The House That Jack Built

Director: Lars von Trier
Year Released: 2018
Rating: 3.5

Architect - or is it engineer? - Jack (Matt Dillon) recounts to the poet Virgil (Bruno Ganz) - who some might remember as Dante's guide through Purgatory and Hell in The Divine Comedy - various 'incidents' in his 'work' as a serial killer, describing how and why he dispatched the people he did ... and also his thoughts on sheep, the aging process of grapes, Nazi dive bombers and the construction of cathedrals. Von Trier is one of the most idiosyncratic and essential filmmakers working anywhere, and his work is polarizing but not empty-headed: it's an allegory about artistic creation and the pain and anxiety that bubble up when an artist hasn't made a new 'piece' in a while (the animation with the lamp posts illustrates it wonderfully) and how the 'house' is the culmination of a career (with one project ... or body ... as a supporting component of the whole structure). Von Trier sees the 'artist' as a sadist and a perfectionist (that damn OCD again!) and those around the artist (performers and associates) as 'victims' of the process of creation ... and in one notable case (the notorious scene with Riley Keough), an actual part of an actress is 'taken' as a souvenir. Bravo to him for making as politically incorrect a movie as possible in this time of super-sensitivity (and feminism vs. "men's rights") ... and then there's that joke of an ending just to twist the knife even more.