Lars von Trier has a heavy cross to bear these days. Not only is he responsible for the 50 minutes I spent watching Antichrist that I will never get back, he's also credited in some circles with the downfall of Danish cinema. That sounds dramatic, but in the years since von Trier spearheaded joyless realism and whole-heartedly committed to the unpalatable and pretentious, Danish ticket sales have been pretty sad. Happily, though, recent efforts by directors such as Susanne Bier and Ole Christian Madsen are beginning to restore buzz in the Danish film community. Madsen's Flame and Citron, for example, is a beautifully realized and critically lauded morality play that flies in the face of Danish film's reputation for minimalist production. Flame and Citron questions the notion of heroism as Madsen examines the lives of two fighters in the Danish Resistance movement during World War II. While traces of the stark aesthetic inherent in Danish cinema are still present, the historical drama has a noir sensibility that lends itself to narrative rather than directorial pretense. And while the plot itself is not particularly joyful, it's nice to see a Danish movie that is less an assault on the senses, and more of the riveting experience that movie-going should be. Flame and Citron plays at the Modern Museum of Art, 3200 Darnell St., at 6 and 8:15 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 4:15 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.50. Visit themodern.org/magnolia.
Dec. 4-6, 2009