still obsessing about karma
good riddance

italian for beginners (lone scherfig, 2000)

Just to prove I can talk about something besides karma, tonight I watched Italian for Beginners. It's a Dogme film that, miracle of miracles, is a sappy, relatively conventional love story. It's nothing special, but charming enough, and the digital video looks v.nice on teevee, once you get past the part where it looks like, well, like a teevee show. There's no clear reason for this to be a Dogme film ... I suppose you could argue that the Hollywood-ish plot is ironic ... but the movie works because it's NOT ironic, for the most part, so who knows. Six and a half on a scale of ten.


Charlie Bertsch

I don't think that Dogma was ever meant to inspire "ironic" filmmaking. It's the idea of a manifesto itself that's being ironized.

This is clearly one of your pet peeves, though, so I'll cease and desist.

But after I point out that Lars Von Trier made the TV mini-series Kingdom, which obeys many of the Dogma rules and is pretty funny to boot.

Did I ever mention how much I liked Dogville, even though I thought I might not?

Steven Rubio

The specific reference to irony here has to do with the willingness of Italian for Beginners to allow the audience to indulge in the film's standard Hollywood-ish plot turns without pimp-slapping us for being so gullible. Bad things happen to characters in this movie, but the characters move on, and find "happiness." It's boy-meets-girl three times over, and in all three cases, things work out in the end. It's a silly trifle that believes in itself, and thus about as revolutionary as Sleepless in Seattle, but it's refreshing in the context of Dogme films to find a movie where the mentally-challenged character is merely clumsy and fairy-tale romantic love wins out. That Italian for Beginners is directed by a woman might have something to do with this, but I don't know enough about her other work to say. Suffice to say that, while Italian for Beginners is nowhere near as good as the best Bergman films, at least in this case it's aspiring to Smiles of a Summer Night rather than Winter Light.

Charlie Bertsch

BTW, have you ever seen Von Trier's Kingdom? It's SO much in relation to shows like St. Elsewhere.

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