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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dogtooth, Unconventional Brilliance (A Film Review)

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Every now and then, a great film comes along that somehow make up for all the middling movies that you have to endure for many years. There were “Howards End,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Fargo,” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” just to name a few samples of films in the English language. Even more sporadic are films that unapologetically shake the solid ground where you stand, leaving a gaping hole and pulling you from underneath.  I am not referring to big budget star-studded films like “Inception,” which was probably 2010’s most popular mind-boggling film.  “Inception” was remarkable in the current pop milieu but it still as popcorn as any Hollywood film can get, except Inception is popcorn fortified with all the vitamins and minerals.   However, I am talking about a different breed of film altogether.
The films that I have in mind are movies that force you to reevaluate your very existence.  Back in 1996, my film professor showed us Marleen Gorris’ “A Question of Silence,” which I consider to this day, the best movie I have ever seen.  The film was blunt and uncompromising.  It is the audience members who have to adjust to the film, and not the other way around. If you are distressed by the film’s subject matter, then it is you that need to reexamine his values instead of assailing the film. 




In 2010, Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth” brilliantly replicated Gorris’ brazen dramatization of human ideological enslavement.  Greek director Lanthimos even built his opus on a darker, more surreal, and more absurd walled topography.  Do not let these big words put you off or else you'll miss one of the most fascinating films of the last decade.  "Dogtooth's" brilliance is in its unconventionality. Still, it is not for everyone; in fact, it is not even for individuals happily going about their unexamined lives.  The film is wide open for any kind of interpretation: religious, political, psychological, sexual, moral or what have you. Refusing to reveal the film’s plot, “Dogtooth” is, in my opinion, the best movie of 2010.  However, like Gorris’ “A Question of Silence,” you will either hate “Dogtooth” or be enthralled by it.  It is movie making in which a moviegoer’s safe sensibilities are like body organs yanked out from the chest and they are left hanging from the cavity with no assurance of closure. 
I doubt if “Dogtooth” will be shown in the Philippines; but if you are one of the lucky few who can find a genuine copy of the film, go watch it, if you dare.
“Dogtooth” has been nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film
(83rd Academy Awards 2010). 
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Thanks C.J.

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