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Movie Review: Italian for Beginners

Lobo Note: Back in 1995, after a long, hard night of drinking, four Danes, led by directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, came up with a new set of film making rules. Prompted by Hollywood's relentless reliance on technology, and sick of the bourgeois, they wanted the truth and freedom that only a handheld camera could provide. And so Dogma 95 was born. The following are the rules of the Dogma gang...or any Dogma wannabe -

The Dogma 95 Vow of Chastity

1. Shoot only on location, using props that already exist at the site.

2. Sound and image must always be recorded at the same time.

3. The camera must be handheld.

4. Must be shot in color with no special lighting.

5. No filters or special effects.

6. Avoid superficial action (no murders, etc.).

7. No period pieces; must be in the here and now.

8. No genre films.

9. Must be shot in Academy 35 mm format.

10. Never credit the director.

Story: Don't let all of the above rules fool you. This film turns out to be a romantic, charming, quasi-comedy (if you don't count all of the deaths -- but it is Nordic, so I guess that is all right) with a cinema verite flare (see rule # 3). It takes place in a Danish town filled with lonely people who somehow all end up in an adult education 'Italian for Beginners' class. Female director Lone Schertig, who remains uncredited (see rule #10) handles all of the relationships with a nice touch and sensitivity. What could have been played for pratfalls, is somehow believable. My sister wanted to give it an 8...I disagreed (Lobo rules prevail - all of them).

Acting: Hans, Lars, Inge, Thor, Jorgen, Sven, Borge, Igor, Dagmar and Eric were all just fine.

Critters: No critters in this DOGma piece.

Food: Lots of pastries (most end up on the floor).

Visual Art: The camera was too jerky and the lighting to dark to see much in the interiors.

Blatant Product Placement: There is probably an unwritten Dogma rule about this topic.

Soundtrack: See Dogma rule #2....no soundtrack allowed.

Opening Titles: Simple. Closing credits were on index cards

Theater Audience: A mish mosh.

Sappy Factor: 3

Quirky Meter: 1

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: I think the Dogma gang is getting too Dogmatic.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental...perhaps they have a Dogma 95 section in your local video store. Other Dogma films include...The Celebration, Mifune, Julien Donkey-Boy and The Idiots.

Length: a little under two hours. (No dogma rule for length of film)