Lisa Schwarzbaum
October 23, 1998 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Out of the zany strictures of ”Dogma 95” — a gimmicky manifesto of filmmaking ”chastity” dreamed up by Breaking the Waves‘ Lars von Trier that boils down to using available light and location sound, employing handheld cameras, and refraining from directorial ”personal taste” — Danish newcomer Thomas Vinterberg has made a funny, volatile, visually dynamic story about the unraveling of one extended family during the course of a patriarchal 60th-birthday dinner. It’s at dinner for dear old Dad (Henning Moritzen) that one of his sons (Ulrich Thomsen) decides to confront the guest of honor about the long-ago incest (that terrible, up-to-the-minute trend) that contributed to the recent suicide of his twin sister. As family decorum and civility erode (the actors, who have worked together in Danish theater, enact savagery with ease), the film itself appears to fall apart, disintegrating into grainy, zoomy, caught-on-the-fly images of fury and unhappiness. Yet Vinterberg remains foxily in charge of the mayhem — for which The Celebration won a jury prize this year at Cannes. A-

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