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S&M Love Letter

The Five Obstructions is the most twisted love letter to a friend that I have ever seen. At first I was puzzled at why Jorgen Leth would submit to such an exercise, and at what a self-important blowhard Lars von Trier is, but by the end I was quite touched that von Trier had organized this whole sadomasochistic experiment for his friend’s sake. And a bit disturbed that I was touched by it. But touched nonetheless. I can only wonder what von Trier’s relationships with women are like. He probably has a few chained up in his basement.

The film is certainly quite in line with the rest of von Trier’s films, which always feature a tortured and martyred masochistic woman. As von Trier himself says at the end of the film, “It is the attacker who reveals himself.” Just as Jorgen ultimately made his kind of film over and over again in The Five Obstructions despite von Trier’s efforts to obstruct him, von Trier himself continues to visit the same themes, essentially making the same film over and over again. Only in this film, he doesn’t quite break his subject.

Eternal Sunshine Redux

When I first saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind I thought I was seeing it under the absolute worst circumstances, but after re-watching it last night, I think I may have seen it under the best possible circumstances. When I watched it again this time, it didn’t pack as much of a punch. I still loved it, but the parts I thought were so meaningful before now seem less so, and in some cases I realize I even misremembered parts. I had made connections based on my own feelings and experiences and now, under less emotional circumstances, I see that many of those connections aren’t even there. Lines are different than I remembered them being. Moments are less powerful than I remember them. Last time the line that choked me up most was “I still thought you were going to save me, even after all of that.” This time it felt flat, but the line “I’m so ashamed” gutted me. And I’m sure it had a lot to do with the fact that I was not, this time, sitting a few feet away from the one person I would MOST like to erase from my memory.

Cinetrix recently posted about the film and she was most affected by the line “You were so rude, as if we were already lovers.” So when I watched it this time I was waiting for that line, and was surprised when it came–she misremembered too. The line is actually “You were so intimate, as if we were already lovers.” But Clem’s action was rude–she took a piece of chicken off Joel’s plate after just meeting him, and he interpreted this as “intimate.” So Cinetrix’s memory made its own connection there too, and literalized what was merely suggested.

These tricks of memory happen all the time, I’m sure, but this film is about memories… my head is spinning.