Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Battered and Bruised: 10 Recommendations for Lars von Trier

To celebrate my imminent viewing of Lars von Trier's latest movie, Melancholia, at the Melbourne International Film Festival (my most anticipated of the fest!), I thought it'd be fun to look at the actresses that I'd personally love to see work with the famed Dane. With Kirsten Dunst, an actress many had written off in only her mid-20s, winning Best Actress at Cannes his knack for unique and unexpected casting is yet again in the spotlight. No matter who it is that he casts - a debutant Emily Watson, A-lister Nicole Kidman or musician-turned-actor Bjork - he is bound to get an electric, almost always career best performance out of them.

Angela Bassett
Where in the world is Angela Bassett you ask? Well, unfortunately my geography skills are not what they used to be when hunting down Carmen Sandiego because I fear I'd get lost in seconds trying to figure out where she got off to. Here's hoping she's stalking the Zentropa studios in Denmark, because other than that I just don't wanna know. The way that von Trier put such wordy dialogue into the mouths of his Dogville cast (especially Kidman and Caan in that big climax) makes me salivate for Bassett's e-nun-cee-at-ion and what she could take his highfalutin words.

Viola Davis
An actress as criminally underused as Viola Davis needs a director like Lars von Trier to collectively wake the world up to her immense gifts. She was a punch to the gut in brief cameos in Antoine Fisher and Doubt, so I'd like to imagine she could carry that on through to an entire film. I'd be scared of what von Trier would come up for her - and, perhaps, after the experience of dealing with race in Manderlay he may not want to go back there - but whatever it was I have no doubt Davis could carry it.

Laura Dern
As proven by her work with David Lynch (Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, INLAND EMPIRE) as well as provocative and daring films by Alexander Payne (Citizen Ruth), Dern has proven that she is at her finest when stretched a director in command of his craft, but who also knows how to play with expectations of story and idea as well as the prettiness of an actor. Her flexible face would be perfect at expressing the range of emotions that von Trier always asks of his leading ladies, while her natural good looks would be like clay in von Trier's hands to bruise and batter at his whim.

Cameron Diaz
I must apologise to Ms Diaz, for you see I recently joked that the Golden Globes' musical/comedy categories were going to be so weak that they might have to nominate Cameron here for her performance in Bad Teacher. I apologise because she would actually deserve it. She hasn't been that committed to a role since - if I am remember correctly - the underrated In Her Shoes. I can only imagine what von Trier would do with this bright-eyed surfer chick, but I would hope he would tap into that talent that sparked in Being John Malkovich and Vanilla Sky. People would most definitely scoff, but there was a time when Diaz looked to be becoming a force. Much like Kirsten Dunst, I am sure she'd surprise us all.

Dakota Fanning
Gosh she was good in The Runaways, wasn't she? Now that Dakota Fanning is grown up it won't actually be gross, weird and just downright icky to see her be put through the physical wringer like many say she was in that Hounddog movie from years back. I'd gladly take Elle Fanning, too, since she is proving herself time and time again lately.

Holly Hunter
The day Lars von Trier announces he is working with Holly Hunter - an actress sadly lost to television and below radar indie projects - is pretty much the day I stop breathing and die. I must, however, be resurrected because there'd be no way in hell I would miss this combination. Just remembering Hunter's performances throughout the 1980s and '90s (even her most recent Oscar-nominated work in 2003, thirteen) and I get chills. Actual chills. I can easily see von Trier sliding Hunter into a role as deep and destructive as Breaking the Waves and I can only hope that Hunter would still have the motivation to dig deep for a role if she was asked.

Lisa Kudrow
This former "Friend" has proven to be one of the most brittle and effecting comediennes in her work with Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Happy Ending and, unseen by me, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits), which have been deeply funny and yet emotionally scarred. The Comeback proved that she can indeed be excellent without Roos of her fellow friends to have her back, so just think for a second what sort of warped tragi-comic nightmare von Trier could come up with (people forget he can be a dark humourist) for Lisa Kudrow? Just imagine it, I dare you! Lisa Kudrow in The Idiots. Wow.

Mila Kunis
Much like Kirsten Dunst, Kunis has a background that could make working with a director on von Trier's standing seem quite odd. Star of That '70s Show as well as mainstream properties like Friends with Benefits, its her performance in last year's Black Swan that hinted - but didn't quite fully achieve - at the well of emotions just waiting to be pumped out of her (okay, that sounds gross!) Von Trier could quite easily play with the flirtatious, sexy Mila Kunis just as much as the dark and tortured Mila Kunis and she has briefly flirted with unleashing.

Kristen Stewart
Gosh she was good in The Runaways, wasn't she? Not only would I like to see this because she's proven herself before and after Twilight, but I think I'd also get a bit of a thrill out of Stewart appearing in a film by a filmmaker like von Trier and confusing the hell out of her fans. It's be a riot and she would probably rise to the task, too.

And lastly...

Oh you know you wanna see what these two control freaks come up with on his Danish backlot! Don't even try to deny it.


Dame James said...

I once joked that I'd love to see von Trier complete his Dogville/Manderlay/I Hate America & Everything It Stands For trilogy with a movie where Zac Efron gets castrated by a pack of money-hungry capitalists dressed in Klan outfits. Now I'm imagining Angela Bassett, Mila Kunis and Kristen Stewart in this movie and really, really enjoying it.

Can we just get von Trier to direct one of Madonna's music videos so she can show Gaga how music videos are done?

Jake said...

Great list -- I'm with you on every one of these names, even Madonna.