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“Dogtooth,” a Different Kind of Greek Tragedy

“Dogtooth,” a Different Kind of Greek Tragedy (photo)

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Bright and attractive, ceaselessly curious about their world and about the words, emotions and sensations connecting them to it, the three unnamed siblings in Greek director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos’ remarkable new film “Dogtooth” would be the picture of healthy development — were they on the threshold of puberty.

But the oldest daughter (Aggeliki Papoulia), the son (Christos Passalis) and the younger daughter (Mary Tsoni) are all full-grown adult subjects of an unexplained sinister psychological experiment cum lifelong guerrilla theater piece orchestrated by their father (Christos Stergioglou) and mother (Michele Valley).

From oldest to youngest, the offspring believe they’re confined behind the hedged wall of their home for their own protection from an outside world whose farcical and totally fictional rules they have been spoon-fed from infancy by their parents.

06232010_Dogtooth2.jpgIntentionally or not, Dad and Mom have succeeded in creating an environment in which the infantile ideas, associations and assumptions of pre-adolescence have gained in relevance and accuracy as the kids have, physically at least, matured.

The parental view on such topics as where both babies and puppies come from, the possible fate of jetliners flying overhead, and what the words to Sinatra’s recording of “Fly Me to the Moon” translate to in Greek are totally bizarre and yet seem perfectly logical if one were to artificially extend a sun-dazzled pre-teen summer in a sprawling garden estate indefinitely and guilelessly take what parents say as gospel.

Pent up together, the three siblings go about the business of justifying and sorting out father and mother’s litany of do’s and don’ts, rewards and punishments, and slanted history the same as we all do in childhood, except that almost nothing their parents say is true. Very little of what they do (particularly the punishments) appears to be for anyone’s good.

The inevitable threat to this crackpot Eden arrives in the form of Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou), a security guard from the father’s real-life factory job moonlighting as a sex partner for the son. Christina soon develops designs on other members of the family and improvises a barter system to receive certain intimate ministrations that eventually has world-shaking (this household’s world, anyway) consequences.

06232010_Dogtooth3.jpgLanthimos initially presents glimpses of the family’s inscrutable but believably banal rituals in a jagged assembly of off-kilter frames and truncated scenes. For a movie built on a conceptual conceit as provocative as this one’s, there is barely a syllable of on-the-nose explanation as to what on earth has motivated these parents to force their family to live the way that they do.

If “Dogtooth” were a science fiction movie — I’m almost positive it’s not, though the family’s fortress-like stockade, the father’s austere workplace and other details do lend the film a post-apocalyptic quality — there would likely be explanation aplenty. But in lieu of tight close-ups of faces authoritatively reminding us what’s at risk and how things got the way that they are, we get widescreen frames that often cut off characters’ heads entirely.

What initially plays like self-consciously cultivated Euro-creepy art movie remove in the Michael Haneke (“Funny Games”), Ulrich Seidl (“Dog Days’), and Gaspar Noé (“Irreversible”) style, has the effect of putting the cast in the emotional driver’s seat instead of the camera, and each actor in “Dogtooth” does yeoman’s work constructing characters that live more or less comfortably in a genuinely discomforting milieu.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.