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20

THURSDAY

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Like his Breaking the Waves, Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom contrasts the West’s lost spirituality with the banality of contemporary life. The latter is far more convincing, however, because it attacks the theme with mordant humor. A mixture of soap opera, horror movie, and social satire, the film is set in a Copenhagen teaching hospital where the least shocking thing is the staff’s incompetence. The place is haunted by the ghost of a murdered girl, plagued by an imperious, Dane-hating neurosurgeon, and about to host a disastrous visit from the minister of health—and then there’s voodoo, malpractice, trouble in the archives, a severed head, and a doctor’s lust for a cancerous liver. The four-and-half-hour extravaganza will be shown in two installments, at 8 p.m. tonight and Friday at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (MJ)