Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Tribeca ’15: Wednesday 04:45
Dimitrakopoulos is a jazz club owner in Greece. It should therefore come as no
surprise to learn he is a terrible businessman. With his debt to a Romanian
gangster about to come due, Dimitrakopoulos will scramble to find a way to save
his club while also fulfilling his more mundane responsibilities in Alexis
Alexiou’s Wednesday 04:45 (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
has great taste when it comes to identifying emerging Balkan jazz talent, but
he is not so hot at the rest of club management. Through Vassos, an old
crony-gone-more-crooked, Dimitrakopoulos arranged a loan from “the Romanian.”
Naturally, he cannot pay, so he passively agrees to sign over his club. Being
Greece, this turns out to be quite a complicated process. In his dealings with
Vassos, Dimitrakopoulos crosses paths with Omar, an Albanian who also owes money
to the Romanian. However, Omar is not so accepting of the situation.
high tempers and deep debts lead to violence. It all rather baffles Dimitrakopoulos
as he tries to run his more workaday errands. Of course, it is just a matter of
time before the bedlam completely engulfs him.
practically screams at the audience, it is all about the austerity program.
However, German and American audiences might have trouble ginning up either
sympathy or outrage for Dimitrakopoulos’s plight. Not to defend loan sharks,
but generally speaking, it is understood when someone borrows money they will
eventually have to pay it back, with some sort of interest. Dimitrakopoulos
seems to understand this only slightly better than the Greek government. Frankly,
considering who he is in hock to, he is getting off quite easy.
Alexiou’s noir style and thriller mechanics are quite strong. The Athens
backdrop gives it an almost postindustrial-dystopian-noir ambiance, sort of like Godard’s Alphaville, but more neon. Cinematographer
Christos Karamanis makes the rain-glistening streets and hazy nocturnal club
scenes look great, in a genre appropriate way. The acts Dimitrakopoulos books
also sound quite intriguing based on snippets we get to hear.
As Dimitrakopoulos, Stelios Mainas is a
droopy-eyed middle-aged anti-hero in the Jean Reno tradition. He looks the part
as he steadily ratchets up Dimitrakopoulos’s resentment-stoked intensity. In
some ways, 04:45 compares to
Schumacher’s Falling Down, at least
until Alexiou unleashes his inner Johnnie To with a storm-drenched rooftop
confrontation. Altogether, it is a distinctive thriller. Recommended for noir
fans who do not consider the Regal Battery Park prohibitively inconvenient, Wednesday 04:45 screens again tonight
(4/21), as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Greek Cinema, Tribeca '15