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Well-Meaning People Are Dangerous: The Films of Lars von Trier
January 20 through 26, IFC Center

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In a career that began with an 8mm camera, Lars von Trier has personified many movie- culture paradigms: formal nose-thumber, malcontented manifesto writer, pro-am Dogmatist, petulant artiste, ironic melodramatist, the mischievous master goblin among goblins haunting international cinema's festival banquets, and of course, the greatest Danish filmmaker to ever garner the near universal loathing of Denmark. Prepping for the release of Manderlay—his second in a trilogy of theatrical American autopsies—the IFC retro extends from von Trier's sober-tragic school thesis Liberation Pictures (1982) to Dogville (2004), and though the entire oeuvre deserves to be mud-wrestled, the international, post–Dogme 95 films have been thoroughly Blockbustered here. Rarer (and nearly disavowed by von Trier himself) are the eye-popping, magisterial-on-the-cheap TV adaptation of Medea (1987), the ironic non-movie-movie (made on a low-budget bet) Epidemic (1987), and The Element of Crime (1984), a futuristic serial-killer noir shot in inky monotones and fudge-rich with dystopian surrealities. Marathoners can belly up to both The Kingdom (1994) and The Kingdom II (1997)—fabulously anxious TV miniseries never intended to be consumed in five-hour stretches—but since von Trier may be the most portraitized director alive, there are, of course, making-of docs: two chronicles of LVT driving himself and everyone else crazy shooting Dancer in the Dark and Dogville.

 
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