Mikkel Nørgaard | 2010 | 88mins. | Denmark | Bay Area Premiere
"This is awkward gutter comedy raised to high art" (Todd Brown, Twitchfilm)
"What is the perfect place to witness and enjoy acute social discomfort? My vote goes to movie theatres; they're dark, you can go alone, and no one will be able to be say with absolute certainty that you were the one who was laughing uncontrollably at all of the most painful moments.
The comedy in Denmark's Clown comes in a few varieties, including carnivalesque dollops of urine and sex fluids, but the main focus is on excruciating awkwardness. In one of Ian McEwan's novels, the protagonist refers to exploitative daytime television as "the democrat's pornography," a chance to witness and enjoy humanity at its most abject, pitiful, and [I must shamefully insist] hilarious. Clown removes the guilt-factor from watching pained, frustrated fuck-ups parade their issues, thankfully, because it's fiction. Fiction disguised as reality, that is. The actors use their actual names and the mock-doc style cleaves close enough to realism to retain just the right amount of audience guiltit's that twinge of self-hate that really makes the comedy "pop."
Deadlines being what they are, I haven't yet been able to enjoy Clown in a theatre. Instead, I watched a review-screener on my laptop during a train trip, sitting next to a woman reading L. Thomas Holdcroft's "The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Interpretation." The real-life discomfort of this arrangement added some unwanted enhancement to the relentless awkwardness onscreen. Seeing as how our seats were close enough for me to read the title of her impressively dull book, it's more than slightly possible that she glimpsed Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen's nude and frequently spurting bodies, which the stars generously display in the most compromising situations possible throughout the movie's runtime. Even if she did miss all of that, she must have heard me laughing. Clown elicits laughs that go beyond mere schadenfreude-that's pleasure taken purely at the expense of another's pain, while I'm talking about the full-on ecstasy of taking on and living the humiliations of our fellow almost-broken men, and then shedding that pain as soon as the credits roll. The experience can be as a cathartic and meaty as enduring a great horror movie and then stepping out into the sun and the banality of a torture-and-scream-free life. Clown reminds us that torture and screaming can just as easily arise from immaturity, stubbornness, and plain ole masculine bullheadedness.
This movie isn't exclusively targeted at audience members who have watched clips from To Catch a Predator so many times that they have memorized the screennames of their favourite humilieesafter all, Clown was a hit television show for several seasons in Denmark before this film adaptation, and there can't be an entire nation of people as sick as I am, can there? Can there? (Nathan Ripley, Spectacular Optical Magazine)
Roxie Theater 1 (View)
3117 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107