Sunday, January 15, 2017

THE CINEMA OF YORGOS LANTHIMOS TOLD THROUGH MOVING IMAGES & STILLS




For the last couple of years Greece has produced some of the most unique, surreal, dark, deadpan, quirky comedies committed to celluloid and Yorgos Lanthimos has been at the helm of this movement. Sure his films aren't for everyone but he's managed to grow his audience with each film without having to compromise his unique style.

My favorite aspect about Yorgos Lanthimos' work is that there's a continuous thread that connects all of his stories. A while back at a Q&A I asked Lanthimos if he looked at The Lobster as an extension of Alps (I feel like both stories exist in the same cinematic universe). While he doesn't share my spectrum-brained fascination with connecting every movie in existence, he did acknowledge that there are quite a few similarities between both films. But this has been a theme in his feature length work since day one...
If you’re willing to get past the look of Kinetta - his often overlooked feature film debut - you’ll see that it literally planted the seeds for all the recent stuff we know & love like Dogtooth, Alps & The Lobster
It is my opinion that Kinetta, Dogtooth, Alps & The Lobster all take place in the same universe. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the characters from Kinetta knew some of the characters from AlpsKinetta also has very little dialogue. For those of you who haven’t noticed (or are only familiar with The Lobster) minimal/spaced out dialogue is a common characteristic of Lanthimos’ pre-Lobster work. Both Dogtooth & Alps contain a lot of empty space as far as talking goes when compared to "conventional movies". Loneliness (The Lobster), identity (Alps & Dogtooth), awkward dryness (Lobster, Alps & Dogtooth) and deadpan expressionism (Lobster, Alps & Dogtooth) are embedded in to the fabric of Kinetta. Even the basic plot of Alps sounds like a light reworking of the plot to Kinetta. So while he continues to grow with each movie, everything is kind of rooted in his early work.


Not only does Yorgos Lanthimos have a unique sense of humor and a talent for tying all of his films together, but he also has a serious/borderline socially conscious side. His work sometimes dispels some of the myths that outsiders have of his homeland of Greece (we see a lot of his characters as unhappy servants). I’ve never been to Greece but I’m sure it’s beautiful. I’m sure some places are like paradise on earth based on some of the pictures I’ve seen. But (some) outsiders have this romanticized vision of Greece as if it’s one big vacation getaway (same with places like Nevada, Hawaii and even Florida to a smaller extent). Films like Kinetta, Alps and Yorgos' student films show a side of Greece that most people aren't used to seeing.


So now that Yorgos Lanthimos has become a successful academy award (Dogtooth) & golden globe (The Lobster) nominated filmmaker, lets take a look at this entire body of work.

enjoy...

Although Yorgos did not direct Attenberg, he still produced & co-starred in it so I'm including it in this entry.




IDENTITY
People in Yorgos Lanthimos' cinematic universe are usually never satisfied with their real lives or who they are as people so they're always looking for some kind of escape or to take on the persona/identity of someone else (momentarily or permanently).
The characters in Kinetta are bored with their lives of servitude so they decide to reenact fake murders for entertainment. The entire plot to Alps concerns a group of adults who take on the identities of other people and more than a few of the key figures in The Lobster get in to trouble for lying about who/what they really are. This is always highlighted in an introspective scene of someone reevaluating things in front of a mirror...
Dogtooth
Kinetta
Alps
The Lobster




RECURRING SHOTS, THEMES & SETTINGS

At a quick glance, these are the core elements that make Yorgos Lanthimos' films his own without needing much explanation...

AWKWARD/GOOFY DANCING
Dogtooth
Attenberg (Dir. Athina Rachel Tsangari)
Alps
The Lobster

WATER
Alps
Dogtooth
Kinetta
The Lobster
My Best Friend

INTIMATE MOMENTS WITH MUSIC
Dogtooth
Kinetta
The Lobster

DEADPAN EXPRESSIONISM
The Lobster
Kinetta
Attenberg
Alps
Dogtooth
Future Reloaded


COMMON SHOTS/SELF REFERENCES...
Dogtooth (top)/The Lobster (below)

Alps
Kinetta
Dogtooth





POSSIBLE INFLUENCES & REFERENCES...
Alps/Enter The Dragon
Kinetta/The Red Desert
Dogtooth/Heavenly Creatures
Dogtooth/se7en
Dogtooth/Sitcom
Alps/Boy Meets Girl
The Lobster/Solaris




SPURTS OF VIOLENCE
You can always count on random and/or isolated unexpected explosions of violence that are sometimes tragic & horrifying, hilarious or a combination of all of those things...
Baby Asteroid (Leon Of Athens Music Video)
The Lobster
The Lobster
The Lobster
The Lobster
Dogtooth
Dogtooth
Kinetta
Alps
Uranisco Disco
Future Reloaded




DARK/QUIRKY HUMOR 
Like Todd Solondz (a director I am convinced had an influence on Yorgos no matter how many people disagree), you sometimes find yourself questioning if you should be laughing at the actions, storylines & isolated violent moments in these movies. On paper, a lot of the shit that he presents to his audience should not be funny... but it kind of is (animal murder, incest, violence against women, death, etc).
Dogtooth
Attenberg
Alps
The Lobster
Future Reloaded




SEXUALITY & PERVERSIONS
An extension of that dark quirky dry humor is the handling of all things concerning sex. Besides the aforementioned theme of humorous incest (Dogtooth & Alps), Yorgos Lanthimos is big in to teasing (in The Lobster we see Ariane Labed arouse Colin Ferrell to the point where he almost reaches climax then she stops), shaming (in the same film, masturbation is forbidden and if you're caught masturbating you're punished), and awkward dialogue during sex (Alps & Dogtooth).
Baby Asteroid (Leon Of Athens Music Video)
Kinetta
Dogtooth
Dogtooth
Alps
Alps
Alps
Attenberg
Attenberg
The Lobster




THE NAKED (AND SOMETIMES AWKWARD) HUMAN BODY
In addition to sex, Yorgos Lanthimos doesn't shy away from showing the naked/almost naked human body in all shapes & sizes...
Attenberg
Dogtooth
Baby Asteroid (Leon Of Athens Music Video)
Alps
Alps
The Lobster
Uranisco Disco




FAMILIES & SURROGATE FAMILIES
Although introversion & self reflection are fairly common elements in the world of Yorgos Lanthimos, rarely do we see characters exist or even live alone (his most famous/known work is a family dramedy). And even when these characters do live alone, like in the case of Alps, they still belong to some kind of collective/non-blood related group (Kinetta) or borderline cult (The Lobster)...
Dogtooth
The Lobster
Alps

and these families always have a “leader”/”overseer” that rules with a tight fist...

LEADERS/OVERSEERS
Dogtooth
The Lobster
Alps




OPEN ENDINGS...
Yorgos Lanthimos' films wouldn't be what they are if he didn't leave us hanging. The fate of Ferrell & Weisz at the end of The Lobster looks rather grim but it still isn't fully spelled out for us. The same applies to the main character in Alps. Sure we know she's gone off the rails but where will she go now that she's been kicked out of her group. And what will happen if/when the father in Dogtooth finds his daughter hiding in the trunk of his car?
Dogtooth
Alps
Future Reloaded
The Lobster


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