Sunday, August 09, 2009

MIFF 2009 Day 17 - 9/8/09

  • Kynodontas (Dogtooth, Giorgos Lanthimos, Greece, 2009)
  • Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, UK, 2009)
Here's a director with something to say, and a novel way of saying it. We've read stories in the paper of parents who have locked their children up for years, decades even. How do they get away with it, we ask ourselves. This film explores that scenario, with middle-age, middle-class parents struggling to keep a lid on their three twenty-something children. The film is sparse, interspersed at times with the unexpected, including violence.

Fulfilling the sexual needs of three adults is a logistic nightmare, and the film treads that ground also with restraint, but increasing horror. The significance of the film's title becomes evident at the rather brutal but ambiguous ending. This is a disturbing film, that affected me for some time as I walked the streets after the screening. It's also one of my favourites.

Fish Tank
I'm over social realism. Let me re-phrase that; I'm over Ken Loach-style social realism. You know, the foul-mouthed kids on the housing estate, the booze, the drugs, the sex, the violence. There's nothing wrong with Fish Tank, but it feels like a road we've been down so many times before. Arnold puts a couple of spins of her own into the story, especially the one where our teenage protagonist takes a young girl into dangerous territory, with the audience teetering on the edge of their seats. There's also some great dialogue (such as the younger sister's profanity). But I still felt for most of the film's duration (and the 120+ minutes felt very long), "so what?".


Anonymous said...

Paul - can't agree with your thoughts on FISH TANK. IMHO it was one of the many standout films at this year's festival! You can see why it won the Grand Jury Prize @ Cannes this year!

I am surprised with your comment about being over social realism which you clearly doesn't apply when you watch Alkinos Tsilimidos films (EM4JAY) and his unrealistic depiction of drug addiction!

Cinema is subjective but surprised with you assignment on FISH TANK!

Paul Martin said...

Anon, there's no accounting for personal taste, is there? Realistic or not, I do love Em 4 Jay. Maybe it's the stylisation that appeals. Fish Tank may be an excellent film; I'm just so over its style. It offers nothing new to me, nothing to attract me to it. The premise is ho-hum boring for me, even though I agree that it's well-made.

BTW, I can't see why it won at Cannes.

Glenn Dunks said...

See, "Fish Tank" was my favourite of the fest and while I agree with your opinion on social realism (I just don't care anymore about horrible people being miserable, I just don't) I found Andrea Arnold put something really fascinating into it. She actually likes his character and instead of giving her one last chance at miserable embarrassment she pulls back and I was thankful. The film's treatment of youth was really well handled and the use of music and dancing quite different.

It's a film that I have found myself thinking about over and over again since seeing it.

"Dogtooth", as I know you're aware, was my walk out title. I had been wondering what the end was, but then you go and say "ambiguous" and I'm so glad I bolted. That entire movie was just one big bout of ambiguity tied up in pretentious wanky camera shots and terrible acting.

Paul Martin said...

Glenn, I presume you walked out when the older girl used the exercise weights in a creative manner. The film was just about over and it's a pity you didn't stay for it.

I don't agree that the whole film is ambiguous. Rather, it leaves room for the imagination. We don't know exactly how they got to where they were, but we could guess by the information we were given.

Glenn said...

I walked out when the sisters starting licking each other.

dmk said...

I walked out when the sisters starting licking each other.
HA! Best scene in the film. :)

Paul Martin said...

On one level, I found that scene quite funny. There's sexuality in the film, but it's never really erotic. I liked the understated manner in which the film explores the 'deviancy' which is wholly understandable given the circumstances.

dmk said...

Paul, I notice small things when I'm in a cinema, and I have noticed a laugh that I've heard on numerous occasions this year. A very loud, slightly obnoxious laugh that I've wondered about.

I believe I heard this same laugh during Deep End, and quite possibly during Prey.

During Dogtooth I heard this same (or similar) laugh, but only noticed it during the scene where the cat is found in their lawn, and the son jumps on it with the garden shears.

Heh, That's you, isn't it?

Paul Martin said...

I think I was too aghast to laugh at the cat scene. If you heard an obnoxious laugh at other screenings, it definitely wasn't me, because my laugh is endearing. ;)

dmk said...

If you heard an obnoxious laugh at other screenings, it definitely wasn't me, because my laugh is endearing. ;)

Ah, now my mind is at rest.

But, hey, it was interesting to figure it out.

...Now to find the other person who went to all these screenings.....

Anonymous said...

Fish Tank continues to collect awards at film festivals around the world! For a person who usually has excellent taste in cinema - this one still puzzle me!

Paul Martin said...

Anonymous, I kinda liked Red Road, and while Fish Tank is aesthetically a better film, I'm just so over the genre. Five years ago, I probably would have loved it. There's nothing new in it, nothing original, nothing to appeal to me. Such is the mystery of taste.