Monday, August 26, 2013

Actual people at a Gathr Previews screening: Papadopoulos & Sons

One way to get a bigger crowd for a series that has not always drawn particularly well: Co-present with someone else whose local mailing list is a bit larger. In this case, that was Belmont World Film, a series I've been meaning to catch something from one of these years - I've only tended to remember to check the Belmont Studio Cinema's site sporadically, generally toward the end of the event - and it was a bit of a reminder that the Boston area has a fairly splintered film audience: The crowd it drew was older than the Brattle/Coolidge audiences, but not the same as the HFA regulars.

It turns out to be a pretty good match for the movie, at least in by the standards usually used for designating something a movie for grandma: Sweet, not experimental, not particularly rude (IMDB says it got a 15 rating in the UK, but I can't for the life of me think of why), a little exotic (those excitable Greeks!) but not overly so. And that's fine; it's good to have the occasional movie that hits that target.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see if there's any carry-over. This week's movie - Breath of the Gods is also co-presented, this time by the Arlington International Film Festival, and might get interest from the big yoga center just around the corner. Perhaps a more interesting test might be the first two announced for September - both A Single Shot and And While We Were Here have reasonably noteworthy stars (Sam Rockwell and Kate Bosworth, respectively), and while they've been On Demand, they're distributed by Well Go, which seems to be doing a fairly good job of bridging the mainstream and boutique markets, although not so much here of late. I really, really, really would like to drag people here to Drug War and some of their other Asian movies, so getting them to see Boston as a viable market would be pretty excellent.

Papadopoulos & Sons

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 19 August 2013 in the Regent Theatre (Gathr Preview Presents, digital)

I was recently reminded that my grandmother reads what I write here, which may be why one of my first reactions to Papadopoulos & Sons was that it would be a good movie to bring parents or grandparents to; it's fairly pleasant, uncomplicated, and mild in content. But then I figured that's kind of selling one's elders short; as much as this is a likable movie, it doesn't always put in the work to earn it.

Harry Papadopoulos (Stephen Dillane) has certainly put in the work; the man who immigrated to the UK as a child is being honored as Entrepreneur of the Year for his line of Greek food products and forthcoming retail center. The economy suddenly takes another turn, though, and it turns out that Harry has overextended himself so that not only is the company put into administration but his home is taken as well. Where can he and his kids - heiress-in-training Katie (Georgia Groome), would-be-horticulturist James (Frank Dillane), and pre-teen day-trader Theo (Thomas Underhill) - go? Well, it turns out that there's one property the government can't touch because it's still half-owned by estranged brother Spiros (Georges Corraface) - who thinks that re-opening the old "Three Brothers" fish & chips shop would be a brilliant idea.

It's not a bad idea, really - returning a rich man to his roots both to connect him with what he left behind (which, almost unfailingly, is what's Really Important) and to introduce his spoiled children to hard work is a story that pretty much everyone can relate to in some way. And writer/director Marcus Markou introduces an interesting wrinkle or two, in that Harry is offered the choice of seeing the company he spent his life building disassembled to support the project which bankrupted him or remain intact in someone else's hands. I also got a kick out of the first shots of the Turkish owners of the kebab place down the road looking like he's been waiting twenty years to put the Papadopoulos family in its place.

Full review at EFC.

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