Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Trust me, this film won't be worth a moment's reflection. It's a comedy, and harmless as such. No preaching or swaying of opinion. Just a cozy time - Lars Von Trier's opening narration

Before the credits rolled on Lars Von Trier's office comedy; The Boss Of It All, I kinda wrote it off as silly - A struggling theater actor is hired to pretend to be the CEO of a struggling IT company that’s about to be secretly bought out. I REALLY wanted to like this but I just couldn't. Then a few months later I actually bought the DVD knowing how disappointed I was when I first saw it but I thought it might grow on me (and with all due respect, my movie collection is very director-oriented and I like to buy complete filmographies of directors I like. so gimme a break). didn’t. I actually ended up liking it even less. But in the last year or so it’s finally grown on me. The thing is, I was expecting something BIG. My favorite aspect about Lars Von Trier's cinema is what seems to piss most people off - he's a provocateur, a button pusher and somewhat of a prankster (something I've said before on here). This might be the one Von Trier film that wasn’t heavy and/or depressing (Melancholia & Breaking The Waves), didn’t have some kinda unexpected or fucked up ending (Dancer In The Dark & The Idiots), unsettling moments that either annoyed me or stayed with me long after the movie was over (Antichrist & Manderlay) or feel like a big inside joke (Epidemic). Putting aside the method Von Trier used to shoot this (automated cameras that moved on their own at random) The Boss Of It All is a pretty straight forward comedy. When it comes to Lars I usually brace myself for something fucked up or heavy. It’s like I had my guard up while watching The Boss Of It All and by the time it was over I was like; " that it?" So I guess the only person I have to blame for the films letdown is myself for expecting something I shouldn’t have in the first place. Additionally, when you look at the film that came before (Manderlay) and after (Antichrist), The Boss Of It All was like a little break for Lars. This comedy was sandwiched between two of Von Trier's heaviest and most controversial films. While Manderlay pissed off both black people AND white people, Antichrist made some movie goers feel violated to the point where Lars was practically getting in to arguments with film critics at press conferences.
Four years after the films release, The Boss Of It All has become one of those movies where you go "oh yeah, Lars Von Trier DID direct that, didn’t he?"

In The Boss Of It All we follow "Ravn" - An employee at a Danish IT firm. To his co-workers he's just a dopey sap who takes orders from the mysterious company CEO that no one has ever met (supposedly this absentee CEO lives in America and only corresponds with Ravn). But In reality Ravn is actually the CEO of the company and everyone’s boss yet no one knows. He's too much of a wimp to give orders to people directly and doesn’t want the pressure of being "the big boss" so he made up the fictitious CEO that lives overseas as a way to run the company without being seen as the authority figure. But now that he's about to sell the company (behind his co-workers backs) this mysterious CEO has to make a physical appearance in order to sign some documents (the Iceland-based company that’s purchasing the IT firm is very demanding and will only deal with the CEO in person). Ravn now realizes he's in too deep and in order to keep his lie going he hires a pretentious, struggling stage actor ("Kristoffer" - played by Jens Albinus from Von Trier's 90's comedy; The Idiots) to pretend to be the CEO. Naturally things get outta hand, word gets out that the company is being sold and Kristoffer (who knows nothing about IT) starts to take his pretend role a little too seriously. By the end of the film we're left with an abrupt ending that'll have you scratching your head like; “huh?” But whether you like Von Trier or not there's quite a few scenes in this movie that are really funny (dry, but still funny)

The Danish Humor I've been exposed to on film so far (Italian For Beginners, Mifune, The Idiots, etc) is interesting. It’s not exactly "dark". Its just...different. It’s a mixture of wacky scenarios revolving around typically unfunny things like suicide, depression (Italian For Beginners), the loss of a child (The Idiots), religion (Adams Apple & Italian For Beginners), mental & physical disabilities (Mifune & The Idiots). The Boss Of It All is no exception. Even Danish films that are technically dramas about incest (The Celebration) have quite a few funny moments.
At first glance The Boss Of It All stands out the most among all of Von Trier's work but the more you watch it the more you see that it has elements of Dogma (no score, natural lighting, low budget), features some of his regular actors (Jean Marc Barr and Jens Albinus) and Von Trier's cameo at the beginning and end of the film are reminiscent of his appearances in Kingdom. If you can get past the fact that this is just a silly office comedy Von Trier probably made as a form of light entertainment for himself to mentally prepare for Antichrist, you'll enjoy this (its like Lars knew the next few years of his life would be consumed with heavy cinema in the form of Antichrist and Melancholia so he wanted to make a quick silly movie before he got depressed again). But if you're expecting something groundbreaking and thought provoking you're only setting yourself up for disappointment. If you're a fan of Tristram Shandy, The Office and dry humor, there's an even greater chance you'll enjoy this.

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