The latest from occasionally controversial director Lars von Trier is "The Boss of It All", a comedy that goes along with the director's "Dogme" philosophy/method (filming must be done on location with what is available there only, the director is not credited, no filters, no superficial action, sound must not be produced apart from the images, etc.)
While "Boss" retains the same method, it is certainly a serious departure from the serious for Von Trier, a filmmaker who has produced a series of heavy, epic dramas in recent years ("Dogville", "Manderlay", "Dancer in the Dark".) The film is a comedy, focusing on Ravn (Peter Gantzler), the head of a company who is trying to sell it to a man from Iceland who trusts him about as far as he could probably throw him.
So, seeking to put a better face on the place, he hires an actor pal named Kristoffer (Jens Albinus) to impersonate the fictional "boss of it all", who has never been seen - and who Ravn has been telling his employees is responsible for all of the unpopular decisions - and who usually resides in the US.
The actor seems hesitant at first, but quickly gets into the role, asking himself what would the character do. Soon enough, despite knowing nothing about the company, he's gotten a bit out of Ravn's control. While the result seems to be attempting a comedy, the results are an interesting exploration of office politics, but not amusing all that often due to the film's rather sluggish energy and Von Trier's inexperience with comedy.
The film's cinematography is irritatingly jumpy (jump cuts are seen frequently for no particular reason) at times, as well, possibly due to Automavision, the computer-controlled camera program that Von Trier used (Automavision is actually credited as the cinematographer of the movie, no joke.) While robots seem to be replacing people in certain jobs, this film is proof that cinematographer should not be one of those jobs. Performances are fine though, especially Gantzler (who looks a little like Treat Williams) and Albinus.
Overall, Von Trier has crafted a mildly enjoyable workplace film, but Von Trier doesn't seem to have mastered comedy yet - and he'd be best advised to leave the cinematography to the humans.
VIDEO: "Boss" is presented by IFC in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is about as good as one can expect from the low-budget material. Sharpness and detail are iffy, as the picture looks at least mildly crisp for most of the running time, but some scenes can appear softer than the rest. Some minor grain is occasionally seen as well, although it appears to be an intentional element of the cinematography. No edge enhancement or artifacting were noticed, and colors looked icy and subdued.
SOUND: The Danish mono soundtrack certainly goes for the bare basics, but audio quality was satisfactory.
EXTRAS: Two short mockumentaries ("The Actors and Journalist of It All" and "The Foreigners of It All"), as well as three featurettes ("The Making of the Boss Of It All", "The Director Of It All" and "Automavision: The New Dogma"), as well as the film's trailer.
Final Thoughts: Von Trier has crafted a mildly enjoyable workplace film, but Von Trier doesn't seem to have mastered comedy yet - and he'd be best advised to leave the cinematography to the humans. The DVD offers adequate audio/video quality and a few minor extras. A rental for Von Trier fans.
The Film B-