"Dogtooth" A Truly Bizzare Experience!

Dogtooth
1/26/2011

*This Review contains Spoilers*

This Greek film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos won a special award at the 2009 Cannes Film festival and is quite possibly one of the most bizarrely original films I have seen in years. It’s about trying to raising your kids without the influences of the outside world. It’s the age old question of nature versus nurture. At the end of the day you just have to trust and hope that your kids will make the right decisions. But how these parents raise these kids is a bit strange to say the least.

This family of five has three teenage children (two girls, one boy) that live is a fenced off compound on the edge of town. We never learn any of family members’ names as they are just referred to as Eldest daughter, Younger daughter and Son. The Father is obviously a fiercely controlling man and quite possibly stark raving mad, who owns a local factory. The Mother is the kids teacher and your basic homemaker, although is firmly under the control of the Father. The teens have never been outside the high fences of their house and have no idea how the rest of the world lives. There is a television but all they can watch is home movies. What’s even stranger is the vocabulary they are taught, with basic words having completely different meanings. The sea is a leather chair, a motorway is a strong breeze, and a zombie is a little yellow flower.

In this world the Father has created, he is fighting against nature itself and has contingency plans and explanations for anything that might pop up. He uses Listerine as a punishment. The airplanes that fly overhead are really just toys. The cat is the most fearsome, man eating animal around. They hold family contests for stickers. The kids are also told they have another brother who has been banished from the family and is forced to live on the outside because he was being bad. There is no end in describing how strange this family is.

The only outsider that is allowed in is a female security guard from the Fathers factory named Christina (the only named character). She is paid to have sex with the son to quell his urges, but when Christina requests that he go down on her, he refuses. Afterwards while talking to the Eldest daughter, who is fascinated by the sparkling headband that Christina wears, comes up with a new plan. Christina gives her things from the outside in exchange for “licking her”. The Teens are such a model of perfect innocence that to them licking a person anywhere on their body can be exchanged for favors. The Eldest daughter bargains for some actual movies that she finds in Christina bag, but when the Younger daughter squeals on her. The Father is infuriated that his Children have been contaminated by this vile woman. He goes and beats Christina with a VCR, then beats the Eldest Daughter with a VHS tape duct taped to his hand. With that the Father is no longer willing to trust anyone from the outside, so he has the Eldest Daughter replacing Christina to have sex with the Son.

At dinner the kids are told that they are not able to leave home until they have lost a Dogtooth. After the eldest daughter’s experiences, she wants out so bad that she knocks out a bunch of her own teeth including a Dogtooth. She then goes and hides in the trunk of the car and waits to leave. The end. This is really one of those movies that needs to be seen to be believed. It is definitely is not for everyone. If it was rated it would be NC-17 for its handful of graphic sex scenes. But don’t let that deter you, see it!

The Coen Brothers’ Filmography Best of List

The Coen Brothers’ Filmography Best of List
1/24/2011

Minnesota’s own Joel and Ethan Coen are two of the greatest filmmakers of their generation with numerous award wining films and quirky memorable characters to their credit. Over the past few weeks I have gone through their complete works on DVD (14 films not including “True Grit”) and have ranked them. I didn’t use any sort of scientific formula or scoring system, but rather ranked them according to my own personal taste and preferences. Everyone loves a list!

Constant themes, characters and actors appear and reappear in a Coen Brothers movie. Faith and redemption, the common mans struggle, violence and vomit are just a few things to look out for. Joel’s wife and most frequent collaborator is Frances McDormand, whom he met on their first film “Blood Simple” in 1984 has appeared the most in their films. She also won an Academy Award for best actress in the 1996 film “Fargo”. Steve Buscemi has appeared in a handful of films as well. They seem to have a great fondness for always finding a way to kill his character off. None more horrific than the infamous wood chipper scene from “Fargo”. George Clooney, Billy Bob Thornton, John Goodman, John Turturro, & Joe Polito have all been reoccurring actor in the Coen’s roster. The Coens’ have also been blessed in working with award winning cinematographers in Barry Sonnenfeld and Roger Deakins who deserve a lot of credit for the overall look of a “Coen brothers” film. Without further ado, I bring you the list!

1. The Big Lebowski – The Dude Abides.

2. No Country for Old Men – Anton is one mean mother.

3. Fargo – We don’t really talk like that!

4. Blood Simple – Superb story telling.

5. Burn after Reading – Laughing at idiots.

6. The Hudsucker Proxy – The story of an idiot.

7. Miller’s Crossing – Mob loyalty in the prohibition era.

8. Raising Arizona – Screwball comedy with Nic Cage and his hair

9. A Serious Man – The Jewish movie

10. O Brother, Where art Thou? – The Odyssey.

11. Barton Fink – Cerebral.

12. The Man who Wasn’t There – Black and White?

13. Intolerable Cruelty – Describes watching it.

14. The Lady Killers – Tom Hanks is in a bad movie and the world didn’t end. Amazing!

"Bully" More Disturbed Teens from the Director of "Kids"

Bully
1/14/2011

Director and photographer Larry Clark’s work is often controversial as it deals with teenage life and sexuality in a very raw and documentary like style. His first film “Kids” shocked the country and launched the careers of actors Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. “Bully” released in 2001 also features a number of great young actors such as Nick Stahl, Brad Renfro (R.I.P.) and Michael Pitt. Bijou Phillips also plays the role of a promiscuous party girl, the same role that she has played in every movie she appears in. This film is also loosely based on a true story of a group of teens from Florida.

“Bully” is a very dark and depressing story of a bunch of bad kids doing a bunch of bad things. It looks to draws more attention to it self for its blatant sex and nudity then for the story it’s trying to tell. But when told with in the context of these characters it does seem to fit. Clark’s work is often labeled as exploitive as he dives into to find the most intimate details of a young person’s life (real or created) and throws it out there for everybody to see. This is story about a bunch of lost and morally bankrupt teens that get together to kill a bully (played by Nick Stahl). His character of Bobby is troubled and sexually confused; he’s gay but is afraid to overtly tell people so he puts up a tough macho exterior to convince people otherwise. His best friend Donny (Brad Renfro) has been taking Bobby’s physical and mental abuse since they were little kids and has finally had enough.

**Spoiler Alerts***

A lot of the story follows Donny’s new girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) who is quickly impregnated by Donny. She hatches the plan to kill Bobby after her friend Ali (Phillips) is raped by him. Sounds pretty crazy huh? This teen soap opera really doesn’t want you to like any of these kids, but you do end up feeling a little bad for them. The absence of the parents or family members is a likely culprit for there misery as these kids go searching for love and acceptance where ever they can find it. Each of them follows one another without any thought of consequence or feeling of right and wrong. After the kids go through with killing Bobby, the guilt and emotional toll hits everybody and all are shortly arrested and jailed. After ten years this film already looks a little dated. But is it a good film? I would have to say not so much. Watch it at your own risk or if you are interested in the work of Larry Clark.

"Mean Creek" An Intense Drama About the Bullies in our Lives

Mean Creek
1/11/2011

I’m back with my take on the 2004 film “Mean Creek”. Directed by Jacob Aaron Estes and starring a fantastic young cast that was recognized at the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards. This movie tells the story of a middle school bully who gets taught a very serious lesson from a bunch of neighborhood kids. This is a very powerful and disturbingly real drama about kids who get in way over there heads.

Sam, played by Rory Culkin, is beaten up by George the fat school bully for basically doing nothing. When he gets home and tells his older brother, they devise a plan to get back at him. With the help of some friends and Sam’s young girlfriend Millie, they invite George on a boat ride for Sam’s faux birthday party. He agrees and thus starts the beginning of the end for this foul mouthed outsider.

The way all of the characters are portrayed and developed is the strength of this small indie film. The story is grounded in such truth and believability it is quite shocking. George the bully is played marvelously by Josh Peck. He is more then you stereo typical bully. He has trouble making friends and relating to kids his age. He is dyslexic and tries to be one of the gang without actually being himself. This results in him coming off as a awkward foul mouthed ball of anger and confusion. Halfway through the boat ride, Sam and the others decide that George is a misunderstood kid and doesn’t deserve what’s coming to him. Sam’s brothers friend is not convinced and wants to proceed. His brother is shown to be a bully in his own right and this is a big reason why he wants continue with the plan.

****Spoiler Alert****

In a game of truth or dare George is backed into a corner when dared to strip and jump overboard. He refuses and then goes on a vicious tirade ripping into each of them. He is pushed into the water and can’t swim. Everybody in the boat freezes as they watch him struggle to stay above water. When they finally try to save him it’s too late and he drowns. What are they going to do now? The kids deal with the situation in a sort of quite and contemplative panic. What will this mean for the rest of their lives? The majority of the group wants to bring the body back and tell the police what happen. The older guys want to bury the body along with the truth, and that’s what ends up happening.

It’s a game of self preservation versus honesty and responsibility. Once back at home the younger kids’ band together and decide to tell George’s mother the truth. “Mean Creek” is a remarkably well made film and is heartbreaking to watch. The themes of bulling by kids at school and by family members is brought to the forefront and painfully executed. The DVD also includes a director and cast commentary. This movie is well worth a rental if not a buy.

The 5 Movies that Rocked 2010 & More

The end of every year brings a title wave of “best of” and “worst of” list for every possible topic. I just wanted to post a quick little blurb about the movies I personally thought were the best.

1. Inception – Christopher Nolan is currently the best filmmaker in the world!


2. Black Swan – The Natalie Portman performance we’ve been waiting years for.


3. The Town – Similar to “Heat” with a Baaaston Accent. Affleck has a talent for directing.


4. Kick-Ass – Two Words: Hit Girl



5. The Social Network – David Fincher is the Second best filmmaker in the world!


Here are a handful of other movies that also deserve a look – Enter the Void, Let Me In, Easy A, Restrepo, Exit through the Gift Shop & Greenberg.

If your looking for THE break through actor of 2010 it has be Chloe Grace Moretz.  She played the previously mentioned Hit Girl in "Kick-Ass" and also Abbey a tween vampire in "Let me In".