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Big Screen | "Dogtooth" Leads Trio of Critically Acclaimed Openers

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 23, 2010 at 2:52AM

After months of scarce offerings of critically acclaimed films, June has certainly proved 2010's MVP. From "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" to "Cyrus" to "I Am Love" to "Winter's Bone," arthouses have been packed with critic-approved fare (and in turn, they've also been packed with audiences). And come Friday, another batch of worthy filmmaking will join them. There's Alain Resnais's 2009 Cannes Film Festival entry "Wild Grass," which divided critics at Cannes, but those who loved it really loved it. There's Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning doc "Restrepo," which was a favorite on indieWIRE's poll of Sundance bloggers and critics. And then there's Yorgos Lanthimos's "Dogtooth," which has the mighty distinction of topping both "Restrepo" and "Wild Grass" as the week's top scorer on criticWIRE.
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After months of scarce offerings of critically acclaimed films, June has certainly proved 2010's MVP. From "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" to "Cyrus" to "I Am Love" to "Winter's Bone," arthouses have been packed with critic-approved fare (and in turn, they've also been packed with audiences). And come Friday, another batch of worthy filmmaking will join them. There's Alain Resnais's 2009 Cannes Film Festival entry "Wild Grass," which divided critics at Cannes, but those who loved it really loved it. There's Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning doc "Restrepo," which was a favorite on indieWIRE's poll of Sundance bloggers and critics. And then there's Yorgos Lanthimos's "Dogtooth," which has the mighty distinction of topping both "Restrepo" and "Wild Grass" as the week's top scorer on criticWIRE.

Like "Grass," "Dogtooth" premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard competition. Critics seemed to agree with the Un Certain Regard jury, giving it one of the five best scores in criticWIRE history.

Lanthimos's second feature, "Dogtooth" follows a father and mother who keep their kids isolated in their suburban home under their total influence. The result is an alternately hilarious and nightmarish cinematic experiment on manipulation and oppression.

"Three indefinitely grounded siblings are stuck in an alternative universe dictated by their parents' cruel whimsies - think an eternal 'Big Brother' house as designed by Lars von Trier," explained Variety's Boyd van Hoeij in a Cannes review.

Writing for The A.V. Club, Mike D'Angelo called the film "the only truly great film" he saw at Cannes, noting that "the less I tell you about this movie, the better off you’ll be in the event that it finds some sort of U.S. distribution." A few months later, it did through Kino International.

Keeping D'Angelo's suggestion in mind, here's some non-spoiler quotes from some of "Dogtooth"'s other glow reviews:

"Dogtooth is so suggestive and frightening, it invites solving, but only by the brave." - (Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York)

"Unflinchingly detailed, thought-provoking fare." - (Philip Wilding, Empire Magazine)

"One of the year’s few true originals." - (Guy Lodge, In Contention)

"Dogtooth unnerves with a rigorous focus and technical dexterity that's apt to stun and amaze." - (Nick Schager, Slant)

"The most original, challenging, and perverse film of the year so far." - (Aaron Hillis, The Village Voice)

"A black-comic poem of dysfunction." - (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)

Check out links to each film's indieWIRE page as well as other films opening this weekend, plus recent theatrical releases below. They include synopses, trailers, and a variety of criticWIRE grades and links to reviews.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week

Dogtooth (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Restrepo (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Wild Grass (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+


criticWIRE: Films Currently In Theaters

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

The Lottery (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Winter's Bone (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

I Am Love (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Cyrus (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Father of My Children (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Double Take (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Lovers of Hate (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Ondine (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Micmacs (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

8: The Mormon Proposition (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Let It Rain (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Solitary Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Killer Inside Me (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Stonewall Uprising (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Agora (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C-

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

This article is related to: In Theaters







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