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on December 14, 2016
An very satisfying movie from LVT's weird transition between his more stripped-down and his more overtly cinematic periods. There has got to be some influence from Ricky Gervais's The Office b/c of the setting. But rather than the characters knowing they are being filmed like in said TV show, there is a not-so-omnipresent filmmaker documenting and narrating the whole thing who seems to be as bumbling and idiotic as the rest of the characters. The filmmaker is only seen in reflections of the office building and is heard running down actors and businessmen for being self-important, but he himself seems unsure of what his movie is about or what he is trying to say. I don't want to give too much away, but I enjoyed this movie greatly. It is by far LVT's lightest movie, but still has the nuances and emotion you'd expect. Great ending.
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on April 30, 2015
I wish I loved it -- I do love many of Von Trier's movies, I trust his ambition, generally even if I do not think the movie stood for whatever reason, I am glad that he is on the scene. But this movie just didn't come together, not for me; all movies are lies, they're all stories, they (almost all of them) they require suspension of disbelief. I never got near that with this movie. As always, he gets good performances out of his actors/actresses; it's the story, and the interwoven stories that make it up, all of that is what did not work for me.
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on May 25, 2015
Chances are, if you've never enjoyed one of Lars' movies then this won't work for you either. Personally, I tend to love his films and find them interesting at the very least. I think there is only one I really disliked. But nothing is worse than a boring artist and he certainly isn't dull. I appreciate that in this age of comic book movies. I really liked this change of pace from him and until the last second, I wasn't sure how it would end. Excellent acting. I recommend it.
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on July 17, 2013
This was recommended to us as being funny. Perhaps it is, but given that the audio sounds like it was recorded underwater using a Fisher-Price microphone in a subway car, I wouldn't know. One would think that the audio of a subtitled movie shouldn't matter, but as it was quite irritating, it did.
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on August 3, 2013
This Danish DVD is definitely not for most of you. But I know some of you like foreign films; while some of us get a kick out of actors and their "process"; and others are fans of the Danish director Lars von Trier ("Dogville" and "Dancer in the Dark").... If you fit any of these categories, have I got a film for you!

When I ordered it from the library, I asked for "The Boss of it All" but it shows up as "Direktoren for det hele" in IMDb and on other lists, so take your pick...

In a nutshell, a fellow with a Danish information technology company hires an actor to pretend to be the chronically absent president of the company just long enough to grant him power of attorney. That way he can sell the company to a hostile man from Iceland (who hates the Danes for 400 years of servitude!). The poor actor hasn't been very successful lately, so is desperate enough to give it a try. He's a little unsure of the ad lib aspect of the job, but agrees to do it.

When he attends his first meeting, one of the employees slugs him and things go downhill from there. One of the women says she can see through his disguise. He thinks his pretence has been uncovered but instead she says she knows he has been trying to hide his homosexuality in his e-mails and is prepared to show him how she can help him get over it. This is Scandinavian cinema, so naturally, he allows himself to be "shown."

He is very concerned about his lines and his timing, while the employees are very concerned about their JOBS! He becomes better acquainted with them and the situation... but then another character makes an entrance...

Suffice it to say, this is very, very dry humor, and the extras, which include a mockumentary, are hilarious...but only if you like exceedingly dry humor. I got my DVD from Amazon.
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Danish director Lars von Trier gets experimental again in "The Boss of It All", but this time he aims to make us laugh. This corporate comedy sends up actors, artistic pretensions, and the venerable tradition of passing the buck. Mr. Ravn (Peter Gantzler) founded a successful technology company but was loath to take on the role of President. So he invented a fictional company president who is always abroad, concealing his true role even from the company's "six seniors", its first and most valuable employees. Now Ravn needs to close a deal with an Icelandic businessman who insists on dealing with the President. So Ravn hires Kristoffer (Jens Albinus), an out-or work actor of little talent and many pretensions, to be the President for a week.

This absurd set-up creates ample opportunity for hilarity: The staff is easily convinced that Kristoffer is President despite his ignorance and inarticulate prattle. He must negotiate conversations with the six seniors, who have each been given a different impression of him by Gavn, without letting on that he doesn't know them. He gradually comes to realize that Gavn created the President to take the blame for his unpopular decisions, while Gavn took credit for more generous policies. The men are more alike than Kristoffer would like to think, as they both crave attention and acceptance. "The Boss of It All" is insightful, comical, and almost believable.

The film doesn't look good, though. Lars von Trier employed Automavision to frame all the shots. In other words, he let a computer decide where to put the camera. "Decide" might not be the best word. The computer selects randomly. A silly exercise in my view -and a false one, since the director set the computer's parameters (to avoid filming a blank wall or ceiling), and the actors can see the camera, so they maneuver to get into frame. Lars von Trier does things like this to amuse himself. In this case, the framing looks amateurish but not unusual, so I don't see a point to it except to relieve von Trier of the burden of framing his own shots. I was more struck by the problems with color temperature, which are distracting and ugly. In Danish with subtitles.

The DVD (IFC 2007): Bonus features are a theatrical trailer, 2 mockumentaries, and 3 featurettes. In "The Actors (and the Journalist) of It All" (22 min) the cast gives mock interviews to a "journalist". Occasionally funny, but much too long. In Danish with subtitles. "The Foreigners of It All" (6 min) are mock interviews with the 3 actors who played the American employee and the Icelanders. "The Making of the Boss of It All" (5 min) interviews Lars von Trier. In "The Director of It All" (6 min), von Trier talks about his inspiration for the scape goat idea. "Automavision: The New Dogma" (6 min) interviews von Trier and Peter Hjorth about Automavision. Bonus features are in English except where otherwise noted. Subtitles are available for the film in English, English SDH, and Spanish.
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VINE VOICEon September 22, 2007
Danish auteur Lars von Trier turns his acidic wit to office politics, with the overall message that while the true boss of it all that really runs the show is money, capitalism American style, what most of us really want is not the truth but a convenient and self-serving fiction. Along the way von Trier dishes up a scenario that is endlessly inventive and hilarious -- and that in its ruthless look at the stupidity of bureaucracy harks back to his underseen television miniseries Riget/Kingdom. As in that series, he includes himself directly here as a narrator to comment on his approach and on his expectations from the audience -- reminding us both directly and indirectly that his aim is not to please or to edify but to exploit and manipulate and offend at the same time as he entertains. This is a lighter, and less ambitious, project than anything he has done for a while, but it is no less intriguing for that.

As in many of his films, where he deliberately imposes upon himself a specific constraint (as in his Dogme film "The Idiots" or as in "Dogville" and "Manderlay" where he gets rid of the sets, or as he imposes upon his teacher Jorgen Leth in "The Five Obstructions), he set up a very specific constraint upon himself in the making of this film that defines in large part its style and look. He made use of a technology dubbed "Automavision" -- a camera whose angle and exposure are set randomly by computer -- and the effect is to add a jumpy and kinetic quality to the film that goes against the standard Hollywood style continuity editing and includes jump cuts and non-matching lighting, etc. Somehow it works, in part because of the strength of the acting and the script, but in part because the awkwardness of the style seems to match the story perfectly. In fact, it works more than just as an aesthetic complement to the story: it ties directly to the theme of the story in so far as "Automavision" functions as a kind of "boss of it all" -- that can be blamed for the apparent arbitrariness of some of the editing and coloring choices. The true "boss of it all" that von Trier suggests really runs everything is in fact the not-entirely arbitrary but still haphazard fluctuation of the market -- and "Automavision" works as a nice metaphor for that.

This is not, strictly speaking, a masterpiece and will certainly be regarded as one of Lars von Trier's lesser works -- I think it can be said that all of his works are flawed in some way, but this seems to be part of a deliberate effort on his part to introduce flaws. His work as a whole still remains some of the most inventive and compelling in recent cinema -- and for that reason alone, combined with the fact that it is, given an allowance for a certain kind of humor, one of the funniest films to appear so far this year, it is definitely worth watching.
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on February 14, 2012
This movie is a hilarious crowd-pleaser. A little screwball, a little alternative. I've had many a skeptical friend that I've convinced to see this film and they all ended up loving it and going on and on about how great it was afterward. I happened to see it in a theater the first time, and afterward I went out for dinner with the friends I saw it with, we went on laughing and remembering scenes from the movie so late into the night that we were all horse the next day. Really.
It's interesting that some people said that they thought this was not very accessible, because I thought that just the opposite was true, especially considering the director. If you only like very typical Adam Sandler-type comedies, can't appreciate Monty Python or any foreign movies/foreign humour, than this might not be for you. Incidentally, I'm not usually a fan of foreign films that are so often overly serious and self important, and I love brain sucking Hollywood movies (Zoolander is pure genius, almost anything with Will Ferrel). So I have to disagree that this is a "movie for eggheads" like one other reviewer said. But comedies are tricky and don't always appeal to everyone. I LOVE this movie, and everyone I know who's seen it has too. Fantastic.
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2009
"You have a knack for deliberate mental cruelty."
"You're right, but I'm better at being irritating on an intuitive level."

With his often unlikely plotting, emphasis on stripped-down style over structure and fascination with stripping away the suspension of disbelief of most films to highlight their artificiality, it's fair to say that Lars Von Trier isn't to everyone's taste. After films like Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark he also seems an unlikely candidate to try his hand at a comedy, but the mischievous sense of humour that's run through his work since the TV series The Kingdom finds a perfect outlet in The Boss of it All. The plot might seem almost as if it could do service as a mainstream Hollywood comedy, but in many ways it's the perfect match of premise and filmmaker.

Gambini-obsessed bad actor Kristoffer (Jens Albnus) is hired by Ravn (Peter Gantzler) to pretend to be the boss of the company he's planning to sell. Ravn has been the real boss of the company for years, but is so desperate to be liked by his staff that the only way he can pass on bad news is by blaming it all on an invisible owner in America. Despite the fact that at first Kristoffer reads far more into the text than there is ("It says far more than it says" he notes of his underwritten part: "I had hoped it would say as little as possible," replies the whiz-at-contracts Ravn), unfortunately, Ravn's so desperate not to be disliked that he doesn't fill Kristoffer in on the full script, expecting the hapless actor to improvise his way through a minefield of imaginary relationships the staff have created with him over the years. Finding himself alternately seduced, punched or engaged to them at various times, he soon discovers that the real boss of it all is a much better actor than he is...

The stage is set for a playful examination of the way people's vanity inevitably finds them playacting both at work and in their personal relationships in their desperation to either fit in or at least have an easy life, allowing Von Trier plenty of opportunities to take swipes at acting in general (and in Denmark in particular) as well as the vagaries of business politics. What's surprising is how funny much of it is, from Kristoffer's obsession with getting to the `truth' of his character (complete with dramatic pauses and would-be burning looks that just confuse people) to the obnoxious saga-obsessed Icelandic tycoon who wants to settle 400 years of national humiliation by humiliating the Danish company. And running through it all is a sly commentary on moviemaking and the power struggle between actor and director (the Danish title is Direktøren for det Hele). Of course, humour is a personal thing, and it may be funnier if you've worked in that kind of office environment or know enough self-obsessed actors to recognise the absurdity, and for some Von Trier's interruptions to comment on the film or his use of computer-chosen camera angles that don't always capture the action and give some of the film a disjointed feel will take them out of the film or simply irritate. But if you're on the right wavelength, there's a lot of fun to be had with The Boss of It All.
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on January 19, 2010
I was interested to see what Lars von Trier's take on comedy would be. From the cover I expected something resembling a Danish version of Ricky Gervais' 'The Office', and in some ways it is - 'cringe humour' is an accurate description.

The plot revolves around an out of work actor who is hired to impersonate the (non-existent) boss of an IT firm by Ravn, the firm's real owner. The actor is well and truly thrown in the deep end, and watching him succumb to Ravn's machinations provides most of the laughter.

Ravn used 'the boss' as a scapegoat over the years, whenever he made a decision his empoyees didn't like. One woman's husband hanged himself after 'the boss' made him redundant. Worse, Ravn has told each staff member different things about him.

The ending, without giving it away, is a very funny send up of actors and the acting profession.

Unlike some viewers I was fine with von Trier's use of automavision to film this, the only thing that did annoy me being the directors 'ironic' interjections at several points in the movie. I thought von Trier would have been above the use of trendy contrived irony, but apparently not.
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