movie critique: 'dogtooth'

giorgos lanthimos directs
christos sergioglou
michele valley
aggeliki papoulia
mary tsoni
hristos passalis
and anna kalaitzidou

rating: 'not subtle'

you feel affected by the fact that the cast actually participated in making 'dogtooth' maybe more than you feel affected by robert downey jr.'s participation as the lead in 4+ iron man-related movies

you feel abstractly affected by the family construct within the movie and how it relates to your own

you think 'religious ass' and 'magical realism' repeatedly while screening this movie but feel like these are somehow false reactions/interjections and question the relationship between the themes in this movie and certain associative 'religious' and 'zany' neuron clusters in your brain

you feel surprised that 'dogtooth' seems uncomfortably dissimilar to your interpretation of 'dark comedy'

themes in this movie:
  • prostitution
  • animal cruelty
  • incest
  • pornography
  • explicit language
  • expressive dance
  • self-harm
  • assault with a deadly weapon
  • attempted homicide
  • faking pregnancy
  • blatant falsification of common knowledge
  • restricting technology
  • invention and destruction of an entity created to instill fear
  • psychological abuse
  • denying an adult freedom of speech
  • lying about a disability
  • parents beating their children
  • rocky balboa
  • 'jaws' (1975)
  • self-kidnapping 
you don't like this movie


trailer: dragonslayer


"Coming to theaters this fall:



More dates to be announced soon.

Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary Feature, SXSW 2011
Grand Jury Prize, Best Cinematography, SXSW 2011
Grand Jury Prize, Best International Feature, HotDocs 2011

Directed by Tristan Patterson
Produced by John Baker
Executive Producer Christine Vachon
Cinematography by Eric Koretz
Editors Jennifer Tiexiera, Lizzy Calhoun
Music by T. Griffin
Soundtrack Mexican Summer"



megan boyle and tao lin are/were MDMAfilms

rating: 'afk'
  • on july 2nd, 2009, on tao's birthday, you witness megan boyle and tao lin meet for the first time 'irl' at a book release party in manhattan, new york. you say, 'tao, this is megan, megan, tao...', tao says, 'i know you from the internet' to megan
  • mid-2010 you hear that tao lin is having a reading in baltimore during part of the promotional tour for his second novel, 'richard yates'. megan asks you if you will be there. you say you will be there. you don't attend the reading. megan later tells you tao stayed at her apartment
  • in november of 2010 you see that megan and tao 'founded' MDMAfilms, via facebook, and are listed as 'in a relationship'
  • on january 8th, 2011, you read an article revealing that tao and megan, in fact, got married in las vegas, a day prior to the events in their movie 'bebe zeva', early november, 2010

they subsequently release three films in 2011:

MDMA: megan and tao take ecstasy in a car in manhattan, drive some, take a train, get off the train, get on another train, get off that train in manhattan, take a cab to times square, walk to toys 'r' us, and ride ferris wheel

MDMA (TRAILER 1) from MDMAfilms on Vimeo.
i don't feel inclined to enumerate the ways in which tao or megan's style of filmmaking seems similar to their writing
however, i think it is 'worth it' to draw similarities between the various media that they brand themselves with and the products' effect
in narrative, poem, 'art', and film, tao seems detached, distracted and hypersensitive to 'himself' and documentation of 'himself' seems the primary goal, discerning meaning and 'relevance' is, it seems, divided as both a subsequent pursuit, assessed during revision/editing, and a constant bilateral to his experiences
he also seems fascinated with 'boundary-pushing' as if he were leveling the field of collective discomfort by testing the spatial and sensory boundaries of others
megan produces poetry that—and appears in this film to be—constantly assessing 'okay-ness' and vast quantities of information being provided by the surrounding circumstances and a vague sense of her relationship to them coupled with a sort of brown-out observation of—and fascination with—life, desires, and consequences
co-branding their experiences in this mostly unbroken account of one evening in new york city seems a unique, natural way of collaborating and experimenting with ´the movie´as a medium

BEBE ZEVA: megan and tao meet rebecca 'bebe zeva' hershkovitz in a hotel, drive to another hotel, take a cab to a mall, return to the second hotel, drive to [another?] mall, walk through the mall, travis mcfarland joins them, they walk through a casino type area, they drive back to the second hotel, get into a jacuzzi, then get out of the jacuzzi

BEBE ZEVA (TRAILER 1) from MDMAfilms on Vimeo.
feels akin to like, 'snuff films' maybe
while watching this movie, i felt the same range of deeply affecting emotional/analytical responses that i feel watching 'any other "indie" movie', with two exceptions, i think:
one, i did not feel myself become 'immersed' in the plane of view/perspective of the camera, i felt very aware that it was a movie despite there being no credits and seemingly chronological jump cuts
two, i felt no interest in dissecting/discerning technique employed to derive narrative, it seemed like self-conscious people trying to have a 'memorable' experience and seemed honest in its presentation of this, as opposed to implementing narrative tact/wealth to create an illusion of honesty
the 'hollywood-style' title 'mash-up' i might use to pitch this movie is: '"jackass: the movie" meets "the devil wears prada", with warholian sensibility/authenticity/vulnerability'

MUMBLECORE: megan and tao, in a not-necessarily-chronological narrative, travel between new york, maryland, ohio, north carolina, louisiana, and nevada. at the 'climax' of the movie they get married

MUMBLECORE (TRAILER 1) from MDMAfilms on Vimeo.
this film completes 'the trilogy', though it was filmed entirely prior to BEBE ZEVA
the film's clearly labored-over documentation of an essentially 'fucked' relationship harkens strongly to its titular generic relative, though its existence, independently, and especially as dissimilar to its predecessors, which vague the lines between documentation and narration instead of fusing them, has, simply by existing, created a new genre
falling somewhere spectral between mumblecore, pimplecore, and the well-established 'indiewave' movie—now a serious part of the hollywood 'machine'—i think MUMBLECORE establishes muumuucore (a la tao's publishing company) as a definite movie genre, in a similar way that lin and boyle's writing seems to have permanently altered literature

  • on october 23rd, 2011, you receive an email from tao, authorizing you to view and review for mutual publicity MDMAfilms's current filmography
  • ~.5 hours later, tao's facebook relationship status goes from 'married' to 'single', megan boyle 'likes' this status update
  • a 140+ comment shitstorm 'arises', with the primary contributor, a certain james morrill, asserting that megan is an 'idiot' and 'slut'
  •  according to megan's formspring account, you see that she still has ~30 copies of BEBE ZEVA left
  • on october 26th, you see that gossip blog, hipster runoff, has utilized the filmmakers' 'separation' as a national-enquirer-esque buzzline to help 'launch' tao's DJ career, to which article you see tao replied 'jesus' via facebook status update

MDMAfilms's movies are available for purchase on their website, information regarding their movies can be viewed and modified on their IMDb page and individual wikipedia pages, all trailers, short-form movies, and event coverage can be found on their vimeo

PRESS KIT from MDMAfilms on Vimeo.



the artistic medium that affects me the most is commonly called a 'movie'. i watch movies 'on dvd' via various dvd-type 'players', movies downloaded via torrent websites in high and low reproduction quality. movies via movie theaters, some in 3-d. movies via the internet, sub-via netflix, hulu, youtube, pornhub, etc. i think that movies are products. i think that how i experience a product informs my emotional and volitional perception of the abstract life-narrative that i experience. movies seem like products that prevent boredom, provoke moods and thought processes and provide a prestige-based hierarchy and social ‘web’ constructed by-and-for people fascinated with and interested in making movies, to validate their association and contemplation of movies as products and sustain their lives in the context of 'product-development' as a profession

the terms 'cinema', 'film', 'video', and 'picture' are used to define products derivative of the concept 'movie', which has become the most-widely used term, in my experience, to describe this product-base. 'cinema' seems to denote the highest level of prestige, however, the 'newness' of the medium prevents a literature-style hierarchy of prestige in current movie criticism networks. in some cases specific movies that are densely derivative of previous movie, literary, musical and theatrical history, despite the medium's relative youth, produce (in me) a sense of precision in execution that the product seems to have an indelible prestige, eliciting a mood or thought process i associate with 'classic literature' or 'classical music'

i feel hyper-aware that certain movies are affecting in this manner because of a perceived hierarchy of 'quality', predefined by notions of potential canonical longevity, which are based on the preservation, translation and reproduction of previous works of literature and music that are considered 'telling examples of the human condition and zeitgeist in their respective eras'. these works have thus set an abstract 'standard' to which temporally transcendent media must adhere to. because movies require multiple 'players' or hardware used to interpret the audio-visual data as a consumable product, the medium seems more temporary than its predecessors

by making a product that exists in a variety of media and is securely stored with all of the hardware needed to experience the product, one might increase chances of indefinite longevity. 'ancient' literature and musical instruments which have, despite their age been capable of continued lingual and tonal extrapolation seem 'enduring', though their means of interpretation have changed consistently since their inception (papyrus vs. 'eco-friendly' paper, early lutes vs. electric guitar), but the existence of physical evidence and explanation of how the media functions has provided a 'framework' for how to produce approximations of said works for further consumption/product development. it seems that any assertion that a product made in the present day will maintain future standards of longevity with any certainty is negligible, because at any given time innumerable works are produced with varying levels of quality/senses of 'zeitgeist'. consequently, the act of consciously, definitively usurping the majority's concept of 'a great movie' (or any other product) is in every sense 'impossible'

movies that seem to lack concern about longevity and are just densely labored over products made by perceptive humans seem affecting because they are like 'oral histories' to me, subtly changing how future movies are produced; what humans want to experience; how humans memetically understand narratives. 'blockbusters' seem less affecting because of the extreme, revenue-based natures of their production and the fact that the crew's access to massive resources can, like a corporately-funded construction crew building a house for poor land-owners in order to garner 'mad sympathy hits' for the corporation, efficiently manipulate viewers' basic sense of empathy and elicit extreme emotions, abstractly branding the experience with that corporation, without triggering thought processes that challenge the audiences' perspective of subjective experiences or how humans successfully utilize volition despite socio-political-corporate constructs

if a film challenges perspective in a complex, subtly emotional way, the product seems more enduring because its honesty affects perceptive audiences so deeply that the influence 'snowballs', infiltrates the zeitgeist and eventually warps how 'blockbusters' are produced, even without movie historians knowing where the influence came from. this can happen with 'blockbusters' too but usually only if they are a zeitgeist-channeled re-telling of a story that grew 'naturally' to gigantic levels of fame because of its honesty, subtlety and the hard work of its creators. if elements of the story or production are lacking or 'forced' to create a spectacle, the story seems weird

i like movies about humans, animals, brands, ideas, personified 'beings', mythological entities, phenomena and historical events that are from a perspective-challenging (as opposed to a perspective 'normalizing' -- i.e. propaganda, 'sympathepics', performance art) production approach, and that i feel concretize some aspect of my life narrative that felt very abstract, subjective or emotion-based, because i think life is more enjoyable when humans share unfamiliar perspectives on familiar experiences and methods of thinking


wes anderson

wes anderson is the (co-)writer/director of:
'bottle rocket' (1994 short, 1996 feature)
'rushmore' (1998)
'the royal tenenbaums' (2001)
'the life aquatic with team zissou' (2004)
'the darjeeling limited' (parts i [hotel chevalier] and ii 2007)
'fantastic mr. fox' (2009)
'moonrise kingdom' (forthcoming, 2012)

rating: 'auteur'

near the end of high school you only apply to one university. you apply to study 'cinematic arts' at the university. you are accepted to the university but not the 'cinematic arts' program. you choose 'japanese' as your 'second choice' major, which does not require additional application

you meet your future college roommate and his mother in new york city with your family ~2 months prior to the beginning of your freshman year. his mother is a lawyer-turned-divorcĂ©e/teacher. she suggests you all go to an expensive downtown bar/grill to get acquainted. you discuss the possible outcomes of your and your new acquaintance's mutual decision to study 'filmmaking' ~3000 miles away, in los angeles, california, and your respective parents' experiences with 'impending separation anxiety anxiety'

after a few months of living together your roommate expresses extreme disbelief that as an 'aspiring filmmaker' you have 'never'—or 'almost never', with the exception of having seen the trailer for his most popular movie—which you only vaguely recall seeing—heard of 'wes anderson'

you subsequently purchase both movies available on itunes that were directed by wes anderson ('rushmore' and 'the royal tenenbaums') using your father's credit card account, and ask your floor-mate to borrow 'the life aquatic with steve zissou', to which he obliges

you soon discover torrent technology primarily out of an intense desire to view anderson's seminal movie, 'bottle rocket', which is obscure and has not yet acquired the 'superior' criterion collection status the other movies have

a year later, a video by anderson is available for free on itunes entitled 'hotel chevalier'. you read that it is 'part i' of anderson's new movie, 'the darjeeling limited', which will have a limited release at a nearby hollywood cineplex (accessible by train) within a few months

you see the movie with a friend you made videos with in high school. one week later, you see the movie again with your parents when they come to visit you. your mother grips your hand and openly cries during the movie

your parents correspond with you frequently asserting that they rented various wes anderson movies via netflix and have 'x' thoughts on characterization, 'y' thoughts on mise-en-scene, and 'z' thoughts on various aspects of the writing—always with polarized opinions

you attend a filmmaking course your sophomore year entitled 'originating ideas for film' in which the professor holds a preference for abstract, non-narrative videos. a mandatory 'exploration' of 'emotional expression' occurs

you simultaneously attend a filmmaking course in which you focus on utilizing digital media to express concrete narratives about 'conventional' subject matter. you write and shoot a short screenplay about a failing relationship as an assignment

you feel 'insanely' bored

you decide to write a feature-length screenplay

you stop attending classes

you complete the first draft of the aforementioned screenplay

your parents purchase a one-way plane ticket, beginning your indefinite return to their home, near washington, DC

you see a series of videos advertising cellular phone plans on television and immediately recognize them as directed by anderson

two years later you move in with a girl. you download anderson's new movie, 'fantastic mr. fox' via torrent. you watch it with her

a year and three months later you and the same girl vacation with a group of friends to a beach house on the eastern tip of long island. the house is one $200 round-trip ferry ride away from the on-location set of anderson's movie-in-production, 'moonrise kingdom'. you spend ~1 hour contemplating whether it is 'worth it' to spend $200 and 2 hours to (possibly) be in close proximity to anderson for less than an hour before having to catch the last ferry back to the beach house

you decide to read a first edition copy of bret easton ellis's 'less than zero' that you found in one of the bedrooms instead

later, you find the below video on the internet, after google searching 'wes anderson' and/or 'french new wave' for >1 hour:


movie critique: 'melancholia'

lars von trier directs
kirsten dunst
charlotte gainsbourg
kiefer sutherland

rating: 'film'

you see the trailer for 'melancholia' one night while bored/lonely, perusing apple's 'itunes trailers' webpage, and feel more affected by this trailer than every other you watch

you perform a brief google search for 'lars von trier' who you remember having heard of but have little emotional connection to, especially in a cinematic sense

you recall your friend once mentioning a name, resembling the way you imagine 'lars von trier' is pronounced, in the context of one or more science fiction movies and think 'melancholia' is a 'guaranteed classic' with only slight reluctance/sarcasm

you read the wikipedia article for 'melancholia (2011 film)' and skim some journalistic articles related to a 'scandal' surrounding lars von trier and a 'highly prestigious film festival' (cannes), wherein von trier asserted and then renounced something 'racist', for which he blames his 'ethnicity' and nationality and supposedly feels glad to be the first 'persona non grata' at said festival

when imagining what kind of movie 'melancholia' will be you think, 'entirely filled with slow motion shots and "epic" music', 'unpalatable casting that will "plague" the viewing experience in a unexpanded-upon/intensely distracting way', 'shot on one location with a series of computer graphics clips recalling "outer space" in an unprecedentedly bleak manner', and 'explicit in theme and execution: depressing'

after further 'researching' lars von trier, you read that he has clinical depression and a series of undefined, as per your research, 'phobias', which indelibly influence the film's tone, themes, and characterization

later, you find a copy of the movie on a torrent website and spend five hours waiting for it to download

you begin watching the movie's opening sequence when your girlfriend asks if you're 'coming swimming'. you say that you already said you didn't want to. she says that it would 'make her happy' and kisses you. you attempt to compromise by saying you will go to the beach but don't want to swim. she says that's okay but that it would 'make her happy' if you 'came swimming'. you assess the situation and resolve to take a laptop and chair with you to the beach but not swim. you are reprimanded and told 'it's fine' if you stay at the house and watch 'your movie' because she won't be swimming for 'long' 'anyway'. you calmly put the chair, laptop and glass of beer you had collected back where you got them and take a notebook and pencil to the beach. in the water two of your friends make out while your girlfriend, lit by the moon, is visibly separate from the couple. after a long pause, during which you contemplate the rhetorical format of this critique, your girlfriend says 'baby, the water's nice'. you interpret this as her communicating, 'i'm lonely and i want you to come play with me', remove your clothes and get into the water, which feels substantially colder than what you would consider 'nice'. your girlfriend asserts that she didn't expect you to react that way, nor did she intend for you to, and distractedly proceeds to insist on having contests of physical strength and endurance while you feel consistently preoccupied with wanting to continue the movie while also cultivating feelings of resentment because you feel manipulated and dislike swimming at night, which you have repeatedly expressed

you return to the house, dry off, sit in a hammock and continue the movie. after fifteen minutes your girlfriend walks up to you and says 'i'm bored. can i watch the movie with you?' you say 'sure, but it's depressing'

you watch 'part one' of the movie from the beginning, periodically increasing the playback speed through the first fifteen minutes (between 1.5-2.0x normal speed) to bypass scenes involving little dialogue

your girlfriend verbalizes that the film is exceedingly vulgar, she dislikes the main character but eerily relates to her, feels the movie is 'making her depressed', and causes her to have difficulty following her own 'train of thought'

you and your girlfriend share a cigarette as you begin watching 'part two' of the movie

you pause the movie, briefly, after a 'climactic' scene, and beckon your girlfriend to sit on your lap. you kiss each other and say things softly, which culminates in your girlfriend expressing that she is tired, but wants to finish watching the movie

you go to your bedroom and cuddle as the movie continues

you realize that your brain, near the end of the movie, begins to project 'personal meaning' onto your perception of the film and makes varied assumptions about von trier's 'narrative tact'. you find this happens especially in terms of characterization, partly because your girlfriend says, in response to one scene, 'that's so selfish, why did he kill himself?' to which you reply—utilizing almost only subconscious thought—'to characterize him as a "control freak" that feels he needs to have "control" over his life in the face of impending death'

the credits roll and you see that penelope cruz has a 'special thanks' credit