May 4, 2004

Watch It Because It's Good For You

okladka.jpgThere are certain films which Cinecultist considers "vegetable movies" (as in, watch them, they're good for you) and we definitely count the Danish director Lars von Trier's work in that category. The only caveat we like veggie movies in theory, we know we should watch them but often we have a difficult time sitting all the way through them like von Trier's Medea (1987) produced for Danish television from a script by Carl Th. Dreyer.

Cinecultist borrowed this DVD from our veggie film loving friends Adriane and John after a discussion a week or so ago of Dogville, a movie CC knows we should see but hasn't gotten around to it yet. Adriane has her reservations about Dogville (Brechtian goodness but a muddled tone), but recommended highly Medea as an example of von Trier's superior early work. That's the thing about veggie films, they sound really appealing in the abstract, especially if you get someone passionate about the picture describing it to you.

The DVD only runs 76 minutes and CC once sat through all 190 minutes of the Birth of Nation, that's over 3 hours of Klan fun, so we figured this wouldn't be a problem. On a Tuesday night, we popped the DVD into the player. Moody, grainy, washed out video stock captures well the marshlands and castle where this Greek play is set. The actors are very expressive, and von Trier captures this confidently with a Dreyer-esque emphasis on facial close up. The drama is compelling even though we know where it's going, Medea will kill her kids to spite Jason but when and how? Despite all of this, 35 minutes in, Cinecultist is stretched out on the couch fast asleep. CC thought we were coming down with the flu or something, our exhaustion came on so suddenly. A day or so later, we're waiting to go to dinner with a friend so we try to watch the end. Again we couldn't finish the film and it put us into a total depressed funk. We've now removed the DVD from the player and put it back in the pile of things to return to Adriane and John. Our health and well being just couldn't finish it.

Maybe it's too moody a movie, Cinecultist is a sensitive sort. Maybe CC just doesn't like von Trier even though we think we should. We're not certain but Cinecultist wanted to share our struggles so the next time you can't make it all the way through some veggie movie you know you should like, you won't feel quite so bad.

Posted by karen at May 4, 2004 8:35 AM

I know exactly what you mean. I've been dragging through the entirety of The Damned for weeks. I need to review the DVD for DVD Angle, but it pains me just to get through the film, let alone have something meaningful to say about it. I mean, I love my Visconti as much as the next person, but this one is just long and slow and painful. Gotta love the "veggie movies."

Posted by: Scott at May 4, 2004 10:13 AM

Maybe CC should try von Trier's "The Kingdom" - although it is somewhere around 8 hours long (!) with parts 1 and 2, I found it to be in turns hilarious, strange and compelling, and sometimes all at the same time. However, some parts may be too scary for CC, whom I remember clearly as being a little on the squeamish side. Plus, the fact that the laughably bad American remake is currently circulating the networks might put some people off. However, the grainy sepia tones of "The Kingdom" are worth digesting, and it even comes in bite-sized episodes so you don't have to chug the whole thing at once. C'mon, Cinecultist, here comes the airplane...

Posted by: Seattle Maggie at May 4, 2004 1:22 PM