Lars von Trier – Breaking the Waves (1996)

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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

Thomas Vinterberg – Festen [+Extras] (1998)

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The Father turns 60. His family, which is a big one of the kind, gathers to celebrate him on a castle. Everybody likes and respects the father deeply…or do they? The Youngest Son is trying to live up to The Father’s expectations. He is running a grill-bar in a dirty part of Copenhagen. The oldest son runs a restaurant in France, while the sister is a anthropologist. The older sister has recently committed suicide and the father asks the oldest son to say a few words about her, because he is afraid he will break into tears if he does it himself. The oldest son agrees without arguments. Actually he has already written two speeches. A yellow and a green one. By the table, he asks the father to pick a speech. The father chooses green. The oldest son announces that this is the Speech of Truth. Everybody laughs, except for the father who gets a nervous look on his face. For he knows that the oldest son is about to reveal the secret of why the oldest sister killed herself. Continue reading

Hyuk Byun – Interview (2000)

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Interview follows a film crew while they sort through interviews to make a movie, which may or may not be a documentary, about destined love. In the process, the director within this film, Eun-suk (Lee Jung-jae) seems to be destined to fall in love with one of the interviewees, Young-hee (Shim Eun-ha). We learn through a purposely disjointed narrative that this may not have been when Eun-suk met Young-hee for the first time. Added to this temporal disorientation is further doubt in the events unfolding since Young-hee is as unreliable in her interview as Eun-suk is silent about his past. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Idioterne AKA The Idiots (1998)

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“Now Lars von Trier, one of Dogma’s founders, has used these techniques to produce a two-hour, semi-pornographic Mentos commercial.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Lars von Trier is, to me, one of the most consistently intriguing media figures of the last few years. He’s so determined to carve a niche for himself in film history that he seems to be guaranteed one, at very least, due to his grandstanding. Critical reception to this self-proclaimed genius is certainly mixed. It’s not surprising that he is usually able to alienate a good portion of his audience before they even view his film. Others, like Scott, seem unable to get a concrete grasp on what they’re watching. For my money, the film is a masterpiece. Combined with his other 2000 U.S. release, Dancer in the Dark, von Trier has proven his self-proclamations of cinematic genius to be true. Continue reading

Åke Sandgren – Et Rigtigt menneske AKA Truly Human (2001)

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A modern fable about an invisible man who gets the chance to become a real human being. He has to learn to be brave, honest and conscientious. ‘P’ is a fantasy figure, living behind the wallpaper in seven year-old Lisa’s bedroom. Due to the destruction of the building in which Lisa lives, P leaves Lisa and her fantasy world. He ends up at a refugee center, where he learns Danish and becomes an integrated member of society. An apartment is assigned to P and he gets a job in a shoe store. P’s naiveté and good will makes him an easy prey. Without being guilty, he becomes under suspicion of being a wanted child molester. This is the story of P’s dramatic journey through the Fall of Man in an attempt to become a good citizen. Continue reading