Fillums eh? Tom claims to know not much about them, but I think its merely because its a difficult critical beast to muster. Writing about films already has a number of critical paradigms, there are degrees in the stuff – wheras degrees in Music Criticism whaft up occasionally in the kind Daily Mail articles which wrings its hands with the state of the nation. (A BA in ABBA – Whatever Next) That’s why, if you fillet out the opinions, ninety percent of film reviews will look the same. Not true of music reviews.

So to the Tangents article on Lars Von Trier. Well worth a read, even if you do not know much of Lars Von Triers stuff. I always find films (and songs for that matter) which work despite themselves fascinating. Dancer In The Dark is technically, narratively and dramatically shoddy – yet it is also compelling and strangely moving. Von Trier irritates, The Idiots is an exceptionally annoying film, and Breaking The Waves is both exceptionally moving and distasteful.

So is there a music analogy? Do we draw a line between record producer and director – in which case we may see similarities between Von Trier and say Malcolm McClaren (a definate irritant). Except I do not see Von Trier as a shameless self publicist, more as someone who realises that in the relatively stagnated field of film, risks need to be taken. If you see a bad film these days, it rarely technically bad. There may be no characterisation, lack of central ideas and a limp script but camera movement and set direction will tend to be superior to anything done in the fifties. Von Trier is showing, with Dogme and equally with ignoring Dogme, that there is a route to making challenging yet commercial films which ignores convention. No-one since Hitchcock has really played about with form so much.

The paradigm in film criticism is to split a film off into its component parts. Basically it is theatre criticism with an additional paragraph on cinematography. That it is possible to do this with Dancer In The Dark, and conclude that it is a lousy film is the most interesting aspect of Von Trier’s work. It then makes you suggest that film theory must be wrong – because the film does make an emotional connection, I did walk out thinking that I had seen a good movie. This scares film critics, their formula no longer works. They have been reduced to the level of a mere music critic – fumbling around in the dark for words to try and sum up their subjective response. This is why it would be interesting to see Tom review Dancer In the Dark – he’s actually quite good at that subjective fumbling.

So Dancer In the Dark, the movie which should only be reviewed by pop fans. A conclusion reached without once refering to it as a musical. The tunes on the other hand…