Stellan Skårsgard

REVIEW: ‘Nymphomania Vol. 2’ Ventures Into the Danger Zone

No doubt anticipating my review of his Nymphomania Vol. 1, Lars von Trier directly acknowledges his references to Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life — The Cantebury Tales, The Decameron, and The Arabian Nights — in the beginning of the far more tenebrous, shakier Vol. 2. The academic Seligman (Stellan Skårsgard) also begins quoting Freud, referencing his position as therapist/confessor to the battered Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying in his bed with a cup of tea that she has nursed for a couple of hours now, but which we will find out when she flings it against the wall is still mostly full. Having nodded to these tropes and devices, the director throws a few more into the mix, namely religion and the notion that pain and self-abnegation are conduits to ecstatic enlightenment.

But first, von Trier takes a moment to address his public-persona problems, which he has battled since being declared persona non grata at the Cannes Film Festival, following a delirious rant at a press conference about how people like him are all Nazis.

Scared Shitless — Confessions of a Butch Pussy

I admit it: Most of my life I was a fraidy-cat, a panicked pickle, a serving of yellow-belly sashimi.

Not any more, for some reason. Something happened in early middle age: I stopped running and turned around to face my fears and went, “Boo, yourselves!” and they vanished, as specters of all kinds are wont to do when confronted.

Fear isn’t always unpleasant. There are entire recreational industries devoted to people tempting danger for the adrenaline rush. There are even professions that thrive on the natural high that comes from flirting with disaster: the armed forces, the stock exchange, Somali piracy.