Yorgos Lanthimos

dogtooth

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of those filmmakers whose reputation proceeds any new movie he makes, but when you first gain worldwide attention by making something as shocking as 2009’s Dogtooth, that’s bound to be the case. It’s not just the content of Dogtooth that made it so memorable to those who watched it though, it was the way in which Lanthimos was able to introduce his viewers to a world that was intensely jarring and disorienting, all while keeping his eye on the human heart of his story and giving the audience just enough of an emotional anchor to hold on to so that the film didn’t degenerate into substanceless shock or absurdity. The same was also true, though probably to a lesser extent, with his 2011 film Alps. Now that he’s getting ready to make his first English-language film with his first cast of familiar Hollywood actors, however, it’s going to be interesting to see what, if anything, changes about his approach to storytelling. He once again wrote the script for his new film, The Lobster, with his regular collaborator, Efthymis Filippou, so one might think that there wouldn’t be too much of a stylistic shift between it and his past work, but, on the other hand, now that there’s a report that Lanthimos’ new film will be starring names as mainstream as Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, is it possible that he could be utilizing their talents to make something as weird and niche as his last few […]

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Léa-Seydoux

Jason Clarke, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Olivia Colman have all joined forces for Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos‘ first English language film, The Lobster. The futuristic romance is a bit out there, but nothing too strange from the man who brought us 2009′s Dogtooth. In Lanthimos’s dystopian future, being single is illegal and all those caught breaking the law are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. A far cry from The Four Seasons, Deadline Hollywood reports that the hotel guests are forced to find a mate within 45 days; should they fail, they get transformed into an animal and released into the woods. Problem solved! Don’t worry; it’s any animal of their choosing – it’s not like they’re cruel or something. Of course, one of the men taken to the Hotel escapes to the woods and falls in love (with a human? with one of the humans turned animal?), though it’s against all the rules of their society. There’s no word yet on who is playing what role, though it really seems like these four shouldn’t have any problem finding a mate – right? riiiiight? It’s also hard to judge from the simple synopsis what to make of the film’s tone. Billed as an unconventional love story, it has the trappings to either go the deeply sinister route (think about it, a lot of people probably don’t survive in those woods for very long), or darkly comedic (turning people into animals because they’re not married is kind of funny).

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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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Another day, another lineup announcement from AFI FEST 2011 that sends me positively reeling. Today sees the film festival rolling out their World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short selections. Today also sees me jumping up and down and repeatedly screaming, “ALPS! ALPS! ALPPPPSSSS!” As has been the trend with AFI FEST’s recent lineup announcements, this crop of films guarantees that the festival is a can’t-miss for any film buffs in the Los Angeles area. There’s a number of titles here that festival-obsessed cinephiles will recognize from recent events – films like Ben Wheatley‘s Kill List, Morten Tyldum‘s Headhunters, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti‘s Carre Blanc, Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film, and for Dogtooth obsessives like me, Yorgos Lanthimos‘s Alps. 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. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). Free, guys, free. After the break, check out the full list of the films to be featured as AFI FEST World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short Film selections.

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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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