist.

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