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Loukoumades me meli (2005)
Pigs, Doughnuts and Death...
The film was made with the help of six adorable piglets and 23,500 doughnuts. The piglets survived; however, many of the doughnuts were eaten during the making of this movie. The cast is well chosen and Pavlos Haikalis, especially plays a very difficult role well. The leads are likable and handle the comedy well, while many of the supporting actors enjoy the excesses of the script with gusto. Olga Malea seems to be able to balance the slapstick with the pathos, and some scenes get a belly laugh, while in the same breath one finds one's heartstrings tugged.
The cinematography is gorgeous and many of the scenes display the beauty of springtime in rural Greece wonderfully. If also found some innovative camera work in the way that some scenes were handled. Small town life in provincial Greece is brought to life successfully and there is a wry commentary on modern-day mores and technology, and how these impinge on traditional attitudes and strait-laced cultural icons.
A very good movie, see it if you can, not only for the laughs, but also for an excellent consideration of some very "heavy" material that confronts us in an unexpected way and challenges our comfort zone. As far as the piglet and where it fits into the story, you'll have to watch the film and find out, its role is crucial!
To ainigma (1998)
Oedipus At Colonus Revisited
A successful lawyer decides to escape from the constraints of her family and especially from the control of her "war hero" father and becomes involved in a gang of small time con-men in Colonus. The gang leader is her old favourite primary school teacher, who is now a beggar and blind (in her imagination a personification of the ancient Oedipus). Everything, however, has changed in her old neighbourhood: The school is now a brothel, her old teacher a shadow of his former self and the old school janitor is a look-out man and right hand man of the gang leader. The old janitor is sphinx-like in his obsession with posing riddles. As a last ditch attempt to become rich, the gang organises a robbery involving the antiquities of Colonus. This will act as the impetus for the evolution of a tragedy.
Crime and Punishment - Greek Style
An interesting film where Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" meets contemporary Greece, the threads of the novel interweaving with modern-day problems including urban living, crime, white-slave trade and flimsy personal relationships that get reduced to carnal contacts. A Greek man in his 60s forms a meaningful relationship with a Russian woman in her mid-20s. He is a watchmaker, she is a prostitute who has bonded herself to two-years work in a brothel so that her family back in Russia can have some money. The relationship is more akin to a father- daughter one than a sexual one, but the threads of Raskolnikov's romance in "Crime and Punishment" exist in the minds of both of the key players. Music underlies the action as it is important part of the lives of both man and woman.
Ante Geia (1991)
Christos has just been discharged from his army conscription duty and is ready to take on the world, become famous, make lots of money live his life... However, reality proves tougher than his dreams and he starts working in Mihalis' butcher shop, where lots of money is to be made. Marina is Mihali's wife while Fanny and George are his children. Christos soon becomes the right-hand man of Mihalis, who sees in him what George, his son, is not: Hard working, interested in the business, trustworthy and pleasant. Marina starts looking at Christos through eyes tinged with romance, while her daughter, Fanny falls in love with him. However, Christos does have a girlfriend, Roula, who is also head over heels in love with him. George's arrest for a drugs-related charge will act as the catalyst for many events that will shatter the family's "normal" existence.
Mavro gala (1999)
Black Milk? I Prefer it White
Alekos is a young author who is struggling to overcome a mental block. It is not helpful at all that at the same time, he is embroiled in disastrous love affairs and dangerous friendships. He is thoroughly unable to help himself and gets into deeper and hotter water. However, Alekos has a big secret, which he hopes will be his ultimate salvation: He is able to travel in space-time and is thus able to re-live situations that test him. In retrospect, he is able to change his disastrous previous choices, taking the more advantageous ones the second time round. When he returns to the "present reality" he becomes aware that something is amiss and things aren't what they ought to be or is it, oughtn't be what they are... Some redeeming features in this film make it watchable, but I have seen better based on a similar premise. "Groundhog Day" springs to mind, which although completely different is related, and also the Chinese film: "Take 2 - Love Correction".
Doomed Love Affair
A 28-year-old man has a chance encounter with Zoe, an 18-year-old school girl who is shoplifting in a supermarket. They develop a strange relationship that progresses to a hasty marriage largely because of pressures from the two sets of parents. Zoe is young, vivacious and irresponsible, thus unable to fit into the mould of a housewife or a helper in the toy supply business of her husband. She wants to be an actress but fails the entrance exams and then toys with the idea of becoming a model. Her husband is passionately in love with her and he forgives her every trespass until a crisis point is reached. A well-shot film with strong performances by the lead and supporting actors. It is both a social comment as well as wry look at the modern mores of the Greek capital and the changed standards of a society that appears to follow too closely directives from non-indigenous cultures that often grate on the local ethos.
Dreamer Rudely Awakened
Something changes in the relationship of Achilleas and Anna when she starts to dream vividly and insists on relating her dreams to her husband. He is a barrister in the middle of an important murder trial and his temper becomes frayed with Anna's seeming indifference and involvement and preoccupation with her dream world. The viewer is often left wondering whether reality or dream is portrayed, this contributing to the (often) tongue-in-cheek telling of the story. The film is beautifully shot and there are some mysterious dream sequences, while for some light relief there is the mystery of the "music terrorist" who places speakers in the most unexpected places in central Athens and then blasts everyone with Brahms at the most unexpected time.
Oloi oi andres einai idioi (1966)
A Refreshing 60s Greek Comedy
When Polyxeni catches George, her husband, embracing Calliope, their maid, all hell breaks loose. She fires the maid and packs her bag to go home to mother. To her amazement, however, the new maid at her mother's house is none other than the very same Calliope she has fired. The curvaceous maid has managed to insinuate her way into yet another household and is now besieged by Polyxeni's father, her brother, and her brother-in-law. Calliope seems to be the reason for the title of the movie: "All men are the same..." Overall this is a fluffy comedy, but the message it gives is rather ambiguous... Are all men really the same, or is it Calliope who manipulates them in compromising situations for her advantage? The film is based on the play "Peirasmos" (Temptation) by Grigorios Xenopoulos (1867-1951), one of the better known of Greek playwrights and authors of the late 19th to mid-20th century.
A deaf-dumb Turkish boatman living in Çesme in Turkey meets and falls in love with a Greek girl from the island of Chios who is visiting Turkey as a singer in a cultural festival. The girl is attracted to the young man and soon she too falls in love with him. However, she must return to Greece and he cannot go with her. The ancient Greek myth of Hero and Leander is counterpointed with the story of the two modern lovers. The film explores the construction of a bridge of understanding between two countries that have been traditional enemies, although communication between their two people is hampered by concerns that have little to do with the unifying human element inherent in their commonality. The film attempts to bridge that gap and there are a couple of sub-plots based on greed and betrayal of friendship, however, the story remains a superficial romantic one. Katerina Moutsatsou looks young and fresh, but her acting is still immature, while Mehmet Ali Alabora looks sultry and handsome, but doesn't get much of a chance to have his say! A few of the supporting actors give good performances.
To tama (2001)
Pedestrian Road Movie
Evagoras is a poor villager living in Cyprus, just as Greece is about to become embroiled in WWII in 1940. He has made a vow to visit the shrine of St Andreas far away from his own village, if his wife gives birth to a son, after several girls have been borne to her. Once the baby son arrives, Evagoras begins his long trek accompanied by his faithful donkey. Determined to complete his holy vow, Evagoras presses on resolutely, although there are several people bent on preventing him reaching his goal and fate seemingly conspires against him. The film starts out extremely well and is bitterly and poignantly comedic, however, as it progresses it becomes rather repetitive and is overlong. Some heavy cutting would have improved it greatly. Georges Corraface is a saving grace, playing the role of the naive Evagoras wonderfully well and Valeria Golino looks wistfully winsome, although her motives are far from innocent...