454 Europa

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

Re: 454 Europa

#51 Post by Barmy » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:03 pm

Nicole was human in Margot at the Wedding and (partially) The Invasion as well.

piano player
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:03 pm
Location: Europa

Re: 454 Europa

#52 Post by piano player » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:58 pm

Rich Malloy wrote:
piano player wrote:Ernst-Hugo Jaregard is priceless as the conductor in this movie.

Come to think of it, I actually prefer the von Trier aesthetics of Europa and his eariler movies, it is certainly more effective than the headache 'dogme' stuff he became obsessed with later, anyway.
Jaregard was a wonderment, certainly, but I can't agree with the rest! In fact, I think "Idioterne" (his only "true" dogme film) is one of his most successful in all respects: cinematically, philosophically, as a social critique or strictly in terms of ensemble acting. I find it to be simultaneously among his most experimental films and his most emotionally affecting. And I consider "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark" to be at nearly the same high level.

Tastes differ, eh? No great pronouncement, certainly, but what surprises me most about your rejection of LvT's middle period "headache inducing obsessions" is that it requires you to dismiss Ernst-Hugo Jaregard's towering achievement as Stig Helmer, the jerkwad Swedish physician navigating the Danish scum in "Riget". Few performances are so emblematic, so memorable, so hateful and hilarious - and certainly greater than anything Jaregard accomplished in "Europa". And Trier's first hand-held, DV foray into what soon would be distilled and refined into the tongue-in-cheek tenets of dogme-95 remains among his most accessible and successful works. It's the first time Trier seems to have acknowledged humanity - if not exactly generously, then at least in all its petty, messy reality - and this series and his subsequent films seemed finally to emerge from that hermetically-sealed cocoon of solipsism that always struck me as a distancing effect without any real purpose. More a reflection of a certain callowness on Trier's part than an aesthetic.

Which isn't to say there's not a lot to admire in that first period. But as much as I like that initial trio, they are in too many ways derivative of the genres they appropriate and simultaneously too embalmed in a formalizing aesthetic to evoke that certain "breath of life" that separates a transcending work of art from an exercise in form. I'm certainly not denying that the later films aren't constructions of a rigid formalism of another kind, just that the middle and later eras tend to be more successful for my tastes, more emotionally generous, more organic, more multi-faceted in their realization and multi-valent in meaning. And, yes, I include even the late-era Brechtian pantomimes, which mark - among other things - Nicole Kidman's final performance as species Homo sapiens before completing her metamorphosis into the brittle, porcelein mannequin that slowly rotates before the camera today.

If you haven't seen "Riget", then you owe it to yourself to wade into it's dingy DV, hand-held reality - heachaches be damned - if only for the gobsmacking brilliance of Jaregard's Dr. Helmer.
I have seen Riget. Many times. In fact I count it as the one of the finest pieces of television ever made...and, yes, Stig Helmer remains one of the coolest, most witty, characters of the swedish medical board. As for the dogme/headache part I stand by it. It is my opinion - as well as Ingmar Bergman's - that von Trier's movies around that point could have been even better, had he only chosen to set them free, instead of following a bunch of destructive rules.

But then again, von Trier's 'dogme' comrades are even worse. 'Festen' by Thomas Winterberg is a case in point here. Basically a fantastic movie that drags in the dust a bit because of the wont for dogme, french classicism and Aristoteles still undefined "theory of the three unities".

Then again, I love Festen, and I love von Trier. I just wish those danes weren't so self-destructive.

Rich Malloy
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Re: 454 Europa

#53 Post by Rich Malloy » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:28 am

Player, is it your opinion that "Riget" is one of the finest television pieces ever produced despite those elements that would later be codified as dogme? Do you find you like it more than Element/Epidemic/Europa?

I ask because I have a hard time dismissing those dogme elements as a "bunch of destructive rules", particularly in the case of Trier. I'm of the opinion that those "rules", in both large and small ways, set him free. I'd further argue that Trier's dogme wasn't really so much about jettisoning the genre elements derived from the popular cinema. In fact, those remain in full-force in a supernatural serial like "Riget", a classic haunted house story featuring Miss Marple by way of ER. What dogme seemed to do for Trier, at least most effectively, was to free him from the shackles of stultifying art-house propriety.

More specifically, by depriving himself of a certain constricting hand-me-down aesthetic derived from the dinosaur DNA of the European art-cinema -- the slowly tracking/panning camera, the long take/medium shot, the winking appropriation of emblematic cinematic grammar, the meticulously realized mise-en-scene art-produced within an inch of its life, the reflexive and all-too-familiar socio-political tropes of a displaced Europe and disintegrating europeanness so characteristic of 20th century continental cinema and all the familiar, formulaic tropes we associate with that -- by depriving himself of the very crutches upon which his earlier films lumbered, Trier was able to capture something more elusive and more elemental.

Thereafter, a Trier film strikes me as more alive, more engaging. No longer a petrified husk clearly labeled and carefully pinned to a board, but an amorphous, organic vessel through which something like oxygen flowed - a lifeforce, spirit, blut - a looser construct allowing for the happy accident, the free association, the real emotion, all those qualities we might refer to as more essentially "human". Colin's point about Trier's approach to his actors is particularly astute in this regard, as though he was seized with the sudden realization that he could draw from their pulsing veins something more than the bloodless cyphers and abstracted personas that populated his prior films.

Trier's more recent work perhaps seeks a balance between those first two periods, though "Manderley" strikes me as a flatter film than "Dogville", perhaps reflecting a disenchantment with the strictures Trier set for the America trilogy. But rather than attempting to contextualize those late-era films, I'll simply retreat into personal opinion: none of Trier's films from any period are so affecting to me as those we associate with "dogme". Certainly this includes "Riget", the breakthrough and prototype (did you know the inspiration came from Barry Levinson's police procedural "Homicide: Life on the Street"?), but I'd be remiss if I didn't again state that "Idioterne" - Trier's only "dogme certified" film - still strikes me as the most perfectly realized of his career.

Rich Malloy
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:29 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#54 Post by Rich Malloy » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:44 am

And I would be especially remiss for not pointing out that "Idioterne" is in dire need of a proper home video release, and is precisely the sort of title that screams out for a lavish Criterion special edition wherein - among other things - much scholarship and no small amount of sport can be made of the whole dogme thang. If this hasn't yet been realized for any reason other than "rights issues"... then I reckon it warrants a "Wtf?" email to Dear Jon.

piano player
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Re: 454 Europa

#55 Post by piano player » Fri Jan 02, 2009 12:34 pm

Rich Malloy wrote:Player, is it your opinion that "Riget" is one of the finest television pieces ever produced despite those elements that would later be codified as dogme? Do you find you like it more than Element/Epidemic/Europa?

I ask because I have a hard time dismissing those dogme elements as a "bunch of destructive rules", particularly in the case of Trier. I'm of the opinion that those "rules", in both large and small ways, set him free. I'd further argue that Trier's dogme wasn't really so much about jettisoning the genre elements derived from the popular cinema. In fact, those remain in full-force in a supernatural serial like "Riget", a classic haunted house story featuring Miss Marple by way of ER. What dogme seemed to do for Trier, at least most effectively, was to free him from the shackles of stultifying art-house propriety..
Not despite, no. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that the style of Riget meant a creative rebirth for Lars von Trier. What I'm trying to say is not that 'hand held camera and lack of post-production sucks', I'm merely implying that the very thought of setting up rules around cinema is absurd, and that it will always lead to a certain element of dishonesty. In idioterne the faux lack of skill is not headache inducing (for me) because of 'a jumping camera', or anything like that. It is simply because the director has chosen to use these rules to the extreme, the effect is simply claustrophobic and unfree, and therefore the movie suffers. What I'm asking for is a certain level of pragmaticism - Could this scene have been better an other way? Yes, of course, but if it isn't dogme I won't use it...

Riget is visually stunning. But that's not because they decided to run around with hand held cameras - it's because the cameramen were top notch. Had they - God forbid - decided to use a steadicam the end result would perhaps be even better. (I'm not sure if Riget qualifies as dogme though).

Trier's latest film "direktören för det hele", uses an 'automatic' computer that choses camera angles in a seemingly random pattern. I do admit it is a fun approach, and dogme is also fun, but taken as a rule it will simply become tedious.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#56 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:17 pm

I was just wondering if there were any influence of Sam Fuller's Verboten! on Europa? They seem to share similar plots (I'm afraid it is a Fuller I have not yet seen). Perhaps I'm just reading too much into Criterion's December pairing of a von Trier and a Fuller film!

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Magic Hate Ball
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:15 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#57 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:18 pm

If I liked Dancer In The Dark and Dogville, would I like this? The trailer looks really interesting and I was thinking of blind-buying it at this Barnes & Nobel sale.

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Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#58 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:22 pm

It's quite different from those two films, but it's still quite an excellent film and certainly worth a blind buy at 50% off.

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foliagecop
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:42 am
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Re: 454 Europa

#59 Post by foliagecop » Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:58 am

It was 'Europa' that first got me into von Trier. The sheer style of the thing struck a chord with me - the superimpositions, the artsiness of the b&w/colour switcheroo, the in-yer-face blatantness of the Holocaust reference. I thought to myself, 'If this is what makes a von Trier film, gimme more!'

Luckily, I was quickly to realise this was no one-trick, one-style pony. 'The Kingdom' (which I devoured in one 5-hour sitting in a packed Glasgow Film Theatre on its initial release) and 'Breaking The Waves' (a gorgeous, heart-breaking film) soon put paid to that notion.

Even though von Trier's sensibilities have moved far away from the highly stylized 'Europa', it's still I film I love revisiting. It's (literally) a ride from start to finish. And that von Sydow narration ...

"On the mental count of ten, you will be in Europa. Be there at ten. I say: ten."

I still get chills.

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Forrest Taft
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:34 pm
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Re:

#60 Post by Forrest Taft » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:41 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Trier's Element is a great addition - the latter sections focus on the initial stages of Dimension, von Trier's film he proposes to be shot in stages over 30 years. I've no idea whether he's still keeping up with it, but it's interesting seeing them filming with Barr, Kier and Eddie Constantine, who handles a request to incorporate footage from his funeral when he dies into the film with remarkable grace!
Apparently Von Trier got fed up with Dimension after seven years, and stopped shooting in 1997. He has turned the existing footage into a 30-minute short though, which will be released on a dvd accompanying the august issue of the Norwegian film magazine Rushprint. The dvd will also include shorts by Roy Andersson and Aki Kaurismäki, among others. Don't know if it will be receiving a commercial dvd release, but I'll be receiving it shortly... \:D/

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ola t
They call us neo-cinephiles
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Re: Re:

#61 Post by ola t » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:02 am

RobertAltman wrote:Apparently Von Trier got fed up with Dimension after seven years, and stopped shooting in 1997. He has turned the existing footage into a 30-minute short though
That's interesting! Hopefully it will appear elsewhere eventually. Another "missing" project is the multi-director live-on-TV D-Day which was once slated to be released on DVD but never surfaced (to my knowledge).

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DignanSWE
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:30 am
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Re: 454 Europa

#62 Post by DignanSWE » Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:39 am

I recommend anyone interested in watching Dimension to order the "Nr 9/10 2010" issue of the Swedish magazine FLM. The included DVD cointains the "short" with optional commentary by Peter Schepelern.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: 454 Europa

#63 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:50 pm

Seems like as good a place as any to put this: The AV Club interviews Udo Kier
Okay, now you force me to tell the whole story of how I met Lars von Trier. Because Medea was the beginning of a friendship—and people never understand what a friendship is. I'll tell you what a friendship is to me. Friendship to me is, if my friends need my little finger to live, I'm going to have it cut off. I’m going to the hospital, they cut off my finger, and maybe I have a gold finger instead, and I become famous. But I still give it to my friend.
I'll have to stop here because otherwise I'll just end up quoting the entire interview, it's that good. He talks about Mala Noche, My Own Private Idaho and the Morrissey films if you need more of a Criterion connection. But not Berlin Alexanderplatz -- he wanted to talk about Barb Wire instead.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 454 Europa

#64 Post by zedz » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:03 pm

I was going to link to that interview as well, but couldn't figure out the best place to post the link. It's a riot, with Kier every bit as demented and quotable as you could wish.

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Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#65 Post by Murdoch » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:27 pm

I love how Kier just refers to Paul Morrissey as "a man in a beard."

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
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Re: 454 Europa

#66 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:14 am

zedz wrote:I was going to link to that interview as well, but couldn't figure out the best place to post the link. It's a riot, with Kier every bit as demented and quotable as you could wish.
Absolutely, there are about fifteen relevant places, and yet none of them are! Bizarrely I'm left with a much deeper appreciation for Pamela Anderson as well! It is a shame though that there is no mention of one of his other best roles for von Trier, having that breakdown while relating a personal (or is it?) story in Epidemic. Though it does fit in with his 'tired king' acting style! And it is interesting that he apparently got the role in that "My Son, My Son" Werner Herzog film as a swap for a Jodorowsky one.

Even though it's January this gives about fifteen different contenders for quotes of the year. My favourite is this:
AVC: Okay, we must skip ahead…

UK: Yes, please do. Let’s talk about Pamela Anderson please, now. I want to talk about Pamela Anderson!

AVC: I was going to ask about Berlin Alexanderplatz next.

UK: No, I want to talk about Pamela!

Barb Wire (1996)—“Curly”

UK: So I got a call, and they said, “Would you be interested in making a movie with Pamela Anderson?” I said, “Of cou-u-urse! Any time!” So the first day of shooting I knocked at her trailer—which was enormous, as big as her breasts...

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Alan Smithee
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Re: 454 Europa

#67 Post by Alan Smithee » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:39 pm

The Bible is wonderful. It’s only one book, but you can put two grams of coke on top of the Bible, and you first take a line of coke and then you open the Bible. Because then you understand.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 454 Europa

#68 Post by zedz » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:02 pm

Okay, okay, I'll tackle the elephant in the room.

Coming soon to this and every other internet forum near you:
'Tommy' Udo Kier wrote:I cannot answer you, because it’s totally unknown to me what you just asked me, and also very boring.

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