Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier, at work again

Mr. Michael Haneke has finally decided what his next film will be.  Although he doesn’t seem like one to worry what critics or audiences will think (have you seen The Seventh Continent?), there is a certain amount of pressure considering his last film, The White Ribbon won the Palm D’or at the last Cannes festival.  Isabella Huppert is reportedly signed on to the project.  She and Haneke have worked together before in The Piano Teacher and Time of the Wolf. Jean-Louis Trintignant of Bertolucci’s The Conformist and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red of the Three Colors is also attached.

The subject matter of the Austrian director’s films are never easily swallowed, and he stays true to his form with the nex film titled These Two (Ces deux).  Huppert reports that the movie will be about “the humiliation of old age.”  Humiliation is a familiar subject for Haneke.  In Funny Games a family is forced to play degrading games in hopes of sparing their lives.  In The Piano Teacher Ms. Huppert plays a masochistic spinster who fantasizes of being beaten and forced upon in front of her mother. So I’m assuming that he really means it when the film is to be about the humiliation of growing older. Still, despite my apprehension, Haneke’s films are far more interesting than the majority of any other director working today. I can’t wait for These Two.

Lars von Trier, however, would most certainly be counted in the minority of directors that can rival Haneke when it comes to interesting projects.  Although I hated Antichrist, I still can’t help but get really excited about anything he does.  It stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kirsten Dunst as sisters, and the opening scene shows us the end of the world.  Literally.  A planet collides with our planet ending everything.  And von Trier tells us why in an interview with Dutch news outlet Politiken:

In ‘Melancholia’ I start with the end. Because what is interesting is not what happens but how it happens! So we begin by seeing the world being crushed, then we can tell the story afterwards… In this way you don’t have to sit and form theories about what will happen, but can delve down into some other levels and become interested in the pictures and the universe – that’s what I imagine.

It’s all getting me really, really excited.  The film examines the two sisters and their personalities, quirks, and flaws, and then parleys that into how it affects their acceptance of the end of the world.  The interview goes on to say:

The two sisters react completely differently when the end of the earth approaches. The melancholy sister is calm as a rock because, in her darkened mind, she has always felt that things go as expected – to hell!

“And there are beautiful pictures as she is just standing there looking at the planet that comes closer and closer and accepts it. The other woman, on the other hand, becomes increasingly panicky,” von Trier says.

I’m trying to remember how excited I was about Antichrist, and how disappointed I was.  And to let that be a reminder that I may be setting myself up for disappointment.  But it’s not working.  Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, and Charlotte Rampling also star.

Melancholia is slated to be released sometime in 2011, and there’s no word on These Two.  But I’ll be waiting anxiously

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