Thursday, May 16, 2013

30 Countries Parts 17 - 19 (Dogtooth/Melancholia/Tetro)

Dogtooth (2010) Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Part 17 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Greek origin as per its listing on imdb.

I cannot describe what I think I just saw. My mind struggles for comprehension. I am exhausted. I feel like I have been repeatedly struck by a large stick for the past 90 minutes. A new friend recently referred to Vincent Gallo's Brown Bunny as the most bizarre movie they'd ever seen. I think their brain might explode if they saw this.

So this family, they choose to create their own world for their children with their own rules and their own meanings, they build walls both physically and mentally and keep their children within their compound despite them being adults. That's the premise. It doesn't sound too bad really.

Giorgos Lanthimos takes this entirely unreal, unknowable, incomprehensible to at least 99% of the world I'm sure, scenario and films it in the style of Michael Haneke et al. It is this contradiction between natural realist cinema and a subject matter that is unfathomable that causes your brain to react in this manner. He's just so matter of fact about it all.

Much like the work of Haneke you can take a thousand different readings of this film, you can believe it is a political statement, you can see it as an allegory, you can even watch it as a documentary of an evil man but if you watch this film and aren't affected or moved, even if it's to nausea, you probably weren't paying attention.

Cinema like nothing else I've experienced so far.

Melancholia (2011) Dir. Lars von Trier

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Part 18 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Swedish origin as per its listing on imdb.

An interesting and visually stunning film with a real insight in to the effects of depression. Utilising different points of view for each half of the movie to demonstrate this insight in a very effective way. Von Trier's most accessible film to date I'm sure and most certainly his most assured. This is filmmaking of the highest order by somebody fully aware of how much skill they have at their fingertips. The introduction is at a whole other level however and after such impressive visuals the film itself could never live up to it.

Tetro (2009) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Part 19 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Argentinian origin as per its listing on imdb.

Coppola directs Gallo in a black & white Buenos Aires. It's a compelling concept that almost lives up to my expectations. A beautiful film to look at but beyond that I was not as enamoured of the story as others have been.

Gallo is a writer in seclusion, distancing himself from his family in America. He lives a quiet life, the locals know nothing of his past, not even his girlfriend but when his half brother arrives looking to reconnect it all goes to shit. You know how this works, family secrets are revisited, old wounds reopened, conflict, conflict, conflict, but the approach taken by Coppola isn't as straightforward or deliberate as you are used to.

The performance of Gallo is exactly what you would expect and carries the film, giving what might be taken for a soulless film a layer of depth and emotion and a real edge that any other actor couldn't hope to achieve. Because they're not actually crazy.

This is certainly better than Jack and The Rainmaker and represents a much more interesting direction for the man who many consider to be a filmmaking genius.


  1. Yay! Essentially, positive reviews across the board. I haven't seen Tetro, but it's nice to see more good things said about Dogtooth and Melancholia.

    1. It's been an essentially positive experience all round actually, some films I should have known would be bad because I hadn't bothered to watch them for so long but it's worked in encouraging the viewing of non-English language movies. I dunno where I said it before but I've seen more world cinema this month than in the past 12 months combined.

    2. Dogtooth. Man. Dogtooth. Did you see it yet?

    3. That's an impressive stat. I love world cinema, but I could probably watch more too.

      Yeah, I've seen Dogtooth. I love what you wrote about it. 4.5/5 for me.

    4. Sounds like moving on to the Foreign Language Oscars project will cure you of that problem.