DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
THE DUST OF TIME (I SKONI TOU HRONOU) (director/writer: Theo Angelopoulos; screenwriters: Tonina Guerra/Petros Markaris; cinematographer: Andreas Sinanos; editors:  Yorgos Helidonidis/Yannis Tsitsopoulos; music:  Eleni Karaindrou; cast: Willem Dafoe (A), Michel Piccoli (Spyros), Bruno Ganz (Jacob), Irene Jacob (Eleni), Christiane Paul (Helga), Tiziana Pfiffner (Young Eleni); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Phoebe Economopoulos; Artificial Eye-Region 2 PAL format; 2008-Greece/Russia/Italy/Germany-dubbed in English)

 
"An incoherent dream-like story that lyrically traces the last half-century in the life of a stressed-out Greek-American filmmaker telling his family's story in his latest movie."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An incoherent dream-like story that lyrically traces the last half-century in the life of a stressed-out Greek-American filmmaker telling his family's story in his latest movie. Greek director Theo Angelopoulos ("Reconstruction"/"The Travelling Players"/"Landscape in the Mist") never gets it clear what he's shooting for, in a film about making a film that results in how not to make a movie.

Willem Dafoe plays a nameless film director of Greek-American descent, called A, who stopped shooting for an unknown reason a film about his family but after a long pause has returned to Rome's Cinecitta studio to continue the film. The film explores how his mother Eleni (Irene Jacob) loved two men, his biological father Spyros (Michel Piccoli) and Jacob (Bruno Ganz), for most of her adult life, even though the characters separate and lose each other over the course of time. Their adventures take them to such varied places during the last fifty years of the 20th century as in 1953 to a Greek colony in Siberia, where Spryros treks to meet and marry Eleni. After the birth of A, Spyros is arrested and Eleni deported to Siberia. In the camps at Siberia, Eleni meets and falls in love with the arrested German Jew Jacob. Angelopoulos brings up historical events such as the death of the tyrant Stalin, the Vietnam War protests, the Watergate Scandal and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Included in the confusing travel itinerary are visits to North Kazakhstan, Italy, Germany, Toronto, and America. In the climax, the main characters concerned convene for one last time in a seemingly deserted Berlin to celebrate in a light falling snow the new century and experience the deaths of two of the three lovers.

The poorly crafted film, the dreadful acting by the major stars and limp screenplay by the director, Tonina Guerra and Petros Markaris leaves this as a misfire. The film points out how memories get distorted and that everything goes on, as a voice-over in the beginning tells us "nothing ever ends." My fear was this heavy slog would never end--the pretentious arty film seemed a worst watch than your typical neighbor's dull home movie.

REVIEWED ON 1/22/2013       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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