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The Kingdom: Part II
At the midpoint of this four-part, five-hour centerpiece of Lars Von Trier's projected 15-hour serial called The Kingdom, the dapper director appears in front of some red velvet curtains to warn us that, in his film as in life, we "must be prepared to take the good with the evil." Although evil clearly appears to have the upper hand in this supernatural soap opera set in Denmark's largest hospital, there are good characters. It's just that they are confused ("Why can't ghosts speak plainly?" asks the elderly Mrs. Druse at one point), or perhaps dying (like the world's largest "baby," a puffed-up monstrosity with the head of veteran actor Udo Kier, surprisingly touching despite his grotesque makeup). Fans of the first installment of this hand-held, jump-cut TV series will enjoy how Von Trier keeps raising the stakes in its middle passage; more than the fate of a hospital is at stake. All your favorite characters return -- the doctors who watch splatter films for fun, the Swede who hates Denmark and who is trying to convert a rival into a zombie. Newcomers will be confused but eventually caught up by the melodrama, theatrics, and humor, much of it very silly. But as the series' dishwashing chorus reminds us, "It may start as stupidity but evil is evil."

-- Gregg Rickman

The Kingdom: Part II screens Friday through Thursday, May 29-June 4, in two sections, each about 2 1/2 hours long. Film 1 plays daily at 1 and 6:45 p.m., Film 2 at 3:45 and 9:25 p.m., all at the Castro, 429 Castro (at Market). Tickets are $6.50; call 621-6120. The film also screens at the UC Theater in Berkeley June 5-8, 10, and 11.

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