‘Dogtooth’: Disturbing and Thought Provoking. On to ‘Red State’…

by | Sep 3, 2011 | Notes while surfing

Last night I broke down and put in a Netflix DVD that’s been sitting on my desk for months now. I was reminded that it had been sitting there when Twitter became inundated with posts about the break down in the Starz-Netflix contract. The Satellite TV channel had a distribution agreement with Netflix to provide digital access to movies from Sony and Disney through Feb. 28. 2010. But, Starz announced that it will not continue the arrangement and so Tweets were telling everyone they’d “better” go watch all the Starz movies in their Netflix que. 
When I do watch movies, I tend to watch digitally. I only use the DVD feature when a film I really want to watch isn’t available. 
I had read a review about Dogtooth and was intrigued. It was a well-respected film critic and it was the shortest review I’d ever read. It said something like “I’m not telling you NOT to see Dogtooth. I’m NOT telling you TO see it. All that I’m telling you was that it was disturbing.” That was it. Then, when it received the nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards, I decided to order it.
Now I know what he meant. Whoa. There are few films that I’d say I’d remember all my life. Most of the stuff i watch are chick-flicks so that’s not surprising. I forget the premise days after I’ve watched some of that stuff. 
Disturbing isn’t the half of it. I picked up my remote a number of times to turn it off but I was, I don’t know, mesmerized? Like the lookie-loos who stare at a car accident, I couldn’t look away. And, it had nothing to do with the fact that my Greek is practically nonexistent even though I am married to a Greek. Learning Greek is another item on my To Do Someday list. So, I had to read the subtitles to follow along. 

Greek critic Dimitris Danikas gave the film a rating of eight out of ten (“with enthusiasm”) and characterizes it as “black, surreal, nightmarish.” He believes that Dogtooth is as important for Greek cinema as Theodoros Angelopoulos‘ 1970 film Reconstruction.
The movie’s official website describes Dogtooth as:

A hyper-stylized mixture of physical violence and verbal comedy, Dogtooth is a darkly funny look at three teenagers confined to their parents’ isolated country estate and kept under strict rule and regimen — an inscrutable scenario that suggests a warped experiment in social conditioning and control. Terrorized into submission by their father, the children spend their days devising their own games and learning an invented vocabulary (a salt shaker is a “telephone,” an armchair is “the sea”) — until a trusted outsider, brought in to satisfy the son’s libidinal urges, plans the seeds of rebellion by trading VHS tapes for sexual favors. 

Comedy? I wasn’t laughing. It’s haunting. Dogtooth is a movie that will invade your dreams. Most of our beliefs come from our parents. I like to think of myself as a free thinker, questioning everything and am so proud of the fact that my son is exactly the same way. He doesn’t accept anything blindly. 
Once, a teacher was expounding on the merits of Ronald Reagan and he questioned the teacher’s premise. I was so proud of the teacher who, rather than admonishing my son for disrupting his class, gave him a Merit for showing a willingness to learn and called me personally to thank me for raising such an inquisitive kid. He said that very few students actually ask ‘Why?’ 
In Dogtooth, these kids have been brain-washed their whole lives, so it is both astounding and some how natural that one of them asks ‘Why?’ It takes an awful lot to question the very foundation of your existence. Your vocabulary alone rules how you think, what you think and how to think. Dogtooth is thought-provoking.
According to the Twitter trends, the movie Red State looks like it is another thought-provoking movie with a horror-theme twist. In fact, according to Twitter trends, every minute of the last 72 hours someone has tweeted about the Kevin Smith movie. I’m not a horror film nut, but I do love John Goodman. The film also stars Michael Parks,, Melissa Leo and Stephen Root
The trailer for the movie is frightening enough to make me wonder if I really want to see it. Their website describes it as:

Kevin Smith steps his foot into horror territory with this politically tinged fright flick starring Michael Parks (From Dusk Till Dawn, Grindhouse) as a controversial Fred Phelps-ish reverend who brings his own brand of zealotry to a wayward group of teens. Smith directs from his own long-in-development script. 

Some of the tweets:

BrianRector @ThatKevinSmith just got done watching #redstate feel like i see the world in a new light

frozeneyes @ThatKevinSmith just finished #RedState Sir! Fantastic work! Parks is absolutely haunting! Job well done to you, cast, and crew!! It looks like another thought-provoking film.

JaseFox #REDSTATE Goodman’s acting when he recieves his orders in the field. Parks’ monologue speech which dominates the second act of the movie.
numbangel1120 Michael Parks for Best Oscar #REDSTATE

Time to fireup Netflix and see if I can get it. If not, the films available at On Demand and iTunes or you can pre-order the DVD.
NOTE: This is day No. 4 toward keeping my commitment to post once a day. Have you joined yet?
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