By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Athens International Film and Video Festival (AIFAV) showcased two appropriately strange films on their first night: Night Across the Street, the final film from director Raoul Ruiz, and Alps, director Giorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to the Academy-Award nominated Dogtooth. While neither film are masterpieces, both offer an odd yet fascinating look at our lives and the meaning of existence itself.
Night Across the Street| Directed by Raoul Ruiz | Not Rated
For his final film, writer/director Raoul Ruiz, appropriately examines the meaning of life and death.
Centered on a office worker set to retire whose memories and dreams come back to him, Night Across the Street examines what it means to be alive. Or, more accurately, what lies between living and dying. Filled with rich imagery and elegantly written dialogue, Raoul’s thoughtful, but haunting, film adds a great deal of depth in the wake of his passing.
The film’s often puzzling and heavily drawn out nature will not likely please some. While the film does often drag, its meditative nature offers a somber and fascinating study on what it means to be human. Audiences patient enough to explore the film’s messages will find a lot to like in this existential study.
Alps| Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos | Not Rated
Writer/director Giorgos (a.k.a. Yorgos) Lanthimos’ Dogtooth may be one of the funniest films of the past couple years.
Having been showcased at AIFAV a couple years ago, the film’s darkly dry and weird sense of humor adds, in equal measures, a hilarious and oddly captivating study on the measures of social standards that we hold today. Now, in his follow-up, Alps, Lanthimos doesn’t quite reach the same level of quality as his last film, but he does continue to showcase a talent for wonderfully bizarre and reflective filmmaking.
Studying a group of people who impersonate the recently deceased in order to help their clients through the grieving process, Alps continues the director’s signature style of acute observational social humor. In studying the ways one attempts to structure themselves into society, the director has said that he considers this “a sort of Dogtooth 2.” In some ways, it’s very similar to his previous film, but Alps also shows the filmmaker’s progressing into dramatic filmmaking, an area the director still needs some time to perfect.
While the comedy side of his film is superior to the dramatic, the film’s daft sense of humor keeps the film afloat. But this is not to say that the dramatic scenes in this film are incompetently made. Rather, they just show that this director still may need a little time to grow. But his off-kilter comedy remains as sharp as ever, and continues to demonstrate Lanthimos as a director to watch out for.