Showing posts with label Oscar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oscar. Show all posts

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Music: The Island of Peace & Love

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” 
Ludwig van Beethoven
“Music has first place among the arts. It brings us to an island with peace, beauty and love. Music is a dream. Music helped me have hope. In difficult times, when suffering … even the bad is beautiful. It is a mystery when the first tone of music starts: it goes straight into our soul. Music … is …. God.” 
Alice Herz-Sommer, pianist, Holocaust survivor 
Died 2/23/14 Age: 110

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Alexander Payne At the Golden Globes

Yes it's true: the writer and film director Alexander Payne is of Greek descent.
So Payne was kind to the Greek Reporter shaggy-man behind the microphone below. According to the Alexander Payne Wikipedia biography, his real first name is Constantine and his ancestors come from Livadia, Aegio, the island of Syros, in Greece, and from Germany. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, studied Spanish and history at Stanford University, studied in Spain and later lived in Colombia.
So being Greek isn't the story he tells. (He is close to his elderly parents, a restaurateur-businessman and a French-Spanish teacher, according to a recent New Yorker profile.)
His latest film "Nebraska," one of four set in his home state, features black-and-white winter prairie landscapes that remind me of the ride from Chicago to Champaign, Illinois. That stark beauty helps tell the story. On storytelling, Payne paraphrases Anton Chekhov: "If you want emotional effects, you have to place them against a cold background, so they stand out in relief." (see The New Yorker on Payne Oct. 28, 2013, p. 50). Critics say Payne can be condescending in trying to balance satire and sympathy in his characters. He says he is "deathly afraid of beign too sentimental." Payne told The Guardian in an interview that evoking emotion is the goal:
"Sentimentality is a dirty word to me. It implies trying to wring tears from the audience. I don't want to do any of that crap. If you want to be moved, fine. If you don't, fine. I'm not going to force anything out of you."
I find something admirable about Payne's tenacity, his apparent un-Hollywood existence, and the length of time he spends scouting, writing, filming and editing. Even with success, The Guardian claimed he was not prolific -- now with more than six films to his name, an Oscar and new award nominations.
Creative minds should be condescending, given all the judgement one is constantly subject to.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Payne Loves Mama

Alexander Payne may have received the Oscar for his adaptation on The Descendants, but he deserves another for dedicating it to his mother, and telling her Σ´αγαπω - "I love you" in Greek - on national TV. Maybe John Stamos will pop over with a case of Danon's oddly pronounced Greek yogurt being advertised all night.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo Tragedy

Two photojournalists met their death in Libya today, a very sad day. Two others photographers were injured. Tim Hetherington was a British photojournalist and co-directed Restrepo, the Oscar-nominated documentary film about a U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan. Chris Hondros, an American with Getty Images, made big waves when, while "imbedded" with a U.S. Army unit in Iraq, he quickly uploaded bitter images he shot as the jittery Army unit slaughtered an Iraqi family in a car several years ago. Columbia Journalism Review wrote extensively about it. According to, "The Greek-American photojournalist [Hondros] was born in New York City to immigrant Greek and German parents, both survivors of World War II, he moved to North Carolina as a child." Click here for interview w/Hetherington on making Restrepo.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Dogtooth Day

A Greek movie, Dogtooth, is among the nominees for best foreign film at the Oscars tonight, and I doubt it can win. It's about a family that isolates itself, especially its children, from the world, and contemplates incest and other explicit subjects. It could be a commentary on politics, language, a lot of things. The director of New York's Greek film fest, James DeMetro, described it to me as a constant assault that challenges the viewer. DeMetro told me Dogtooth director Yiorgos Lanthimos, who has been surprised how much notoriety the film received, laughed when a viewer asked if Dogtooth is a condemnation of home schooling. Anyway, it's available on Netflix, but so far I can't bring myself to view it.