Carl Theodor Dreyer – Ordet AKA The Word [+extra] (1955)

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Plot:
A farmer’s family is torn apart by faith, sanctity, and love—one child believes he’s Jesus Christ, a second proclaims himself agnostic, and the third falls in love with a fundamentalist’s daughter. Putting the lie to the term “organized religion,” Ordet (The Word) is a challenge to simple facts and dogmatic orthodoxy. Layering multiple stories of faith and rebellion, Dreyer’s adaptation of Kaj Munk’s play quietly builds towards a shattering, miraculous climax.

Review:
‘Powerful’ doesn’t do justice to this 1955 exploration of life, death and faith from Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer. Based on Kaj Munk’s 1932 play, ‘Ordet’ is an austere, realist work on one level as it joins a farming family in their Jutland home over a short but devastating period of time. Continue reading

Susanne Bier – Elsker dig for evigt AKA Open Hearts (2002)

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Quote:
Cecilie is devastated when her fiance Joachim is seriously injured in a car accident and is paralysed from the waist down. She begins an affair with Niels, a doctor at the hospital where Joachim is being treated. Their relationship is further complicated by the fact that the doctor’s wife Marie was the driver that caused the accident in the first place. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Breaking the Waves (1996)

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Quote:
For those who aren’t aware of it, Lars von Trier is obsessed with Carl Dreyer. He views him as a father figure, his role model, his favorite film is “Ordet”, he used Henning Bendtsen as cinematographer on “Epidemic” and “Europa”, he bought the suit Dreyer wore at the opening of “Ordet” and wore it at the opening of “Europa” (and again in “Riget”) and finally, during an interview he announced “I am a Dreyer guy”.

Like “Ordet”, so does “Breaking the Waves” depict the conflict between dark religion, which preaches the fear of God, and light religion, which believes in the love of God, and Lars von Trier very wisely doesn’t question religion. Instead he employs the conflict as a tool by which to examine how love and goodness, a golden heart, leads to self-sacrifice and ultimately the martyrdom of Bess. Speaking of martyrdom, Lars von Trier made cinematographer Robby Müller shot Bess with same gaze as Falconetti in Dreyer’s “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”. As much he is a “Dreyer guy”, as much is “Breaking the Waves” a “Dreyer film”. Continue reading

Jørgen Leth – Det Erotiske Menneske AKA The Erotic Man (2010)

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Quote:
Erotic Man (Det Erotiske Menneske) (Director: Jørgen Leth): This somewhat experimental and extremely personal film raised so many issues for me to think about that I’m not sure my rating will align much with that of other reviewers. I don’t mind at all. Leth, who has been making films for more than 40 years, has made perhaps his most honest and personal one yet. An examination of the erotic, it’s more of a personal memoir, a record of an attempt to recreate (or create) memories or fantasies (romantic/sexual) from years of experiences all over the world. Leth seems to have an affinity for the exotic, having traveled extensively in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since 1991, he’s lived in Haiti, and this film seems to have emerged from a long-term love affair he experienced there. In fact, this film and his memoir The Imperfect Man have caused controversy in his native Denmark because in them he details his relationship with Dorothie, the 17-year-old daughter of his cook. Continue reading

Anders Walter – Helium (2014)

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A young boy Alfred is dying, but through the stories about HELIUM – a magical fantasy world, told by the hospital’s eccentric janitor Enzo, Alfred regain the joy and happiness of his life, and finds a safe haven away from daily life.

IMDB Review wrote:
The special begins with Anders Walter’s “Helium,” a Danish short that follows the life of a young boy named Alfred (Pelle Falk Krusbæk), a terminally-ill young boy who is wasting away in a children’s hospital. Alfred, however, has his mind temporarily taken off his illness when he meets Enzo (Casper Crump), a janitor who tells him of a place called “Helium,” an alternative place to go rather than Heaven. The idea of Heaven is unexciting to Alfred, and the idea of “Helium” even owes itself to the fact that Alfred loves balloons, blimps, and all sort of objects that fly thanks to air. Enzo makes him a red balloon dog, which he informs Alfred will allow the airship that will eventually pick him up to know where he is at and that he wants to go to “Helium” rather than Heaven. Continue reading

Mads Brügger – Det røde kapel AKA The Red Chapel (2009)

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A witty and controversial documentary from Zentropa, which won the SUNDANCE World Cinema Jury Prize in 2010.

Quote:
A journalist with no scruples and two Danish/Korean comedians—one a self-proclaimed “spastic”—travel to North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange. On the pretext of being a small Danish theatre group, named The Red Chapel, they are allowed into the country, but unbeknownst to the North Koreans, cultural exchange is not really what they have in mind. Mads Brügger, the journalist; Simon, the straight man; and Jacob, the spastic, use humor to challenge one of the world’s most notorious regimes. The troupe rehearse under the watchful eye of government officials brought in to “collaborate” on their performance and make it more palatable for the Korean regime. They are shown the important historical sights by a female government employee, who smothers poor Jacob with motherly affection. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013)

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CUT VERSION

Quote:
A man named Seligman finds a fainted wounded woman in an alley and he brings her home. She tells him that her name is Joe and that she is nymphomaniac. Joe tells her life and sexual experiences with hundreds of men since she was a young teenager while Seligman tells about his hobbies, such as fly fishing, reading about Fibonacci numbers or listening to organ music. Continue reading