Portland

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Crime, Drama

There's something awfully derivative in the state of Denmark, if not exactly rotten. And if this debut feature from Niels Arden Oplev is any indication, Lars von Trier ( BREAKING THE WAVES) has a lot to answer for. Named after a brand of Danish cement -- the kind used to build the unnamed industrial wasteland against which the story is set -- Oplev's film...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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There's something awfully derivative in the state of Denmark, if not exactly rotten. And if this debut feature from Niels Arden Oplev is any indication, Lars von Trier ( BREAKING THE WAVES) has a lot to answer for. Named after a brand of Danish cement -- the

kind used to build the unnamed industrial wasteland against which the story is set -- Oplev's film centers on hard-case Janus (Anders Wodskou Berthelsen) and his tenderhearted younger brother Jakob (Michael Muller). They're reunited after Janus is released from prison, and in an effort to pay off

Janus's debt to extremely (if selectively) violent crime boss Lasse (Ulrich Thomsen) get involved in the drug trade. Lasse's specialty: forcing the elderly and infirm to sell their state-provided medication for resale on the street. Given its brutality, Oplev's pessimistic view of the dystopia of

tomorrow should be shocking. But you can't help but remember how much better von Trier has used the stylistic devices Oplev appropriates. THE ELEMENT OF CRIME's urine-stained palette tints Oplev's black-and-white sequences (this is the future, you see, and it ain't pretty), while the same

rear-projection techniques that made ZENTROPA' s artifice so exciting are used to much lesser effect. A certain quirky humor that is wholly Oplev's occasionally shines through the murk -- one such moment involves a pair of line-dancing cowgirls -- but the occasions are too few and far between.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: There's something awfully derivative in the state of Denmark, if not exactly rotten. And if this debut feature from Niels Arden Oplev is any indication, Lars von Trier ( BREAKING THE WAVES) has a lot to answer for. Named after a brand of Danish cement -- t… (more)

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