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Valerie Z. Written by Valerie Z.
Jun. 17, 2011 | 3:56 PM

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With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story and more from the Greek Film Fest

Review by: Valerie Z.

As a woman who is not a comic book fan, even I was captivated by this entertaining documentary about the great Stan Lee, the creator of approximately 512 comic book characters, dating back to the beginning of the comic book era.  His pop culture creations include: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Hulk, and Iron-Man. While I am not going to run out and purchase a comic book anytime soon, I have tremendous respect for this creative artist, who has been married to his wife Joan since 1946.  From his humble beginnings during the great depression to where he is now, running his own company after Marvel Films went bankrupt.  The story is told by Lee himself and features many of his creative collaborators and fellow actors such as Nicolas Cage, Seth Rogen, Lou Ferrigno, Patrick Stewart, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Jason Lee, and Kevin Smith.

During WWII, Lee serviced alongside other great writers like Dr. Seuss himself.  An interesting story that emerged was that while Lee worked at Timely Comics early in his career, the comic books were thought to be the main cause of juvenile delinquency in our country and kids were forced to destroy their comic books while Lee’s creativity was restricted.

There was a Q&A after the screening with one of the film’s directors, Will Hess; the other two directors are Terry Douglas and Nikki Frakes.  One of the first to address Hess was a woman who also expressed a disinterest in comic books but loved the scenes between Mr. & Mrs. Lee and their love for each other.  The question was answered as to how this film got into the 5th Annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival: the financing for the film was with Greek funds and one of the directors, Terry Douglas is of Greek ancestry.

Over the years, Lee had turned down several requests of being a documentary subject.  Fortunately, Hess and a film crew covered his appearance at a Comic-Con Convention, which led to the documentary film being made.  Some of the actors in the film were also at Comic-Con promoting other films and agreed to do interviews for this documentary.

Hess is a graduate of USC and has one short under his belt titled “Zombie Prom”.  Hess is currently working on a project called “Men of Marvel”.

Another aspect of the film that the audience enthusiastically responded to was the music; the credit for the wonderful music goes to Holly Church, Kostas Christides and Minos Matsas. 

The film runs 80 minutes.  the film’s web site is:

“Knifer” (Maherovgaltis)

“Knifer” was directed by Yannis Economides and is his third feature.  This film has won a few international film awards including First Prize at the Hellenic Film Academy awards, 2011.  The film made its US Premiere at the 5th annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival where it won the The Grand Jury Prize as Best Narrative Feature.  Before winning the latest award, it was overwhelmingly received by the men in attendance during the screening held at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 Theatres, the home of this year’s LAGFF.  The Greek female patrons had a strong, positive response to it as well and got the film makers meaning: that men are such brutal creatures and the women suffer for it.  Economides has great sympathy for women and wants the audience to see it from the female point of view.  It is not a film for everyone but for those who love the artistic, metaphorical storytelling style.  One patron compared it to ‘I Stand Alone”, while another compared it to “Dog Tooth”, last year’s Greek entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

Beautifully shot in black & white, it is the story of Nikos, a loner, who goes to live with his late father’s brother, Alekos, and his wife, Gogo.  Soon we see the verbal abuse that Alekos spews toward Nikos and Gogo.  Nikos is supported by his uncle who pays him to watch his house and dogs while Alekos works in his liquor store.  Alekos is in a feud with his neighbors upstairs from the store and he is afraid they will one day succeed in killing him. While Alekos is out walking his dogs, Gogo begins a sexual relationship with Nikos.  One day, Nikos expresses to Gogo that he wishes to kill Alekos.  The conclusion may surprise you.

The actors are to be commended for their performances and the film is one of the few that has a masterful sound mix.

The film is in Greek with English subtitles and has a running time of 108 minutes.

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