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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
I sincerely do not understand the backlash against this movie. It is hilarious and warm and undoubtedly deserving the attention it got. Or you have to be Greek... Really can't say.
What I do know from a Greek's perspective the jokes hit right on target and yet are not offensive. The wackiness but also the warmth and love that's in Greek families comes through.
I say give it a chance not expecting to love it or hate it. You'd be surprised.
The music is great but the story is what matters the most
People could say that this film has dated but they would only be referring to fashion. Everything about it is honest and real and although some of the characters are cliched the believable performances and strong script keep it together.
I was actually apprehensive when it came to watching the film as I couldn't forget the cheesy leg warmer fest that had been the TV show (which I did watch of course but there were only two channels in Greece then and I was 10 or so...)
The film has great music. Dance numbers. The works. However all that is secondary to the story, they compliment it instead of overshadowing it. And as the story goes, it is true that several threads of the story are not adequately explained (at least not in the version I saw) but why should that matter? I can imagine my own ending for them, for poor Coco and that sleazy photographer and the girl who had to have an abortion (and I can't forget how funny and tragic the scene of the girl's monologue about what a great dancer she's planning to be, all the while not realising what she's on about until the very end of the scene).
Everything about the story was amazing but those that really did it for me were Doris, Montgomery and Raul/Ralph both in terms of performances and of their stories. Those three were very believable and sweet together.
I gave it 8/10.
Behind the Red Door (2003)
I knew next to nothing about this film and rented mainly because I have loved Kiefer Sutherland since I first saw him in Stand by me (and that's a difficult movie to love him in)
His performance is simply perfection, never becoming too sympathetic, never losing touch of the character. Oddly, what has stayed with me is the flashback scene of him applying makeup on his dead mother's face, lipstick shaking in his hands.
This is a complex and beautiful film, focussing on the relationship between brother and sister, rather than the glamorous world they are both working in or the mystery of who killed their mother.
I know I must see this film again. I strongly recommend it.
Tom & Thomas (2002)
I rented this mostly because I adore Sean Bean. It was nice to see him in a film where he doesn't kill people or get killed, for a change.
I expected the typical "twins change homes" tale in the vein of the Olsen twins vehicle I had suffered through a few years back but I was definitely pleasantly surprised. It is not obvious at first that there really is a second boy. The scene where Thomas is feeling all that is happening to his twin is very well directed and stuck with me.
There are some scenes that would probably upset young children. Finch, the wild eyed caretaker of the boy's home Tom is in, is particularly frightening and there are certain undertones of sexual abuse about it (not that anything other than physical abuse happens, but still)
In all, this is a good movie for children. Sean Bean fans will not get an awful lot (though I happen to think ConcernedFather!Sean is sexy)
Essex Boys (2000)
I'm ashamed to admit that I only understood this film the second time I saw it. It is easy to confuse the characters at times as they double cross each other, change camps and generally confuse the viewer to no end.
However, it was worth it for Sean Bean as the psychopathic Jason Locke and Alex Kingston as his femme fatale wife. The guy playing Billy, the narrator, was also very good.
There are very few moments of humour but they certainly work, Lisa's foul mouth, comes to mind as well as the fact that Jason stole the marble lion from his former boss' garden. The plot becomes a bit too confused in the end with Lisa's web of deceit becoming wider and wider.
Moments of violence are very realistic. Jason Locke's treatment of his wife is by far more shocking than anyone flying off a glass window.
As far as the direction is concerned, it is fairly straightforward with some truly excellent editing in the shoot out, near the end as well as in the scene where Mr Dyke (I for one found Tom Wilkinson's gentleman gangster quite believable) is trying to kill Billy.
In all, it is hardly a groundbreaking film but it is very entertaining. I'll give it 7/10.
The Invisible Man: Pilot (2000)
I knew next to nothing about this show (which is no wonder since as I see it didn't survive more than 2 seasons) but since the first episode I ever saw, I was hooked.
I love the mix of humour and action. Everyone's acting is absolutely superb (I think I might be in love with Eberts of all characters). I don't know what went wrong and the show ended up being cancelled, I think that had it been given some more time it would have gotten the ratings it deserved.
Life as a House (2001)
Not what I had expected
I rented this film mostly expecting to see your usual tearjerker... Man finds out he has cancer. Man tries to connect with his family. Man builds house which symbolises the way he is rebuilding his relationship with his family.
The truth was in the middle. There are your usual manipulative, lightweight, Disney-like scenes and plot elements but the movie possesses an endearing freshness and often brutal honesty. It resembles American Beauty very much in its overall feel.
The performances are spot on. Kevin Kline proves what an incredibly versatile actor he is breathing life to George, the lead character. Kristin Scott Thomas has wonderful chemistry with him and gives a sensitivity to her character which saves it from being boring. Hayden Christensen is so natural it is difficult to think of him as merely an actor playing a part. It was quite a risky part considering that we're first introduced to Sam, his character, as he is sniffing some chemical and trying to engage in autoerotic asphyxiation hanged from the clothesrack in his closet. He infuses a certain innocence in the portrayal and for the most part does not make Sam into your typical angry youth. Jena Malone is a revelation as the Lolita across the street. As is the case with all female characters in the film, hers is a grounding presence. In a way her character comes close to a combination between Thora Birch's and Mena Suvari's characters in American Beauty. She and Christensen are both excellent, especially in the scenes where she steps in the shower with him.
In all, Life as a house is a film definitely worth watching.
Santa Barbara (1984)
it used to be great
There were five reasons I watched this soap. Lane Davies, Nancy Lee Grahn, Justin Deas and Robin Mattson and its brilliant script. I used to tape it and fast forward all the bits that didn't involve the characters played by these four, fantastic actors. The script was so well-written that it was too good for a soap. Maybe that's why it wasn't as popular as it should have been. Even though I live in Greece and I used to watch it many years ago, I have very fond memories of these show and so do many other Greeks of my generation. I wish someone would show old episodes again. There's not much of a chance of this happening in Greece though.