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The House That Jack Built

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The House That Jack Built is a film about a serial killer that spans the 12-year career of its titular anti-hero (Matt Dillon), showing us selected murders in gratuitous detail. It's also a Lars Von Trier movie, which means it involves extended monologues about art and human nature, excessive violence against women and stomach-turning scenes harder to unsee than your parents' sex tape.

Those moments are found scattered amongst otherwise masterfully-crafted, perverted day-in-a-life sequences connected by the above-mentioned confessions of the main character. It is as often funny as it is gruesome, and Von Trier once again masterfully exploits his medium of choice in order to torture anyone who bothered to buy a ticket for this movie.

Yeah, because LvT is a 'provocateur', an 'enfant terrible', and all the other French phrases that secretly just mean 'dickhead'. With all his own baggage jam packed into this film, and with his head shoulders-deep up his own ass, it comes as a welcome surprise just how apologetic this movie is.

Mind you, it's not really about a serial killer named Jack. It's about a director named Lars, who through a thinly-veiled metaphor shows the toll that a misunderstood man and the people around him suffer while building the titular artwork, The House. Just like the serial killer, the filmmaker uses other humans as his raw material to elevate them into pieces of art and, as Von Trier now admits, that process comes with some unsavoury costs. Here, the culmination of those costs is represented by the Verge character (Bruno Ganz), who takes Jack on a literal tour of hell while listening to his stories, his views, his excuses. It's the movie equivalent of the director letting out a deep sigh and saying, 'Look guys, I know.'

If you are like me and you have been chugging along the Lars Von Train through the past couple of years - and no Antichrist-style genital mutilation, no jib jab about Hitler, no five-and-half-hour cut of Nymphomaniac could make you quit - then The House That Jack Built is the movie you deserve at this point.

On the other hand, if you are not acquainted with the ways of Von Trier, you should do anything in your power to avoid seeing this film, because you are going to loathe it with all your heart.

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