The writings of Bill Mousoulis
Greek Film Festival
of the Antipodes Festival
A welcome annual event this one, considering the paucity of Greek films in the cinemas and in other festivals (though a number do make it to SBS-TV).
But 95% of the audience were Greek - "Greek pride" is almost as self-marginalising as "Gay pride". Festival curator Eleni Bertes is aware of this problem, and so hopefully some cultural cross-fertilisation will occur in the future with this festival (which has now established itself as a fixture of the Melbourne film calendar.)
Quick impressions of the films now follow, in the order I saw them in.
(MY RATINGS SYSTEM: 0 = Bottom Ten of all time; 1 = Abysmal; 2 = Very Poor; 3 = Poor; 4 = Below Average; 5 = Average; 6 = Good; 7 = Very Good; 8 = Great; 9 = Masterpiece; 10 = Top Ten of all time.)
Canary Yellow Bicycle
A strange choice
for Opening Night film, but obviously chosen as a response to the complaints
last year's Opener, From the Edge of the City, a Head On
(Ana Kokkinos, 1998)-like odyssey, got from certain audience members.
Bicycle is your safe, "humanist" bet. That said, I much prefer
this film! Caring, sensible (but irrational in love!) teacher helps a
mocked, partly-illiterate boy (a dead ringer for the kid in Cassavetes'
1980 Gloria). A much-filmed story, but nicely handled here, with
simplicity and gentleness. The style and rhythm are like a mix of Angelopoulos
and Bresson - subtle grace notes aimed for constantly (and hit many times).
Man in Grey
The art film style,
treating everyday themes, continues with this film, the director's second.
Hoursoglou has worked with Pantelis Voulgaris (It's a Long Road
) and it shows. How wonderful it is to see 60 year olds kissing!
The idea of the retiring man in crisis (á la Kurosawa's 1952 Ikiru)
is always a bit clichéd and implausible, and this film doesn't
break any new ground with it. Leonidas (Yorgos Michalakopoulos) has an
affair, but he returns to his family. The last few scenes are quite charged.
One shot in particular of his wife Maro (Rania Economidou) is great -
she jumps when Leonidas unexpectedly walks into the house. Yes, even for
60 year olds, life can have its shocks. (6)
thriller, where the small-time, perennial loser Manos (the Russell Crowe-lookalike
Fotis Spyros) scams a fortune via the internet and how a private dick
then .... You get the picture. Uninspiring melange of this genre material
with a slick production design. Left me cold. (4)
This is probably
what Emma-Kate Croghan's Strange Planet (1998) would have been
like if it had any zest or imagination. The Mating Game also recalls
the TV show Sex and the City, but, thankfully, it doesn't have
that show's self-consciousness. Three sisters, looking for love, and making
all those terrible mistakes that we sometimes make. Sisters. This film
has a clear-cut feminist energy to it that is quite delightful to experience.
A bit like a dumbed-down
version of The Mating Game, but with none of the feminism. Plenty
of unsafe sex practised here, by more characters than are in Magnolia
(P.T. Anderson, 1999) and Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998) combined!
Two sold-out sessions of this had the audiences laughing hard. Hey, and
I was too. This is a fast, witty, vulgar, colourful comedy (with some
acute observations thrown in there also actually). (6)
Oh boy. 160 minutes
of an unstructured mess, three films (yes, three distinct formal ideas)
rolled into one. Its stylisations do not make up for its shallow characterisations
and pretentious metaphysics. (4)
Could this possibly
be directed by the man responsible for Magic City (1954) and The
Ogre (1956)? I haven't seen any of his films made after those two,
and The Photographers hardly makes me want to! This is an incredibly
out-of-control and misjudged film. It bears all the signs of a patch-job
(maybe the director was only able to give general instructions, due to
age/ill health?). Thematically and stylistically, it has many similarities
to the over-rated Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999). The TV
interviews with the mercenaries, where they speak their own various languages,
are interesting. Otherwise, this film contains some of the cinema's worst
acting ever. (2)
of the Giant Moussaka
I guess the title
says it all - it's a satire on that genre. With the necessary updating
- media coverage of the event, and a camp regard (aesthetically, but also
with the choice of characters). (5)
THESE TITLES WERE ALSO SCREENED:
An Athens Summer
Earth and Water
Let the Women
© Bill Mousoulis May 2000
This review first appeared in Senses of Cinema, No.6, May 2000.