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FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS, THE
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Once upon a time--1967, to be precise--Danish director Jørgen Leth released The Perfect Human. In The Five Obstructions, fellow countryman Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves) challenges his "hero" to remake the short five times and provides a different set of "obstructions" for each. Because Leth likes cigars, von Trier suggests the first be made in Cuba. For the second, however, he sends Leth to "the worst place on earth"--Bombay's red light district. The obstructions keep coming, interspersed with conversation and clips from the original film, in which actors engage in a variety of activities, like eating and dancing, while the narrator posits oblique questions like "Why is joy so whimsical?" (Von Trier claims to have watched it "at least 20 times.") In the end, the two Danes have whipped up an unclassifiable concoction that plays less like documentary and more like a duel between friendly adversaries. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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