Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Sleep: 2014 Turkish Film Now in US Theaters

An interesting Turkish film shot in Cappadocia, Winter Sleep, is now showing in New York City. Hope to see it as it was nominated for many awards.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reset your mind: Glass & Kurosawa

Tired of endless chatter? Reset your mind with this, which surely is completely unrelated to anything you have done or seen today: a scene from "Dreams" by the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa set to the music of Philip Glass.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Greek Tango

In the Greek movie The Christmas Tango, the climax is one tango of several minutes that connects two people for a lifetime.
Actually, three people are connected, but you have to see the film to get the love triangle. If you needed proof that the tango craze has made its way to Athens, consider that Greek superstar musician George Dalaras (Γιώργος Νταλάρας) sings the high-drama theme song, "Μια στιγμή για πάντα," (lyrics: One Moment For Always). Translation isn't perfect, but select lines:

Πάντα εσυ του πόθου μου είσαι το νησί, Always you are my lusted-after island
πάντα η χαμένη μου πατρίδα είσαι εσυ,  always you are my longed-after country
στην ξενιτιά μου η μονακριβη ελπίδα,  in my exile, my only hope
πάντα ο φάρος στο χαμό μου,  always a beacon in my loss
η αμμουδιά στο γυρισμο μου, the sand beneath my return
και στη δίψα το νερό μου είσαι εσύ... and in thirst, you are my water
Κι αν ο χρονος μας λυγίσει,  and if the years bend us,
κι ο καιρός μας πολεμήσει,  and time fights us,
τι μπορεί να μας χωρίσει, what can separate us
τόση αγάπη πως να σβήσει, with so much love to extinguish?
Χίλιες θάλασσες θ’ ανοίξω,  A thousand seas I’ll open
χίλιες μοίρες θα νικησω, a thousand degrees I will overcome
κι οταν θα σε συναντήσω, and when I meet you
θα `ναι μια στιγμή για πάντα,  it will be a moment for always,
αγκαλιά στο Θεό, in the arms of God
πάντα, σ’ ενα τάνγκο για δυο,  forever a tango for two
μαζι για πάντα... together always .....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rossano Brazzi, Star of Another Era

Rossano Brazzi
Credit: http://bit.ly/1mwTjkk
The magic still happens: it's possible to connect with a handsome stranger across a crowded room.
I have been watching film clips of the 1950s actor Rossano Brazzi, a heartthrob from Italy known for  the movie version of "Some Enchanted Evening." Check out some wonderful 1950s color film clips of Brazzi, with Katherine Hepburn and Mitzi Gaynor.
But when is a handsome face just a fraud? He could act & pout, but couldn't sing! Brazzi was lip-syncing in South Pacific.

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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Southern Greece Featured in film Before Midnight

Credit: Rope of Silicon http://bit.ly/1a72SNS
See Before Midnight if only to glimpse the remote Greek castle in Methoni and a revered writer's home near Kalamata.
The film is the third in a trilogy - all romantic fluff. It was shot in Southern Greece. The others were set in Paris and Vienna.
It will be good to see Methoni on the big screen. Our yiayia had the National Geographic photo of the castle framed and positioned near the door.
Another scene: the elegantly simple pastels of a country Greek home once owned by Patrick Leigh Fermor, the British travel writer and World War II Greek resistance hero. Fermor wrote the book on Mani, the rugged Southern Peloponnesian peninsula once full of peasant folkways and mystery. Fermor died just this year; he spent some of his last days at the Greek house. Apparently he also traveled to "Constantinople" and a final book is to be published about his travels in Turkey.
The Rope of Silicon blog mapped out the Before Midnight scenes in Messinia here. The Before Midnight trailer is here.

Our favorite critic, Melpo, pans the latest film in the trilogy, saying of the acting: "Very poor. No chemistry or feeling."
But the New York Times lauded the movie, and so did Lincoln Center's film Q&A moderator in this lengthy Question-and-Answer session with the director and actors Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke. They all admit the script violates every film school rule.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Frances Ha & Hot Chocolate

Saw a fun art film shot in black and white called "Frances Ha."
It is about a peculiar, lost, "undatable" creative girl. Very New York City and of the moment. But the soundtrack includes an old song that had me suddenly grooving out ---called "Everyone's a Winner," by Hot Chocolate. What a great blast from the past to resurrect!
It was on my running, hand-written, favorite songs list, the one with seemingly expired ideas for the used-record shop. Today, I was exiting the movie and listening to the full music video on my smartphone. I remember driving to our beach place, radio on and windows open, and hearing "Everyone's a Winner," along with "Strawberry Letter 22," by Brothers Johnson, as we traversed the Dan Ryan and the Indiana Skyway.
Here's the Frances Ha trailer. Below, the video.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In a Smyrna Mood


My mood is a little somber after seeing the documentary "Smyrna, Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City."
Accomplished filmmaker-director Maria Iliou tells the story of how the cosmopolitan Asia Minor city of Smyrna, now called Izmir, was destroyed by fire as the Allies watched from their ships. Many Smyrniots were murdered and more became refugees. Lost was a place where Greek Christians and Muslim Turks, Armenians, Europeans and Jews Lived together. The Turks blame the Greek Army for the fatal fires that destroyed Smyrna.
Greeks refer to the burning of Smyrna as "The Catastrophe." It was the final end to any hope that the Greeks could maintain any territory or livelihood in Turkey.
The film made excellent use of rare documentary footage. Author Giles Milton was among the narrators. He wrote "Paradise Lost, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of an Christian City in the Islamic World." His book provides witness testimony that Turkish soldiers and irregulars poured kerosene in the Christian quarters of the city before the fire. The New York Times review of "Smyrna, Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City," was on the fence about the film, saying it relied too heavily on Milton.
Also among the narrators in the film: a Turkish anthropologist who describes a firsthand account of how the Greek army burned the nearby Turkish village of Manisa, just before Smyrna burned. War is ugly. But the victors write the script: Manisa is now marketed through teas and a sweet and spicy paste thought to have health benefits. (see above)
Iliou used a piano-infused soundtrack for the film. But typically Smyrnaika and rebetika music is full of powerful words -- listen to singer Sophia Bilides about loss of homeland, about love and the randomness of fate. In particular, this fun Rebetika song about Little Dimitra, at minute 42, in a Library of Congress concert video, offers these lyrics: "Little Dimitra, go out and eat fish, drink retsina, have a night of high spirits and good health, break things with your hips."
Don't mind if I do!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Weekend Reading: Burning Trees in Athens, Bombing in Ankara

Some weekend reading about Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, but don't expect good cheer:

This news is deeply disturbing: the Economist reports of multiple attacks on old Christian women in Istanbul in recent weeks. The first reader comment on the Economist piece? A diatribe denying genocide. Relatives of one 85-year-old Armenian murder victim said that the lines of a crucifix had been knifed onto her unclothed body. All of the incidents occurred in Istanbul's Samatya neighborhood, home to 8,000 Armenians and the Armenian Patriarchate. Istanbul's governor insisted in a Tweet that one particular incident was motivated by theft, not hate, which is a prevailing view according to this Catholic News report.  I wrote about Istanbul cemetery vandalism in 2009.

Two weeks ago, a young New York mother and aspiring photographer disappeared in Istanbul while on a solo trip, and it doesn't sound like she met with a good end. She found cheap accommodations on AirBnB.com and the New York Post reported Friday that Istanbul police are detaining a man she agreed to meet on a bridge.

Here is Daily Telegraph coverage of Friday's deadly bombing at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Over in Greece, poor people desperate for heat are cutting down trees for firewood, and apparently even chopped one tied to Plato. The Atlantic wrote Thursday that the pollution one sees hovering over Athens, "is the smog of austerity. Greece is literally breathing in the fumes of its recession." Make that depression.

Cyprus needs a bailout, in case you have crisis fatigue and ignore financial news. Even if Russians who like to bank in Cyprus chip in some cash, European authorities must step in, says this English-language article in Kathimerini. Complicating matters: hydrocarbons could be exploited off the southern coast, which is the Greek coast, of Cyprus. Seems the northern, Turkish side wants in, but someone forgot to toss a seismic detector into the Mediterranean Sea circa 1974. Until now, valuable discoveries were more along the lines of the icon of Christ that Boy George handed over to Cypriot authorities.

Finally, check out my friend Jim Montalbano's movie review blog. "Once Upon A Time in Anatolia," a  Turkish fictional drama about -- what else? -- death, is one of his favorite films of 2012. The official trailer is here. Looks pretty dark. I watched "The Lark Farm" last weekend - a dramatization of 1915 atrocities in Turkey focused on a wealthy Armenian family that protected poor neighbors. All were sent into a starvation exile and most died. Watch it for actress Arsinee Khanjian's natural looks and to contemplate what would have happened if her daughter had run off with the handsome Turkish soldier - and what happened to those women who pursued such survival tactics. Film available on Netflix.

Just rented Madagascar, whose animated critters promise to lighten things up.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

NYTimes.com: For Adults and Their Parents, a Difficult Crossroads

Saw this thought-provoking movie, "Fred Won't Move Out," at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAM Rose Cinemas last night in New York. Here's the New York Times review. Excellent character study in the context of a family dealing with Alzheimer's. Director Richard Ledes sneaks in references to Greek mythology in a discussion of death and nature, accompanied by some beautiful scenes of nature. There were also some well-shot and edited dream sequences. See it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eye Candy Kane

Not sure how to  feel about newspapers and a typewriter covered in snow in this fantastic Forest Park, Illinois holiday shop window, but better than covered in dust.
The theme is Citizen Kane, the movie, but candied - for Christmas.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bouzouki's Lending Hand

A facebook friend in Greece dug up this old song from an old movie of the same name called  "Μιας Πεντάρας Νειάτα" or "Three-penny Loans." The singer, Maria Douraki, says at one point, at least they have the Lord and Panagia. Maybe the Greek government should do a WPA-style program to revive acoustic bouzouki music. If it didn't help the economy, at least it would improve the mood.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Touch of Spice

Play this music and read on: A grandfatherly Greek spice-seller in Istanbul in the late 1950s is the focus of a sweet movie you have to rent: Politiki Kouzina, ("A Touch of Spice," or literally "Constantinople Cuisine" or "Political Kitchen.") The 2004 film doesn't concentrate on violence or politics in the final uprooting of Istanbul's Greeks to an unfamiliar "motherland," but instead uses spice and food to tell stories about life and love and tragedy that began in 1915-1922. You can watch one particularly poignant moment on YouTube. I lost it when the main characters depart Istanbul's train station with just a few bags, leaving behind, forever, an entire life. (Our family story too.) Plot problems aside, the movie is subtitled, and showing again starting April 24 at the Cinema Village in New York. See it! In the meantime, make your own judgments by reading the 1992 Human Rights Watch report called, "Denying Human Rights and Ethnic Identity: The Greeks of Turkey" a free Google pub. In the end, it's all history. In Istanbul, the massive cathedral of Aghia Sofia is a museum. Minarets and women shrouded in black characterize former Greek neighborhoods. (See January photo above.) Still, you can't but fall in love with beautiful Istanbul.