MSRP: $24.95
RUNNING TIME:  96 Minutes
The Actors (and the Journalist) Of It All
• The Foreigners Of It All
• The Making of The Boss Of It All
• The Director Of It All
• Automavision: The New Dogma

The Pitch

IMDB’s keywords:
Sex / Getaway / Email / Anal Sex / Suit

Sounds about like what one would expect from a Lars Von Trier comedy.

The Humans

Jens Albinus, Peter Gantzler, Benedikt Erlingsson, Iben Hjejle, Friorik Por Frioriksson, Casper Christensen

The Danish have the strangest way of greeting one another.

The Nutshell

Ravn is basically what Michael Scott would be if he was running his own business. Far more concerned with the employees perception of him instead of the employees themselves, Ravn hires an actor to play the fictional ‘boss of it all’ he would always conjure up whenever a tough decision had to be made (which would stunningly always be favorable towards his profits) or someone had to be let go in order to broker a deal between Ravn’s company and some increasingly frustrated Icelandic business partners. This actor slowly ingratiates himself to Ravn’s staff, truths about the way Ravn has done business in the past trickle out, and the situation snowballs into some classic farcical territory. Oh, Von Trier had computers randomly generate the camera position for each shot of the film (AUTOMAVISION!).

The Lowdown

Lars Von Trier is a pretty divisive film director, but I admire the man’s chutzpah. He seems to always be looking for ways to challenge himself in the medium of film, never simply satisfied with creating a straightforward story which then would be filmed in a straightforward way. I think there’s something delightfully mad scientist about the way he goes about making his own sets of rules before making films, and I especially find something admirable in someone who’s constantly looking for new ways to challenge himself. In the case of The Boss of It All, it would seem that this challenge was necessary, as it isn’t exactly (and Lars would be and physically is the first person to admit it in the film) challenging or emotionally dense material to begin with.

Jasper’s lack of lower anatomy didn’t stop him from dancing his torso off at the office holiday parties.

At first, the automavision is distinctly noticeable in the film, with cuts not lasting longer than a handful of seconds at a time and constantly having the principles space in the frame compromised is a definite veer off course from the status quo. However, like anything relatively new, once you’re used to the pacing and flow to the shot selection and editing choices (which is rigidly structured, due to its robotic origins, but chaotic all the same), it’s smooth sailing from there on out. In fact, automavision works rather well with the frantic comedic sensibility of the film, reflecting the off-center sensibilities of the entire production while achieving a truly bizarre sense of comedic pacing through its constant cuts between shots and lines of dialogue.

Trips to the carnival had become much more enjoyable since the inclusion of glory holes in the Merry-Go-Round.

The performances are good although the majority of them are one-note via the virtues of the screenplay, with Peter Gantzler as Ravn and Jens Albinus as the titular boss getting the most work to do. And even then, their characters aren’t exactly fully developed and are more partially sketched out humorous caricatures than anything else. They serve the purpose of this comedy well, though. The film is surprisingly funny, building to a crescendo with its absurd climax (I particularly love the small touch of the translator constantly translating all of the dramatic speeches going on to the Icelandic businessman in the background) topping off a film than I found reasonably laugh-out-loud funny. However, the cumulative effect of Von Trier constantly telling us that what we’re viewing is a trivial delight wasn’t to make me look deeper at what he was trying to say about business culture or human nature in general (which isn’t anything trailblazing or particularly unique), but it instead just made me agree definitively with him that yes, this was more or less Von Trier slumming amusingly for an hour and a half and testing out a new form of filmmaking with a subject matter that was strongly suited to it. No more, no less. However, it’s worth checking out even if it’s a bit slight.

Von Trier is already hard at work on his next picture using the brand new Quattovision technology.

The Package

The cover art is pretty lame, but one thing makes it hilariously awesome: none of the characters in the background actually appear in the film at any point. Especially sad is that the bizarrely ecstatic obese man making some sort of salsa pose has no place in the picture.  Perhaps Van Trier will make his tale into a spin-off if we start up an internet petition. The movie looks pretty good although the colors are intended to be muddy and washed out for the most part, as he nails the office dreariness to perfection. As for extras, take me down to featurette city where the grass is green and the supplements are shitty. You get a couple of mockumentaries where the actors are grilled by a journalist, with the second being specifically geared towards the non-Danish delegation displayed in the film, hyping up the Iceland/Denmark turf war that the film sets up. Neither is particularly funny or worth watching. However, the other three standard featurettes are interesting, if not involving, and are worth a spin. They show the set to be drama-free and sort of a laid back atmosphere which was frankly quite surprising to see. There’s also a nice explanation of the automavision process with some examples of how they went about shooting it on set, which is a welcome addition to see how they got the frenetically edited piece of work that you just viewed.  Unfortunately these featurettes run about half as long as the mockumentaries, so you get a lot more fluff than meat, but still it’s an appealing package overall. Recommended.

6.8 out of 10