Dogtooth ★★★★

Watched as part of the July 2018 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
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5. Watch a film set on a farm

I find it difficult to put into words what it's like to watch the films of Greek surrealist director Yorgos Lanthimos, but perhaps this will give you an idea -- that it's much like if a race of space aliens were given a copy of Wikipedia as their sole knowledge of the human race, but someone went in first and randomly removed every other word from Wikipedia, but the space aliens were not aware that this had been done. That makes Lanthimos' movies a singularly unique experience: because unlike most surrealist films, they actually make a lot of sense from a narrative standpoint, and in fact would seem just like any other normal character-based drama if you were squinting and only paying half-attention; but unlike a normal character-based drama, the characters in Lanthimos' films behave in these bizarre, unexplainable ways, yet do it in a ho-hum manner as if no one involved finds this behavior bizarre or unexplainable at all.

And so it is with his 2009 breakthrough film Dogtooth, his first to start garnering a sizable if not cultish audience in the US (an audience that has grown much larger because of recent films like The Lobster and Killing a Sacred Deer which star much more famous Hollywood actors). To explain Dogtooth would inherently be an act of futility; but in general you can say that it's about a middle-class couple raising three college-aged children, but who are doing so in what seems to be a sort of Skinner-box brainwashed style within a remote compound closed off from the rest of society, wherein they have created a complicated mythology in which common words have nonsensical meanings, the planes that regularly fly overhead are believed to be the size of toys, and sex is treated as a pesky itch, to be dealt with the same way one might deal with a mosquito bite.

As always with Lanthimos, you really have to watch Dogtooth to understand even the faintest idea of what he's trying to do; and as always with Lanthimos, the only way to enjoy Dogtooth is to let the whole thing wash over you like the sensory experiment it is, not a movie to analyze or understand but to experience and inhale. I happen to like his experiments, which surprisingly don't try my patience in the way a lot of nonsensical art films can; but your experience could quite definitely differ, meaning that you should approach with caution and a rather large grain of salt.

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