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3 by Theo: The Theo van Gogh Collection



The Dutch auteur was assassinated seven years ago by a Muslim extremist in response to a short van Gogh had made about Islam's treatment of women. That work is not among the trio featured on the triple-disc set "3 By Theo," and that's probably for the best, but what is here still demonstrates the man's brazen willingness to shock.

That does not mean, however, that they are good. More experimental than narrative, the movies are more or less feature-length conversations: between man and wife (1994's "Blind Date"), journalist and actress (1996's "Interview") and sex worker and client (2003's "1-900"). Van Gogh bends the tones just a bit from work to work: depressing, comic and coarse, respectively. The last one in particular is so profane in dialogue, one wonders if a Nicholson Baker novel might not blush.

Although two of these have been remade by Hollywood, albeit outside the studio system, they are near-experimental pieces that carry all the weight — and, therefore, the paper-thin artifice — of your off-off-Broadway one-act plays. What some may see as brilliant and probing, I found boring and pretentious.

Sorry, Theo. —Rod Lott

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