Kynodontas [Dogtooth] is the heartwarming tale of a close knit Greek family and their everyday struggle to…Holy shit! Did that kid just kill a kitten with a pair of gardening shears? Yep. Kynodontas is actually the 2011 Academy Awards best foreign language film nominee from Greece by director Giorgos Lanthimos. The story follows the lives of three kids who are raised in complete seclusion by their parents and taught to believe in occasional half-truths but for the most part just complete falsehoods (e.g. that cats are the most dangerous animals in the world) about the outside world. It is the first film in the best foreign language category this year that I have watched and it has set the bar pretty high, although to be honest not nearly as high as Un Prophete (Audiard, 2009) or El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Campanella, 2009) both of which almost top the list of my all time favorite foreign films.
Pros: Okay so I am uncertain of what to discuss here. There are plenty of outstanding parts to this film but I don’t want to go into any further detail about the plot because most of the entertainment value comes in finding out what messed (fucked) up stuff (shit) these awful (asshole) parents will do to their children next. I can’t speak at any length about the director or his history because a quick IMDB search will tell me that Lanthimos has only two other directorial credits for feature films, neither of which I have ever heard about. And none of the actors have names that I can pronounce with any confidence (and they are about as equally prolific as the director) so I am just going to wing it from here. One of the most frequent (only) things that I had heard about this movie prior to watching was that it had disturbing scenes and was kind of hard to watch (based on the novel stone cold bummer) and given what I have already written about it most people would probably agree. It is true, to some extent, that Kynodontas is disturbing but overall it can’t outshine the real downers like Happiness (Solondz, 1998) and Hard Candy (Slade, 2005) which push the limits of acceptability. Throughout the film, I found myself laughing almost as much as cringing. In my opinion, (which all of this already is so I would not necessarily have to explicitly state that however I did anyway just for emphasis) at times the film felt Wes Anderson-esque and had a much more peculiar and zany atmosphere than that of a bizarre and haunting film the likes of the aforementioned. Don’t get me wrong Kynodontas is fairly strange (I mean really what kind of dastardly (dick-licking) parents keep their children sheltered like that) but all things considered the thematic elements are no more disturbing than Never Let Me Go (Romanek, 2010). It has its moments but for the most part appears like light-hearted trickery rather than outright deceit. So all in all it is an intriguing story, fairly nice camera work (a number of interesting shots), and outstanding acting (who am I kidding I have no idea whether or not it was outstanding but c’mon it was nominated for an Oscar that means it has to be good, right?). A full runtime of about 90 minutes and high quality picture on Netflix instant play so compared to some of the other turds on there (I am referring to you Mind of Mencia: Uncensored: Season 4 and National Lampoon’s Pledge This!) why wouldn’t you watch Kynodontas? Plus it is a foreign film so there is plenty of nudity; seriously it is like a few angles away from being full penetration. (Unfortunately, no nudity in this video but go ahead and watch it just to get a feel for what I am trying to say)
Cons: Again, I am uncertain of what to discuss here because Kynodontas doesn’t really have any negative elements in my mind so I guess I am just going to play devil’s avocado (two 30 Rock references in one article, damn I am good) for a bit. I could see how the film might be considered slow moving to some people and that tends to be a draw back even for myself. There are plenty of scenes where nothing much happens and given that it is in a foreign language, the average movie watcher may not be able to stay focused for the films entirety. If that is the case then I suggest you either nut up or go watch Unstoppable (T. Scott, 2010) which I had originally not planned on seeing but now that I notice it has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, I will have to put it at the top of my queue and find out for sure. Other than the pace, I think most people will enjoy. I am done playing devil’s advocate. So I give it:
4 out of 5 broken and bloody upper left (or right) canines
I already felt a bit pretentious (douchey) making a number of references I did in this article but I will go ahead and mention this anyway. Some of the other titles for the article I had been playing around with were Un Chien-dent Andalou and Ode to a Grecian Dogtooth but figured most people wouldn’t get the references, did you? Do they even make sense? You see I knew they wouldn’t be funny.