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Life may be 'just a Dogme film' but this is not. It's something new. And funny.
Chris_Docker18 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Try this. Let's imagine you really want to see a movie. Maybe this one. Nothing wrong with that. But maybe it's also your turn to do some cleaning - you can't remember - but why risk argument or ill-feeling? You decide it was my idea to see the film together. It would be rude to refuse. You're a nice person after all.

The owner of a Danish IT company wants to sell up. There is only one problem. When he started the company he invented an imaginary boss to take the rap for unpopular decisions. So no-one has ever met the 'boss of it all' until now. The Icelanders doing the buying insist on dealing with the actual boss. So he hires an actor.

The actor, Kristoffer or 'Svend E' knows nothing about the company and finds the buyers are not the only ones he has to bluff convincingly. Over the years, he has 'sent' emails to the staff who start holding him responsible for what he has said - and of course he does not know what he's meant to have said. Ravn, the real owner, can't remember but there was some serious stuff going down. A hilarious screwball comedy, The Boss of It All also poses provocative moral dilemmas about how a boss can use fictions to mistreat workers.

Even as a comedy, the film works on several levels. It starts with a basic comedy structure where we know something most of the characters don't. Kristoffer is the butt of the jokes but we want him to win. We want him to guess what he has supposed to have said and somehow turn it to his advantage. All this provides belly laughs at a gut level. Especially when he is accused of 'lousy acting' by a woman who does not know he is acting and means something else, or when he 'has' to have raunchy sex with her. (Even the sex scenes are convincingly real, even while they are excruciatingly funny.)

For fans of von Trier's work, there are more subtle jokes. At the start, we hear von Trier's (uncredited) voice-over pointing out we can just about see his (physical) reflection. But the film, he says, is not worth a moment's reflection as it's comedy. It's as if someone had said, "Whatever you do, don't think of 'x'". Immediately, that's what you think about. Von Trier is the man who 'invented' Dogme95 cinema, the back-to-basics arbitrary rules that included 'The director must not be credited' - itself a pun on the theme of the film. Lines like, "Life is a Dogme film" make us wonder how serious von Trier is as a philosopher, or whether it's a joke at our expense. He can be a bit like the Kristoffer character who gleefully insinuates, "I'm better at being irritating on an intuitive level." Then there are jokes about Danes (who are traditionally afraid of conflict - it is very 'un-Danish to be 'bad cop') and gags that play on a historical power struggle between Denmark and Iceland. The many levels all work so fast that everyone can be laughing at something different at any one time.

Structurally, the movie dazzles. It gets seriously into screwball mode and then every so often the Narrator returns to inject a Brechtian distance, reminding us that it is fiction, making us think about how it comments on the real world or insidious office politics. We feel a tension, a need to get away from serious thought and just find out what happens. The narrator bows to our desires and promises, god-like, to resolve the dramatic tensions. (Fans of Shakespeare will recall how the Bard would use a Narrator to draw attention to what we were experiencing and so encourage us to analyse it. The Narrator, in Shakespeare's plays, as in The Boss of It All, could be the true boss, telling us what is really happening beneath the surface.) And the dramatic ending will have you clinging to your seat. Hold on to your sides cos if you laugh too much you might miss something.

Ever the creator of some new cinematic technique, von Trier has committed the movie's cinematography to a (published) mathematical formula and principle called 'Automavision'. This is designed to 'limit human interference' and free the work from the force of habit and aesthetics. As with Dogme95, no doubt half the film community will ask if he is serious while another sector will go off and studiously practice it. As an added fillip, Danish fans can play 'Lookey', to find hidden visual elements out of context in the movie and first winner gets to be an extra in the next film. Von Trier has also devised a new ascetic aesthetic to 'rediscover his original enthusiasm for film.' And he's tired of playing 'bad cop' in professional relationships while other people get to be 'good cop' and nice to everyone, yet this master of intellectual creation has taken the experience as inspiration for the film, "poking fun at artsy-fartsy culture."

They sometimes say that if God didn't exist you'd have to invent him. Sometimes you just need to know who you are dealing with. You need The Boss of it All. At least in this film Lars von Trier credits himself as Director. Not since The Five Obstructions has the question of authorship been so seriously questioned. Even the character of the actor, who wields enormous power, has to consult his 'character' on how things should proceed.

From such serious polemics as Dogville and Manderlay, the cowboy romp of Dear Wendy, the quasi philosophy of The Idiots, and the serious mainstream challenges of Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves, one of the most original creative forces in contemporary cinema has turned his technical genius to pure comedy. Gainsayers will still call him pretentious, but they may laugh their socks off before they find out who's telling the joke.
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Everybody thinks they could make a good and fair boss... or do they?
Asa_Nisi_Masa216 January 2007
Last Sunday's cinema outing with my friends here in Rome yielded a very pleasant surprise - Von Trier's unique latest flick, surprisingly enough, a comedy. I've read some comments claiming that this was one of his weakest movies - I respectfully, but firmly disagree. In fact, I would argue that even as a comedy, and thus deprived of the devices that normally make drama seem more powerful, this packed a punch on a par with Dancer in the Dark or Dogville, if not more. If understated power, rather than human agony and melodrama layered on very thick is what you best respond to, you might like Direktøren for det hele more than any other Von Trier movie you've seen so far.

Right from the opening shot, we are made to look into the windows of a cold and desolate office building in some characterless and efficient modern suburb like hundreds of others. Meanwhile, a narrator reassures us that this movie is a comedy. As such, he says, we are allowed not to think - to let this just be brainless entertainment. Hearing a narrator in a Von Trier movie make such an introduction, you just know that what you're about to watch will be anything but mindless fun! In fact, on hearing this I shifted rather uncomfortably in my seat, wondering what the Master Misanthrope had in store for me this time.

The basic plot: When Ravn, an IT company owner decides to sell his business off to a moody and irritable Icelandic businessman, he hires an actor to pretend that he's the Boss of Bosses. The pally, "cuddly", bearded Ravn, vaguely reminiscent of Robin Williams, explains his decision by saying that when he'd founded the company, he had never felt strong and charismatic enough to take on the mantle of president. He always preferred to just blend in with the rest of the staff, while actually pulling all the puppet strings. He had always told his staff that the "real" big boss (obviously non-existent) resided in America and never came to Denmark. When Ravn eventually decides to sell the company, the fussy Icelandic businessman expects the "real" president to sign the contact. For this reason, Ravn is forced to hire Kristoffer, an out-of-work, egocentrical actor, among other things obsessed with the obscure playwright Gambini and convinced that Ibsen is a talentless hack.

Naturally, Kristoffer knows nothing about the company, about IT and Ravn simply asks him to "improvise". Cue some cringeworthy company meetings with Kristoffer talking absolute crap (with one irascible employee, the "country bumpkin", constantly lashing out at him with his fist!). Cue also some inevitable office politics, involving the company's employees reacting to their new-found, flesh-and-blood figure-head, on whom they hang all their hopes and frustrations.

If this sounds like a Danish version of the British TV series "The Office" (remade also in America), please think again - the movie goes well beyond milking the comic potential of a typical contemporary office environment. The wonder of this movie lies in the way in which it plays with ethical issues. I won't give anything more of the plot away, as this would entail spoiling its central twists and surprises. Among other things, this multi-layered, dark and cynical comedy, which had my friends and I chatting for a solid two hours after we left the cinema, is about responsibility and what it means to be truly ethical. Holding oneself accountable for one's actions - how do you deal with that when the insatiable need to feel loved and approved of takes over? The movie is also a wonderful illustration of the typical contemporary corporate environment, whereby the employee is subtly demeaned in being prevented from ever putting a face to those provoking their misery on the workplace. It poses questions on what leadership really means. It shows us how a human being will become blind to the needs of others when it comes to satisfying one's vanity and emotional fragility.

Naturally, as a Lars Von Trier movie this is not a movie that has much faith in humanity. However, unlike Dancer in the Dark, it does not gang up on the viewer with its misanthropy and dramatic bullying. Unlike Dogville, it doesn't present a world in which moral nihilism is the only reality. Unlike Breaking the Waves, it doesn't revel in victimising its lead character. It's far more subtle and multi-facetted in its arguments against human integrity, not to mention that it's laugh-out-loud funny (the whole cinema was in stitches), superbly acted and truly unpredictable. I also enjoyed the cinematography, strictly hand-held digital camera with a purposefully "rudimentary" editing. Highly recommended, on several different levels.
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By all means, take it literally
Polaris_DiB13 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The film starts on an image of Lars von Trier and his camera reflected in a window. "This film is supposed to be escapist entertainment, and just that", he says. Well okay then. If we're going to play that way, I'll take his word for it. So long over-analysis into art film, let's sit back and enjoy the ride.

"The Boss of It All" is a comedy about an actor who is hired as a proxy for any potential ill-will towards the true boss of an IT company. Seems sneaky boss man can't handle being disliked, and so for all this time has been telling his employees that every unpopular and bad decision is being made by "the boss of it all", someone he has no need to ever appear until there's interest in selling the business. The actor, realizing the underhanded way the boss is mistreating all these nice people, has to work out a way to set things right while not breaking any of his agreements with the true boss. Hilarity ensues.

Is it funny? Actually, it is, and good thing too, else this movie would be nothing but pure head-ache. Von Trier uses this process called "Automavision" to leave the shooting and editing to a computerized process. I've heard some say it's a comment on "outsources." I say it's a bad idea. Von Trier said it himself: it's escapist entertainment. If that is so, then I'd like to not be distracted by the incongruous editing. And if that was just a sly joke, I'd still, at least, like to have some good images. It is a film after all.

As for the self-reflexive comedy, it works a lot more when it's in the story, not when it is narrated by von Trier. I think it's funny to have characters discuss, literally, what genre conceit or cliché they should use to send the narrative in the direction they prefer. The only time it gets heavy-handed is when one character alludes to Dogme film-making--von Trier's preferred style that is still, despite his own familiarity with it, a pretty underground movement that IT workers and even method actors might not be familiar with. However, nobody's going to see "The Boss of It All" without knowing who von Trier is, and nobody's going to know who von Trier is (for long) without knowing what Dogme film is, so I guess that's a moot point.

At any rate, I think this movie ends up proving an entirely different point--that no matter what the equipment used, a movie will remain interesting if it has a good story. Lucky for von Trier, he has one. So by all means, take his opening warning and his closing apology seriously, and don't read too much into it.

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Danish Humor and Culture
claudio_carvalho30 January 2010
The Danish lawyer Ravn (Peter Gantzler) owns the high technology company IT that he founded with the money he borrowed from his six directors. However, he invented a fictitious and powerful president named "The Boss of It All" to cover the unpopular policies of the company with the employees. When he decides to sell up the company to the Icelandic entrepreneur Finnur (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson), the buyer demands to negotiate directly with the president of IT. Ravn hires the unemployed actor Kristoffer (Jen Albinus), who is a fan of the actor Antonio Gambini, to perform the role of president of IT under a contract of confidentiality. Along the days, Kristoffer gets close to and emotionally involved with the employees of IT. Sooner he finds that the lawyer of Finnur is his ex-wife that tells him that Ravn is tricking his colleague that will lose their jobs and rights. Kristoffer tries to persuade Ravn to confess his business to the co-workers until he finds that Finnur is also a fan of Gambini.

The witty "Direktøren for det Hele" is a surrealistic dark humor comedy of Lars von Trier with a funny story of greed and vanity. I am a big fan of this director and I liked this movie, but I lost many jokes since I am not familiarized with Danish humor and culture. The conclusion is very sarcastic and I believe not easy to be understood. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Grande Chefe" ("The Big Boss")
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a play, not a movie, but so darn good at it!
XeniaGuberman7 May 2007
This movie is undoubtedly an ideological departure from the recent LVT endeavours. It has no tear-jerking aspirations, except as a matter of laughs. In a way, it is self-ridiculing, adding an extra layer of hilarious logical traps. It is a bit slow in the third quarter, but then picks up. Special noteworthy inventions: the Icelandic buyer (a riot!), his translator, mythical Gambini and the "Hanged Cat"! Acting, acting, acting is very witty and plastic. It makes the piece (with mostly indoors setting) less cinematic, more of a filmed play (which is undoubtedly the intention of the director). Good entertainment and fairly original.
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A friend hires his actor friend to stand in the line of fire as the absentee boss of his company
atassano18 October 2006
I think if Von Trier's name wasn't attached to the project the people commenting might me more willing to accept this brilliant comedy. If you watch this expecting Manderlay, Dancer in the Dark, or even The Idiots, you will be disappointed. One gets the feeling from the narration (done by Von Trier himself, or at least someone speaking directly for him) this was a one off for Von Trier;a film meant to cleanse his pallet before he sinks his teeth back into American Democracy. But by taking himself less seriously he's made one of the best films of his career. I saw this at the Pusan International Film Festival and it was one of the 2 best films I saw the entire week. A couple times I was close to tears.
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von Trier at his most Danish
stensson26 March 2007
This will be a little hard to understand, for those who are not familiar with Scandinavian office culture and enterprise democracy. For those who are, it's funny.

The unemployed actor gets a job. He's supposed to act as executive, during some sensitive business with an Icelandic buyer. It doesn't develop like he has imagined, but in fact it doesn't develop like anyone has imagined.

There's lots of kicking here in every direction and not at least against cultural snobbism. It's von Trier back to the basics, but not that easy to grip for people outside a Scandinavian environment.
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Superb, satirical enterprise comedy
ArthurKaletzky19 March 2008
What a wonderful surprise this film was! I never expected a pretty straightforward satire from von Trier and Dogme, but I certainly got it. The plot sounds well-used and obvious but the way it was transferred to a Scandinavian IT culture, the distanced approach to character writing, improvisation, and superb acting and direction made it a great comedy. On reflection, what was really hilarious was the massively over-inflated self-importance of each and every character. Ali G. and Borat could learn a few things from these Danes (and one very irate Icelander).

As the end credits voice-over said, "Apologies to those who expected more, and to those who expected less. The others got what they deserved". I was glad to be one of the others.
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Modern Comedy
knud_andreassen2 January 2007
Lars von Trier has done a modern comedy that gives (me) associations to the plays of the Norwegian-Danish comedy writer Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754). Even if it is a comedy and Lars von Trier himself in the start of the movie tells we can lean back and enjoy being entertained, the film has a message that - if you are open to it - will give you something to think about regarding moral and ethics. Like all good movies this has a surprisingly ending. "The Boss of it all" has divided the audience in Denmark in 2 groups – a group who absolutely dislikes the movie and a group which is rather enchanted with it. As you can understand I belong to the last group.
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Not one of Lars von Trier's more important works, but it's worth a watch
zetes14 June 2009
Lars von Trier's Danish-language comedy. It never interested me much, though I used to love von Trier (despite always acknowledging his numerous flaws). And it is definitely one of his least good films. If we ever find ourselves looking back at his career in the distant future, this one will not be mentioned much. It's about an out-of-work actor (Jens Albinus) who is hired by a company's CEO who is pretending only to be that company's lead lawyer (Peter Gantzler) to impersonate the mythical, unseen "boss of it all". Gantzler plans to sell off the company, as well as his employee's patents, to an Icelander (played by Children of Nature's director, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson), but he doesn't want to be identified as the guilty party, instead setting up this patsy to take the blame from his crazy co-workers (among whom is Iben Hjejle, whom you may remember from Stephen Frear's High Fidelity). The film is moderately amusing. Though many people seem to think von Trier's oeuvre consists mostly of tragedies, his work is more often darkly comic. The Boss of It All isn't nearly his funniest work. The Kingdom and The Idiots are both funnier, as is arguably Europa. Friðrik Þór Friðriksson actually provides most of the film's laughs as the thunderous, Dane-hating Icelander, recalling Ernst-Hugo Järegård's Dane-hating Swede from The Kingdom. But still, The Boss of It All is good, even if it will eventually just be a footnote.
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Lars von Trier: a gift to cinema!
giantpanther15 August 2007
Finally a breath of fresh air, after being let down by several of the long awaited features of my favorite directors (such as INLAND EMPIRE and The Fountain, both of which were good but not adequate considering the directors) von Trier delivers.

After the heavy handed Manderlay and Dogville von Trier decided he needed to take a "dogme pill" to recharge his batteries and what we have is this fine gem. While this is a comedy it is a very different kind of comedy, it is a self aware comedy but even more than that it is a comedy that is also willing to take on more abstract concepts.

Just like the late Ingmar Bergman, von Trier has a real knack for comedy even though he hardly goes in that direction. The basic premise of the film is that an actor is hired on as a fictional boss, conjured up by the real boss who wanted someone to hide behind. What adds a fine twist to that is that most of the employees feel that they know the boss to some degree because they have received letters and emails from him throughout the companies history, leading to some very funny situations.

What I love about von Trier's films is that they do not ask permission, and they do not apologize for being what they are. Von Trier is a bold artist and is the only consistently brilliant filmmaker working today.
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Von Trier does Comedy, Nails It
loganx-211 June 2008
Even when trying to make a frivolous film, Lars Von Trier still makes a minor classic, swimming in themes of pretension and acting, wanting to be liked, the hierarchies of power, exploitation, and cinematic comedy itself. A man who owns a company, w...(read more)ants to sell up, but in is a bind, because he created an imaginary president to take the blame for all stern management decisions, and now his buyer will only speak with the president. He hires an incredibly pretentious actor to do the one time gig, but things go wrong when he accidentally introduces himself to the employees, and has to spend a week riding out the role, till the deal is complete.

There's narration in the opening of the movie about this being a an attempt to make a non-political comedy(it fails), that pokes fun at "artsy -fartsy culture"(success)" and that alone was enough to make me want to stop. But this is the trick of all films by this guy, their grueling at times, but also strangely magnetic, and the end is always, always worth the wait, and there's no difference h ere.

The "Automotovision" is a bit distracting at first, but I forgot it was there for the most part, all of the actors, two from another Trier film "The Idiots", and Iben Hjejle (of High Fidelity), give great performances. Though Trier makes plenty of use of location changes, at ironic times, the cinema, the Mary go round, etc.

Iben Hjejle at one point says "life's like a dogma film, it's hard to hear the words sometimes but there still there", and that's an example of Trier's self mockery as much, as a good rule for viewing the movie in general, don't mind the camera, keep an eye of the characters. Enormously entertaining, and maybe brilliant.
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Now, this is a comedy
admiraglio31 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I've had it with comedies. I mean, I like comedies, always have. Probably I simply got too much depressed by the continuing lack of ideas displayed by writers and the continuing lack of style displayed by directors. When I started to watch "Direktøren for det hele" I surely didn't know what to expect. I mean... Lars von Trier is used to shot a genre that for sure isn't comedy. But oh boy if he's good at it. I don't want comment the technique of shooting (that is brilliant) but simply the content. And that's what makes this movie a great comedy:

1) the character have the right balance between absurdity and reality, starting from the actor failed who speaks only about Gambini; the boss who doesn't want to appear hard so he invented one; the employer who can't speak danish in a good way cause his lessons were cut (by the "boss"); the screaming girl at the copying machine; the punch in the face guy; the "you wouldn't **ck me until I bl** you good" woman; the Finnish buyer who hates danish (spectacular).

2) the story is funny and "sad" at the same time: the boss of a company, wanting to preserve his image of a good man, invent a fake boss to finger him with all his bad actions. But when he decides to sell the company, the buyer wants to speak with the invented boss. Here comes on stage a failed actor who should have played the part of the boss just for a few minutes but that ends up doing it for one week. During this time he'll have to confront all the people that he's supposed to have directed in all of those preceding years, confronting with odd situations knowing little or nothing of each of them and of the company itself.

3) great moments:

a) when the boss of it all agree to a request of an employer without knowing what it is (that would be marrying her);

b) when the mustache guy punches in the face the boss of it all;

c) all the times the Finnish buyer damns the danish;

d) when the boss of it all confess he isn't actually the real boss, because there exist the boss of the boss of it all;

e) when Ravn confesses, and the mustache guy punches him too;

f) when the Finnish mentions Gambini, and suddenly everything "changes" in the plane of the boss/actor.

Why couldn't all the comedies be like this one?
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Koncept Komedy
Chris Knipp4 June 2007
In Lars von Trier's small-scale, Automavision (computer-edited) Danish-language film comedy Ravm (Peter Gantzler) is the spineless (but mean) CEO of an IT company. He's such a people-pleaser he's hidden his real rank all along so the staff won't resent his more unpopular decisions. Now on the verge of selling the company out from under them, he calls in a "self-important, out-of-work" actor, Kristoffer (Jens Albinus) to play the role of "boss of it all"—be his front man by proxy to sign the papers. Lars himself pops up at the middle and end as a voice and at the beginning as a voice and a reflection—just long enough to mock himself and us. He also makes fun of Danes for their sentimentality and giggling and chatter, and, because the buyers of the company are Icelandic, he makes fun of Icelanders for their over-reliance on their ancient sagas and their petulant rages.

Americans don't take a beating this time, though there's one American member of the company cadre, Spencer (Jean-Marc Barr) who's completely ineffectual around the office because he can't finish a sentence in Danish. Lars has lots of fun with actors here, and of course with offices and corporate manipulations. Kristoffer has some kind of quixotic idol called Gambini whose "masterpiece" is a droning monologue of a chimney sweep. He puts soot on his forehead for luck when embarking on his role. As the boss, previously known to staff via e-mails only as Svend E., Kristoffer is completely inept, but the six-person startup cadre members nonetheless react to him as if he were the real deal and are variously ready to beat up, have sex with, or marry him. The women act like woman (with especially nice turns by Iben Hjejle and Mia Lyhne), and the men act like children. They weren't even meant to see him: that's just the first thing that goes wrong—due to the actor's excessive zeal, he goes and introduces himself. As he gets in deeper and deeper—with zero preparation—he finds himself constantly begging Ravm for secret coaching sessions "on neutral ground" (which includes the zoo). But these do nothing to limit his amazing ability to gum up the works for everybody, especially Ravm. Things turn farcical when Finnur's lawyer shows up and turns out to be Kristoffer's ex-wife, Kisser (Sofie Grabol). Will she give away the game?

This all makes a lot of sense if you've seen Von Trier's earlier film, the semi-documentary The Five Obstructions (2003), in which he and his film-making mentor Jørgen Leth teamed up to provide, indirectly, a kind of skeleton-key to his mind. The Dogme film-making "vow of chastity" reflects von Trier's own masochistic, Brechtian, but—given the grimness of some of his film content—surprisingly playful need to be forever imposing new rules and limitations that challenge actor, filmmaker, and audience. The Five Obstructions, where the director spars with mentor Leth, shows that he's also an affectionate and modest tease. "Although you can see my reflection, this film won't be worth a moment's reflection," is his personal opener to The Boss of It All.

That "moment's reflection" von Trier says we won't need suggests on the contrary how reflexive and clever all this actually is. The film, which could be seen as a sort of droll, deadpan parody of "The Office" (though von Trier says he hasn't even seen the TV series), is a set of characters and premises that create their own movie, just as the computer editing device does. And just as we're startled and appalled at times by the ugliness of shifting light and sound levels and pointless jump cuts the Automavision produced, von Trier and his actors may have been surprised at how some of the set-ups turned out. Will Svend, AKA Kristoffer, sign over the company to the growling Icelander, Finnur (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson)? Even he doesn't know. He has to "consult" his "character." And that makes him, like Lars, a big tease. 'The Boss of It All' may be more intriguing than funny—and there will be those, primed too intensely by 'Dogville' and 'Manderlay,' who'll see it as merely cruel and misanthropic, but it's a complete change from his recent stuff, and yet utterly in character.
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the subtle pleasure of bad filming technique
zordy23 January 2007
If we consider this film only for the script, it is just (that's a lot) a brilliant comedy often trespassing into farce. What makes it different is the Von Trier branding, made of evident cuts (one every 3 or 4 seconds), bad framing, continuity mistakes too evident to be real mistakes. Lars underlines in a voice-off this camera mismanagement, but to me it was quite annoying after a while. The second thing that makes the otherwise mainstream comedy based on a clever and very funny idea is the fact that it is oh so Danish. These northerners are very strange and funny to me: I mean, we are used of the American, British or (for me) Italian or French and now also Spanish ways of making us laugh, but those sad and pale faces dimly lit by the Nordic sun are so funny and different and crazy. Also the jokes between the Danish people and a raging Icelander citing sagas and verbally abusing the Danish who "kept Iceland under their heel for 4 centuries" are very exotic but perfectly enjoyable. The impression is sometimes to be watching a madhouse, but it's a different experience I would recommend.
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Ups and downs. A sneak preview from the Copenhagen Film Festival.
imdb-1224922 September 2006
Well, The film presents itself in a usual unfinished and poorly edited manner, on-camera Mic (with no sound perspective), bad framing, blown out lighting, and no continuity. However this is not enough for me to say that it is a bad film: I almost wish that I could. But Von Trier's dark-grey comedic script is absolutely fantastic, with a lovely (maybe predictable, but lovely none the less) twist, and this was delivered by very competent and expressive acting.

My initial thought as the credits rolled, which I stand by the morning after, is that it would have been better suited as a radio drama; and the only way that I could imagine that kind of camera work looking justified would be if it were filmed on Super 8, which would have made it an excellent film.

"The Boss Of It All" had its world premiere on the 21st of September 2006 at the Copenhagen International Film Festival.
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When a director dislikes his own movie
Kastberg-121 May 2007
Lars Von Trier is know for making heavy film-projects, which are never very funny. Now, this time around, someone has convinced him to make a comedy.

I had high hopes for this movie - Von Trier being a master instructor - and figured he'd be able to do it left handed.

However, Trier has never put a lid on his disdain for "mainstream", and seeing this movie, I can only explain the result as Trier loathing to do a mainstream comedy.

The editing of the film has the camera cutting for new angles all the time, in a tempo which would make MTV jealous. It is totally unnecessary. Lars also plays with deliberate continuous errors, just to make sure that the viewers is totally aware that he is only watching a movie.

The plot of the movie is fairly original, and the movie does have a few moments where it makes you smile, but I can't help but to feel,

that Lars Von Trier did his out most to sabotage his own movie. Especially the characters are totally overdone, and what had so much potential, lacks any form of release.

Lars even has the lead character stating his mission as director:"could it be, that modern comedy, is about putting the spectator on display?"

Lars' final F-you-and-goodbye ends the film - "those, who got what they came for, deserved it" (i.e. Lars wants to _educate_ his audience, not give them what they want).
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A hundred minutes of incomprehensible nothing
MadiZone6 April 2007
As a fan of Von Trier's other works, I am trying hard to identify the merits of this movie. But no matter how hard I try, I am left with nothing. I will not refer to this release as a motion picture or a movie. The correct classification for me would be staged footage, because that is what it feels like. A full length recording of Danish actors with no lines and no script, walking around in an office building. There is no chemistry or dynamics between the actors. Everything feels incredibly stiff and uncoordinated. There is no comedy. No delivery. No storyline. No point. I want a ticket refund.

Watching the unedited silent surveillance tapes of a gas station counter in Uzbekistan would be at least twice as much fun as watching Direktøren For Det Hele.
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Weird and unique...and worth your time.
MartinHafer25 October 2015
The fact that "The Boss of it All" is a strange film isn't unusual given it was directed by Lars von Trier. He's known for making unusual films and prides himself for his adherence to the posits of the so-called 'Dogma 95' film movement--one that makes many demands for its films, such as the story being placed in the present, the use of natural settings and the frequent use of hand-held cameras (among other things).

The film begins unusually--with a narrator acknowledging that this is a film and making comments about the story and cinematography! It also ends in pretty much the same way and even has a point in the middle where more comments are made (presumably by von Trier).

The story is about a very deceptive man. While Ravn appears to be a nice guy and his co-workers love him because he's 'like a cuddly bear', this is only a persona he puts on himself. Actually, he's a cutthroat businessman. Everyone thinks he's just a co-worker but he actually owns the company and has maneuvered everyone to sink their saving and energy into the company. But he's actually planning on selling his company to a group of Icelandic businessmen who HATE Danes and plan on firing everyone and making Ravn rich....and leaving his employees out in the cold with nothing! So how does he do this? He has created a fake boss--an absentee boss. But the folks who want to buy the company ALSO think there is such a boss. And, to finalize the deal, he needs to create a fake boss--a hatchet man who can sign off on the deal AND be blamed for everyone losing their jobs. To do this, he hires an out of work actor...but somehow his plan doesn't go as planned!

Believe it or not, this movie reminds me of an episode of "Cheers" that debuted long before this movie. In it, Norm owned a painting company and none of his workers worked hard or had any respect for working-- so he created an alter-ego, Anton Keitzer, who was a nasty monster and intimidated the workers into doing their jobs! It's a funny idea and it works just fine in the film. While it is funny, it's not hilarious however and I have the feeling it could have been funnier-- particularly if von Trier had made the film in a more conventional style. Still, it's well worth seeing.
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took some time to get into it
cheese_cake14 April 2008
i am surprised at the number of people who thought this was great, for me it was just a little bit too intellectual. if i have to think to figure it out, then it's really not a comedy. although there were parts of this movie which i enjoyed immensely, like when the female co-worker says all this outrageous, sexual things and the ending was also very good, very clever. gambini is stuck in my head. i don't know why people are bytching about the angles and the camera crap, that didn't bother me, at least i think it didn't. it was more it took time to figure out what type of comedy the director was aiming for, he did not make it easy for us his viewers to get it easily. he is probably contemptuous of us, but no matter i enjoyed this movie once i got into it and i think i need to watch it again, some time later, and i will probably enjoy it more, although some scenes are tedious. actually, the lead actor is one of the best things about this movie. he is so into being this perfect actor, that i really enjoyed his performance, the other's were like cardboard. i feel like von triers is pulling me to him and at the same time pushing me away. go watch it.
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A Masterpiece
fredthehatter12 July 2015
All the actors are really good in this movie but Jens Albinus is a pure genius, his performance in "the boss of it all" outclasses any actor i've ever seen (i'am a cinéphile and i watch a lot of movies from all over the world ).

Of course, Lars von trier has a lot to do about that performance, since that movie, he's my top director as well.

I've seen a lot of comedies but how many comedies can you watch all over years and still being interested and even laugh of the jokes you already know perfectly well ?

That's the only one i know. Because Lars von Trier set the scenes with humour and intelligence combined and his actors have a lot of self-derision, particularly Jens Albinus.

That's where all his genius come from, that and his actors skills. there is a lot of good actors but none as good as him with half his self derision, that's what makes him unique.

It's really difficult to choose your preferred movie but if i had to make that choice, "The boss of it all" would be the one.

Simply a masterpiece ...
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We're Not In Slough Anymore...
robinski3415 September 2013
Wonderfully judged, dry-as-a-bone comedy from Lars Von Trier. A likeably eccentric bunch of desk jockeys are led by an excellent central performance from Jens Albinus (Dancer in the Dark, The Idiots), with strong support from Peter Gantzler (Smilla's Feeling For Snow); Iben Hjejle (High Fidelity) and Sofie Gråbøl (her from in the jumper from The Killing). The story is satisfyingly complex and suitably farcical, and there are touches of simple genius throughout, from nicely timed chapter headings in the form of Von Trier's sardonic narration, to the 'careless' editing that keeps the film grounded in 'reality'. Albinus has a lovely comic touch, but LVT is the star, more comedy please, Herr Von Trier!
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Because the boss of it all said so...
anthonygreen9317 September 2012
Lars Von Trier's film, The Boss of It All (2006), is a successfully executed black comedy. The plot of the film revolves around an unemployed actor, Kristoffer, brilliantly played by Jens Albinus. The owner of an IT company, Ravn (Peter Gantzler), has told his employers of a fictitious character who is the 'boss of it all' in order to divert any unpopular decisions made by him. When a potential buyer of his company wants to meet the owner of the company in person, Ravn subsequently hires Kristoffer to act as the boss of Ravn's company. Kristoffer attempts to take on the 'boss of it all' persona in a serious manner, yet he is exposed to the audience as clueless and at times, idiotic. This provides much of the humour throughout the film where Kristoffer is so drawn in by the character, that he and 'the boss of it all' have become one and the same. As the story unfolds, the lies build and gather, one after the other, delving Kristoffer deeper and deeper into the continuous lies put forward by Ravn.

Writer-director, Von Trier, makes use of terrific dialogue through his actors. The whole cast gel together well and the way Albinus seamlessly becomes more drawn in by the charade makes for great entertainment. This film demonstrates a great example of how black comedy should be produced. The Coen Brothers surely must have taken some inspiration from Von Trier for their black comedy, Burn After Reading. Both films illustrate how something so stupid and unnecessary, snowballing into something taken seriously, can create such great humour. The dull visuals and chopped up cutting, effectively enhanced the mood of the film, creating a greater sense of reality and allowing the film to not be taken so seriously. The Boss of It All is genuinely hilarious, efficiently shot and well put together black-comedic film.
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achieves some interest after a faltering first half
Buddy-5128 June 2008
Ravn (Peter Gantzler) is a Danish entrepreneur who, due to an almost pathological need to be liked by everyone, has trouble effectively managing the employees who work for him. To overcome this deficiency, he devises an elaborate ruse, one that involves hiring an out-of-work actor (Jens Albinus) to pose as a fictitious company president whose job it will be to both bark out the orders and deflect any blowback that might come his way from the disgruntled workers. At first, Kristoffer goes along with the plan, convincing the staff that he is indeed the CEO of the firm and that he actually knows what it is he's talking about when it comes to implementing and enforcing company policy. Yet, slowly, Kristoffer comes to suspect that Ravn may not be quite as pure in heart or benign in his motives as the young actor was initially led to believe. Eventually, Kristoffer has to decide just how far he's willing to go with this charade if carrying it to its completion means backstabbing the very people he's actually come to care about in the short time he's been working there.

Like virtually all of Lars Van Trier's work, the highly satirical "The Boss of it All," is an acquired taste, one that demands a degree of patience from the viewer - along with a rather high threshold for pretentiousness - before it can be fully understood and appreciated. And, indeed, the first half of the film makes for rather rough sailing as we attempt to descry, through all the verbal fog and cinematic obscurity, just what it is that Van Trier is trying to accomplish. We know it has something to do with skewering the whole corporate-world-mentality thing, but the extreme verbosity and self-conscious film-making style go a long ways towards muddling the message.

But, damned if the whole thing doesn't somehow manage to pull itself together long about the midway point and we cruise safely to our admittedly unexpected destination. Part of the reason for the turnabout is that Van Trier is finally able to crystallize his theme once Kristoffer realizes he has a serious moral decision to make and when it starts becoming unclear which "boss" is really pulling the strings - i.e. who is the puppeteer and who the puppet, who the scenarist and who the actor - in this oddball relationship.

I've never been overly fond of Van Trier's self-conscious stylistic hallmarks - jump-cuts, catawampus framing, self-referential, film-within-a-film narration - since they serve mainly to call attention to the filmmaker and to throw us out of the drama he's showing us. Still, there are moments when the dark, tongue-in-cheek humor successfully hits its mark, and Van Trier does a nice job dovetailing his parody of the theater into his satire on business. And the unexpected ending demonstrates that none of us is truly above selling out those we care for if the price is right for doing so.
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A comedy by Lar von Trier
"The Boss of it All" is a comedy film by Danish director Lars von Trier. As expected by the name Lars von Trier, the film is a far cry from a standard comedy film. This is hardly a date movie, and it certainly doesn't kowtow to a teenager's sensibilities. In fact, for all intents and purposes "The Boss of it All" is less a comedy and more an examination of the comedic form.

Lars von Trier is well-known for his pitch black dramas that frequently investigate the form and function of the drama occurring. The operatic tragedy "Dancer in the Dark" would be an example. With "The Boss of it All", he's got somewhat of a farce on his hands. He opens the film with the self-consciousness of a film parody, and continues to interrupt in a similar fashion throughout. The story, as it is, follows an out of work actor into a real world setting where he is hired to play the role of the president of a company no one has ever seen. From there he's left to fend for himself with a variety of improvisation skills and knee-jerk reaction.

This is a challenging film from the get-go. It's art-house to a fault. The camera framing and editing style are deliberately off-putting and inconsistent, the actors frequently act as though their lines have yet to arrive, and the story is actually of little consequence. What Lars von Trier has assembled seems to be a statement on a business without a head honcho, or more specifically what a film might look like without a director. This is very tricky, well-orchestrated insanity.
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