Erik Nietzsche-The Early Years ***
Directed by Jacob Thuesen
I'll say off the bat that I don't love Lars von Trier-something about that self-indulgent and pompous attitude that he always seems to give out. Right before I saw his very funny "The Boss Of It All" the theatre proclaimed "Before the film a very important message from Lars von Trier" and then it cut to a photo of him in a diner holding a sign that said "I AM GREAT." The theatre laughed, but I didn't. It also goes back to my anger towards people with a middle name that starts with a lower case "v." See my disgust with the films by Gus van Sant. But thats something else.
"Erik Nietzsche-The Early Years" was written by von Trier, even though the credits say that the film was written by Erik Nietzsche-but of course, the life of Erik is very similar to von Trier, and its known that von Trier wrote the script. And I have enjoyed other flms by von Trier when he's not directing, especially "Dear Wendy" the dark comedy about guns and teens. He has a certain type of humor that I enjoy-subtle and very dark-and this film is no exception. It has many laughs, and many interesting observations on film and directing, that if this matched the life of von Trier, I know why he now tries to direct films that are very different than we've ever seen before.
In a nutshell this is a narrative that tells the early career of Erik Nietzsche, who by luck got accepted into a Danish film school. There are six students in the early class, and soon three of them will have to leave and the others will stay and go to real film school. And from the start, Erik is never allowed to make the films that he wants to make-mostly involving images of leaves and trees. And thats very much it. We follow him through trials of school, comedy when he worked as an intern for a big director (played by Jens Albinus who is as funny here as he was in "The Boss Of It All."), and his romances with an editor and with another up and coming film student, who is just using him for his body.
Its by no means perfect, but a delightful way to spend ninety minutes, and it filled the short gap in between my two films perfectly. Director Jacob Thuesen did a terrific job at keeping a frantic pace for the movie, chocking it full of edits and quick cuts, always keeping it moving. This is not really an "acting piece" more as a quickly told narrative. Jonatan Spang is good as the title character, and he attended the screening, and looked very different-probably because of his different hair color. The script is smart and has good observations on director and the "rules" of directing, which the film school seems to constantly be promoting. But what rules? Erik asks about plots that don't really have a proper flow-which is exactly what this film has-and this is all smart-director and writer working together. "Erik Nietzsche-The Early Years" isn't a must-see, but it is diverting and it is quite funny.