Monday, December 11, 2006


The newest film of Almodovar is called Volver, which means turn back. In this film he uses at the central role one of his favorite actresses, Penelope Cruz. For one more time Almodovar is focusing on women. The central theme of the film is the relationship between mothers and daughters. After her death, the mother returns to resolve the issues she had with one of her daughters. In the mean time her daughter (Penelope) is trying to put her life into order. She tries to hide the body of her lover, who was murdered by her own daughter when he tried to murder her, to earn some money and get on her feet again.

Almodovar always had a flair for soap opera, surreal and kitsch. As the years go by I feel that his aesthetics change into a milder tone. The extravagant and the high tones that accompanied his older films like Kika or the Women on the Verge of a break down have faded away. Strong colors and even glamorous lighting remain as a symbol of the culture of Spain, but the kitsch has definitely departed. Moreover the surrealism and irony of his older films has also mellowed down. Hints of his old sarcasm remain but are not so obvious anymore. In this film for example there is a scene of criticism against the talk shows that are popular on tv these days. A woman who suffers from cancer is invited to talk about he scandals of her village. A hot subject for a tv show since sex and murder is included. When she refuses to reveal her secrets the show woman reminds her that her reward for the shown would be a treatment for cancer at Memorial. The problem is that the more his film become mild and aesthetically pleasing, the more they resemble to a soap opera. His scripts always referred to issues that could well be the central theme of a soap opera: family problems and erotic relationships. Irony and surrealism managed to differentiate his film form the tv-series. His new glossier style has made his films easier to watch and acceptable to many people that were appalled by the extravagance of his old ones. Is this necessarly a minus, though? Why should a worthy film be a difficult film? If Almodovar manages to convey his messages with a milder tone why shouldn’t he?

I enjoyed Volver. I enjoyed the fact that it begins in a surreal, metaphysical way taking us "hostages" in its narration and making us believe at the supernatural only to end up in a completely logic and natural explanation. I like the fact that the film had cleverness in its script. It conveyed clearly the feelings of the people involved in the story, and ends up with a healing touch. On the other hand, I miss some of the sheer audacity that Almodovar demonstrated in the past. If Almodovar could combine the new aesthetic with the irony and surrealism of the past, I personally would be a happier spectator. Volver, however, remains a good and an enjoyable film that is worth seeing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Babel:a story about communication and understanding

Alejandro González Iñárritu’ s new film has the same style as his other films (Amores Peros, 21grams). Babel his latest film is also the story of a story of intertwined events. A woman-tourist in Morocco is shot. While her husband tries to take her to a hospital and save her life we see in flash back the problems the couple had. Moreover we follow he story of the Mexican nanny of their children who is accused of kidnapping them and is exported back to Mexico and the story of a deaf girl in Japan who lives with her father after her mother committed suicide.

The editing between the three stories is ingenious and has great rhythm and pace. It manages to create tension and anxiety and maintain it throughout the whole film. The film has the personal style and aesthetic of Inarritu. Sharp images that convey the culture and the way of living in four completely different countries, Morocco, Mexico, Japan and United States.

The connection between is rather loose and has no real meaning. The meaning of the film could have been served equally well by three completely separate stories. In all cases Inarittu explores cases of miscommunication and misunderstanding. The couple of Brand Pit and Cate Blanchett have failed to communicate and understand each other after the tragic death of their baby son. They take the trip to Morocco trying to be alone and to re-discover each other but it takes am almost fatal incident (the shooting of the wife) in order for them to be able to really talk and resolve their past issues. The play of the children with the shot gun is mistaken for a terrorist act. As a result the relationships between America and Morocco suffer. The Mexican nanny takes her charges along with her in Mexico for her sons’s wedding. When she tries to cross the borders back to America the border patrol thinks that she has kidnapped the children. Her nephew that drives the car feels threaten and from there and on everything goes downhill. The children are abandoned in the desert, almost dying from thirst and the nanny is deported back to Mexico and is treated as criminal. The initial misunderstanding that leads to destruction in this story takes place in the conversation between the border patrol and the nephew. In the third story a girl is trying to communicate without language. She is deaf and mute. Even in this case the results are not very encouraging. The girl misinterprets human contact with sex. In all cases fear and prejudice uphold communication and understanding. An accident with a gun is thought to be a terrorist act because terrorism is expected from Arabs. The Mexican woman is treated like a suspect at the border and fear leads her to some unwise decisions. Only the children who haven’t learned to be afraid or to be suspicious remain unconcerned and are ready to socialise at the wedding and have one. Only when the police start to go after them do they start to feel that their nanny might not be such a good person after all. The obvious conclusion of the film is that fear and prejudice lead to misunderstanding and even to violence and war. A rather obvious conclusion, wouldn’t you say?

All and all Babel is a well thought film. It has the signs of a true auteur. Inaritu definitely has his own style and his own agenda, which is a good thing. On the other hand, and this is the only complain i have about this film- Inaritu has done this kinf of film again and better. Somehow Babel fails to communicate in an inner level with the spectator. It remains a good film but a rather cold film. A film with great intellect and less feeling.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Children of Man: a great idea became a mediocre film

In the year 2027 the youngest man on the planet is eighteen years old. Scientist can not understand why all women have become sterile. In a society with no hope and no future everything has collapsed. Violence has taken over the entire world. Only Britain stand thanks to a totalitarian government with no humanistic reservations. All refuges are hunted down, closed in concentration camps and eventually exported. Our hero leaves a dull life. Once he had a child and a wife. No the child is dead and the wife is the leader of a terrorist group fighting for the rights of the refugees.

Suddenly the hero is contacted by his wife who asks him to use his connections in order to make some travel card for a girl refugee. While they make their escape plans the wife is killed and the hero is left alone with the girl. At that point the girl reveals to him that she is pregnant and she is trying to keep it secret because she is afraid that they are going to get her baby away from her. In these circumstances the bay is the hope of all people, a flag for political causes a valuable asset.

As usually actors do their job well. Unfortunately Julian Moore is killed at the beginning and the audience is deprived of the presence of one of the best woman actors of our times. Photography is well thought. Grey tones and earth colors rule the images transferring the hopeless and pessimistic feelings of humanity. Directing is more than adequate even it can be said that is doing something really inventive or majestic.

The film starts well with a good idea. The point that children are humankind’s hope is overstated. I don’t think that anyone would argue differently but the film makes a great deal of effort to prove the self proven As the film moves along, it can not resist all the possible connotations that spring into the mind from the image of a young woman with a child. Soon enough she is rendered as Madonna. People stop fighting in order to let her and the baby pass, they cry, they knell and pray. Moreover, the atmosphere in the beginning which is very convincing as dissolute, passive, futuristic in ends up in a religious, melodramatic and superficial episode.

This film had the perquisites to be a futuristic-classic. Along the way though traded some of its most intriguing characteristics for a religious, apocalyptic feeling. In other words it ends up as a typical Hollywood film. All loose ends are tightened, sacrifice is rewarded, and hope is restored. Unfortunately a film that could lead to some inner-thinking and worry and leaves us content and pacified.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Black Dahlia: Read the book Forget the film

The script is based on an excellent book of Elroy which is considered a classic of the detective series. The director B. De Palma seemed ideal for realizing this project. His long admiration of Hitchcock and his career on mystery film create the impression that the project would be well executed. After all these facts one can only wonder what went wrong.

Every time a book is transferred into screen there is a great risk. Will the film be a able to concise the usually extended plot of the book maintaining the important parts and keeping the necessary coherence? Will it manage to transfer the atmosphere of the book? The more known and loved the book the greater the risk. In Black Dahlia’s case the film ended up with no atmosphere and no twists and turns in the plot that would have made the film interested. Everything was flat. The murder story was no sensational. The love story wasn’t believable. The sexual story wasn’t intriguing. Even worse De Palma’s directing never leaves the boundaries of convention. Where are the pictures that were so perfectly though and planned that became fetish for his funs. Where are the shoots that imitated Hitchcock’s cunning? A complete disappointment. A good opportunity for a sensational film has gone into the drain. In other word read the book and make your own film in your own mind.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thank you for Smoking! : a satyrical comedy, fun enough not mean enough

The Thank you For Smoking is a good comedy but a light a satyr. The story is about the spokesman of the tobacco industry in USA. In the modern society of America that smoking is not politically correct anymore. One man (most hated) is responsible for the public relationships of the tobacco companies. His job is to think fast and talk even faster. Most people hate him for what he does for a living and consider him nothing more than a murderer. On the other hand he says that all people know that cigarettes are bad for their health but they are entitled to choose fro themselves whether they want to smoke or not.
The film and the situations are represented with humour. The film has a good pace keeping you always interested and alert. The actors are great in their part and the filming is well done. Still there is something missing. A little more irony would be welcome. The film makes an effort to depict
t the hysteria that hangs over America about what is right and healthy and as usually they are going overboard. The comments remain relatively innocent lacking the acid that would make them even more deliciously clever and hilarious. As I said before the pace of the script was fast. In some cases too fast as it doesn’t take fully advantage some of the cleverest ideas of the film. For example our hero gets kidnapped and is filled with nicotine patches. His doctor informs him that being a smoker has saved his life, but he can’t smoke even one more cigarette because he has taken an overdose of nicotine and he will die. From there and one we never see the hero struggling to cut down cigarette. The point is lost in the current of the film.

Eventually I would say that Thank you for Smoking is easily watched and well enjoyed but remains superficial since it lacks the cutting edge that would turn into a classic.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Miami Vice: am unsuccesfull action film

There are many reasons to go and see a film. And then again there are equally many to no to. Sometimes you go in order no to stay at home, or in order to to see your friends. Other time you go because the film is advertised a lot and you want to have an opinion of your own and so on. But when do you to cinema for the "right reasons"? Healthy-eaters say: you are what you eat. For me you are what you see (listen and read). If you eat junk food you will eventually get unhealthy. If you see junk you will eventually get stupid. The problem is that in your house on tv the options are limited. You are force fed junk. So when you go to cinema you make an active choice and finally you can choose something good for yourself. On other hand people have cravings for junk.
So I went to see Miami Vice. My friend wanted to see it since he felt a bit nostalgic for the old tv series and well i accompanied him. The film iamges are well thought and executed. In other words it has style. The film starts with a question: who informs the bad guys about the undercover works of the fbi. Usually when a question is made in the beginning of the film, the narration has to give answers in order for the film to be concluded. In Miami Vice case though, after all that style and a little bit of action and love story in the mix the question remains open. we never find out who is the snitch. There are two possiblities. In the first case they forgot about it. I mean who would notice that the film wasnt finished! then again maybe they are already planning a part two. Anyway the whole film was ridiculus. It had no real script. In the end i felt rather disapointed and deceived.
Next time no junk food for me it gives belly ache.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Corespodence from Athens Film Festival 1: The Treatment, Paprika, Lights in the Dark, The Brick

The International Film Festival of Athens began on 20th of September. As a serious movie-goer I made an effort to see as many films as I can. Usually I try to see films that rare, old or from directors that i don’t know. My goal is to use every festival as an opportunity to see and get to know new things. Sometimes though circumstances force me to see films that i wouldn’t prefer seeing in a festival. My time schedule is tight or there no tickets left for the show i chose at first place so i see something else instead and so on.

So until now from the numerous films I' ve manage to see the following four: The Treatmnet- Oren Rudavsky, Paprika-Sotashi Kon, Lights in The Dark-Aki Kaurismaki, The Brick-Rian Jonson

The Treatment

A middle-aged man, a literature teacher is facing problems with his sexual relationships. He isn’t able to let go his past girlfriends and connect emotionally and sexually without remorse with a woman. In order to deal with this problem he visits a therapist who insists that all his problems derive from his relationship with his mother. A recently windowed woman expresses her interest in and he collapses. He doest know how to treat her and he is afraid that he is going to get hurt from thei relationship. Suddenly he realizes that therapy isnt helping all that much.
A modest film that is heavily based on the good acting of both its leading actors (Chris Eigement and Framke Jansen) and its clever dialogues. The humor on erotic relationships is insightful and bittersweet. In most jokes the audience laughed knowingly since it could completely identify with the situation and the characters.
Simple and modest this film wins you over by stating two-well known facts that sometimes we all forget: people have too many inhibitions and are stuck in their past. These mistakes can cost you your happiness.


Paprika is an animated film with adult characters and an adult scenario. Scientists have invented a machine that allows the psychiatrists to enter the patient's dreams in order to help him find out what is troubling him. The machine, though, is still experimental and it is forbidden to use it. A girl named Paprika uses the machine in secret in order to help people by accessing their dreams. The machine though is stolen and misused. The one who stole it creates dangerous hallucinations and drives people crazy. He tries through people's dreams to control them. Paprika with the help of the scientific staff and a detective manages to put a stop to this dangerous terrorist.
The animation is done quite traditionally. No 3d effe, not very extended usage of the computer possibilities. As a result the comic has a nostalgic, more traditional Japanese feeling in it. It remains aesthetically perfect, full of original design, colour and fantasy.
The script is completely adult. It has so many twists and turns and everything happens so fast that it is difficult to follow. to tell the truth the scrip isn’t so original. The idea of entering someone’s' dreams with dangerous results has been exploited in the past (The Cell comes immediately to mind). I appreciated the fact that the sexy lady ends up with the ugly fat guy instead with the action male figure. Such deviations from the usual route entertain me.
In this film thought the animation and the images are more important. The images manage to remain in your head for some time after
the movie and that means a lot.

Lights in the Dark

Several years ago Kaourismaki gained a spot in my heart with his film A man without past. From there and on accepting anything less from him has proven difficult. Unfortunately his latest film Lights in the Dark doesn’t measure up, even if it remains a good film.

A night guard falls in love with a beautiful girl. She however, uses him in order to learn the security codes and steal a jewellery shop. He is accused for the theft and sentenced to prison.

Kaourismaki describes Helsinki as a place of poverty and despair. All human touch and dignity has been lost. Can Finland really be so bad? The hero, a good but socially awkward man is hit and destroyed. When he seems in the ropes end though he manages to still pick up himself and continue. Everything good he has done is coming back to help his stand on his feet and resume his life. Kaourismaki for once more he declares that even when everything seems black people can make it.

The script is not original. It has no twist and surprises. A common story in film noir (boy meets fatal girl, he falls in love and he is destroyed by his love) is used here with a different angle. Destruction itself is not important. What counts is the fact that this man at the downhill of his life still struggles and goes on. Through simple means and scarce dialogues Kaourismaki manages to create atmospheric pictures and convey sufficiently the mood of a hard society that drives people to their edge. The humour though that emphasized the hidden but strong optimism of A man without Past is not at its best. To those who haven’t seen another Kaourismaki film my advice is to go and see this one and then search to find previous work on dvd. For the rest Lights in the Dark is still a more meaningful way to pass an evening than watching tv or a Hollywood film.


A noir film with all the right elements of the style filmed though at school with teenagers. A paradox that works all right.

Emily-his ex girlfriend-calls Brian asking for his help. After two days he finds her murdered and tries to find out who killed her and why. A whole subterranean universe is revealed under the innocent environment of the local college. Crimes, drugs, sexual manipulation and so much more characterize a dangerous slippery environment where getting involved with the wrong kind of people might prove fatal. Parents are absent. They are just an obstacle to handle or completely oblivious to their children’s criminal activities. Teachers and the principle have taken the place of cups. They are not interested in truth. All they want is to look good and implant a resemblance of order.

Brian the hero is a young Humphrey Bogart. He has a weakness for pretty girls that they exploit. He is tough and clever. He is beaten heavily throughout the film and he endures and goes on until the end. The femme fatal is also here. A beautiful rich girl, a manipulator. She might not commit the act of murder herself but she manipulates the others to do it for her. She is a player. She seduces our hero and in the end she takes from him he is only comfort. The girl he loved, the girl for who he did everything didn’t love him back.

The script is really complex. It surprises in every turn as a James Elroy novel. The problem is that all this happens in a school! That all these corrupted people are teenagers! But is it really a problem? Rian Jonson was clever enough to use this element into his advantage. The film is a tribute to film noir without taking itself too seriously. A sense of humor and a light sarcasm penetrates most of the scenes. The drug dealers drink a glass of milk while waiting for the war between the gangs to begin. The mother of the big boss-drag dealer offers apple juice and cornflakes to the heavily beaten hero without asking him how he ended up all bruised up and so on.

Brick is a fun clever movie appreciated greatly mostly by funs of the film noir. See it as an inside joke, It is a film of an amateur. He loves what he is doing and that shows. On the other hand he still has a lot to learn in order to create a film like art. Go and see it, have fun but expect no more than that.

Trivia: The horn signal Brendan has Laura give him (long, short, long, short) is the same as the knock Sam Spade tells Brigid O'Shaughnessy that he'll give her as a signal it's him in The Maltese Falcon (1941).


Oliver if you are out there reading this ….go to see this film it will remind our Essex days. This is what our film would be like if we had more time and money

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Γλυκός Σεπτέμβρης με Νύχτες Πρεμιέρας

Μετά από σχεδόν 2 μήνες αποχής από τις κινηματογραφικές αίθουσες παρακαλούμε για μια αφορμή ώστε να επιστρέψουμε στα γνωστά μας στέκια ανανεωμένοι. Κάθε Σεπτέμβρη η αφορμή αυτή δίνεται από το φεστιβάλ Αθηνών "Νύχτες Πρεμιέρας". Τέσσερεις αίθουσες -από τις πιο όμορφες της Αθήνας προβάλλουν για 12 μέρες ταινίες πολύ-αναμενόμενες (Μαύρη Ντάλια, Volver του Amoldovar, Miami Vice) για να μπορείς περήφανα να πεις οτι το είδα πρώτος, περίεργες και σπάνιες, για τους συλλέκτες του είδους, και μερικές εκπλήξεις που τελικά χαρακτηρίζουν το φεστιβάλ και –ευτυχώς !-σου θυμίζουν ότι υπάρχει σινεμά και εκτός Hollywood.
Τέτοια εποχή ο φίλος μου, ο Γιάννης κάνει πάντοτε την ίδια ερώτηση: Ελένη τι θα δούμε; Τα πολύ-αναμενόμενα και αγαπημένα τύπου Almodovar ή αυτά που εκ των προτέρων ξέρουμε οτι δεν θα βγουν ποτέ στις αίθουσες; Στην περίπτωση ενός άγνωστου σκηνοθέτη παίρνεις το ρίσκο να δεις κάτι που για σένα τουλαχιστόν θα είναι βαρετό και απαράδεκτο. Σε παλιές καλές εποχές που είχαμε χρόνο τέτοιο δίλλημα δεν θα υπήρχε. Λίγο πολύ όλα θα τα βλέπαμε. Τα τελευταία χρόνια όμως απαντάω σταθερά ότι προτιμώ να δω ότι έχει λιγότερες πιθανότητες να βγεί κανονικά στις αίθουσες το χειμώνα. Καταρχάς τα υπόλοιπα, τα διάσημα έργα μπορώ να τα δω με την άνεση μου στον κινηματογράφο της γειτονιάς μου. Επιπλέον τις μεγαλύτερες συγκινήσεις τις προσφέρουν οι εκπλήξεις από σκηνοθέτες, το όνομα των οποίων αγνοούσες μέχρι τη στιγμη που τους συνάντησες στο φεστιβαλ. Έπειτα ένα φεστιβάλ οφείλει να σου ανοίγει νέους ορίζοντες, να σε φέρνει σε επαφή με το σπάνιο και το διαφορετικό. Ναι θα μου έλεγε ο Γιάννη, αλλά το φεστιβαλικό κλίμα στις πολύ-αναμενόμενες ταινίες είναι ξεχωριστό. Άσε που μπορεί να πετύχεις και τον σκηνοθέτη στην παράσταση και γίνει καμιά συζήτηση....Καλή και αυτή η άποψη.
Όπως και να είναι πάρετε πρόγραμμα, πηγαίνετε 1 ώρα πριν στην αίθουσα (και λίγο λέω) και πιάστε θέση. Το φεστιβάλ αρχίζει…

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Inside man, MI3, Xmen , DaVinci Code

After a long absence i come back to share with you my opinion about the last films i saw before the endless void of the summer period.
Just before winter cinemas close and summer one open there is a short period where acceptab;e films come out. some of them are heavily advertised but when they do come out have littel to offer. Best case scenario they would offer an ecxellent dvd night at home with friends.
The Inside man
Going from the best to worst I will begin with The Insider. In the long tradition of films describing an ingenious robery Insider has little new to offer. It remains a well written, played and executed film. The clever twist of the story is that the most important role in the plot is not the robbery itself but the question of what the owner of the bank hides in his own deposit box. Jodie Foster -excellent in her role- as always takes on the responsibility to retrieve the mysterious contents managing at the same time to keep this content a secret. Finally we get to see foster in a role worthy of her ability and talent. Even though it is just a small part it is subversive enough to gain the attention of the spectators. Contrary to Hollywood trandition here is a woman dynamic ruthless that even if she is beautifull and attractive manages to play the men's game at equal terms!
The film has good rythm maintaining the suspense untill the very end. Clever scenario, good acting and good directing have managed to create a film that is a great example of what kind cinema Hollywood can offer at its best. Great spectacle that doesn underestimate our intelligence.
X-men: The Last Stand
The most recent film of the Xmen manages to keep up with the standard of the previous films. Even if it is nothing extraordinary it remains a well thought and made action film. The thrid Xmen summarises a circle of episodes that remains as ine of the most beloved one between the funs of the comic series. Jane Grey is reserected as the Dark Phoenix and turns against her friends and lover Scott Sammers. In the end Wolverine-also in love with her- has to kill her in order to stop her. Suprisingly enough for a Holywood film there is no happy ending. Most of the spectator's favorite characters die and remain dead: Scott Sammers, Professor Charles Xavier, Jean Grey. Even if the good guys win and are some optimistic note in the end what is the cost of victory? The film is fairly pessimistic.
Mission Impossible III
Mission Impossible III strats promisingly and ends as mediocracy. In the first scene Mr. Hunt watches his girlfriend being assasinated. The film rewinds to let the spectator know how things got to that point. Therefore as Tom Cruise plays the hero the spectator has a fear that the end wont be a happy one. Action gets louder and louder as the film goes on. Eventually we get back to the first scene where this time we find out that the girlfriend murder was just a ruise. The girlfriend is saved and proven worthy of Hunt's love since she manages to kill some of the bad guys on her own. So far so good. All the educated spectators expected so much. In this point, however, the script overdoes it. Tom Cruise dies and gets back to life. Ok you can sustain you believe but sometimes there is beaking point. When a film surpasses this delicate line the spectator feels manipulated, tricked and eventually dissapointed.
Da Vinci Code
We come to the most advertised film of the period. The big success of the book drove Hollywood to exploit some of that popularity. Ron Howard is director that even hasnt shined has made well some of films that met reasonable success (Cocoon, Runsom, Beauifull Mind). He was a safe choice. The script was an accurate and successful adaptaion of the book since it managed to summarise the plot maintaining some coherence. The actors that were chosen were famous and love by the audience. Tom Hanks might no be one of my personal favorites but he remains a well accomplished one. On the other hand Jean Reno and Audrey Tautou were inspird choices. The film though remains a dissapointment. It has no rythm and doesn't manage to create suspense. Most of the book's action is spiritual and not physical. The book manages to enchant through the boldness of the historical connections and the mystery of the conspiracy theory. The film doesnt manage take advantage of the mysterious atmosphere of the book and downplays the spiritual action in favor of the physical one. In the end a void film results.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Crash: a film about racism

Crash was the Oscar outsider. When all thought that the Secret of the Brokeback Mountain would get the Oscar of the best movie, the comitee decided to play it safe and 0offer the prize to a more "politically correct" film.
Crash is consisted of several interlaced stories which are discussing the problem of racism in Los Angeles. Stories of violence, murder, hate and suspicion prove that ordinary people with plenty of good character traits can be capable of the worst. Even the most positive character, one who complains against the racistic behaviour of his partner ends up killing a young black boy becouse he is afraid of what he is going to take out of his pocket. On the other hand the most negative character ends up doing something heroic. He ends up saving from a burning car the white woman that he molested sexually the previous reason only beacuse she was married to a black man. The film proves that in a community so multi-cultured as the on in Los Angeles, the rascistic past of America weights heavily. Moreover it insinuates that fear rules every human relationship. The media through their constant report on crimes committed by people not white have managet to create an atmosphere of fear mist trust and suspicion. Eventually it is this atmosphere that gives to birth to more cimes and killings and not racism itself.
Crash is well made film, with good acting and a clever scenario. Its theme is definetely one of the most important problem of our times. It leaves though a scarse hope, light for the future. While the best end up being murderers and corrupted and not one act of mercy and humanity is presented, you end up leving the theatre feeling definetely out hearted. Crash presents a viscious circle with rare chances of break and in the end doest manage to inspire any higher feelings to its spectators.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Truman Capote

This is a film about one of the dubious personalities in the art field of the 20th century. Truman Capote managed to write one of the most dramatic boos taking advantage of people and wishing for their execution.
The spectators follow this conflicitve personality through the creation of the whole book. From the start when Capote first got interested in the killings untill the end, the execution of the killers by hanging. Capote sometimes seems to really care for the men that did the atrocious crime trying to find them proper lawyers to defend them and talking to the for hours. Other times he lies to them in order to get the material he desires for his book and wishes they are executed in order to be able to finish his masterpiace. In the end the killers are killed by the state and Capote manages to write one of the most sucessfull books of our era.
The film is well made. The spectator can easily watch it and enjoy. Hoffman manages to convey the special traits of the character he impersonates. Capote was a homosexual, insecure person with plenty of personal problems. Hoffman through hiws way of talking and facial movments proves he studied his hero well and managed to imitate it faithfully. In the whole, however, the film is mediocre, since it has nothing new or ecxeptional to offer.
Eventually, the film raises a question. An artist, a writer always gets his inspiration from the lives of other people. In some way, exploits their feelings and experiences in order to create something great, a piece of art. In Capote's case this expoitation is explicit while in most cases the spectators do not realise it.Up to what a point is this expoitation justyfiable?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Syrianna: a political comment on contemporary American reality

Syriana is a political thriller about things we strongly suspect. For the Americans this film can be a shock but for Europeans the inter-relations of politics and companies that handle petrol distribution is an old secret. Three different stories are narrated. From one hand, we follow the story of an agent, an assassinator- to be exact- of the United States. On the other hand there is a member of an important petrol company who tries to negotiate a big deal with an Arab Prince about the petrol production of his country. The third story is about a lawyer who is investigating in order to find out if a small company managed to close a deal through unjust means. All theses stories collide at the end of the film with the assassination of the enlighten Arab Prince by the USA Government. Corruption is presented in every level. The government abandons its assassinator when he is exposed. The lawyer covers up the foul playing he encounters. Big companies manage to ensure who will ascend next to the Arabian throne. In this chaos Americans act against Americans and nobody knows what the others do. In the end the situation is not beneficial even for the American state.
The story is quite complex and the spectator cant follow the thread of the three stories easily. In the better part of the film he tries to orientate and find out in which country he is and what the political situation the film describes is. The film is fictional but remains so close to reality that has a documentary ring to it. You have the strong feeling that the things it describes have actually happened.
In the end Syriana is a clever political comment which has nothing new to offer to the European audience. However, it might be an insight of Americans foreign politics for the country's audience. As a film, though, it lacks coherence, clarity and inner meaning. The great acting form Clooney and the intelligent subject manage just to save the movie and place in meritocracy.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cache: The Hidden- An anigmatic film

I consciously let some time to pass by before attempting to write a review on this french film. Firstly it is hard to decide whether i liked the film or not. Then it is even harder to try and explain it. A completely confusing piece of filmaking.
Haneke is a director with interesting past. A director whos is considered a good example of the European cinema. In the film he selected a group of ecxellent actors, Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche who manage to capture the audience through their ecxellent acting. The film presents an upper class family who suddenly starts recieveing videotapes that have recorded their house and part of their everyday lives. along with the tapes come childish drawings which represent a hurt boy. The husband begins to suspect that the tapes and drawings are sent by an algerian boy that his parents wanted to adopt. He as a boy had managed to prevent the adoption by lying and deceiving his parents. As the movie moves along we meet the situation gets more and more complex. In the end we never learn who actually sen those tapes and why.
Cache is definetely a weel educated film on the art of cinema. The spectator finds it difficult to tell apart the scenes that are part of the tapes and the scenes that are from the actual film. The element of scopophilic value of the cinema is well documented and explored.
I think that the director is trying to make a point on how people are scarred by their infantile fears and actions. The hero has lied as a boy because he didnt want to share his parents love and affection. It is not a criminal act. The hero though is gonverned by shame for his action and he immediately considers the terrorism that has embarked upon his life as a punishment for his infantile actions. Some people have the tedency to easily discard their child- misdeamors as actions of no consequence since they didnt know better. For others this absolution is impossible. they remember themselves distingly as people completely formed. The time they did these things as children they knew they did wrong. therefore they can not stop feeling ashamed and carry the burden in their minds. Westerns society considers children pure and inoccent. Childern however can be as good or mean or as complex as grown people.
In Haneke's film Daniel Auteiul is man who got educated enough to know that he is truly responsible for denying another child a chance to better education and life. He however cancelled a chance. He didnt form the other's man life completely. His guilt and behavior leads the situation to extremes. and by giving so much weight on this his whole family is tested and fractured by a crisis he himself created.
The film ends and nothing is clear. No one knows who taped them. The spectators dont know what will happen from here on. An open ending, an anigma.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

100 best movies

Oxford's Film guide has created the following list, according to the film critics, directors, producers and actors. Creating a catalogue of this kind is always something completely subjective. What are the criterria for choosing one film over the other? Historicity, personal liking, technological achievement, aesthetic, myths that accompany the making of the film? so many things influence our opinion! Anyway this list can only be indicative. You can not take it seriously. On the other hand is an ecxellent starter of heated conversation between cinemaniacs. So for Lukia who requested it and others who might be interested.....
1. Citizen Kane 111 points (Orson Welles, 1941, US)
2. The Godfather 101(Francis Ford Coppola, 1971/1974/1990, US)
3. La Regie du Jeu 77(Jean Renoir, 1939, Fr)
4. Vertigo 73(Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, US)
5. Seven Samurai 63(Akira Kurosawa, 1954, Jap)
6. Lawrence of Arabia GO(David Lean, 1962, GB)
7. Raging Bull 58(Martin Scorsese, 1980, US)
8. Touch of Evil 55(Orson Welles, 1958, US)
9. Tokyo Story 50(Yasujiro Ozu, 1953, Jap)
10. L'Atalante 49Gean Vigo, 1934, Fr)
11. The Night of the Hunter 47(Charles Laughton, 1955, US)
12. The Conformist 46(Bernardo Bertolucci, 1969, It/Fr/WGer)
13. Les Enfantsdu Paradis /.'(Marcel Carne, 1945, Fr)
— A Matter of Life and Death 41(Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1946, GB)
15. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963, It)
— The Magnificent Ambersons 37(Orson Welles, 1942, US)
17. Apocalypse Now 36(Francis Ford Coppola, 1979, US)
— North by Northwest 36(Alfred Hitchcock, 1959, US)
19. Chinatown 32(Roman Polanski, 1974, US)
20. La Dolce Vita 31(Federico Fellini, 1960, Fr/It)
— The Searchers 31(John Ford, 1956, US)
22. The Wild Bunch 30(Sam Peckinpah, 1969, US)
23. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 29(Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1943, GB)
— Some Like It Hot 29 (Billy Wilder, 1959, US)
— Taxi Driver 29 (Martin Scorsese, 1976, US)
26. Napoleon 28(Abel Gance, 1927, Fr)
— Rear Window 28(Alfred Hitchcock, 1954. US)
28. Battleship Potemkin 26(Sergei Eisenstein, 1925, USSR)
— It's a Wonderful Life 26(Frank Capra, 1946, US)
— Performance 26(Nicolas Roeg/Donald Cammell, 1970, GB)
31. The General 25(Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman, 1926, US)
32. A Bout de Souffle 24Qean-Luc Godard, 1959, Fr)
— Mean Streets 24 (Martin Scorsese, 1973, US)
— Once Upon a Time in the West 24(Sergio Leone, 1968, It)
— Rio Bravo 24 (Howard Hawks, 1959, US)
36. Once Upon a Time in America 23(Sergio Leone, 1983, US)
37. All About Eve 22Ooseph L Mankiewicz, 1950, US)
— My Darling Clementine 22 (John Ford, 1946, US)
— 2001: A Space Odyssey 22(Stanley Kubrick, 1968, GB)
40. The Piano 21(Jane Campion, 1993, Aust)
— Pierrot le Fou 21Gean-Luc Godard, 1965, Fr/It)
42. Bringing Up Baby 20(Howard Hawks, 1938, US)
— The 400 Blows 20 (Francois Truffaut, 1959, Fr)
— Gone With the Wind 20 (Victor Fleming, 1939, US)
— The Lady Eve 20 (Preston Sturges, 1941, US)
— L'Annee Derniere a Marienbad 20(Alain Resnais, 1961, Fr)
— Letter from an Unknown Woman 20(Max Ophuls, 1948, US)
48. The Battle of Algiers 19(Gillo Pontecorvo, 1965, Alg/It)
49. The Gold Rush 18(Charles Chaplin, 1925, US)
— La Grande Illusion 18 Oean Renoir, 1937, Fr)
— Une Partie de Campagne 18 Gean Renoir, 1936, Fr)
— The Philadelphia Story 18 (George Cukor, 1940, US)
— Pickpocket 18 (Robert Bresson, 1959, Fr)
— Schindler's List 18 (Steven Spielberg, 1993, US)
— The Shining 18 (Stanley Kubrick, 1980, GB)
— The Third Man 18 (Carol Reed, 1949, GB)
57. Dr Strangelove / 7(Stanley Kubrick. 1963, GB)
— The Reckless Moment 17(MaxOphuls,1949,US)
— Singirr in the Rain 17(Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly, 1952, US)
60. Blade Runner 16(Ridley Scott, 1982, US)
— Blue Velvet 16 (David Lynch, 1986, US)
— Pat her Panchali 16 (Satyajit Ray, 1955, Ind)
— Le Samourai 16 Oean-Pierre Melville, 1967, Fr/It)
— Sans Soleil (Sunless) 16 (Chris Marker, 1983, Fr)
— Sweet Smell of Success 16 (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957, US)
66. Amarcord 15(FedericoFellini,
— Greed 75(Erich von Stroheim, 1923, US)
— La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc 15 (Carl Dreyer, 1928, Fr)
— Persona 15(Ingmar Bergman, 1966, Swe)
— Rashomon 15 (Akira Kurosawa, 1951, Jap)
— The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 15(John Huston, 1948, US)
72. All That Heaven Allows 14(Douglas Sirk, 1955, US)
— Black Narcissus 14 (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1946, GB)
— Double Indemnity 14 (Billy Wilder, 1944, US)
— Intolerance 14 (DW Griffith, 1916, US)
— Notorious 14 (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946, US)
— Out of the Past 14 (Jacques Tourneur, 1947, US)
— The Red Shoes 14(Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948, GB)
— Sunset Boulevard 14(Billy Wilder, 1950, US)
80. Casablanca 13(Michael Curtiz, 1942, US)
— City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931, US)
— Ran 13(Akira Kurosawa, 1985, Fr/Jap)
— The Spirit of the Beehive 13 (Victor Erice, 1973, Sp)
— Sunrise 13 (FWMurnau,1927,US)
85. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 12Gohn Cassavetes, 1976, US)
— Ordet (The Word) 12 (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1954, Den)
— Three Colours: Red 12(Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994, Fr/Switz/Pol)
88. Aliens(James Cameron, 1986, US)
— Amadous 11 (Milos Forman, 1984, US)
— L'Av ventura 11 (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960, It)
— Badlands 7 7 (Terrence Malick, 1974, US)
— Barry Lyndon 11 (Stanley Kubrick, 1975, GB)
— The Bridge on the River Kwai 77(David Lean, 1957, GB)
— The Colour of Pomegranates 77(Sergo Paradjanov, 1969, USSR)
— Don't Look Now 77 (Nicolas Roeg, 1973, GB/It)
— Earth 77(Alexander Dovzhenko, 1930, USSR)
— Fanny and Alexander 7 7 (Ingmar Bergman, 1982, Swe)
— La Jetee 77 (Chris Marker, 1962, Fr)
— Kind Hearts and Coronets 7 7(Robert Hamer, 1949, GB)
— The Man Who Fell to Earth 77(Nicolas Roeg, 1976, US)
— Mirror 77(Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974, USSR)
— Pandora's Box 77 (GW Pabst, 1928, Ger)
— The Quiet Man 77 (John Ford. 1952, US)
— Sansho Dayu 77 (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954, Jap)
— The Seventh Seal 7i (Ingmar Bergman, 1956, Swe)
— Ugetsu Monogatari 77 (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953, Jap)
— West Side Story 77 (Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins, 1961, US)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brokeback Mountain: Not a typical Western

Brokeback Mountain was advertised as probably the best film of the year. The main theme of the film, which was homosexuality, was under-played and the film was advertised as the description of a forbidden romantic love. In this way a theme that could easily shock the conservatives found itself in the mainstream cinema.

Two young cowboys take a harsh summer job. They have to take care of a herd of sheep up in the mountains without getting in contact with other people for a month. Living alone in nature, under harsh conditions, they become close friends and eventually lovers. When the summer job ends they part and get married. They, however, remain in touch and arrange fishing-trips in order to be able to see each other and make love. As the years go by their reunions are becoming harder and harder to organize and their secret leaks out.

The film is well thought a directed. The scenery plays its own part to the film. Both actors play exquisitely. Small facial expressions create whole moods. Few words are aired but their feelings are obvious.

Only a non American director would dare to go against the strong tradition of the western. In American Culture West was always considered as a place of harsh but beautiful environment where “real” men can battle against nature and themselves in order to prove their manhood. A cowboy had all the paraphernalia a tough man needs. He is a loner, crude partly civilized, a man carrying always the phallic symbol, his riffle, or his gun. In Ang Lee’s film irony runs strong for those who know the stereotypes of a typical American Western. The beautiful and harsh environment testing the men is present through-out the film. The men are loners, typical cowboys with their riffles and beans. Beside their toughness they are homosexuals. In America of the 50’s and 60’s homosexuality was the considered a threat to nuclear family and therefore a threat to America itself. In other words being homosexual you were an enemy of the state only a step higher than the communist. It is hard to overcome ideas that have such an old root. In Lee’s film both men manage to create a family that is dysfunctional. Through the film we realize that these people are condemned to loneliness and isolation. It doesn’t matter if their secret is revealed or not. No being able to communicate their deeper wishes they are condemned to a life without sentimental connection. When one of them dies, the other has not even their brief encounters as a small compensation for the complete destruction of his life. The film presents homosexuality as a destructive and addictive passion, like cards, alcohol or drugs. Because of their homosexuality these men can not be happy, can not fit in society. They ruin their families. One of them at least keeps loosing his jobs and ends up economically ruined. He had been afraid of being outcaste if he was exposed, and he ends up living outside society anyway.

Homosexuality is still a sensitive matter. Lee tries to handle it with care. He declares that homosexuality can be based on love, on a real sentimental connection. It is not only a sexual passion. On the other hand it is presented as a curse. As if being a homosexual refrains someone form functioning as a normal member of society. In the end the film manages make he spectators sympathize with the heroes. In the same time, though, I think that it takes away some of the respect that is due to these people. We might feel sorry for them, but can we appreciate them?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Promise: A beautiful fairy tale but what else?

Promise is a Chinese fairytale that has all the ideas and images a western expects from a Chinese myth. A poor girl is offered a chance from a goddess. She is offered the chance to be the most beautiful woman of the world and to attain fame and riches. In return everyone she will love will lose to death. The girl takes up the offer only to regret it, when she is old. Her lover manages to turn back time and offer her the opportunity to choose again her destiny.

If the spectator accepts from the beginning the fact that he watches a fairy tale and suspends his disbelief he will be able to enjoy the beautiful symbolic images that the film offers. For example the girl when is captured by the evil duke is kept in a golden bid cage and is dressed in white feathers. Another astounding idea and image is the one of the slave of the duke. A man captured and forced to serve in exchange for his live. He wears a cape made of black feathers which keeps his severely injured body alive. When he gives up the cape his body bursts up in flames.

Promise is a film that is definitely well thought aesthetically. Every scene is a beautiful painting, colorful and magic. On the other hand, it has no meaning, no soul. It doest manage to move the spectator.

According to Chinese Philosophy ever person has a destiny, a fate that he can not change. He can, though, make different choices. He can’t change his fate all together and be something completely different but he is offered some important choices. Making though a choice and committing to a path means that he has to face the consequences of his choice. He cant evade them. Promise is a film that supports this idea. And it is a fairy tale because it offers her heroine a second chance in order for her to reconsider her choice since through time she gained the knowledge of her own future. A second chance that few of us get in real life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Munich: Keep Spielberg away from politics

Growing up Spielberg was my favorite director. Every year waited anxiously his film, expecting to be enchanted by his amazingly executed fairytales. E.T., Indiana Jones, Close Encounters of the third type was the bed time stories of a generation and the fun time of the adults. Spielberg was always a master –technician with flair on the fantastic.

In the recent years, however, Spielberg, unfortunately –at least on my opinion- decided to grow up and do adult films with political messages. His “serious” career kicked off with Schindler's List, moved on to Amistad and Saving Private Ryan, ending to Munich. All these films were perfectly executed showing mastery in the art of directing and an excellent following of the golden rules of Hollywood mainstream films. Adventure, romance, suspense, tension and quick rhythm mixed up together in order to create films that easily and pleasantly watched. After though the two hours of enjoyment, what else do they have to offer? Their subjects are highly political, and supposedly have an important humanitarian message for the spectators. In Munich’s case the “deep” message is that violence brings more violence. The message is well known, politically correct and is repeated over and over through the film. Art should have a deeper meaning. In Spielberg films though, the deeper meaning is there on the surface, repeated often enough and obvious enough so that even the densest spectator can not miss it. And then it is always over dramatized and over simplified so that no arguments against could be made. Spielberg has no ability to see all the shades of gray that exist between the black and white opposites in political situations. His characters are always positive clean cut heroes. The assassins are presented as people with families, ethic. Every time they have to commit a murder they try to make sure that no innocents are killed. They suffer for every bullet they throw and wonder if their executions have helped to make the world a better place. The over dramatization of the murder of the Munich athletes creates a counter effect eventually. All have recognized that the athletes were innocents and there was no justification for their deaths. The way, though, Spielberg uses the scenes of their assassination and his effort to present them as martyrs, transforms the film to propaganda and provides a sided view of the whole political situation. In this film the isolated incident is presented without referring at all to the facts that led to this terrorist act. In this light we tend to forget that these nations have long since been in war and bloodshed.

I can still admire Spielberg for his exquisite mastery on the technical side of directing. As an auteur however, he has not the necessary qualifications. He is not intellectual enough to handle delicate issues of politics. My advice to him would be to abandon his aspirations for great heavy adult films and return to his fairy tales for children. His simplistic view of life fits perfectly children’s entertainment. Besides entertaining children and capturing their imagination is not a lesser nor a smaller goal for the art of cinema.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Match Point: Woody Allen asks one of the biggest philosophical questions

Woody Allen has a long career both as a film director and actor. He has managed to create his own unique style and create movies that have gained him a spot in the film-history. He is famous for his intellectual comedies which criticized erotic relationships. In this film, though he abandons his favorite style, the erotic comedy, and his natural environment, Manhattan, to make a dramatic film placed at London.
An Irish tennis player manages to marry into money. Thanks to his father in law he climbs the social ladder rapidly gaining a well-paid work in the business world and a life-style fit for a class that has assimilated wealth through several generations. He makes though, a fatal mistake. He fell in love with his brother-in –law girlfriend and starts an illicit relationship. When his mistress threatens to tell his wife, he murders her in order to be able to keep his job and social status.
Woody Allen has done an incredibly suitable casting. Great actors give great performances. The spectator understands the kind of life that tempts the hero to murder. In this case luxury and wealth are the means not for over consumption and vulgarity but the way to insure a higher way of living by having access and enjoying higher art. Opera, music, theatre, refined taste in food and clothing are the motives that push the hero to murder. Contrary to the mass believes that wealth can provide the privileged ones with a better car, a luxurious house and maybe a boat, Allen’s hero pursuits more spiritual goods.
In reality Match Point is the re-working of an older Woody Allen film, Crimes and Misdemeanors. In Crime and Misdemeanors a middle aged man hires a professional assassin to kill his mistress. He lives in terror waiting to be discovered and punished for his crime until he realizes that nothing is going to happen and goes back to his life. Both films are actually philosophical analyses. The question asked is whether there is higher power or not. If there is no god and no higher justice then what stops from committing a crime? If we actually believe that there is no justice in the world than we can do whatever we want and get away with it. If there is no fate, all we have to be is lucky. In both films the killers are never punished. On the contrary after their deed they manage to remain guilt-free, happy and to prospect economically and socially. So what does Woody Allen tell us? That there is no God and we are free to conduct ourselves as we wish? If that was true though, we would live in a world without restrain, a world full of crimes and violence. But then again we already live in a violent world don’t’ we? The choice to believe or not to believe is personal. If you don’t believe you are free to choose your morality. In the end living by a moral code is also a personal choice.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Σημερα 1 Φεβρουαρίου ξεκιναω μαθήματα Ιστορίας Τέχνης στο Πνευματικό Κέντρο της Ν. Ερυθραίας, Βίλα Κώστα, στις 8.00 ώρα. Πρόκειται για 12 μαθήματα που θα καλύψουν την ιστορία της Δυτικής τέχνης από την εποχή της σπηλαιογραφίας ως και τον εικοστό αιώνα. Θα προσπαθήσω στη σειρά αυτή των μαθημάτων να διδάξω την ιστορία τέχνης όπως νομίζω οτι θα έπρεπε να διδάσκεται, με πολλές εικόνες, με αφηγήσεις, με μια αίσθηση συνέχειας προπάντων. Αντίθετα, θα αποφύγω να ανφέρω πολλές ημερομηνίες και ονόματα. Μέσα απο τα έργα τέχνης μπορούμε να γνωρίσουμε διαφοερετικές κοινωνίες, άλλους πολιτισμούς, οι οποίοι είχαν διαφορετικά ιδανικά και διαφορετικές αλήθειες από τη δική μας. Εκτιμώντας την τέχνη τους, θα μπορέσουμε να αποδεχτούμε και το διαφορετικό πνέυμα που τους διακατείχε. Με τον τρόπο αυτό η ιστορία Τέχνης μπορεί να μας διδάξει την ανοχή στο διαφορετικό.
Η ιστορία της Τέχνης είναι πάνω από όλα η ιστορία της ανθρωπόητας μέσα από τα πιο όμορφα επιτεύγματα της. Ιδέες που αλλάζουν και επανέρχονται. Σύμβολα που παραμένουν ζωντανά μέσα στους αιώνες άλλοτε με το ίδιο νόημα και άλλοτε κρύβοντας διαφορετικά πιστεύω. Μια αλυσίδα ανθρώπων που εμπνέεται ο ένασ από τον άλλο και λειτουργούν σε δημιουργική επανάλληψη. Η ιστορία τέχνης μπορεί να είναι ένα συναρπαστικό μυθιστόρημα. Θα προσπαθήσω να σας το αποδείξω.
Σας περιμένω.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Goodnight and Good luck: A wake up call for America

I don’t do politics. Sometimes, though, films do and then I follow them up. George Clooney, the charming ex-doctor of the ER made a thinking film proving he is more than a pretty face.
The film refers to the dark era of McCarthy. The senator has started his crusade against the communists spreading fear and a feeling of oppression to the whole America. A tv journalist decides to make a stand against him and prove that his politics go against human rights and demolish freedom of speech. The film ends with a critique of the way the press works in contemporary America. In this film individual characters do not matter as much as the description of the atmosphere of the era and the political circumstances. We rarely follow the reporters after work at home and we know little of their personal lives and characters. The film presents the studio as their natural environment and seeks to describe all the careful maneuvers they have to execute in order to be able to do show on the senator McCarthy and escape with their hides. The film is a collection of episodes bond together by singing numbers. The structure therefore resembles a documentary and not fiction.
George Clooney kept for himself the second role no the leading one and that is much in favor of him. He is the quite supportive helper of the main journalist. His role gave them the opportunity to be present on the most of the scenes but to go unnoticed. All actors did their work well. Critical was Clooney’s to keep the film black and white. It adds to it a realistic tone and represents even better the aesthetic of the era. Moreover in this way the documentary material, the interviews and the newsreel of the times blend much better in this way.
Clooney has managed to create an acute comment on the politics of today. He hints that the USA government uses the justification of the war against Terrorism for ignoring human rights and exerting over control on its citizens. McCarthy exploited Americas’ and the rest of the world’s fear of communism to demolish the basic right and values of democracy. In the McCarthy era though, there were journalists and studios that had the guts to stand against this. Clooney’s film concludes that today the media is so corrupted by big companies economic interests that choose to go along with the official politics and cover up the truth.

Για ΙΕΚ , μάθημα 14

Λεξικό όρων για την ανάλυση έργων ζωγραφικής

3. Λεξικό όρων για την ανάλυση έργων ζωγραφικής.
1. Χαρακτηριστικά Χρώματος
α)Τόνος : ο βαθμός φωτεινότητας του χρώματος. Η αλλοίωση που επιδέχεται το χρώμα στην πορεία του προς το φως ή το σκοτάδι. Η τονική διαβάθμιση χρησιμοποιείται στη ζωγραφική για να δημιουργήσει την ψευδαίσθηση του όγκου. Το χρώμα που τείνει προς το άσπρο έχει μεγαλύτερη τονικότητα. ( Το ρόζ έχει μεγαλύτερη τονικότητα από το βαθύ κόκκινο.
β)Απόχρωση: το όνομα του χρώματος (κόκκινο).
γ)Κορεσμός: το ποσοστό καθαρότητας του χρώματος (χαμηλού κορεσμού κόκκινο είναι το ροζ)
2. Γραμμές
α) ευθείες: γενικά όταν ένα έργο στηρίζεται σε ευθείες γραμμές (κάθετες και οριζόντιες, διαγώνιες) δίνει έμφαση στην προοπτική, στην καθαρότητα του σχεδίου και τη στατικότητα.. Οι διαγώνιες γραμμές δημιουργούν ένταση. Οι οριζόντιες προσδίδουν στο έργο την αίσθηση της ηρεμίας. Οι κάθετες της τάξης και της αυστηρότητας.
β) καμπύλες: οι έντονες καμπύλες δίνουν την εντύπωση της κίνησης και της ρυθμικής εναλλαγής. Το έργο που στηρίζεται σε καμπύλες γραμμές γίνεται πιο ανάλαφρο και πιο κομψό.
3. Αναλογίες: οι σωστές αναλογίες σε ένα πίνακα δίνονται με άξονα τον άνθρωπο, ο οποίος και αποτελεί τον φυσικό δέκτη του έργου. Με τις σωστές αναλογίες αποφεύγονται λάθη στην κλίμακα και αφύσικες παραμορφώσεις. Δίνεται καλύτερα η αίσθηση της ορατής πραγματικότητας.
4. Ισορροπία σύνθεσης: Η ισορροπία σε ένα έργο επιτυγχάνεται όταν οι επιμέρους μορφές είναι τοποθετημένες ισόρροπα σε σχέση με τον οριζόντιο και κάθετο άξονα του πίνακα. Εάν έχουν χρησιμοποιηθεί οι σωστές αναλογίες και η σωστή κλίμακα η αίσθηση της ισορροπίας εντείνεται.
5. Ενότητα: ενότητα έχει ένα έργο όταν συνενώνονται όλα τα εκφραστικά μέσα που χρησιμοποιεί ο καλλιτέχνης δομικά (σχέδιο) και μορφικά (χρώμα) με τέτοιο τρόπο ώστε να αξιοποιούνται όλες οι εκφραστικές τους δυνατότητες.
6. Έμφαση: έμφαση δίνεται σε ένα ορισμένο τμήμα του έργου με τους εξής τρόπους: α) με το σχέδιο: το σημαντικό κομμάτι ζωγραφίζεται σε μεγαλύτερη κλίμακα (ιερατική προοπτική – π.χ. Αιγυπτιακά).
β) με το χρώμα ή φως : ζωγραφίζοντας το πιο σημαντικό τμήμα με κάποιο έντονο θερμό χρώμα (π.χ. κόκκινο) ή δίνοντας την αίσθηση του έντονου φωτός σε ένα σημείο του πίνακα γ) εκμεταλλευόμενος τους κανόνες της ισορροπίας: η περιοχή κοντά στο κέντρο του πίνακα, στο σημείο δηλαδή τομής του οριζόντιου και κάθετου άξονα τραβά την προσοχή του θεατή.
7. Ρυθμός: είναι η εσωτερική οργάνωση και διάταξη των επιμέρους στοιχείων του έργου που χαρακτηρίζεται από την επανάληψη σύμφωνα με συγκεκριμένες μερικές σχέσεις και αναλογίες.
8. Υφή: ονομάζεται ο τρόπος με τον οποίο ο ζωγράφος έχει χειριστεί την επιφάνεια του έργου (π.χ. οι πινελιές του), ο οποίος επηρεάζει σημαντικά την εντύπωση που αφήνει το έργο στον θεατή.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pride and Prejudice: Victorian Romance back o the screen

The most famous novel of Jane Austin has found itself on the screen again. BBC’s six hour long version is probably the best adaptation. It had the great advantage of being long enough to be faithful to the book and to include all the details that elevate Jane Austin’s work to a masterpiece. Therefore the new Pride and Prejudice version of Joe Wright is hard to stand up to this comparison.
The main flaw of the film is that it is too short and the script isn’t coherent enough. Everything moves too fast and spectators who haven’t read the book will have difficulty in understanding what is going on. The ones that are funs of the book, however, will have the feeling that they are scanning rapidly through the pages of the book reading only their favorite parts. In the end they are left with a feeling of discontent. On the other hand the film has enough good points. Firstly the casting is excellent. Both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy look as they are described in the book. Jane Austin’s great plus was her ability to create vivid characters that one could easily fathom through their actions and most importantly through their words. These characters emerge well enough in the film with all their humor, charms and vices. Moreover, the atmosphere of the book is also well conveyed to the film. An era where women were socially destined to marry with all its positives and minus is well presented. The beautiful English landscape has given the opportunity for great photography.
On the whole the film remains mediocre, made in order to satisfy our need for romance which awakes form time to time. My opinion though is that if you have an urge for a Victorian story you should rent the BBC version and watch it by the fireplace. Winter landscape is perfect for this kind of escape.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Brothers Grimm: a gothic, comic, parody of the tales of Grimms

Terry Gilliam is a director with excellent past with films like the Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Even his less successful efforts have touched some soft spot in me and remain in my heart. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen even in truth a mediocre film has filled my childhood with fantastic, absurd and even surrealistic images.
In the same way The Brothers Grimm might not have received enthusiastic reviews, and wouldn’t hold much under strict examination still manages to stimulate our imagination with pictures deliciously stylized and fantastic. The script refers to Brothers Grimm, known to us as the writers of some of the popular fairy-tales. The Brothers in the film are not respected writers but small time crooks who supposedly fight curses and witches. They themselves stage the supernatural phenomena that later on are paid from the superstitious villagers to battle against. Eventually they are captured by the French army and are forced to confront a real curse and a real witch for the first time of their lives. Many elements of the tales that were written by the real Brothers Grimm have found their way into the script. The small part played by Monica Bellucci conveys a whole meaning of evil in the film history. Surprising evil in this case is extremely beautiful, ripe, enchanting and seductive. Usually evil characters in films are deformed, ugly and monstrous. Even in the fairy tale history for the first time the question “mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all? can true fully be answered: “you are” As the evil queen Monica Bellucci is presented even more beautiful than the positive character (the Snow-white?) Angelika. The script isn’t the most original neither the most coherent one. The spectator has to suspend temporarily his questions and go with the flow, in order to be able to enjoy the film. Acting is a little bit overdone as sometimes is done in film-parodies. There are elements of gothic atmosphere, parody and comedy. In the whole, one could say that the film is uneven. There are instances of brilliance and moments of indifference. Still the film has managed to awaken my imagination and leave some pictures at the store of my mind.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Corpse Bride

I was really looking forward to Tim Burton’s newest film. His similar project Nightmare before Christmas had really enchanted me. The Corpse Bride has all the elements to be a perfect little diamond and still something is lacking. Over expectation sometimes can ruin even the best film I suppose. Sometimes I wish I had never seen the trailer of a film. All the surprising aesthetic of the stop-animation technique was in the trailer to be consumed over and over. My eyes and brain got accustomed to it and when I finally got to see the film … was everything that I expected but nothing more.
Let’s try though to see the film in a more subjective way. The story of a young man who is preparing for a wedding with a lady he loves and by unfortunate circumstances ends up married to dead cursed bride was the perfect match for the stop-animation technique. Gothic, imaginative and romantic enough to create a kind of film that Burton does best. The upper world is presented without much color in grayscale. The world of the dead though is full of color and style. This inversion where the dead are more free, vivid and colorful than the living is indeed a clever thought. Clever idea is also the worm that inhabits bride’s skull and speaks as the voice of her conscience. All these dead-characters remain more positive and sympathetic than the living ones through out the film. There are also enough references to other films. The hand coming out of the grave reminding us of Carrie and the skeleton in the musical number of the dead could easily be the introductory character from Cabaret.
Analyzing the film one has to admit that the directing is more than efficient, the acting is great, the music is good, the script is imaginative and the aesthetic is interesting. However in the end the image that stays with us is the particularity of the technique which characterizes and marks the whole film. Corpse Bride beside being a well made experiment, is a still typical cartoon. The skeleton story would never be chosen by the all too clean-cut, cute and happy Disney. On the other hand the script is handled too much like a Disney cartoon. The images remain mild, there are musical numbers and all the characters sing and dance. Little cute pets have been transformed into a skeleton-dog, a worm and a spider but are still there. It seems that both audience and spectators are expecting very specific things form a cartoon. I can appreciate that Burton parodies these expectations in a way in his film but I wish that instead of parody he would drift further away from the usual form of the cartoons.

Do check the flash version of the Corpse Bride site! It is delicious!!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Για ΙΕΚ μάθημα 13

1. Σουρεαλισμός- Salvador Dali -Ο Pablo Picasso ως σουρεαλιστής και η Γκουέρνικα
2. Η τέχνη στην Αμερική-γεωμετρική αφαίρεση, εξπρεσιονιστική αφαίρεση και άλλες παραλλαγές της αφηρημένης τέχνης

1. Σουρεαλισμός (υπερρεαλισμός)
Ο Σουρεαλισμός προέκυψε περίπου από τους ίδιους καλλιτέχνες που είχαν στελεχώσει και το κίνημα του ντανταϊσμού. Τα δύο κινήματα έχουν πολλά κοινά στοιχεία και ιδέες. Όταν το νταντά έφτασε να γίνει αποδεκτό ως τέχνη από την Ακαδημία τεχνών κάποιοι από τους καλλιτέχνες που το είχαν απαρτίσει ένιωσαν ότι έχασαν την επαναστατικότητα τους και αποσπάστηκαν για να δημιουργήσουν κάτι νέο. Η νέα καλλιτεχνική θεωρία στηρίχτηκε κυρίως πάνω στις ανακαλύψεις του Freud που τότε είχαν αρχίσει να διαδίδονται και να γίνονται ιδιαίτερα δημοφιλής.
Το 1924 ο Andre Breton έγραψε και δημοσίευσε το «Σουρεαλιστικό Μανιφέστο» που περιέχει τον εξής ορισμό:
Υπερρεαλισμός: καθαρή ψυχική αντίδραση, η οποία προτίθεται να εκφράσει, προφορικά ή γραπτά, την αληθινή λειτουργία της σκέψης. Η σκέψη υπαγορεύεται χωρίς να ασκείται έλεγχος από τη λογική και έξω από κάθε αισθητική ή ηθική προκατάληψη.
Φιλοσοφία: Ο Υπερρεαλισμός βασίζεται στην πίστη σε μια ανώτερη ύπαρξη συγκεκριμένων μορφών σκέψης, που συνήθως απωθούνται από τη συνείδηση στην παντοδυναμία του ονείρου και στο άσκοπο παιχνίδι με τη σκέψη, το οποίο καταστρέφει μόνιμα όλους τους άλλους ψυχικούς μηχανισμούς, για να πάρει τη θέση τους στην προσπάθεια αντιμετώπισης των βασικών προβλημάτων της ζωής.
Πριν όμως το 1924 που θεσμοθετήθηκε ο όρος η έννοια του σουρεαλισμού είχε αρχίσει να χρησιμοποιείται από καλλιτέχνες, κυρίως λογοτέχνες που συνδέονταν με τον Ντανταϊσμό. Από τον ντανταϊσμό οι Σουρεαλιστές πήραν την αγάπη τους για το παράλογο και το τυχαίο. Τα στοιχεία αυτά όμως τα ένωσαν με τις θεωρίες του Freud για το υποσυνείδητο, το όνειρο και την ψυχανάλυση. Ο Freud σε γενικές γραμμές υποστήριξε ότι ο άνθρωπος αποτελείται από δύο εαυτούς. Ο πρώτος ο συνειδητός- λογικός εαυτός του είναι αυτός που προσαρμόζεται στους κοινωνικούς νόμους και τις ηθικές υποταγές της εποχής του. Τους κανόνες αυτούς τους εκφράζει για το παιδί το πρόσωπο του πατέρα και για αυτό ονομάζονται και πατρική εξουσία. Ο υποσυνείδητος εαυτός μας είναι αυτό που κρύβουμε μέσα μας και το καταπιέζουμε στην καθημερινή μας ζωή ώστε να είμαστε αποδεκτοί από το κοινωνικό σύνολο. Το υποσυνείδητο μας δεν γνωρίζει ούτε και υπακούει σε κανόνες είτε κοινωνικούς είτε ηθικούς. Είναι το πρωτόγονο, «συναισθηματικό» κομμάτι του εαυτού μας. Επειδή λοιπόν το καταπιέζουμε στην καθημερινότητα μας στο όνειρο βρίσκει την δυνατότητα να εκφραστεί. Οι σουρεαλιστές, λοιπόν, που πίστευαν όπως και οι ντανταϊστές ότι η λογική είχε οδηγήσει στον πόλεμο, θέλησαν η πηγή τον έργων του να είναι το παράλογο δηλαδή το υποσυνείδητο. Υποστήριζαν ότι επειδή το υποσυνείδητο ήταν ελεύθερο από τους κοινωνικούς κανόνες ήταν πιο αληθινό από το λογικό. Το υποσυνείδητο πιο πρωτόγονο και ελεύθερο ήταν συνδεδεμένο με τις δυο βασικές ανθρώπινες ορμές τον έρωτα (σεξουαλικότητα) και τον θάνατο (βία) και με τα δύο ανάλογα ταμπού (ου φονεύσεις- και μην κοιμηθείς με τη μητέρα σου). Τα έργα λοιπόν των σουρεαλιστών είχαν αυτή την κύρια θεματολογία τον έρωτα, τη σεξουαλικότητα, τη βία και το θάνατο. Επειδή, όμως, το υποσυνείδητο εκφράζεται μέσα από το όνειρο οι σουρεαλιστές συχνά έψαχναν για έμπνευση μέσα στα όνειρα. Αυτή η μέθοδος και πάλι δεν ήταν αρκετή. Έπρεπε να βρουν ένα τρόπο να κλείσουν τη λογική έξω από τη δημιουργική διαδικασία. Επινόησαν λοιπόν, την αυτόματη γραφή. Σύμφωνα με την αυτόματη γραφή κατέγραφαν λέξεις ή εικόνες που τους έρχονταν στο μυαλό τυχαία και ασύνδετα προσπαθώντας να μην παρεμβάλουν τη λογική τους.
Στην ποίηση και τη λογοτεχνία η μέθοδος της αυτόματης γραφής ήταν σχετικά εύκολο να λειτουργήσει. Για τους ζωγράφους όμως, και τους γλύπτες οι παροτρύνσεις του θεωρητικού του σουρεαλισμού Breton να μεταφέρουν καθαρές και τυχαία τις εικόνες της φαντασίας τους χωρίς την παρεμβολή της λογικής ήταν σχεδόν αδύνατο να εφαρμοστούν και το έργο τελικά να έχει κάποια αισθητική αξία. Κατά συνέπεια ο κάθε εικαστικός καλλιτέχνης ερμήνευσα τα λόγια του Breton με τον τρόπο του και ακολούθησε τη δική του πορεία. Τα κοινά τους στοιχεία ήταν η αναζήτηση νέων υλικών, η πλήρη εγκατάλειψη της παραδοσιακής θεματολογίας της τέχνης, η εμμονή τους με τα όνειρα και τα φροϋδικά σύμβολα και τέλος η έντονη σεξουαλική ή βίαιη ατμόσφαιρα που αποπνέουν τα έργα τους.
Μέσα σε αυτό το πνεύμα διαμορφώθηκαν δύο κύριες τάσεις στην εικαστική πλευρά του σουρεαλισμού. Από τη μια υπήρχαν καλλιτέχνες όπως ο Jean Arp, o Max Ernst, και ο Joan Miro που έφτιαχναν έργα γλυπτά και ζωγραφικά που βρίσκονταν μέσα στα πλαίσια αυτού που αργότερα ονομάστηκε οργανικός σουρεαλισμός ή εμβληματικός σουρεαλισμός ή βιόμορφος ή ακόμα απόλυτος σουρεαλισμός. Το κύριο στοιχείο στην τάση αυτή είναι ότι οι καλλιτέχνες προσπάθησαν να κρατηθούν όσο το δυνατό πιο κοντά στις ιδέες του Breton και στη μέθοδο της αυτόματης γραφής. Στα έργα του υπάρχουν σχήματα που θυμίζουν πρωτόγονες μορφές ζωής, κύτταρα και μικροοργανισμούς. Μοιάζουν αφηρημένα αν και ως ένα βαθμό αυτό που απεικονίζουν είναι αναγνωρίσιμο.
Από την άλλη πλευρά υπήρχαν καλλιτέχνες όπως ο Salavador Dali (ο οποίος σήμερα θεωρείται ο ζωγράφος που έχει κυρίως συνδεθεί με τον σουρεαλισμό), ο Rene Magritte και ο Yves Tangui. Οι ζωγράφοι αυτοί παρουσίαζαν με ακριβείς λεπτομέρειες σκηνές και αντικείμενα που έχουν αφαιρεθεί από το φυσικό τους περιβάλλον, έχουν συνδυαστεί και έχουν παραμορφωθεί με απίθανους τρόπους. Με αυτή τη μέθοδό προσπάθησαν να μιμηθούν το όνειρο και την αίσθηση που αυτό αφήνει. Όπως δηλαδή στο όνειρο ένα αντικείμενο είναι ταυτόχρονα και κάτι άλλο έτσι και στα έργα αυτών των καλλιτεχνών τα εικονιζόμενα αντικείμενα μπορούν ταυτόχρονα να έχουν πολλές σημασίες. Η τάση αυτή ονομάστηκε νατουραλιστικός σουρεαλισμός επειδή η τεχνική της ζωγραφικής στηριζόταν στη νατουραλιστική απεικόνιση τον μορφών. Κατά μία έννοια θα μπορούσαμε να πού με ότι ήταν η συνέχεια του μαγικού ρεαλισμού όπως είχε χρησιμοποιηθεί από τον De Cirico. Πρέπει να σημειωθεί ότι οι καλλιτέχνες του σουρεαλισμού συχνά περνούσαν από τη μια τάση του βιόμορφου σουρεαλισμού στο νατουραλιστικό και αντίστροφα. Όταν τους τοποθετούμε στη μία ή την άλλη κατηγορία απλώς εννοούμε ότι το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του έργου του είχε το ένα ή το άλλο στυλ.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
O Salvador Dali είναι σήμερα ο πιο γνωστός σουρεαλιστής ζωγράφος κυρίως εξαιτίας της επιδειξιμανίας του και του καλού χειρισμού των media. Το κοινό δε γνωρίζει ότι ο Salvador Dali υπήρξε πραγματικό μέλος του κινήματος των Σουρεαλιστών για λιγότερο από 10 χρόνια. Το 1934 συγκρούστηκε με τον θεωρητικό και ιδρυτή του σουρεαλισμού Breton εξαιτίας των φιλο-χιτλερικών σχολίων που είχε κάνει και διαγράφτηκε από την ομάδα.
Ο Salvador Dali όμως θεωρούσε τον εαυτό του γεννημένο σουρεαλιστή. Μέσω των θεωριών του Freud κατόρθωσε να εξηγήσει κάποιους από τους προσωπικούς του εφιάλτες που τον στοίχειωναν και την σχεδόν παθολογική σχέση που είχε με τον πατέρα του. Ο Dali εκτός από τη ζωγραφική του πρόσφερε στον σουρεαλισμό το παρουσιαστικό και τη ζωή ενός άνδρα- σουρεαλιστή και κατόρθωσε να γίνει το ζωντανό σύμβολο του. Το εξωφρενικό μουστάκι του, η παθιασμένη σχέση του με τη γυναίκα του Gala και οι προκλητικές δηλώσεις που έκανε στον τύπο και στα ημερολόγια του που φρόντισε να δημοσιευτούν τον όρισαν σαν ένα σχεδόν τρελό άνθρωπο, την ενσάρκωση των ιδεών του σουρεαλισμού.
Η ζωγραφική του στηριζόταν σε ένα νοητικό παιχνίδι. Ξεκινούσε πάντοτε με την τυχαία πρώτη εικόνα που του ερχόταν στο μυαλό και συνέχιζε πηδώντας από τον έναν συνειρμό στον άλλο σε ένα ατελείωτο κυνηγητό ιδεών. Η κοπιαστική λεπτομέρεια που χαρακτηρίζει ακόμα και τα μικροσκοπικά αντικείμενα που παρουσιάζονται στους πίνακες του προέρχεται από τους Φλαμανδούς ζωγράφους του 15ου αιώνα και θυμίζουν τις μικροσκοπικές λεπτομέρειες των χειρογράφων της εποχής που γίνονταν με μεγεθυντικό φακό. Τα αχανή τοπία με τον λαμπρό αφύσικο φωτισμό προέρχονται από την παράδοση του μαγικού ρεαλισμού και από τη φωτογραφία με φίλτρο. Ο ίδιος έλεγε ότι τα έργα του είναι «χειροποίητες φωτογραφίες ονείρων».
Στους πίνακες του επαναλαμβάνονται πολλές φορές τα ίδια αντικείμενα (μυρμήγκια, ρολόγια, τηλέφωνα κτλ.) που είχαν φετιχιστική σημασία για τον ίδιο. Συχνά ο Dali έδινε μια εντελώς προσωπική αλλά και φετιχιστική ερμηνεία σε αντικείμενα αλλά και παλιότερα έργα τέχνης. Τη θεωρητική αυτή ανάλυση την ονόμαζε « παρανοϊκή-κριτική». Επρόκειτο για τη δημιουργία μιας φανταστικής πραγματικότητας βασισμένη σε στοιχεία οραματισμού, ονείρων αναμνήσεων και ψυχολογικών ή παθολογικών διαστροφών.

Ο Pablo Picasso ως σουρεαλιστής και η Γκουέρνικα
Ο Breton γνώρισε τον Picasso κατά τη διαμονή του στο Παρίσι και αμέσως τον ένταξε στο σουρεαλιστικό κίνημα. Στα σουρεαλιστικά περιοδικά συχνά δημοσιεύονταν έργα του Picasso ή γίνονταν αναφορές σε αυτά. Φυσικά ο σουρεαλισμός του Picasso δεν ήταν όμοιος με των υπόλοιπων καλλιτεχνών. Σίγουρα δεν είναι απόλυτος ή βιομορφικός σουρεαλισμός. Δύσκολα όμως μπορείς να εντάξεις τα έργα του στον νατουραλιστικό σουρεαλισμό. Τα θέματα των έργων του είναι σχετικά εύκολα αναγνωρίσιμα παρά τις ιδιόμορφες παραμορφώσεις που τα χαρακτηρίζουν. Δεν υπάρχει όμως η πολυσημία των αντικειμένων και η μετουσίωση του σε κάτι άλλο και διαφορετικό όπως γίνεται κυρίως στα έργα του Dali. Από την άλλη και ο Picasso έχει τα αγαπημένα του σχεδόν φετιχιστικά σύμβολά που εμφανίζονται συχνά στους πίνακες του. Ένα από αυτά είναι και ο μινώταυρος. Η σημασία του στην εικονογραφία του Picasso, δεν είναι σαφής. Μπορεί να είναι το σύμβολο της Ισπανίας, της ωμής παράλογης βίας ή τέλος και ο ίδιος ο καλλιτέχνης.
Ο μινώταυρος εμφανίζεται και στο πιο σημαντικό σουρεαλιστικό έργο του Picasso, στη Γκουέρνικα. Η Γκουέρνικα κατασκευάστηκε το 1937 και ήταν εμπνευσμένο από τον Ισπανικό εμφύλιο. Ο Φράνκο και οι ισπανοί φασίστες ζήτησαν από τους γερμανούς να βομβαρδίσουν τη βασκική πόλη Γκουέρνικα. Η πόλη καταστράφηκε ολοσχερώς από τον βομβαρδισμό. Ο Picasso είχε συγκλονιστεί και δεν μπορούσε να πιστέψει ότι Ισπανοί είχαν ζητήσει από «ξένους» την εξόντωση ομοεθνών τους. Όλος ο πίνακας είναι ζωγραφισμένος με άσπρο μαύρο και γκρίζο και εκφράζει τον τρόμο και τον παραλογισμό που θα πρέπει να ένοιωσαν τα θύματα του βομβαρδισμού. Πολλές από τις φιγούρες που εμφανίζονται στη σύνθεση της Γκουέρνικας είχαν επινοηθεί και χρησιμοποιηθεί από τον Picasso και σε παλιότερους πίνακες.

Η τέχνη στην Αμερική-γεωμετρική αφαίρεση, εξπρεσιονιστική αφαίρεση και άλλες παραλλαγές της αφηρημένης τέχνης
Μετά τον δεύτερο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο το κέντρο των καλλιτεχνικών εξελίξεων μεταφέρθηκε στην Αμερική. Μέχρι τότε ο χώρος εκκίνησης των νέων κινημάτων στην τέχνη ήταν πάντοτε στα γεωγραφικά πλαίσια της Ευρώπης, παλιότερα στην Ιταλία και πιο πρόσφατα στη Γαλλία. Οι Αμερικάνοι καλλιτέχνες ως «οι Επαρχιώτες» της τέχνης ήταν ακόμα περισσότερο δεσμευμένοι από την παράδοση της Ακαδημαϊκής τέχνης. Θέλησαν η τέχνη τους να μιμείται την κλασσική αναγεννησιακή τέχνη. Εάν προσπαθούσαν να την ξεπεράσουν, επιθυμούσαν τα έργα τους να είναι ακόμα πιο ρεαλιστικά. Τα καινοτόμα κινήματα της ευρωπαϊκής τέχνης (κυβισμός, εξπρεσιονισμός κτλ) άργησαν πολύ να γίνουν γνωστά και ακόμα περισσότερα αποδεκτά από το αμερικάνικό κοινό και τους γηγενείς καλλιτέχνες.
Η επίδραση των νέων καλλιτεχνικών ρευμάτων της Ευρώπης άρχισε να γίνεται εμφανής μόνο μετά από το τέλος του Δεύτερου Παγκόσμιου Πολέμου. Συγκεκριμένα το κρατικό ίδρυμα Federal Art Project άρχισε να αναθέτει σε πρωτοπόρους αλλά μέχρι τότε άγνωστους Αμερικάνους ζωγράφους την διεκπεραίωση μεγάλων δημόσιων έργων τέχνης. Αυτοί για να καλύψουν τις μεγάλες επιφάνειες βρήκαν την ευκαιρία να δημιουργήσουν μια αφηρημένη τέχνη που στηριζόταν στα γεωμετρικά κυρίως σχήματα και που εύλογα ήταν μεγάλης κλίμακας. Οι καλλιτέχνες αυτοί στήριξαν την τέχνη τους στον κυβισμό και στα έργα του Modrian. Μια άλλη ομάδα που έτεινε στην αφηρημένη τέχνη χωρίς όμως να έχει τα έντονα γεωμετρικά στοιχεία μπορούμε ότι είχε επηρεαστεί από τον αφηρημένο εξπρεσιονισμό και τον Kadinsky.
Ο πιο γνωστός από αυτούς ο Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) δημιούργησε την ιδέα της «ολιστικής ζωγραφικής» η οποία στηριζόταν σε ένα λαβύρινθο από τυχαίες πινελιές (το τυχαίο του σουρεαλισμού και του ντανταϊσμού έρχεται ξανά στην επιφάνεια εδώ), γραμμές και κηλίδες που εκτείνεται ως την άκρη του μουσαμά δίνοντας της εντύπωση ότι το έργο θα μπορούσε άνετα να συνεχίζεται αδιάσπαστο και έξω από το κάδρο του. Ο Pollock , επίσης, κατήργησε το τελευταίο απομεινάρι της παραδοσιακής ζωγραφικής, το καβαλέτο. Τοποθετούσε τα χρώματα κατευθείαν από το κουτί τους στο μουσαμά του χωρίς να τα διαλύει ή να τα αναμειγνύει.
Η αφηρημένη ζωγραφική σε διάφορες παραλλαγές της συνέχισε να κυριαρχεί στην Αμερική τουλάχιστον μέχρι τη δεκαετία του 1970. Ακόμα και σήμερα όμως σε εκθέσεις σύγχρονης τέχνης υπάρχουν πολλά έργα αφηρημένα. Μέσα στο διάστημα αυτό από το 1940 περίπου ως και σήμερα έχουν εμφανιστεί ποικίλες παραλλαγές της αφηρημένης τέχνης.
Ο μινιμαλισμός (minimal= ελάχιστο) προσπάθησε να δημιουργήσει τέχνη με όσο το δυνατό λιγότερα στοιχεία. Άλλοτε καλύπτει ολόκληρη την επιφάνεια του πίνακα με ένα μόνο χρώμα. Άλλοτε στηρίζει το έργο τέχνης σε ένα μόνο γεωμετρικό σχήμα ή σε μια μόνη γραμμή.
Η οπτική τέχνη και αυτή αφηρημένη. Στην ουσία είναι δύσκολο να περιγραφεί. Χρησιμοποιεί έντονα χρώματα και συχνά γεωμετρικά σχήματα και γραμμές για να δημιουργήσει μια σειρά από οπτικά τρυκ. Στηρίζεται πάνω στο πως η ανθρώπινη όραση και εγκέφαλος αντιλαμβάνεται το βάθος και την «αναγλυφικότητα». Παράλληλα με την οπτική τέχνη, στη γλυπτική αναπτύχθηκε η «γλυπτική του φωτός». Επρόκειτο για κατασκευές που στηρίζονταν στο έγχρωμο φως και στη διαχείριση του μέσα σε ένα συγκεκριμένο χώρο.

1. 1960 -το νέο κίνημα της ποπ-αρτ
Το πιο πρόσφατο ριζοσπαστικό κίνημα στην τέχνη ονομάστηκε ποπ –αρτ (popular = δημοφιλής, λαϊκή). Η ποπ - αρτ μπορεί να θεωρείται Αμερικάνικό κίνημα αλλά στην ουσία στη Μ. Βρετανία υπήρχαν ήδη από τις αρχές του 50 κάποιοι καλλιτέχνες (Richard Hamilton 1922, David Hockney 1937κ.α.) που δημιουργούσαν έργα με αισθητική όμοια με αυτής της ποπ -αρτ. Οι καλλιτέχνες αυτοί συνέχιζαν με την τεχνική του νταντά δημιουργώντας έργα κυρίως από κολλάζ. Το έτοιμο υλικό τους το αντλούσαν από έντυπες διαφημίσεις. Το κίνημα της ποπ-αρτ, ωστόσο, κατέληξε να θεωρείται Αμερικάνικο γιατί οι Αμερικάνοι καλλιτέχνες αποδείχτηκαν πιο τολμηροί στους πειραματισμούς τους και έδωσαν τα πιο ενδεικτικά έργα του κινήματος.
Η ποπ-αρτ προέκυψε ως αντίδραση στην αφηρημένη τέχνη που είχε κυριαρχήσει στην Αμερική από το 1930 και μετά. Σε αντίθεση, με την αφηρημένη ζωγραφική οι καλλιτέχνες της ποπ-αρτ ήθελαν να δημιουργήσουν μια τέχνη ρεαλιστική, εμπνευσμένη από την καθημερινότητα τους. Το 1960 η Αμερικάνικη κοινωνία είχε πάρει τη σημερινή της περίπου μορφή. Η οικονομική άνθηση μετά το Δεύτερο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο είχε δημιουργήσει μια καπιταλιστική κοινωνία, η οποία για να λειτουργήσει και να διατηρήσει το υψηλό οικονομικό της επίπεδο έπρεπε συνεχώς να παράγει και να καταναλώνει. Τα βιομηχανικά προϊόντα ήταν εύκολο να αποκτηθούν από όλους. Η διαφήμιση κυριαρχούσε στην τηλεόραση, στο σινεμά και στο δρόμο με τη μορφή μεγάλων αφισών. Το Hollywood βρισκόταν σε περίοδο άνθισης με ηθοποιούς –ινδάλματα όπως την Μονρόε και τον Τζέημς Ντην. Η 9η τέχνη, το κόμικ, είχε αρχίσει να γίνεται ιδιαίτερα δημοφιλής. Η καθημερινή λοιπόν, ζωή κατακλυζόταν από αυτού του είδους τις εικόνες. Όταν οι καλλιτέχνες της ποπ-αρτ θέλησαν ρεαλιστικά να απεικονίσουν την καθημερινή ζωή στράφηκαν για έμπνευση στις εικόνες του κόμικ, της διαφήμισης και του κινηματογράφου. Επρόκειτο για εικόνες μια χαμηλής λαϊκής τέχνης που διαχωριζόταν σαφώς από την τέχνη των μουσείων. Οι καλλιτέχνες όμως, της ποπ-αρτ ήταν επηρεασμένοι από τις απόψεις του νταντά για την τέχνη. Περιφρονούσαν την παραδοσιακή υψηλή τέχνη των μουσείων και ήθελαν να δημιουργήσουν μια αντί-τέχνη. Η αισθητική της διαφήμισης και των βιομηχανικών αντικειμένων εξυπηρετούσε το στόχο τους αυτό. Με αυτού του είδους την τέχνη κατόρθωσαν να καταθέσουν την κριτική τους για την κοινωνία που στηριζόταν στον καταναλωτισμό και στη διαφήμιση. Επιδίωκαν η αισθητική των έργων τους να είναι κιτς ώστε να μπορούν να περάσουν πιο εύκολα την ειρωνική τους διάθεση για την τέχνη αλλά και για την κοινωνία.
Οι πιο γνωστοί αμερικάνοι καλλιτέχνες της ποπ-αρτ ήταν ο Roy Lichtenstein (1923), ο οποίος χρησιμοποίησε κυρίως εικόνες που θυμίζουν κόμικ, o James Rosenquist (1933) με έργα επηρεασμένα κυρίως από τη διαφήμιση στα ταμπλό του δρόμου και τέλος ο γνωστότερος όλων Andy Warhol (1930-1987) που στήριξε τα έργα του στη διαφήμιση και τα κινηματογραφικά ινδάλματα.
Στη γλυπτική η ποπ-αρτ είχε τους ίδιους στόχους και τις ίδιες επιρροές. Η τεχνική που χρησιμοποίησε ονομάστηκε Assemblage (=συναρμολόγηση). Πρόκειται για τη συναρμολόγηση έτοιμων αντικειμένων που δεν ζωγραφίζονται, δεν σχεδιάζονται ούτε πλάθονται ή σμιλεύονται σε ακατέργαστο υλικό. Τα έτοιμα αντικείμενα που χρησιμοποιούνται είναι προπαρασκευασμένα συνήθως βιομηχανικά αντικείμενα ή μέρη που αρχικά δεν προορίζονταν για έργα τέχνης.