This is a carefully selected collection of exceptional Greek movies. Renos Haralambidis, Nikos Nikolaidis, Giorgos Lanthimos, Giannis Veslemes and many more talented directors will keep you company with their film noir stories and .
Cheap Smokes (2000)
Director Renos Haralambidis
Noting the quote above, Larry Gelbart would be proud of Haralambidis’s second feature film, Cheap Smokes (2001) for it evokes a lot of laughter and many smiles, something so few films these days that try for comedy in its broadest sense have accomplished. This is a very good movie produced by Bad Films about a one night romance between a young man with a young woman on a sweltering August night in Athens . The young man is played by Renos Haralambidis who also is director and screenwriter as he was in his first film, No Budget Story (1997). The film cleverly pulls us in and “flirts” with several genres and narratives as well as a small carnival of characters who enter in and out of the main character’s life. Thus the film, like “Renos”, the character who is telling us his life in a first person voiceover, is “almost” a romantic comedy and yet also almost a film noir. Then again, it’s almost an ensemble comedy as well with a definite celebration of the city of Athens on a summer night embracing a nostalgic nod to the past rather than a pointing towards the future.
I’m one of those guys who always smoked cheap cigarettes.
I wanted so much to impress you. Our one night was sudden and brief like a storm. I didn’t even have time to begin or to tell you my sole specialty. I’m a collector. I collect the roughest and toughest thing in the world: MOMENTS. When I have the sudden urge to fly and there’s nowhere to fly, I hide myself in my collection.
Loser Takes All (2002)
Director Nikos Nikolaidis
Man (Gianis Aggelakas), a mysterious man of the underworld, small time grifter and big time hard-man, who has an anarchic tendency to mumble and comment on the system, society, police, the underworld itself and other things, along with his beloved bird, Bellafonte, meets up with an odd posse consisting of kid, who is a young songwriter, a prostitute who gathers money in order to open o bookstore, an alcoholic girl haunted by the relationship with her dead mother, and the grudgey bar-woman-ex-girlfriend. The five of them get caught up in a scheme involving the media, the mob, politicians and the police. And they definitely want to get the hell out of the city, probably to some Caribbean paradise.
A Touch of Spice (2003)
Director Tassos Boulmetis
A Touch of Spice is a real treat with a taste of nostalgia. When a Professor of Astrophysics has to travel back to his hometown, Istanbul, to meet his grandfather—who was one of the Greek minority in Istanbul—he re-encounters his first love, and all the flooding memories of his childhood resurface. A Touch of Spice is a heartwarming movie about family, love, and food. A gentle, bittersweet comedy, it is one of those special films that t uniquely and sincerely tug at the heart strings. The horrifying pain of political expulsion, the agony of repatriation, the longing for a lost past—all these ideals are depicted with sensitivity and respect for the individuals involved. Family ties and traditions make the unbearable bearable in this lovely, touching film, which is, indeed, as delicious as the food it presents.
Director Makis Papadimitratos
Athens, 15th of August 2005 (the feast of the Virgin). In the space of one afternoon we meet some people whose only problem is the search for substances. Illegal substances. Because of the holiday there is a shortage. Tsiou, the hero of our story, is a heroine addict. He is looking to find it and, through his sister Stella and her Mafioso husband Stelios, he gets quite a few people involved. Some, like Nonta and Yannis are coke addicts who have the hots for Jenny. Others, like Takos, Nikitas and Bill have nothing to do with substances. They simply work for the Mafioso and must get their hands on some heroine because he ordered them to do so. Takis forces Nontas to find him some and he in turn tricks Tsiou into finding it for himself, of course without knowing it. Things get quite complicated and they keep on roaming the center of Athens for the coveted dose.
Plato’s Academy (2009)
Director Filippos Tsitos
A lesser-known entry into recent Greek cinema, Plato’s Academy looks at the conflicts of nationalism and multiculturalism – ever more relevant given the rise of far-right political parties and the current migrant crisis in Greece. It takes place in a small Greek town, where a bunch of big-mouthed yokels sit outside a taverna all day. A kind of picaresque comedy populated by weirdos, layabouts, and bigots, the film avoids condemnation of its characters. They bicker, discuss current events, complain about the hard-working Albanian immigrants in their town, and then – with brilliant comic irony – discover one of their own has Albanian blood. With all their homogenous Greek identity torn asunder, the hapless men have to start thinking a bit differently.
Director Giorgos Lanthimos
In Dogtooth, a married couple deprives their three children from experiencing the unknown world. The parents indulge in tall tales about what happens outside of their large mansion and gives the children outlandish and depraved ideas of what will happen if the three young ones leave. The father is the only person allowed out, as he works in a factory to generate the family’s income, and the only person allowed in is Christina. The outsider, Christina, is a woman who is hired by the father in order to fulfill his son’s sexual urges; but when one of the two daughter’s gets close to Christina, the consequences are tragic. The most original film in years, Dogtooth is the best example of a darkly funny and horrifyingly surreal film. It is such a perfect movie full of vile twists and stellar acting that the audience will be unable to avert their eyes from the screen. Considered one of the best European films of the last decade, the Oscar-nominated Dogtooth is a fiercely and ferociously funny film, and it is quite a unique experience for serious audiences.
Director Athina Rachel Tsangari
Tsangari’s feature before Chevalier is an unclassifiable drama of sexual confusion, modern alienation and female friendship. It’s filtered through the misfit eyes of Marina, an isolated young woman who spends her days indoors, obsessed by David Attenborough’s nature documentaries. Marina is the daughter of chronically ill architect Spyros, and they live together in a spacious home in industrialist Greece. Initially, Tsangari seems to borrow from the airless upper-class ennui of Antonioni, but strains of spiky, irreverent humour and strange sexuality poke holes in any strict modernist homage. Still, it’s hard not to imagine the mood of the film fits larger echoes of turmoil in the country – in an undefined way, it latches onto a widespread sense of loss and disorientation.
Miss Violence (2013)
Director Alexandros Avranas
A young girl named Angeliki (Chloe Bolota) jumps from the balcony of her home and kills herself on the day of her eleventh birthday. The question ‘’why’’ will be answered in the ninety-nine minutes following her leap. Director Alexandros Avranas carefully and methodically pieces the enigmatic narrative. Almost every scene reveals some strange new piece of the puzzle; once the viewer inches forward, toward the horrifying secrets that reveal the reason Angeliki took her own life, he or she is entirely absorbed. This first-class mystery is not a pure state-of-the-nation picture. Like Lanthomos in Dogtooth, Avranas examines the rotten, corrupt heart of the family unit, as well as the way society and individuals remain complacent when faced with terrible abuse. It’s impossible to ignore the second-time Greek director Avranas’ directorial bravura. What one gains from Miss Violence depends on how the viewer can stomach the brutality, as well as appreciate the film’s cold-mannered formalism. Nonetheless, Miss Violence is a tour de force.
Director Giannis Veslemes
As an old, bespectacled gentleman says in Yiannis Veslemes’s extremely odd 2014 film Norway: “Are you a fucking vampire, or are you a poet?” The bloodsucking creatures have always been an emblem of societal parasitism – and in this stylised steampunk creation, Zano the vampire lives a life of excessive hedonism. Veslemes’s disco-beat debut is thinly-veiled critique of those who have carelessly played with the country’s future.
The Lobster (2015)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
An internationally co-produced absurdist dystopian black comedy film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Yorgos Lanthimos. In the film's setting, single people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or otherwise be turned into animals.It stars Colin Farrell as a newly-single man trying to find someone so he can remain human, and Rachel Weisz as a woman with whom he attempts to form a relationship. The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 89th Academy Awards.
Source: www.bfi.org.uk, www.tasteofcinema.com, www.dazeddigital.com, www.letterboxd.com.