Saturday, August 23, 2008

The 2nd International Gadjo Dilo Film Festival

Hot on the heels of the first festival - life’s one long festival in the Dilo household. I wasn’t going to do this, but after a recent comment from Mrs Boyo I reckoned that maybe I had an ally, and so here it is, a Lars von Trier All-Nighter! I’m not sure if this breaks the one-an-evening dictum, but Lars and the lads frequently broke their own Dogme 95 rules so I’m in good company. Von Trier is a fascinating director not only because of his films’ artistic quality but also because they're all so very different from each other. Also, he pisses a lot of people off.

Breaking The Waves (1996)

This film centres on a innocent and rather suggestible Scottish girl who marries a hardy oil-rig worker. He gets injured and incapacitated; she has lots of bad sex with other men in order to give him vicarious satisfaction, and is rejected by her narrowly religious local community; she dies, which then (in what might be considered an act of redemption from the Catholic convert von Trier) brings him back to health. It’s brilliant, harrowing, and in addition to the lauded Emily Watson features the late and much lamented (by me and Morrissey, at least) Katrin Cartlidge. It’s often the little touches von Trier adds that I appreciate the most: the film has interludes featuring beautiful shots of Scottish landscape and the music of the period in which the film is set – 1970s, David Bowie etc – nothing to do with the story but perhaps reminding us what comparatively inconsequential lives the rest of us were leading at the time.

The Idiots (1998)

Hmmm, actors pretending to be mentally retarded, finding their “inner idiot”, and actually going into Copenhagen bars and having their interactions with the drinkers surreptitiously filmed. Mental incapacity as a release and freedom from “civilised” “normal” life – very R. D. Laing, very Summer-Of-Love, very Danish. At one point (and I can’t quite remember why) the film turns into an orgy, with people having actual sex - not really pornography, sorry chaps. I dunno whether it’s “film as therapy”, but Von Trier famously hated his atheistic, hippy mother and has more neuroses than Woody Allen. I personally “get” the whole catharsis idea, but The Idiots tends to, errr, “polarise opinion”: some people consider it disturbing, stupid, boring or just plain wrong. However, I suspect it is quite unlike any other film.

Europa (1991)

“A superb film but an empty one”, “Great techniques, shame about the plot” and “Eh, what was all that about?” are some of the responses that I seem to remember to this film. But, it doesn’t matter, because it’s a most brilliant piece of cinematography. There are more great stylistic ideas here than you can shake a hand-held camera at, but unfortunately I’m not an expert and so don’t know what they’re called or how original they are. For instance, there’s the monotony of the endless footage of train tracks, the filming of actors performing in real-time with actors captured on film, and other stuff. Also, although it gets lost at times, the plot seems to be saying something: “Europe is dying”, “Europe is dead”, “Europeans are all fascists”, “Europe is rubbish”, or simply “help!”; I’m not entirely sure, but, like I say, I don’t think it really matters.

Riget (1994)

I’ve eschewed the better known Dancer in the Dark as although it’s an interesting film - and I love Björk - I feel it’s fatally flawed by a storyline that's been described as “a bad joke”. Riget was a Danish TV mini-series, but I saw all the episodes in one night in a cinema, so it counts as a film. It concerns life in Copenhagen’s big state hospital - yeah, if David Lynch was the chief administrator. If the writers of Channel 4’s The Green Wing weren’t inspired by this I’d be very surprised. It has von Trier touches like having the ancillary staff played by people with Down’s Syndrome. Many of the jokes are culturally specific: the cast is an ensemble of Danish comic talent, though the star turn is the endlessly pompous Swedish doctor (Ernst-Hugo Järegård). The Danes in the cinema with me were paralytic with laughter, and I’d lived there long enough to be in pretty much the same condition as they were.


Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Excellent initiative Gadjo - I've added you to my blogroll, this blogosphere needs some culcher.

M C Ward said...

Of these, the only filum I've seen is Europa, dubbed into Italian whilst in Italy. I didn't understand chuff, but I'm glad that's not only a reflection on my wayward language skills. I do remember a particularly gruesome wrist-slitting scene in a bath, though.

I'm all curious now.

Mrs Boyo said...

I am very fond of Von Trier, although he is in fact Von Dänemark. Europa is one of my favourite films. I often try to persuade Boyo to re-enact the final scene, so far with limited success.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ms. Wayne-Bough, I've admired your blog comments from a courteous distance until now, but am most pleased that you have decided to visit my blog (as I have now visited yours)!

Ah, yes, I vaguely remember that scene too. Frankly, I could make do with just the train sequences - that's story enough for me.

Welcome back to my blog, Mrs Boyo - we've missed you savagely! Yes, I think he only got the "von" by being a bit dictatorial, bless him. The scene with the model train set?? Tell him it's the Ffestiniog Narrow-Gauge Railway and he might go for it.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Definitely a challenging list this time! I hated "The idiots," I'll need to hunt down the others and have a look-see now you've thrown the gauntlet.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Gadjo, not apropos this thrilling entry at all, but I have to tell you something most creepy. I was in the Virgin store, Rue Bastard, Rennes (no really; Google it then, you old cynic) trying to find a CD of French baby songs for a tiny niecelet, and someone had dropped a CD which I picked up, and it was the soundtrack to Gadjo Dilo! Can you conceive of my excitement? I desperately wanted to tell someone about my dear old friend from the ether, but I was all alone, so I just vouchsafed to the assistant that it had been wrongly categorised in the nursery section, and went on my way. Now, I want you to think very carefully: was I on your mind round about lunchtime on 7 August? Think deeply, Gadjo. I am conducting an experiment.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Negative comments are just as good as positive ones, Kevin, I can understand why people hate The Idiots. Breaking the Waves is a spellbinding film, in my opinion; Europa is more weird.

Mrs Pouncer! This is amazing!! I've had a think about it and - oh Mary, Joseph and all the saints preserve us - I was thinking about you on August 7th at lunchtime; I can even put a time on it - about 13:30!! I was on my way to Eastbourne that evening but had a few hours to spend in London so decided to go to the Tate Gallery (not the silly one with the heads carved out of frozen baboon piss, the other one), and I was in the Pre-Raphelite section, and oh, you of all people know.... I just thought to myself: "all this loveliness, all this gorgeousness".... you can keep your Jade Goody's and your Abi Timusses, this is my England, and if only Mrs Pouncer was here to share it with me. (That's actually true; that's actually what happened; you appear to be mind-reader my dear lady!)

Mrs Pouncer said...

Darling Gadjie-poos, this proves my new theory: simply by eschewing the horrible old real world with all its ghastliness and restraint, and by concentrating REALLY HARD on our lovely pretend world, we can be together IN SPIRIT, which is what Mr Pouncer thinks anyway. And you should have invited me to accompany you! Mr Pouncer has no objection to me socialising with other men, providing the purpose of the excursion is cultural, and the other man is one of my intern-net friends, because he doesn't believe you exist. You see? It's win:win. Love CLdeM Pouncer xx

Gadjo Dilo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gadjo Dilo said...

Mrs Pouncer, dearest heart, your husband is at least wise enough to know that a woman of your passionate, free-spirited nature has needs. Whether I exist or not is bye the bye - though I do exist, as it happens - the important thing is that these needs are satisfied, so you can then return home and carry on being a good wife and mother and nobody need ask any questions.

(And I wasn't kidding you ma'am: I was in the Tate Gallery and I was thinking about you at exactly that time on August 7th - very uncanny!)