Dogtooth

Yorgos Lanthimos confounded and excited fans with Dogtooth and he returns to theaters this summer with Alps – the story of a group that begins a business where they impersonate the recently deceased in order to help the mourning cope. In this interview with Landon Palmer, Lanthimos discusses toying with identity and death while giving an eye into his filmmaking process (and describing the difficulty in marketing a movie while trying to maintain its mysteriousness). Download Episode #140

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Alps Movie 2012

Yorgos Lanthimos’s Alps, like his previous Academy-Award nominated critical favorite Dogtooth, is a movie that feels like a puzzle. Not an Inception or Lost-style puzzle where answers to mysteries are teased and delivered with thunderous revelation. Alps is a quiet, restrained work of artistry that’s cryptic in its approach to detail, ambiguous in its construction of characters, and deliberately distanced in its psychological, emotional, and visual landscape. Lanthimos and co-screenwriter Efthymis Filippou have once again created a film whose idiosyncratic microcosm is manifested through short scenes that reveal brief and often puzzling bits of information until those bits gradually accumulate into a more full understanding of what the hell is going on. Lanthimos’s films require a significant amount of work from the viewer, and should be credited for it. Alps opens with a striking image of a gymnast (Ariane Labed) performing rhythmic dance to a classical composition who is then verbally abused by her stone-faced coach (Johnny Vekris). We subsequently see a bloodied young woman in an ambulance being cared for by a paramedic (Aris Servetalis) who later informs a nurse (Aggeliki Pappoulia) that this woman is a tennis player whose favorite actor is Jude Law. I’ll save the details of what comes after for you to experience yourself (though many reviews have revealed much more than I will), but we come to find out that this unlikely quartet of characters (whose real names are never revealed) refer to themselves as “Alps” and are engaged in a strange and dangerous […]

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If you haven’t yet seen Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2009 film Dogtooth, run out and do that as soon as possible. It’s an absolute essential when it comes to the most interesting and experimental examples of storytelling that have come out over the last ten years, and it’s probably one of the most unlikely and effective horror films of all time. Well, check it out if you have a stomach for the horrible and strange…probably you should run far away from this post if you don’t. Still here? That must mean that you’re a fan of the off-putting and mind-effing, or even a supporter of Lanthimos’ work already. Rejoice, for I have some news that you’re going to be happy to hear. While doing an interview with Indiewire to promote his upcoming release, Alps, Lanthimos dropped the huge news that he currently has three possible English-language films currently in development, and though he wasn’t keen on dishing out any details, he did cough up a little teaser about each.

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New Greek cinema is a bit of a personal favorite of mine, what with my deep love of Dogtooth and my near-terrifying excitement for Alps, but I’ve somehow managed to miss yet another entry into the new wave – Attenberg. I have no excuse for missing the film – it’s shown at a number of film festivals over the past two years, including Venice, Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam, London, SXSW, and AFI FEST, and I’ve tried to make screenings at at least three of those festivals. But now that Strand Releasing is giving the film a limited release, I can finally catch it and presumably add it to my little pocket of Greek darlings. Written and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, the film has a solid pedigree for anyone interested in emerging Greek cinema. The film features a performance by none other than Yorgos Lanthimos, who also produced the project. You might know Lanthimos as the the writer and director of two of Greece’s most talked-about films in recent years – those would be Dogtooth and Alps. Tsangari also produced both Dogtooth and Alps, along with the American indie Lovers of Hate. The film is described as an “offbeat coming-of-age film” that centers on 23-year-old Marina. Stuck in a boring factory town, Marina is at the mercy of both her father’s impending death and her distaste for other human beings. And if you’re at all familiar with Lanthimos’ work, you’ll know that such a plotline is perhaps keeping things quite simple. […]

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Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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If you’ve seen the 2009 Greek release Dogtooth, then you know that Efthymis Filippou is a unique storyteller. That film, which details the lives of a family with an interesting take on child rearing, plays like an onion of crazy that makes your brain cry harder every layer of plot you peel away. If you haven’t seen Dogtooth, drop everything you’re doing and go watch that one before you read further here. It’s still streaming on Netflix…just prepare to be disturbed. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about this new movie, L. It’s a film about a man living in a car that’s set to debut at this year’s Sundance. Okay, to be more specific, it’s a film about a divorced man who lives in a car, whose family lives in another car, and who often has meetings with him in random parking lots. One of those meetings makes up the bulk of this trailer, which kind of plays like a weird microfilm. As you might imagine, this isn’t such a great way to live, even for a professional driver/honey delivery man, so the protagonist is also wrestling with the idea of giving up cars for motorcycles.

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Earlier this morning, my partner in LA film festival crime, the lovely Ms. Allison Loring, posted her list of Most Anticipated Films from this year’s upcoming AFI FEST presented by Audi. Of course, many of our choices overlap (Shame, Butter, Rampart), but we part ways when it comes to some of the smaller films at the festival. For all the big, Oscar bait flicks (J. Edgar) or the wang- and soul-baring Fass-outings (Shame again, always Shame), there are a few films that I’ve been positively rabid to see (Alps, Michael) that might not yet have the cache value and audience awareness of those other films. From the festival’s incredible list of 110 films, I’ve narrowed down my list to ten films that are my bonafide Most Anticipated Films of the festival. Like any list, I am sure that some of you perusing it will be displeased, weighing in on titles I’m a fool to miss. But hold your wrath for a few days, because many of the best titles of the fest are ones I’ve already seen, and those films might just crop up in an unexpected place (like, oh, another list). AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, […]

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Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth is decidedly divisive cinema. The film played on the festival circuit back in 2010 (I took it in at SXSW in a tiny screening library room, via DVD on a tiny television) and ended up garnering a surprise Best Foreign Film nomination at the Oscars, but all that certainly doesn’t mean that the film is fit to be enjoyed (or possibly even consumed) by everyone. The film focused on a Greek family with three adult children who had been isolated from the world by their parents (namely their father) and taught to fear not only other people, but nearly everything else, especially cats. To further their isolation, the kids were taught incorrect meanings for words, leaving them essentially unable to express themselves to others, should they ever encounter them. There was also an incest storyline. Sound heavy? It was – and wasn’t. Dogtooth is wonderfully unsettling cinema, littered with humor darker than coal, and more messages about family and society than you could count on your fingers and toes. I loved it, but I also absolutely understand why other people don’t. Now Lanthimos is back with a new film, Alps, which will premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Much like Dogtooth, the film looks to imagine an alternate sense of reality within the regular world. In the world of Alps, members of the titular group perform a service – they “stand in” for deceased people for their grieving loved ones. And, like Dogtooth, […]

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What’s better than a surreal movie about parents who imprison their children and torture them in creative ways? News that the director wants to get “darker.” According to the LA Times, Yorgos Lanthimos (whose movie Dogtooth was nominated for an Oscar) is working on Alps – a movie about a group of people who agree to act as replacements for lost family members and friends by mirroring their behavior. He’s already editing, trying to get it ready before Cannes in May, and he claims it’s both funny and dark, swinging between both “extremes a little bit more [than Dogtooth].” It’s fascinating to see filmmakers tool around with social norms and relationship dynamics. It looks like Greece may have its very own Sion Sono.

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This Week in DVD

The 83rd Annual Academy Award nominations were announced today, and while it was the usual predictable affair there were a few surprises to be found. Winter’s Bone doesn’t deserve a nod for Best Picture, but it’s great seeing John Hawkes’ brutal and brilliant performance get some love alongside Jennifer Lawrence. In news more relevant to this particular column the disturbing and darkly funny Greek movie, Dogtooth, has been nominated for Best Foreign film. It will lose to Biutiful, but it’s great to see it make the top five. And since it hits DVD (and Netflix Instant) today you can check it out for yourself! Titles out this week include James L Brooks’ classic film Broadcast News from the Criterion Collection, the visually rewarding and seizure inducing French flick Enter the Void, the all-star action romp that is Red, Ryan Kwanten’s Red Hill, the complete series box set of The Family Channel’s Zorro, and more.

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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Welcome to my list of the best foreign films of the year! In case you’re wondering why certain films appear to be missing there are a few factors to take into account. First, films like Mother, A Prophet, The Good the Bad the Weird, and The Secret In Their Eyes are movies that made previous lists. Second, I haven’t seen everything that was released this year. And third, your favorite foreign release from 2010 may actually have been a piece of shit. I kid. But seriously, these are my picks for the ten best foreign language movies of the year in alphabetical order. As a bonus I’ve added in the five best English language foreign films for you as well. I know. You’re welcome. (Full reviews for all of the titles below can be found via our Reviews database, and my weekly excursions into foreign films can be found here.)

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Imagine a world where everything you knew came exclusively from two people. Your entire life spent confined within the outer walls of your home and yard, never allowed to leave, never allowed to interact with the world outside. The grandfather you’ve never met speaks to you in song from the record player. The brother you don’t remember exists silently on the other side of the ten-foot-tall fence where he lives in constant fear of the most dangerous animal alive… house cats. And your mother is pregnant with twin girls and a dog. Welcome to Dogtooth.

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After a record-breaking opening weekend, it’s time to see how much Toy Story 3 can pull in in its second weekend out. It has Adam Sandler and that Tom Cruise guy to worry about, so I think it’s pretty safe.

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June 2010 Movie Guide

Now that American Idol and Lost are over, you have the entire month of June free for movies. What the hell are you going to watch?

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SXSW Film 2010

As is the case every year at this time, we need to wrap things up. Much to our dismay, SXSW cannot go on forever. And while reviews will continue to post in the next week as we get caught up on screeners and anything we haven’t written up from the actual fest, we’re confident that we can present you with our picks for the 15 Best Films of SXSW 2010.

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Dogtooth

When writing about Dogtooth the question is not, as it is in approaching many film reviews, whether or not some elements of a film work and others don’t in order to achieve what it sets out to, but whether or not the audience accepts or rejects what is set out to be achieved in the first place. Tonally and stylistically, Dogtooth is consistent, informed, and well executed on every aesthetic and technical level.

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SXSW Film 2010

It’s that time again. The 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited. For the second year in a row, we’re covering one of our favorite American film festivals as an Austin-based publication. And we kick off our official festival coverage with a list.

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