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If you're ever in the mood for the kind of oddball foreign film that's both unsettling and great in a way you don't quite understand, take a moment to check out Dogtooth, the Greek film that was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film at last year's Oscars, despite the fact that it's the kind of surreal, totally oddball thing the Oscars almost never go for. The less I tell you about it the better-- just know that director Yorgos Lanthimos presents the strangest family you've ever seen, living in a microcosm world completely cut off from society, and makes it both hilarious and incredibly violent. Saying anything more would spoil the movie's weird surprises-- and it's available on Netflix Watch Instantly, so you can see some of those surprises this very moment.

I get the feeling we'll also be surprised by Lanthimos's next film, Alps, which premieres this weekend at the Venice Film Festival before moving on to the festival in Toronto. The movie's trailer has premiered at Indiewire, and you can watch it below. If you've seen Dogtooth you'll probably already know that it's OK to laugh at the end:

Will Alps be the kind of overwrought indie worthy of "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana? Or will it be a comedy that constantly pops its own bubble by wondering why we can't listen to a pop song instead? My guess is it'll be a combination of both-- which is exactly why it's one of the films at Toronto that I'm anticipating the most. Here's the film's writeup from the Toronto site if you want to know more.

Picking up where his first solo feature Kinetta left off, Alps is a game of elaborate reenactments. Only this time it’s more busi­ness than pleasure, since the activity is being used to alleviate pain. Consisting of two men and two women of varying ages, “ALPs” is the name of an underground group that offers a most unusual service: they inhabit the role of your dearly departed, adopting their mannerisms and wearing their clothes, until you can find it inside you to accept that they’re gone. A few two-hour sessions a week seem to do the trick. The funny thing is, physical similarity is not an issue. Using props (a much-worn hat, a favourite wrist­band) to trigger memory, the members of ALPs allow their clients’ imaginations to fill in the rest.

The group’s name is no accident. According to their leader Mont Blanc (Aris servetalis), no geographic formation could possibly fill in for the majestic Alps, whereas the Alps could stand in for any other moun­tain range in the world.

Lanthimos ingeniously populates Alps with one-dimensional characters, whose lack of complexity allows them to slip effort­lessly into other people’s personalities. That is, except for Monte Rosa (Aggeliki Papoulia), a hard-working nurse who insti­gates an imaginary friendship with one of her patients that eventually leads her to take action without informing the rest of the team. Lanthimos drops a few hints about her background: a stagnant home life, a demanding father. Or does he? Who’s to say that this nameless father figure isn’t just another one of her clients? When a director has the ability to make you question your own perception, you know you’re witnessing greatness.
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