On my last trip to Greece pre pandemic, whenever that was, I was on the island of Samos near the Turkish Coast probably too close given the rantings of Erdogan, the Turkish Grand Vizier, seeking expansion of the mythological Ottoman Empire by conquering Greek islands in the Northern Aegean. I was there for close to two months and after a great meal on the water it was back to the room to catch a Greek movie on television. Most of these were vintage 1950’s and 60’s films. I can pick up about 50% of the dialogue and as far as comedy is concerned dialogue is not that essential as Greek comedy in those times was very physical and overtly satirical particularly towards the upper classes. I fell in love with the ribald comedies and there was a noticeable pattern to these comedies. Greek cinema has certainly become more sophisticated and by chance or fate I linked up with The Hellenic Film Society USA for my fix of Greek film and I just can’t live without it. Having spent a couple of years of my life over 5 decades of visiting Greece and being married to a Greek perhaps I have a slight insight into the Greek character. I notice that there are commonalties in language and outlook of characters. And understanding much Greek I can see the subtitles as not being totally accurate as with Greek there are many terms that can’t be translated into English. This film has English subtitles
In “Too Much Info Clouding Over My Head” a 2017 film one sees that Greek comedy has moved beyond the ribald into a much more sophisticated comedic level way above that seminal “Manoulis and the Commandos” I saw in the 1970’s in a Greek theatre in Montreal. Yet there are scenes in the film that have a throwback vibe of slapstick to them such as the Chinese beer commercial.
Vasilis (Vasilis Christofilakis) is an anxiety ridden film director in Athens who by most accounts is a failure. His film of three years ago “Gay Nazi Cyborg Zombies” was a terrible movie that showed for a week and made no money. He can’t seem to do anything right and you might be correct saying he is a bumbling fool rather like Alfie in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”.
He is making a movie “Night of the Shooting Stars” a pretentious period piece about a love trilogy but he can’t raise financing hoping for a grant from the Greek Film Centre which seems impossibly slow in coming. So his producer Betty plans three events so he can raise money for his film.
One is a Chinese beer commercial that goes terribly wrong but from a comedic standpoint is outstanding. A satire of the idiocy of commercials.
A second plan is to act as a photographer at a charity event dealing with fish. Vasilis also bumbles that one after witnessing a roast lamb (sacrosanct in Greek cuisine) being served at the event he has flashbacks about his pet lamb as a child disappearing around Easter realizing it was his pet that he just ate. He has a panic attack and rushes to vomit in a vase where donations are deposited and knocking the hostess into the swimming pool. A nice lampoon on the lambduggery of charity events.
The last attempt to raise money is directing a fading 1990 actress in a Chekov play. The play is a success but in an interview after the play he insults the actress and falls face first into a chocolate cake. Betty, his producer, is furious with Vasilis as he has failed to raise a penny so she walks out and is replaced by Goldy (Kitty Paitazoglou) a quirky waitress who he bumped into and sent her flying with food and got her fired. A satirical look at the vanity and self importance and irrelevance of most actors and actresses.
And as a subplot Vasilis thinks he has testicular cancer and squirms about for half the movie annoying everyone to no end. You’ll be chortling over this (and possibly squirming) even though testicular cancer is nothing to be laughed about.
I should stop here and say there is so much going on in this film most of it satirical but some of it serious and tragic although not in the classic Greek sense.
The ending liberates Vasilis and shows however bumbling Vasilis may be his faux pas are part of a cosmic rescue package for his soul. Long live “Gay Nazi Cyborg Zombies”.
Directed by Vasilis Christofilakis.
The film can be seen starting March 4-March 13th for $8 (USD) and is not geoblocked. For further information see www.hellenicfilmsusa.org
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL1B7lJljHY
Winner of three awards at the 2017 Thessaloniki International Film Festival.