Greek Films in DC:
Peppermint Leaves Bad Aftertaste
Last Wednesday night, we decided to head down to The Foundry in Georgetown to take in a Greek movie. This rare experience was made possible by the Hellenic Society Prometheas, a local Greek-American organization which is perhaps the most active organization in DC promoting Greek culture. The first of two films that they were showing was Peppermint, which was shown again on Saturday night. (You still have a chance to catch the second movie, The Four Seasons of the Law this Saturday.) Peppermint was a good movie, despite its awkward and sometimes disturbing plotline.
the best way to describe this movie without giving too much away?
Well imagine if the makers of Forrest Gump had decided to focus
almost exclusively on Forrest and Jenny’s childhood, with a brief glimpse into
their teenage years. But then
imagine if Forrest and Jenny were first cousins.
Starting to get the picture? Yes,
Peppermint is an well-done movie dealing with an awkward subject of what
happens when two first cousins spend way too much time hanging out with each
other to the point where they start “experimenting” with each other.
early sexualization of the main character, Stephanos, is the driving force of
this movie. From his sneaking a
look at his father’s porn magazines, to his fear of his comically big-busted
algebra teacher in elementary school, to his run-in with a prostitute in his
pre-teen years while on a family vacation, Stephanos is being constantly
bombarded with images that almost certainly lead to him to seeing his cousin as
the object of his affection. You
get a sense that Stephanos is more than a little misguided as this behavior is
also coupled with general menacing antics that extend to all facets of his life.
Stephanos is constantly being berated by his father, with the
“why-can’t-you-be more-like-your-friend” technique that all Greek fathers
use on their children, despite the fact that in all reality, Stephanos is a
bright boy, who simply chooses to focus his attention on his obsession with
airplanes more so than on his studies.
the movie gets its title from a liquor called Peppermint, made by Sans
Rival, the same company that makes those travel-size bottles of ouzo with the
handle that you get at the Athens Airport for around 1000 drachmes.
We couldn’t tell if this was a crème de menthe knock-off or something
stronger, but Stefano and his cousin Marina were sure getting a wicked buzz off
the stuff at age 7. If anyone knows where we can get our hands on some of this
stuff, we’d greatly appreciate it, because I have the feeling that if it’s
liquor made by Greeks, it might taste like a girl drink, but it’ll probably
give you a kefaliko like all good Greek alcohol.
what you may have thought of the main plot line, the background scenes of this
movie made it worth seeing. The
director takes you through about 40 years of Greek pop-culture through the story
of Stefano, Marina and their families, including some good old-fashioned Greek
superstition and home remedies. In
one scene, Stefano’s mom uses vendouzes, a popular Greek cure-all, to treat
her husband’s ailment. Vendouzes
is like a Greek form of acupuncture, where you basically heat the air inside a
glass and stick it on a person’s back making a tight vacuum seal, which sounds
like a suction cup when removed.
soundtrack to this film includes some great Greek songs from 60s, as well as
some jazz and R&B and dance songs from the 60s and 70s.
We never thought we’d hear “Mony Mony” playing in the background of
a Greek house party scene. In many
ways the soundtrack made it feel like you were watching movies with diverse
tracks like Forrest Gump or Swingers.
you missed Peppermint, there’s a chance in an international city like
Washington, DC, you can find it somewhere on video, at any video store that
specializes in foreign films. If
you still want to see Greek films on the big screen, head to The Foundry this
weekend to catch The Four Seasons of the Law.
For only $5 dollars it’s a good way to spend a couple of hours
supporting Greek arts in the DC area. Check
the Events Calendar for show