Wednesday, January 26, 2011


And the award for the WEIRDEST movie ever made goes to Dogtooth, the Greek film that was just nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. I am convinced that the Academy DIDN'T ACTUALLY WATCH this film before nominating it. Not that it's terrible; far from it. It's just ULTRA deranged, totally whacked-out, and playing by its own set of twisted rules.  One thing is certain: this film is NOT FOR THE EASILY OFFENDED.  Similar to Enter the Void in that it's a movie that feels utterly untinkered with and completely the product of a filmmaker who knows EXACTLY what he wants, it's also a film that defies normal description.  Certainly living in the world of satire with detours into black comedy and mixing graphic violence with explicit (and in some cases illicit) sex, Dogtooth is a film of many tones and much ambition.  First time filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has won lots of awards for his debut effort and it's easy to see why; there's nothing else quite like Dogtooth and the originality of its vision, despite its limitations and weaknesses, is ever present throughout the entire run time.  When people, especially film critics, are presented with something like Dogtooth, something that is challenging and taboo-breaking and envelope pushing, there's a tendency for extreme reactions -- love it or hate it.  For me, this is one of those films that leaves me somewhat uncomfortably in the middle.  I appreciated what I was watching while I was watching it and I'm glad I saw it.  But you can never unsee some things, and there are some bits during Dogtooth where I genuinely questioned if what I was watching was really something I needed to see (think: incest).  And here -- I haven't even "reviewed" the film in a traditional sense or explained what the "plot" is, though my guess is that Lanthimos laughs at the idea of a conventional "plot."  In a nutshell, Dogtooth is the extreme version of The Village; a father raises his children (two girls and one boy who are well into their early 20's), along with the help of his wife, to believe that they should never leave their house/yard/property because of killer cats that live outside the gates. They are self-taught and home-schooled, totally oblivious to the outside world, comepletely uneducated in areas of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Everything changes when the father starts bringing a woman home for his son to sexually experiment with and it's then that all of the dynamics in the house change due to a series of unforseen circumstances.  Yes, the title of the movie is explained.  No, the film doesn't end all tidy and wrapped up with a little bow on top.  Lanthimos is clearly interested in giving lots to his viewers to chew on and think about and discuss, and via the interview with him that was provided on the DVD, he stated that it was his intention to provoke debate with Dogtooth -- it's something that he feels should bother people and make them question what they've just witnessed.  Honestly -- if you want a blow by blow of what happens in this film -- then go to Wikipedia and type in Dogtooth.  It's all right there.  What I will say is that this is a film that will appeal most to movie buffs, fans of extreme cinema, and people who are looking for something different and offbeat.  It's a film that features pitch-perfect performances from an exceptional ensemble cast, it's got terrific widescreen cinematography that subverts the very ideas that it is thematically posing, and the lack of a musical score in tandem with incredible foley/sound work creates an unending sense of tension and unpredictability.  Dogtooth isn't a film that I'm likely to see again but it's one that I'm glad that I saw.  And if it actually wins the Oscar, I'll laugh my ass off. 

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