Lanthimos. Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos has a strong case for being cinema’s single greatest voice since 2009 when he arrived on the scene like a blast of fresh air with the utterly bizarre and remarkably accomplished Dogtooth. Through his subsequent work he deploys a rigid formal/visual structure and breathtaking stylistic cinema while his narratives and voice are branded his absurd black humor world-building. Already, his unmissable signature style and deep filmography is a strength with three films that land in the top 100 of their respective decade.
Best film: The Favourite
- A masterpiece of auteur-driven formal and aesthetic choices, brilliant acting and one of the year’s best screenplays
- It’s entirely Lanthimos—black, absurdist, profane—but it’s impossible to watch without thinking about Mankiewicz’s All Above Eve (the power-play with acidic writing), Birdman (a stylistic tour-de-force but a three-headed acting monster (also featuring Emma Stone)), Welles (those spectacular low-angles),or even Dangerous Liaisons (mostly in narrative and acting as Frears is no Lanthimos when it comes to the stylistic bravado and dare I say genius)—it may be Kubrick or Bunuel more than any of these others—the worldview echoes both of them while the detailed stylists mimic Kubrick most closely with the tracking shots, natural lighting in a costume drama (how can you not think of Barry Lyndon?)
- It’s Lanthimos’ first time not writing his own screenplay but you could’ve fooled me—the premise (a creation of a totally closed off world- an absurd world with strict rules) is his—Refn’s first time not writing his own (and last I believe to this point) was Drive– I see some similarities there—Lanthimos has come a long way visually
- DP Robbie Ryan (American Honey, Fish Tank) gives Lanthimos most of the credit- said he basically is his own dp
- The fisheye lens (ultra wide angle) is absolutely brilliant– using film style to indicate the extreme ludicrousness of this insular world– —it’s rigorously deployed formally, beautiful to look at and tied directly to the narrative—ditto for the angling work that again—is Welles when Welles was at his finest- we get ornate ceiling as mise-en-scene for just beauty (and my god this is a beautiful film)—but it also is an indicator for psychology, interplay between the characters
- Character depth- Colman, Stone and Weisz together with Lanthimos portray three of the best characters (while giving three of the best performances) of 2018
- The costume work as part of the mise-en-scene—awe inspiring
- Another aesthetic formal element that is carried out is the slow-motion sequences in moments of supreme meaninglessness—like the gorgeous duck race (Lanthimos always has animals, the Lobster) and the tomato throwing scene at the naked pear-shaped guy
- The formally rendered chapter breaks taking a snapshot of the dialogue like Woody’s Hannah and Her Sisters
- The dance sequence is pure Lanthimos as well—gorgeous, but debunks, unravels and lampoons—a scene that will be recalled 5-10 years from now
- Speaking of 5-10 years from now— there just aren’t many movies made that look like this. They are not this beautiful. The levl of imagery like this happens a few times a year if we’re lucky.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Favourite)
most overrated: Nothing for Lanthimos. Not surprisingly, there’s nothing yet in the main TSPDT top 2000 (time for Dogtooth to land on there at least!) yet—and his three films that show up on the consensus 21st century list are all doing very well. Dogtooth is in the top 10 of 2009 (tad underrated), The Lobster is hovering around the top 10 of 2015 – and The Favourite is #3 of 2018 behind Roma and Burning- no shame in that.
most underrated : The Killing of a Sacred Deer. This one doesn’t show up at all which means the TSPDT consensus has 39 films from 2017 ranked ahead of it- unfathomable.This one has stayed with me— jaw-dropping images and a formal rigor that stays with you for a long time after watching.
- It works as both an excellent slow-burn art-house horror film and as a black comedy
- Lanthimos’ narrative construction here isn’t as strong as dogtooth or the lobster but he hasn’t changed his colors by any stretch- he’s a master of absurdism and discomfort. The film will make you think of Bunuel (exterminating angel), Haneke (funny games), von trier (Dogville– Kidman in lead doesn’t hurt either) but clearly comes from Lanthimos’ own unique and brilliant voice as well
- Gorgeous reoccurring visual—the walking down the corridor and hallways—Lanthimos continues to experiment visually—love the wide angle shots used again and again to capture the entire room—one example is the big ballroom for Farrell’s speech
gem I want to spotlight : The Lobster
- Lanthimos is a brilliant world builder. The Lobster is a great film in a vacuum but it was important to prove that Dogtooth was no fluke.
- Part Bunuel, HG Wells, Kafka, Wes Anderson (that deadpan)—and wholly Lanthimos—he’s very big on a world with strict rules. Absurd rules
- Great opening with a woman driving and shooting animal in the face. Sets the tone
- Love Farrell’s big belly and dedication to this character I hesitate to say it’s his best (he’s in the new world after all) but it’s up there.
- The use of Beethoven and the procedural way they check into this world/resort/location reminds me of a clockwork orange
- A satire on marriage, ritual
- Gorgeous slow-motion photography galore- 4-5 very solid sequences
- “on my last night I’d like to watch stand by me”
- The Barry Lyndon music- voice-over, absurdity of the voice over by Rachel Weisz—it’s very similar to the sarcastic and kind of condescending voice over of john hurt’s in Dogville as well
- The film is broken into two halves- the resort (forcing people trying to be couples) and the woods (forcing people apart)—the loners in the woods have strict rules too
- Great scene of the loners dancing to their own music and random animals walking by in the woods
- Idea of marriage is “we’re both shortsighted”, or “both of us get nose bleeds”- haha
- Intermittently jarring scenes of cruelty—dead dog and suicidal woman
- “How much do you lover her on a scale of 1-15? “ “14” “14 is a really impressive score”
- The critiques from Lanthimos are crisp and painful
- Back half of the top 10 quality film
- Animal names in the titles- and that may seem like a coincidence or a marketing ploy like Paul Newman’s H-film titles in the 1960’s—but Lanthimos is a master of absurdism- there’s a rich thematic connection here
- Wide angle shots—formal rigor –used beautifully and often (and to the extreme with the fisheye lens in The Favourite)
- strict rules in closed off little silly biospheres or dioramas (hello Wes Anderson)- Lanthimos is a world-builder like David Lynch or Tarantino
- Bunuel’s lampooning of humanity and black humor, Wes Anderson’s deadpan and Peter Greenaway’s compositions and symmetry, Kubrick’s use of architecture, structuring and shooting of hallways (Roy Andersson can do this too) and even tracking shots down those hallways, and Wellesian’ low-angles (at least in The Favourite)
- Slow-motion photography – dramatizing and emphasizing moments of nastiness or ridiculousness
- Dark satires, critiques of society
- blindfolds (not subtle but yeah), Dancing, rituals
- I’ve mentioned a dozen filmmakers here and above from Haneke (Funny Games seems like a cousin to Sacred Deer) to Kubrick (Clockwork, Barry Lyndon seem important to Lanthimos and you can see the Mickey Mouse song at the end of Full Metal Jacket being sung in every Lanthimos film) but he’s certainly his own artist and auteur- a brazen and ambitious voice in 21st century cinema
- The Favourite
- The Lobster
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer
By year and grades
|2015- The Lobster||HR|
|2017- The Killing of a Sacred Deer||HR|
|2018- The Favourite||MP|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
Magnificent. First of all I don’t think there is anyone that has been able to describe the essence (if we accept the term) of Lanthimos’ films better than you did on this page. I’m struggling a little to decide whether I preferred The Favourite to Dogtooth or vice versa but it doesn’t really matter here. It might sound a little daring but I think you could make a case for him being one of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers of all time (Kubrick would top that list tbh, and Wes Anderson would make it rather high). I am a great admirer of his work. Personally I have great respect for films that belong to “the weird wave” of contemporary cinema (it appears to be something of a movement in Europe, particularly). I think Lanthimos represents in his own way of course this brand of auteurs, and I think you could also name the work of Lars Von Trier, Haneke, Parasite, most recently etc. His critique is incredibly sharp and acidic, as you mention above, and it only enhances the stylistic brilliance of his work (I have found that it is also a trademark of this “wave”). Upon watching the Killing of a Sacred Deer, I think I will agree that it is underrated. Narratively it is not as strong as some of his other films, but it is disturbing, very atmospheric and also quite telling of his idiosyncratic elements. It definitely leaves a lasting impression. There is so much to talk about with regards to his films, but I think I’ll give it a go at another study before that.
@Georg – thanks for the comment here- much appreciated. Agreed on Lanthimos being one of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers of all time
I really need to give The Favourite a rewatch. I’ve had a browser tab with it on my computer loaded up for days, maybe even weeks now and just haven’t done it. Maybe I will right after posting this comment, maybe I won’t and I’ll watch something like Cache, The Thin Red Line or La Notte instead. Maybe I won’t watch anything at all. I remember watching the movie for the first time a year and a half ago (July 2019) and just despising it utterly, and in retrospect I don’t think I was ready for it. I do remember things about the movie I definitely admired: the costume and production design (and these aren’t things I paid much attention to in movies at the time so it was a bit of an outlier there for me), the performances, especially Colman’s which I thought was exceptional, and the cinematography, again something I paid little notice to in films around that time. But there were just things about it that turned me off. However, since watching it, I’ve seen two more of his films and loved them. I watched The Lobster probably just a few months after The Favourite (I can’t remember if I knew they were directed by the same person or not, but I doubt I would’ve given The Lobster the time of day if I knew it was the same director given how much I dislike The Favourite at the time) and was blown out of my mind; I loved it. It was just unbelievable. I meandered for a while before finally watching The Killing of a Sacred Deer around September maybe and thought it was very exceptional too, not on the level of The Lobster which I think is a MS (but it’s been a while, probably could use a revisit someday) but still very good nonetheless. I’m sure if I watched The Favourite today I’d probably be with you and think it’s great. I think it’s sort of a similar situation to my watch of Only God Forgives; I just wasn’t ready at the time (keep in mind however I still haven’t gotten around to the second watch of Only God Forgives but since it’s on Amazon Prime at the moment it probably won’t be particularly long before I do). Have not yet caught Dogtooth but it’s on Tubi so I could see myself visiting it soon. I don’t yet have Mubi either which it is also on but I could see myself subscribing in the future; it also has works from directors like Tarr and WKW that I need to start investing into later on.
I think Lanthimos is such a treasure. If, say, Nolan is the modern Hitchcock (and he’s not – Hitchcock is much better – but Nolan has great works under his belt too), Lanthimos is the modern Kubrick. Just an unbelievable talent. I can hardly put his films into words. I think a comparison to Gilliam would be apt as well.
@Zane. The new Kubrick? mmm it seems that every good director is now the new Kubrick.
Isn’t the new “Kubrick” Nolan? There are many articles on that, even Drake mentions it on Nolan’s page.
I had not heard about Nolan-Hitchcock, only when talking about British directors.
I understand what you mean with Lanthimos, one of Lanthimos’ favorite movies is Barry Lyndon, using classical music, the use of classical music.
Not the new Kubrick was PTA? at least i think so
Are there new versions of the directors? is there a new Kurosawa? a new Coppola, a new Bergman? is there a new Kurosawa? a new Coppola, a new Bergman? just curious
I definitely have trouble commenting today haha, some paragraphs were duplicated.
I looked at Nolan’s page and saw nothing about him being the new Kubrick whatsoever. The man is name dropped a couple times but no overt statements of Nolan being a new Kubrick are made. And you’ve never seen Nolan compared to Hitchcock? They’re both clearly similar in their ability to command public opinion and create significant art. They both created significant artistic breakthroughs in audience-oriented films; Hitchcock brought the thriller to artistic acclaim and Nolan did the same with the superhero film.
I like PTA very much but his style varies from film to film whilst Kubrick sort of adapted one way of doing a film across a multitude of genres for the most part. Wouldn’t call PTA a new Kubrick, he’s his own thing.
I’m in the middle of The Favourite right now and it’s extremely Kubrick-esque. Don’t understand the hostility against my statement of Lanthimos as an emerging second Kubrick. Feels like the last paragraph is a bit of a strawman.
There is nothing hostile in my comment, as i said my words were duplicated by mistake, so you see repeated words haha.
Oh ok. I get you. Yes I remember you mentioning you were not from an English-speaking country in the past. I considered that perhaps it was just bad phrasing and you meant nothing of it but your language and tone appeared needlessly passive-aggressive to a native speaker.
To avoid making two different comments, I’ll reply to the other comment you made here. I mean, I get the PTA comment, and I might add The Master on top of that as well, and if you want to add “the release of a PTA film is as much of an event as the release of a Kubrick film used to be,” than you’ve got a decently compelling argument there. But he’s too divergent from the man to be truly considered his successor; Magnolia for example isn’t very Kubrickian at all. But Lanthimos just exudes Kubrick in every way. And it’s not just some pale, empty imitation of Kubrick. It is innately Kubrick. Drake mentions A Clockwork Orange which is definitely a titanic influence on Lanthimos as well as Barry Lyndon – the one Kubrick film from 1964-1999 I haven’t seen; could see The Favourite alone causing it to shoot up to the front of my watchlist I loved it so much on the revisit tonight – and from what I’ve seen and heard about Barry Lyndon I can definitely see the influence. I would mention to varying degrees Dr. Strangelove, Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining as well (so literally just Kubrick as an aggregate I guess); there’s just so much you can say about Lanthimos and his influences from Kubrick. I mean, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Eyes Wide Shut? He knew what he was doing with his lead character being a doctor married to Nicole Kidman.
Add-on: Slight tangent here, I’ve noticed a lot of Lanthimos fans seem to consider The Killing of a Sacred Deer his best film. I mean, I like the film, it’s a very good movie, but I’d easily place it dead last without even thinking for a second behind The Lobster and The Favourite in terms of Lanthimos films I’ve seen. I don’t know. I definitely need to invest some time into studying Lanthimos this year, especially since I still haven’t seen Dogtooth.
As for the rest, i was referring to the styles, sometimes my english sucks haha, they are very different. (stylistically)
As for PTA i mention it because of the similarities in There will be blood.
I’d say he’s more of an acolyte (Lanthimos) just like Glazer
The Lobster HR
The Killing of a Sacred Deer R
The Favourite HR