Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dog Tooth and the Classical Hollywood Cinema by Benj Ramos

image from impawards.com
There have been changes on the ways the film makers tell their stories. For commercial purposes maybe or just merely the influence of time, but one thing is for sure, film makers express their masterpiece in a not-so-contemporary ways.

Dog Tooth (Kynodontas) has been one of the films that deconstructs the "normal way" of film narration. Through its out-of-the-box scenes, the director, Yorgos Lanthimos, challenges the current (and even the contemporary) form of storytelling.

The continuity editing that are present from the classical Hollywood cinema is also visible in Dog Tooth. However, it lacks casual explanations. There are no explanations as to why a certain scene is happening. On the other hand, classical Hollywood films vividly present the story's cause and effect. 

This 2009 Greek film has shown the intersectionality between the contemporary form and the surreal/modern form. When it comes to cinematic space and time, we know that it runs chronologically. Although at times we feel that there are missing scenes, and it jumps from one situation to another without visual justification, the film still let us identify time through day and night and with no flashbacks and other conventions of time story telling.

In the classical Hollywood cinema POV, eyeline matches and shot-reverse shots act as a help to give the audience the story telling we expect. However, gives us headless shots, awkward head rooms, and weird mis-en-sine.

On the other hand, the films conformity to classical Hollywood cinema is present on characters. The family has been consistently abnormal from the beginning to end. We know that the parents are aware of their actions, and they were introduced to the film as who they are. Just like the classics, it is loyal to introducing the characters to satisfy the audiences' need of trait and character references.

Despite all, this Cannes winner revolves around the story of children who were raised differently by their parents. They remained ignorant and looks at the world in a way you can't imagine. They were saturated in false beliefs, deception and urban legends. This Oscar nominee for best foreign language deserves my 8 espresso shots for a peculiar film wizardry!

FANTASY LOVER - “It was exciting on some part. Not the kind of book that I will bury myself and finish in one sitting.” By Lyn Bungar

Photo courtesy of www.audioeditions.com
The title pretty much says what the book is all about – FANTASY LOVER. I classified it as a romantic/erotic novel. It is about an ex Spartan general and a half man half god, Julian of Macedonia who was cursed to live inside a book for eternity until a summoner called for him to be their boy-toy for thirty days. It was Priapus (brother of Julian) who put him in such damnation after he found out that he had slept with his woman.

Julian was every woman's dream. His physical attributes were indescribable. I was convinced that no such man exists in real life. He had been inside the book for over two thousand years until Grace, a sex therapist, summoned him with the help of her friend Selena, a tarot card reader/psychic. Selena was so desperate for her friend to sleep with a man, reason why she came up with the idea of Grace summoning Julian from the book. Grace has not been with a man for quite some time because of her experienced with her ex lover Paul. She finally gave in to Selena’s persuasion knowing that it was all a joke and that it wouldn't do her any harm.

There are parts on the book that caught my attention but some were not enough on getting me excited to go through the pages.  I liked Selena’s eagerness on finding her friend a mate, and the idea of Greek gods and goddesses interacting with mortals in the twenty first century were very interesting. There were lots of sexual tension between Julian and Grace. It was simply and beautifully written by the author. It was so vivid, like I was watching the action on-screen. But as I went through the book, it became predictable. The feeling of excitement occurred, vanished and appeared again. My emotions got to lose somewhere. I thought that the feeling will be redeemed by the most anticipated love scene that will free Julian, but I was a bit disappointed. I compared it to a friend of mine who told me stories with no climax. I was not so happy with Priapus and Aphrodite’s (mother of Julian) envy and selfishness that made Julian suffered a lot. It did not make sense to me at all. Thanks to the very unrealistic character of Grace, who happened to be a sex therapist yet unable to fathom her feelings toward men, Julian was freed from malediction. The story of Rodney, a madman and Grace’s stalker confused me. It didn’t blend well with the whole story, at least for me. The author should have concentrated with the Greek gods and goddesses turmoils. The ending was a disaster! Their love story was immature.

I would give 2-3 cups of latte for this book as I was entertained on some parts and the story started really well. But hey! The book was not bad at all. You might want to give it a try :)