Apart from his TV show The Kingdom, which delighted me, the only Lars Von Trier joint I have any time for is THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS. It’s a great teaching tool — Von Trier and his collaborator, Jorgen Leth, show how an artist can triumph over all sorts of arbitrary, seemingly impossible handicaps. It’s a very hopeful film, in that sense, which cannot really be said of DANCER IN THE DARK or NYMPHOMANIAC.
Von Trier, knowing Leth quite well, can pick obstacles he knows will truly vex his old friend, and I thought it might be amusing to invent obstructions for other filmmakers, based on their particular ways of working.
For Quentin Tarantino, you might pick almost any of Trier’s Dogme 95 rules, especially —
- Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.
- Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden.
- Genre movies are not acceptable.
- The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
Tarantino is practically the only filmmaker in the world who might be forced to raise his game by these rules. Since he already obeys rule 9 by not listing himself as director, a useful fifth rule for him might be
5. Samuel L. Jackson may not appear.
Peter Greenaway should be disbarred from symmetry. In fact, he should be forced to work with asymmetrical actors — Ian Dury’s appearance in THE COOK THE THIEF was a god step in this direction. And he should be prevented from hiring actors who speak in arch, mannered tones, or flat, boring tones. No Michael Nyman. Instead, the Yakkety Sax chase music from The Benny Hill Show should be played every ten minutes, no matter what is happening. Oh, and his tripod should have one leg shorter than the others.
Michael Bay shouldn’t be allowed special effects. Or music. Or sound. Or a camera. And he has to direct it while gagged, blindfolded and wearing a straitjacket, locked in a cupboard in a coal cellar in a country at least five hundred miles away from where the shoot is taking place.
Of course, Lars himself needs to fall victim to his own foul scheme. No suffering women. No miserable ending. Shoot it on film. Shoot it in Danish, for God’s sake, your English dialogue is terrible. In fact, get someone who can write to write it.
Actually, none of Lars’ obstructions are really obstructions. He doesn’t need obstructions, he needs help.
Who would you obstruct, and how?