Quickly, before I don the suit and start on some pre-houseguest cleanup.
Russ’s mom, in typically succinct fashion, got straight to the heart of of the Lars Von Trier issue when she said “He stinks.” I know that people have made the argument, as you alluded to, that the over-the-top martyrdom theme in his work can be interpreted as a feminist critique, rather than mere over-aestheticized, European-style misogyny. Certainly, I’ve winced when I’ve heard people say that they can’t stand Mad Men because they don’t like seeing the racism and misogyny (really, I’ve heard this!). But you can make the same claim about anything, can’t you? Is the Saw series a brilliantly subversive critique of movie violence? Is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra actually pure genius (I suspect yes, but that’s probably based on my weird, undying love for this guy). Do we just make the distinction based on whether the director is European, as you suggested in your Brown Bunny comparison? That might be the key, actually: this is sly art, this is drivel. This is vile, this is darkly clever. You know what I mean, Russ.
So are movie critics just blinded by their infatuation with Fronch fries, Fronch dressing and Puroo?