MFF 2012 DAY THIRTEEN: The Invisible War – Klown

COMPLETE MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL 2012 COVERAGE

DAY ONE: Starbuck – Opening Night Party
DAY TWO: Ethel – Come As You Are – Bones Brigade: An Autobiography – V/H/S
DAY THREE: Sans Soleil – Dead Weight – Andrew Bird: Fever Year
DAY FOUR: Inland Empire – Bad Brains: A Band in DC
DAY FIVE: Pink Ribbons, Inc. – 11 Flowers – How to Survive a Plague
DAY SIX: Romancing in Thin Air – Elena – The Imposter
DAY SEVEN: 5 Broken Cameras – Goodbye – High Tech, Low Life
DAY EIGHT: Big Boys Gone Bananas!* – Off White Lies – The Milwaukee Show
DAY NINE: Las Acacias – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
DAY TEN: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – Policeman
DAY ELEVEN: Quartet – No God No Master
DAY TWELVE: Mourning – As Goes Janesville – Blackmail – The Ambassador
DAY THIRTEEN: The Invisible War – Klown
DAY FOURTEEN: Old Dog – Little Red – Five Star Existence
DAY FIFTEEN: The Sessions – Detropia

10-9 Tu
13/15

Want to get pissed off? Go see the 2012 documentary The Invisible War which details the reprehensible treatment of sexual assault victims within the US military. The statistics that the film generously employs (all taken from US government studies) are beyond frightening, they are most certainly enraging. For instance, did you know that 15% of all incoming Navy recruits have attempted or committed rape? Did you know that between 25-33% of all military sexual assaults go unreported because the perpetrators are friends of commanders, or are the commanders themselves? Did you know the average sex offender has 300 victims within his lifetime, and most of these go unreported? One female victim within the film recounts an instance when she brings an accusation of sexual assault to her superior, and is met with this exchange:

“Is this a joke?”
“…what?”
“You’re the third girl to report a rape this week. Are you all in cahoots?”

These abuses occur within every branch of the American military and the film includes witnesses from the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Air Force and the Marine Corps. The Invisible War focuses its attention on five women, primarily on poor Kori Cioca who endured a severe disability from the violence perpetrated on her – in fact, the level of violence involved in each situation is just extreme. The film follows her as she attempts to receive VA benefits. Yes, attempts, as in “doesn’t get” – and this is after a year and a half of patiently (relatively speaking) enduring the bureaucratic lip service which minimizes her humanity and ultimately leaves her on the curb. Dozens of assault victims are interviewed and each story is equally tragic. The military’s stance on the issue is horrifically deficient, particularly inside the Department of Defense’s SOPRA (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) whose major initiatives to prevent sexual assault involve training videos screened once a year whose quality is genuinely worse than those in fast food, or is of the quickly cut, sexy music video variety; a grade school mentality “always travel with a buddy” suggestion; and the heinously insensitive line disseminated from above among the soldiers, “Ask her when she’s sober.” That’s official policy, folks. Needless to say, the shock and awe experienced by the theater’s audience was vocalized. The film is a very curious companion to MFF’s Festival Centerpiece, Mea Maxima Culpa, the docu which focuses on the widespread conspiracy of silence in the Catholic church to protect child molesters.

Sexual insensitivity is a very apt segue to 2010’s Klown: The Movie (another festival entry by von Trier’s production company Zentropa), the film adaptation of a popular Danish television series running since 2005 which gets its laughs from perversely awkward social situations, the more depraved the better. The film’s relevant characters all play themselves – depraved duo Frank Hvam and Caspar Christensen, wives Iben Hjelje and Mia Lynhe (who both starred in Trier’s The Boss of It All) and even a book club populated by Danish media personalities in the flesh – Jørgen Leth (The Five Obstructions), Mads Brügger (The Ambassador), Bent Fabricius-Bjerre (Danish TV/film composer), Mikael Bertelsen (writer) and more. The plot is simple enough comedy fare: dopey husband must prove to his pregnant wife that he is father material or she’ll leave him. This proves exceptionally difficult for the hapless, cowardly Frank who decides that his opportunity to shine has come by inviting an awkward pre-teen boy along on a canoe trip with his hopelessly inept and lecherous pal Caspar, who is the catalyst for, really, all plot action until the very end. Only after the fact does Frank realize the Caspar has an alternate plan for their trip, his oft-referrenced Tour de Pussy: hitting up the world’s alleged best brothel off the river they’ll be heading down. As the trio of child and manchilds venture down the river they cannot help but piss off every person they encounter, involving some comic panicked fleeing. Before the end there is some makeup work to do with the eternally stern, babysitter wives and the young boy, who Frank ended up publicly mocking for his lacking genital endowment. Oh, Frank. This is about toilet humor and as much shock value as possible. Male genitalia feature so prominently they should’ve received billing. It’s alright, I chuckled – after I adjusted to the writers’ curve, I was mostly just waiting for joke delivery in what is a bit too commercial of a product to be as shocking as it’d like, but that’s no surprise since it comes from television. It’s a largely forgettable venture but could be worth seeing to develop a further acquaintance with Danish media personalities.

written by David Ashley

Seen so far:
Starbuck
Ethel
Come As You Are
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
V/H/S
Sans Soleil
Dead Weight
Andrew Bird: Fever Year
Inland Empire
Bad Brains: A Band in DC
Pink Ribbons, Inc.
11 Flowers
How to Survive a Plague
Romancing in Thin Air
Elena
The Imposter
5 Broken Cameras
Goodbye
High Tech, Low Life
Big Boys Gone Bananas!*
Off White Lies
The Milwaukee Show
Las Acacias
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Policeman
Quartet
No God No Master
Mourning
As Goes Janesville
Blackmail (w/Alloy Orchestra)
The Ambassador
The Invisible War
Klown

Ranked:
Sans Soleil
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Inland Empire
Big Boys Gone Bananas!*
Goodbye
Elena
5 Broken Cameras
The Invisible War
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
Mourning
Policeman
Las Acacias
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
11 Flowers
How to Survive a Plague
Ethel
Andrew Bird: Fever Year
Bad Brains: A Band in DC
High Tech, Low Life
Come As You Are
Off White Lies
V/H/S
As Goes Janesville
Klown
Pink Ribbons, Inc.
The Imposter
Quartet
Starbuck
Romancing in Thin Air
No God No Master
Dead Weight

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