Galasso Made Me Do It:
Lars von Trier’s Antichrist

Galasso Made Me Do It is where Cinemulatto occasionally reviews movies recommended by friend and actor Thomas Galasso. These are movies I swear I’ll never see. After the seed’s planted, the unconscious pressure mounts until I break down and watch the movie.

The following review is a text message exchange with Thomas Galasso involving Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. In the movie, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe have gorgeous, cinematic, black and white sex at 1,000 frames per second; their toddler son sees them, is traumatized, and jumps out of a window (in equally magnificent shots, in falling snow); Dafoe insists that he become Gainsbourg’s therapist; and rampant, psychotic sex and violence ensue—including such delights as Gainsbourg impaling Dafoe’s leg with a grinding wheel and jerking off his damaged penis until it squirts blood.

Cinemulatto: I watched Antichrist. Me #1 thinks it’s the most brilliant movie she’s ever seen, while Me #2 wants to stab it to death then burn it.

Thomas Galasso: Haha. Why does Me #2 feel that way? I just want someone to break down Lars von Trier for me. I liked the movie. I feel like now he has created an even more intense niche as the “guy with disturbing movies.”

CM: It goes deeper than that for me. It’s a will to live versus an urge to die, of recognizing horror in the world but choosing lightness and life. To accept the essence of that movie, for me, is to ultimately renounce love and embrace a dark vision of the world. I can analyze and explore darkness but I fundamentally believe in goodness. He’s stepping back into the madwoman in the attic, a tradition/trend that feminists have worked to change for a long time. At least this madwoman’s in a cottage. It’s also very Brechtian. I know von Trier is influenced by Brecht. Also lots of religious and psychosexual symbolism and iconography. So, it’s a smart movie, but I just can’t get on board with the underlying message.

TG: Interesting. I’ve seen the “madwoman” in various films and stories.

CM: He’s a master of bending genre. The problem with that, however, is the movie becomes more realistic, despite the Brechtian devices he tries to use.

TG: The dark and the hopelessness has always been von Trier’s angle. I’ve always liked that about him. Sometimes I see the world the way he does. In total chaos. Explain the Brechtian. What is that?

CM: Yeah. If you haven’t already read The Yellow Wallpaper, read it. I just checked and it’s available online for free. Lezley Saar mentioned her daughter compared it to Antichrist. [Non-texted note: See the Cinemulatto post from 1/3/13.]

TG: I’ve heard of the Yellow Wallpaper. Damn. I can’t recall where though.

CM: Brecht also deals with dark subject matter, but always reminds you you’re watching something somebody created. He creates alienation and distance between the story and the viewer. Use of inter-titles, like von Trier does. Yellow Wallpaper was written I think in the 1890s. It’s usually on the syllabus of creative writing classes. Chaos reigns, ha. I just don’t accept chaos, or more specifically that one should give in to it.

TG: Interesting. Yeah I have to admit, I would love to work with von Trier. I see some of the same with David Lynch at times. Lynch is more steeped in deconstructing the nuclear family though.

CM: You’d be perfect in a von Trier movie. It should’ve been you instead of Shia LeBeouf.

TG: Haha I know.

Ringing in the New Year with Lezley Saar

Happy New Year, everyone!

Cinemulatto had a few epiphanies during the last quarter of 2012 having to do with identity, history, family, and creativity, chief among them “discovering” a part of my mother, Dorothy Breaux, after finally watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (her favorite movie). This and related topics will be covered in future Cinemulatto posts. We thought it fitting, however, to have our first post of 2013 focus primarily on art and the mother-daughter relationship, as seen through the aesthetic lens of artist Lezley Saar.

With a rich and diverse history that includes public radio, book cover design, photography, ink drawing, and other forms of visual expression, Lezley Saar’s work spans over 40 years. She’s collaborated with such authors as Ishmael Reed and her work has been featured in numerous art forums. Cinemulatto asked her a few questions about her most recent installation and the state of the Mulatto Nation.

Lezley Saar
Lezley Saar

You recently had an exhibition, Madwoman in the Attic, at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles. How did this project come about?

My exhibition was actually inspired by my daughter, Sola. She did her thesis at Berkeley on a comparison of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Lars von Trier’s film, Antichrist. So I decided to do portraits of insane heroines from Gothic 19th century novels. The installation portion of my show, “Madness and the Gaze,” explores the phantoms of 19th century “feminine afflictions” such as melancholia and hysteria.

What are some movies you’ve seen recently and how did they affect you?

I recently saw Lars von Trier’s film, The Five Obstructions. Apologies for mentioning him again, but this is a great film where von Trier demands that Jørgen Leth remake his classic film, The Perfect Human, five times, while obeying these ridiculous criteria and restrictions.  It helped me with my approach to my work by incorporating certain “obstacles” to encourage new ideas.

What are some subjects or areas you feel you have yet to explore?

My next show will deal with Mysticism and the Occult mixed with Afrofuturism of the 1970s. I am very interested in Madame Blavatsky and Sun Ra from an historic sense as well as the future. I feel the Mulatto Nation should explore new galaxies.

What would you include in an address on the State of the Mulatto Nation?

You know, it’s interesting how with a Mulatto president, how little the subject of mixed race is discussed. But of course it’s amazing right? I believe the Mulatto Nation has to propel itself into the future by embracing duality, contradiction, hybridism, and the ether. And remember, “Mulattos are always half right!”

How is Baby Halfie Brown Head?

Just fine.


Dreadlock Mulatto Rasta

In anticipation of future blog posts concerning Dorothy Breaux (born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1929), we thought we’d go back in time to trash a few silly Jamaican stereotypes and perhaps create new ones. These explorations will be devoid of the words “mon” and “Irie”.

Tuff Gong is reggae’s best-selling artist and Jamaica’s most famous son. People the world over are familiar with his songs of liberation and struggle, and yet his dreadlocked image is a far cry from the social structure my mother experienced from 1929 through her arrival in the U.S. in 1962. In other words, my mom and her sisters didn’t like people like Bob Marley and weren’t all about ganja and skank (for better or worse). Regardless, this month we honor the most acclaimed icon of his hurricane-prone, balmy island country.

One love!