Like many of you over the past year I’ve seen a bunch of random movies. Being a single guy, out of work during this pandemic has presented me with a ton of time on my hands. I’ve been good about not parking myself on the couch all day watching tv, although I’ve certainly had my bouts in doing so. I’ve gotten tons of fresh air, gone on tons of walks with the dogs and soaked up a lot of Texas sun. Yet, as in non-global pandemic times, there’s always room for movies. And yes, a fair amount of movies I digest can be seen as quite random. Whether they’re movies I’ve never heard of, few have heard of or those that I haven’t seen in years that pop up on HBO12, CinemaxMax2 or StarzEncoreWestSouthEastCentral. So with that in mind and time on my hands I’m bringing a bit I used to do on The Big Sauce Radio Show into word form, the Random Movie Review. Sometimes it will be themed, but mostly pretty random. This edition’s movie, which I’ll get to shortly, has nothing to do with college basketball, springtime or a global pandemic. So without further ado, here’s the Random Movie Review.
I’ve always been a huge Kirsten Dunst fan. From her early work in Interview With The Vampire, Jumanji, The Virgin Suicides and even Bring It On(Oh, it’s already been BROUGHTEN!!!) all the way to more recent works like Midnight Special and Hidden Figures. It was Crazy Beautiful where I also developed a huge crush on Dunst. I mean come on, she is so super cute as the troubled rebel rich kid opposite Jay Hernandez. I loved that she was Mary-Jane Watson in the Tobey Maguire Spiderman films and in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette where Dunst stars as the Austrian born French teen Queen she’s top notch. Now that we’ve established my affinity for Kirsten Dunst we can get to the Random Movie.
Until last night around midnight, as big a Dunst fan as I am, I had never heard of the 2011 artistic sci-fi drama Melancholia. Debuting at Cannes, where Dunst received the Best Actress Award for the film, Melancholia is a deep, emotional sci-fi film a bit along the lines of 2016’s Arrival. Unlike Arrival and many other sci-fi films there are no extraterrestrials, no spaceships, no massive military assault in space. There’s not even a black hole, yet somehow writer/director Lars Von Trier makes an element not of this world the huge mega elephant in the room. That huge mega elephant in the room just happens to be a never before discovered planet that’s been hiding on the other side of the sun that’s now headed towards earth. Pretty cool premise on a sci-fi level yet Von Trier manages to perfectly keep it in the backdrop amidst family drama surrounding Dunst’s character’s wedding.
The small cast joining Dunst certainly doesn’t lack in quality nor name recognition. Alexander Skarsgard(True Blood, Battleship) plays the groom while his real life dad Stellan Skarsgard(Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Chernobyl, Deep Blue Sea) play’s the bride’s boss and the groom’s father. Important to note that I’m always down for a film with any of the many Skarsgards in it. Rounding out the rest of the lead cast is post-24 Kiefer Sutherland, acting legends John Hurt(1984, Alien, The Elephant Man) and Charlotte Rampling(The Verdict, Swimming Pool), Jesper Christensen(Casino Royale, The Interpreter), Charlotte Gainsbourg(21 Grams) and Udo Kier. Ace Ventura fans will immediately recognize Kier as Miami businessman Ron Camp who hosted the party Ace attends with Courtney Cox and then gets his clothes shredded in the bathroom/shark tank.
Like I mentioned before, Melancholia isn’t your typical sci-fi film. It’s often labeled as an “artistic sci-fi drama” and the way the film looks and moves that’s a fairly accurate description. In a nutshell the story follows the wedding of Dunst’s character Justine who is a tad on the melancholy side and we’re shown what her emotional/mental state does to the evening’s festivities. Lars Von Trier does a great job in keeping the focus on Justine’s emotional state and how it effects the wedding and her family. The unknown planet hurdling through space towards earth, conveniently called Melancholia, isn’t even a major part of the film until about three quarters of the way in so you really get a feel for the family dynamic and chemistry before the outer space shit hits the fan. Melancholia isn’t the most uplifting film so if you’re looking for something upbeat, action filled with cool special effects look elsewhere. After viewing the film it was no surprise to see that Von Trier was also the director of another dark, solemn but really good film Dancer In The Dark which stars Icelandic pop music star Bjork.
Melancholia did provide a truly unexpected pleasure for me. Remember, I’m a single guy in pandemic lockdown for 13 months who loves Kirsten Dunst. A few times throughout the film you do get to see Dunst’s breasts and they are quite beautiful. I had never seen them before and sure as hell didn’t expect to see them in this film. A friend told me you can see them in a Ryan Gosling film, which I obviously haven’t seen. I think you get a little tease of them in Marie Antoinette but that’s about it. Much like when you see Halle Berry’s rack in Monster’s Ball during a real somber scene so you can’t really enjoy it, that’s how the first showing of Dunst’s breasts is here. Later in the film you see them again in a much more artistically erotic scene where Justine(Dunst) sprawls out nude over angled rocks with a waterfall behind her. Its a scene that would really make a great painting that could be hung in your home. In my home anyway.
All in all Melancholia was a truly random find, one I’ll put in the win column. I love the cast, it does have a sci-fi aspect and Lars Von Trier really does bring it all together to make a beautiful, although be it somewhat of a downer film. I can definitely say check it out. Makes for a good date night-in flick. Melancholia is currently available on Amazon Prime. Enjoy!