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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alps Is Like Prostitution for the Grieving

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM

  • San Francisco Film Society
  • Alps

A great thing about film festivals is seeing films before their wider release, and in new and intimate settings. Over the weekend we screened Giorgos Lanthimos' film Alps, the follow-up to the strange yet much-loved Dogtooth, in the San Francisco Film Society's New People Cinema. The film turned out to be a perfectly bizarre and endearing study on authenticity, control, and groupthink. It's final screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival is tonight (Tuesday) at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.

A little background for setup: I once had a business idea to be what I called a conversationist for hire. My dad thought it sounded like prostitution. In Alps, the main characters perform an equally questionable service, though much more extreme and terrifically morbid: They temporarily stand in for deceased loved ones through carefully practiced re-enactments as a paid service for the grieving. Mont Blanc, the ringleader who named the group as something irreplaceable and unidentifiable (Alps), is their pimp, and the others, strictly nicknamed and managed as smaller mountains in the range, indulge their clients' erotic fantasies to keep the dead alive, if only through menial activity and tired dialogue.

  • San Francisco Film Society

Lanthimos' characters get to you, his writing intrigues you, and his direction forces you to take a second look and really dive into his representation of everyday life. While Dogtooth focused on the melodrama within a family, Alps highlights the interaction between the Alps members and the outside world, be it in the gymnasium, the home of a late child tennis player, an ambulance, or a ballroom.

In a hospital scene where the paramedic, aka Mont Blanc, and the nurse are discussing the paramedic's coffee mug, he describes the mug as saying "Los Angeles ... there isn't another one like it." As with most of Lanthimos' work, It should be ironic, but it is not.

Alps screens at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, April 24) at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post (at Fillmore), S.F.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Stephanie Echeveste


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