“Killing Strangers” is a song by American rock band Marilyn Manson from their ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor (2015). It was written and produced by the eponymous lead singer and Tyler Bates, and was first released when it appeared in Keanu Reeves’ 2014 film John Wick.
The overwhelming taboo surrounding romantic independence drives The Lobster, the latest low-key, high concept black comedy from Yorgos Lanthimos. In this us-but-slightly-different universe, if you haven’t found your “suitable partner” by a certain age, you’re turned into an animal. The pursuit of love isn’t just aspirational; it’s mandated. It’s also laff-out-loud funny as translated in film’s absolute apathy, which might be oppressively bleak were it not so consistent with its low emotional intelligence. Collin Farrell’s puppy-eyed David has 45 days at a soon-to-be couples’ resort to find his match before he is turned into the titular lobster. The conceit is a winning one, but it’s mostly a dim flashbulb illuminating The Lobster’s wry commentary on the lengths we are willing to go to find that special someone (please slide into these DMs). In an uncluttered look at the conventionally fraught language of love, The Lobster dehumanizes the very myth that separates man from crustacean.
Aferim! doesn’t waste time moralizing about the obvious and odious evil of racism and slavery that permeates its every scene, and the matter of fact way in which it presents scenes of say, an old, jolly priest bluntly saying that it’s perfectly natural for Gypsies to be beaten and kept within the bonds of slavery does more to turn one’s stomach than an overwrought caricature of an evil old racist ever could. The filmmakers respect their audience’s intelligence enough to assume they’ll understand how messed up the situations they’re presenting to them are without having to hit them over the head. Of course, the danger in doing so is to come off almost apathetic about the banality of evil, but if you’re paying attention, the somewhat pessimistic approach of Jude and his crew works marvelously.