The Elegant Perversity of Dogtooth

danieltalsky | Films,Reviews | Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Dogtooth, the 2009 Greek film, is not going to be for everyone.  In a sense, it's a slow dark comedy horror movie, which happens to be a genre I like.  Movies like The Shining, Let There Be Blood, and Drag Me To Hell, all fall into this category for me as well.  There's a little blood in Dogtooth and if you can't stomach a few disturbing images, then this is not the movie for you.  Mom, please do not watch this movie.

For me though, Dogtooth does a lot right.  The best thing a movie can do is make me intensely curious about what's happening and how it's going to turn out from the very first moment.  Then as the state of things is slowly revealed, retain that sense of total curiosity.  Dogtooth did that.

Families have their own weird myths and in-jokes and this movie kind of takes that idea and blows it out to the highest degree.  Almost the entire movie takes place in a beautiful greek home out in the boonies of Greece, since the three teenage children who live there are not allowed to leave the premises.  The idea seems sweetly innocent, and indeed the beautiful children play many innocent and beautiful games, even though enduring pain seems to be a common theme of many of them.

As the movie progresses though it becomes clear just how twisted and perverse their upbringing has been, and that the parents are willfully doing it, for whatever reason.  In my opinion though, it never devolves into total slasher nightmare.  These teenagers natural aggression and sexuality just doesn't have anywhere to go, and it bubbles out in increasingly inappropriate ways.

As you might be able to guess, there are serious sexual overtones, and some of the sexual scenes are pretty explicit.  I doubt this movie would have been able to receive an R rating in the US.  If you liked movies like Secretary, then it's very possible you'd find this movie hot, in spite of the twisted nature of its sexual rhythm.

Plus, it's on Netflix on Demand for the moment, so you can just whip it open in your browser right now and watch it.  Also, here's the trailer, but if you're willing to see it without watching the trailer, I recommend it, since the trailer spoils a bunch of the surprises.  It's a movie best left to unfold at its own pace.

Life's a Bitch and then…

danieltalsky | Films,Reviews | Monday, April 25th, 2011

In the nearly final final scene of the spectacular movie Fish Tank, perhaps even more amazing because it's on Netflix on Demand right now, the lead actress, played by the magnificent Katie Jarvis dances with her little sister and mom to Nas' Life's a Bitch (which you can play while you read the rest of the review):

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/03-Lifes-A-Bitch.mp3|titles=Nas – Life's A Bitch]

Dancing is an important part of the movie in its own awkward way, so her dancing with her more innocent sister and less innocent drunken mom ties the whole thing together.

Usually this kind of British poverty stricken youth thing gets kind of tiresome for me, but this movie is something special.  Its acting and writing is immediate and streamlined.  When it's sexy, it's sexy without apology.  It impressed me with its first moments, and I enjoyed it all the way through.

Check the trailer:

The Last Picture Show

danieltalsky | Films,My Favorite Things (Classics),Reviews | Monday, October 27th, 2008

Peter Bogdonavich, wrote a screenplay from a novel called The Last Picture Show. He was a director with a few stinker movies trying to make his big break. He sees a teenage Cybil Shepherd on the cover of a magazine and says, "Holy Crap, I've got to have that girl as my hot young affai… I mean, leading lady!"

He finds the girl, casts her, has an affair with her, threatens to stop "giving her direction" if she doesn't agree to show her tits on film.  He sequesters the cast from the crew because he wants them to be uncorrupted by the riff raff.

Then he shot the first major motion picture in black and white since the early 60's, in 1971.  He shot it in the actual hometown of the guy who wrote the novel.  He even used one of the local kids who lived there in a speaking role.

Sounds like a recipe for total disaster to me, except the movie is truly a thing of beauty.  The stark, simple setting of a small town on the decline, gives a bunch of young actors who went on to be really big a place to shine, and every still is something you could hang on your wall.

It's not hard to imagine this kind of vulnerability, treachery and love happening in a real small town in the 50's.  Every scene has it's own secret rhythm.

Jeff Bridges' character Sonny walks into a pool hall owned by Sam the Lion.  Sam looks on while Sonny grabs a soda, some little snack, and saunters over to the pool table.  Finally Sam speaks, "You ain't never gonna amount to nothing.  You've already spent a nickel today and you haven't even had a decent breakfast."

It looks like it's going to be a simple, naive tale of a small town, but it's really about taking that small town and showing its little fish bowl of reality.  The town tart shrewdly works every situation for all it's worth.  The gay coach's wife courts a boy just out of high school.  The lady who owns the diner and will "probaby be making hamburgers for your grandchildren" calmly dispenses advice.

You can see it's not easy for someone to make a simple black and white movie with such heat and human warmth.  It's a masterwork, and every scene plays out with perfection and has its own special rhythm.  Each one could be it's own tiny one-act play.  Only one maudlin scene mars its perfection, with one tragic death too many.

I just read this and sadly realized I didn't get across why I love this movie so much.

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