Director: Lars von Trier
Year Released: 2005
While Dogville showed von Trier at his most philosophical and pensive, so part two of his U.S.A. trilogy has him using a cudgel to depict one of the most pressing problems in America: that of racism. Where nuance and delicacy would be the recommended course of action, Larsie decides, by the end of the picture to (a.) have the white characters "try out" blackface (it's unsuccessful), (b.) show pure white Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard, a stand-in for the much more talented Nicole Kidman) getting plowed by a black slave and (c.) have Howard actually whip the slave that raped her. The cumulative point - which is intended to draw 'heated debate' from the audience (the same way the issue of power and politics worked in the first) - is about how the slaves that Grace frees from their 'prison' actually feel more comfortable being slaves than free men and women, a concept that would have no doubt caused Frantz Fanon and W.E.B. DuBois, if they were still alive, to take an impromptu trip to Denmark and set matters straight; the admonition that whites have done little to revise their ways and improve black-white relations is also suspect (to be truthful, von Trier's politics are too black-and-white - no pun intended - to actually spend extra time contemplating). I've seen a lot of films by a lot of filmmakers - as, I imagine, have the rest of you - but when I read in either an interview or biography (don't recall which) that von Trier admitted to being bi-polar, the bells in my own head went off: he's among the most unpredictable artists we've got. He makes shit, he makes miracles. What next, good sir?