Failed architect, engineer and vicious murderer Jack narrates the details of some of his most elaborately orchestrated crimes, each of them a towering piece of art that defines his life's work as a serial killer for twelve years.
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USA in the 1970s. We follow the highly intelligent Jack over a span of 12 years and are introduced to the murders that define Jack's development as a serial killer. We experience the story from Jack's point of view, while he postulates each murder is an artwork in itself. As the inevitable police intervention is drawing nearer, he is taking greater and greater risks in his attempt to create the ultimate artwork. Along the way we experience Jack's descriptions of his personal condition, problems and thoughts through a recurring conversation with the unknown Verge - a grotesque mixture of sophistry mixed with an almost childlike self-pity and psychopathic explanations. The House That Jack Built is a dark and sinister story, yet presented through a philosophical and occasional humorous tale.
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I just saw Lars Von Trier's new film 'The House That Jack Built' at the Atlantic Film Festival. I'm not extremely familiar with Trier's other work (I love Antichrist and Dancer in the dark is one of the most depressing films I've ever seen), but I've still been looking forward to this one since its premiere at Cannes. The subject matter peaked my interest and the trailer looked great. The early reviews got me even more invested as everyone was saying it was Trier's most disturbing and violent film yet.nn'The House That Jack Built' was fairly brutal, yet oddly comical (if you can look past the disturbing material) and widely entertaining. I was not expecting it to be as funny as it was considering all of the 'hype' around the film's dark brutality since its screening at Cannes. Having said that there are some extremely gruesome and disturbing scenes which are effective in what they set out to do. nnThe film is divided into 5 sections plus an epilogue. A strange structure but ultimately I think that it benefited the film as we see a slight progression of Jack's character throughout. Though it can feel a bit repetitive at points, it never gets boring and is continuously engaging. Matt Dillon was excellent as the truly psychopathic serial killer Jack. It was honestly probably the best role I've seen him in (seriously, he should be in more movies). nnThere are many philosophical discussions about the nature of art throughout the film. This can either come off as super pretentious or can actually add to the film. I thought it worked fine in the context of the film as it relates very much to the character of Jack and how he views himself and his, so to say, 'art'nnThe film portrays the violence in a fairly realistic manner and does not hold back. At all. Seriously, the movie is not for the faint of heart. But it never came across as gratuitous or 'edgy'. It felt like Trier was just showing us what these scenarios would look like if a serial killer viewed his killings as art. nnIf you're a fan of Trier's work then definitely try and see this one. Even if you're just a fan of disturbing art-films, check it out. It has a screening at VIFF in October but other than that I have no idea where you can see it. Surprisingly, the Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax, Nova Scotia) had a one-night screening for the film. Either way, try and see it if it looks interesting to you. I highly recommend it. 9/10.
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