Sunday, 8 November 2009

"The Day of Crisis isn't here yet"

I returned from a great week in Athens to learn that in my absence there had been a death in the family. We're not a close family, but it's still a bit of a shock.

I'll post a full report of my holiday at some point in the near future, when I'm feeling less serious.

Anyway, I brought back some Greek films on DVD, and I thought I'd cheer myself up by watching one of them.

The film is titled "Η γυναίκα είναι ... σκλυρός άνθρωπος", which literally translated means "The Woman is ... a tough person". It was made in 2005. It's a comedy with Antonis Kafetzopoulos as the writer and director and who also plays the leading part of Johnny Maniatis.

I suppose at this point I should write


only I'm guessing that none of you are very likely to see this film, sadly.

The film is a day in the life of Johnny, the 50-year-old head of an advertising agency. His motto is "The Day of Crisis isn't here yet", but it's clear that his life is heading that way very rapidly. He is spending money he hasn't got, he desperately needs to secure an advertising contract for sanitary towels, and then there are the "tough" women in his life.

There's his mother, who visits the agency to get €2000 for her holiday. Money that Johnny hasn't got. Although she enters the building and starts up the stairs, she never gets to his office. The Greek Police send a couple of cops round, but they don't think they'll be able to help, given that they're swamped with other cases. However a €1500 cheque soon changes their attitude. Luckily for Johnny they don't attempt to cash it right away. The head cop (Kostas Triantafillopoulos) gives Johnny a lesson in criminology. There are only three reasons why a 72 year old woman disappears. Altzheimer's, kidnap or suicide. In turn each reason is believed to be the correct one (the scene with the cops comparing the photo to various corpses in the morgue is hilarious). As the titles roll, we learn what really happened.

Johnny has an 18/19 year old kleptomaniac daughter, Artemis, who is in trouble for shop lifting. And escaping from police custody with a bulgarian suspect who she tries to turn into an armed bank robber.

Johnny's girlfriend of seven years, Georgia, is a lawyer whose biological clock is ticking. She decides she's going to have a baby, and if our hero won't oblige then she'll find someone who will. She gives him a deadline. He has to meet her at 10pm in a restuarant for a romantic meal. If he doesn't turn up she plans to go in search of a suitable, em, donor. Her transformation in the restaurant's bathroom from smartly dressed lawyer into man-catching tart is brilliant.

The other women in Johnny's life are his ex-wife (Artemis' mother), his faithful secretary (Yiota Festa) and, of course, his mother's dog.

The film was a lot of fun, and is very nicely filmed, with lots of location shots in Athens and brilliant use of digital special effects. The DVD had a whole load of behind-the-scenes extras which give you some idea of the trouble they went to. The dog is in a lot of scenes, which must have taken forever to get right, and there's a really impressive road accident stunt, which looks just as scary when you see footage of them filming it.

If you get the chance to see it then do, otherwise you can use the above at dinner parties to amaze people with your knowledge of foreign cinema.


Jean Knee said...

if I have to go to a dinner party I'll shoot myself.

Brian o vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

If I ever throw a dinner party, I'll try to remember not to invite you.

Jean Knee said...

that is really thoughtful of you Brian

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

So happy to see you back. While I enjoy Hollywood blockbusters as much as the next person I still find it sad that so few movies from outside the US make it into cinemas worldwide. It's a shame really.

Brian o vretanos said...


Because there are so few it's probably a higher proportion of the better ones that are successful internationally, which is one reason I've always been happy to buy foreign DVDs on spec in the shops here. The ones most likely to be unwatchable are those with famous directors or actors. Sadly there are virtually no Greek films available. Even in Greece.

Chris Wood said...

Sorry for your loss.

As to the DVD, it's a great shame all these franchise video stores don't stock many foreign films, and they cost a lot to buy. If you can find it, though, the French "Le Dinner Du Cons" is a great comedy.