A Greek director at the BAFTAS

I must confess I have seen none of Yorgos Lanthimos’s films so far,
because they are dark and bleak and I never seem to be in the right mood for them. However, he has been going from strength to strength, and I am now rather tempted by his latest offering, which was a huge success at the BAFTAS.

Lanthimos was born in Athens in 1973, and went to film school in Greece, hoping to make commercials—the prospect of making films in Greece in the 80s and 90s was dim, to say the least.

 

 

Through the 1990s he directed a series of videos for Greek dance-theater companies, moving on to TV commercials, music videos, short films and experimental theater plays. He was also a member of the creative team which designed the opening and closingceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Lanthimos, realizing his youthful ambitions, then went on to make feature films—and, just under a decade ago, released Dogtooth, a grim tale of a father keeping his family in total isolation.  It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, but was booed and hissed by voters during a committee screening, and lost to Susanne Bier’s In a Better World. After that, Lanthimos became notorious for his wild imagination and bleak inscrutability.

However, his first English-language film, The Lobster (2015), proved a significant art-house hit, being set in a world where single people must find partners or be transformed into animals. Its follow-up, The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), is a bloody revenge drama infused with classical mythology—while his characters keep having absurdly mundane conversations.

He became a leading member of the ‘weird wave’, Greek film makers who were anti-commercial and aimed to provoke, if not to shock. Nevertheless, over the course of his six films, he managed to escape his image as a European oddity, acquire global recognition and achieve significant box-office success, attracting top actors such as Nicole Kidman.

 

 

His latest film, The Favourite, is an opulent period drama set in the court of Queen Anne and featuring stellar performances by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

Based on fact, it is the story of two women vying for the attention of Queen Anne, who, plagued by gout and haunted by the 17 children she’s lost over the years, has basically given up governing her country.

 

 

According to reviews, it is supposed to be less disturbing than his other films, although still dark, and features a witty script spiked with anachronisms, and lavish costumes and scenery.

The film won seven awards at the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), including outstanding British film, original screenplay, leading actress for Olivia Colman and best supporting actress for Rachel Weisz.

 

 

Next stop, the Oscars? Not bad for a Greek boy who wanted to make commercials.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider and give The Favourite a chance.

 

All photos from Google

The joyfulness of Joan Mirò

I finally managed to make it to the Mirò exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, just before it closed. Mirò was far from being my favorite artist, but these retrospectives always contain a number of treasures, and I was not to be disappointed. Although there are always too many people in blockbuster shows, they also feature paintings from private collections or faraway museums, which you would never get the chance to see otherwise.

 

 

Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. He was born in 1893 in Barcelona, the son of a silversmith and watchmaker.

 

 

He began drawing classes when he was 7, and at 20 he moved to Paris and joined the art community in Montparnasse. Below is a surprisingly monochrome but strangely alluring painting.

 

 

Mirò is considered a pioneer of surrealism. He tried to portray the subconscious mind, to recreate the child-like and also subvert what he saw as the art of a bourgeois society. He loved color and used it in unexpected combinations.

 

 

During the German occupation Mirò fled to Spain, and between 1940-1941 he created the 23 gouache series Constellations, on of which you can see below. They are small, delicate compositions, and gain nothing through my phone photos.

 

 

Mirò was always testing out new territory, and experimented with all available mediums, trying his hand at collage, sculpture, and even tapestry. He kept working until late in life, creating amazing large-scale works in his 80s—including a tapestry for the World Trade Center, which was lost in the September 11 attack.

Below is a detail from one of his sculptures, in which one can see his irreverent and playful spirit.

 

 

I came away with a new-found appreciation of his work, being especially drawn to his joie de vivre and explosion of color.

 

Cool Lime Time

A new way to get around Athens. I’ve not tried it personally yet, but I love scooting, so…

ATHENS LIVING DIARIES

Sometimes navigating the streets of Athens can be a bit like a scary video game. Potholes, trees, badly parked cars, aggressive drivers and slippery sidewalks all seemingly ‘out to get you’ can make it a bit of a nightmare for the uninitiated.

Since late January, there’s a cool new way to get around town that might provide the eco friendly, gentle way to play the around Athens survival game! Lime electric scooters are popping up everywhere and offer a hop on, hop off alternative form of transport through the busy streets.

They are easy to find and easy to use. Download the Lima app and GPS tracking will help you find the nearest free scooter. Scan the barcode on the scooter and then ride away for just one euro and 0.15 cents a minute. Drop off the scooter anywhere when you are finished, what could be simpler?

It’s great to…

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Snow day in Athens

Kids preparing to return to class after the holidays were delighted to find out that schools would remain closed today, due to a rare snowstorm descending upon Greece.

 

Photo credit: greekreporter

The Parthenon was dusted with white

Credit Anna Koenig

As were city streets and cars

Credit Anna Koenig

Tomorrow it is likely there will be bright sunshine (although at the moment the forecast is for rain).

But for a few hours, children along with plenty of adults are enjoying a rare change in their routine.

 

Happy New Year!

What better way to ring in the new year than watching fireworks explode over the Acropolis?

 

Photo credit Kathimerini

 

Athenians braved the rainy weather, forgot their woes, and came out with their umbrellas to celebrate.

 

Photo credit Kathimerini

 

The photographs are from the daily paper Kathimerini, and provided some distraction from the otherwise continuing dismal news. What do we have to look forward to in 2019? Yet more rising taxes, elections, and a continuing and unmanageable refugee crisis.

However, a brand new year always brings with it a glimmer of hope. And the feeling that here we are, alive and kicking—we made it through another year!

 

Photo credit Kathimerini

 

A big thank you to all who follow, read my rants, and especially those who take the time to comment. I greatly appreciate it. All by best wishes for a wonderful 2019!