Subtle irony, video feel

Even if you can’t see eye to eye with Thanos Anastasopoulos’s new film «Atlas» (Olo to Varos tou Kosmou), you would have to have a constructive argument against this very together new director, who has shown that he is ready to shake things up. While «Atlas» may suffer from a rather flimsy script and describe a narcissistic world that suffers from, essentially, boredom, Anastasopoulos still succeeds in transcending the norm. A strong sense of paradox, flurries of ideas, a real quest for an aesthetic style, and an amalgam of postmodern romanticism are all evident in his film. He directs a charming choreography of moods, intentions and feelings, as he brings together 11 characters in Athens during the summer of the World Weightlifting Championship. All the characters carry a burden and they are all, in one way or another, at a pivotal point in their lives: A philosophizing scientist, an eccentric coroner, a high-level businessman and his partner, a Polish immigrant, a delivery man and a mother who can’t cope any longer, are but some of the characters the viewer encounters. On the downside, throughout the film a subtle irony runs like a shiver, although it appears more like self-flattery than self-sarcasm. The director appears trapped by his technical skill and gives in to the irresistible urge to make continual changes of scenes, shots and locations. The roles in «Atlas» emerge more as symbols than characters, and the actors appear to be vying for their space on the screen; something they succeed at, largely due to their own talent. Nevertheless, Anastasopoulos’s fragmented world is of interest and a far cry from the solid, unrefined world of Isavella Mavraki’s «Watch Out! Red Light» (also playing at movie theaters this week). Of course, Mavraki was not trying to give vent to her artistic quandaries. She just wanted to make a commercial film about the angst of high school students in Greece. Unfortunately, in her quest to combine a rather forward-looking view of commercial cinema with a contemporary theme, she ended up making a film with the aesthetic of a long-forgotten video.

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