Scorching the Retinas – DIY

Posted: May 2, 2019 in Scorching the Retinas - Film Review
Tags: , , , , ,

Scorching the Retinas – Do It Yourself

(a crime comedy from… Greece?)

scorching the retinas header 3

Huh? A crime comedy, is this really still a thing?

(Is this another international gem from Artsploitation Films?)

DIY film

Do It Yourself (2017)
Greece
Director/Writer – Dimitris Tsilifonis
Runtime – 97 minutes
View Master Films
Central Athens Films Productions

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6235414/?ref_=nm_knf_i1

From reading this features synopsis one might not be that intrigued. A man is held captive in a porn studio whilst trying to clear the name of a gangster wrongfully accused. Well, perhaps certain words in that sentence might spark a little interest. But then one might see a distributers name associated with the release and the interest grows. Artsploitation Films are renowned for putting their name behind many a film which is far from ordinary, and many others would not even give a second glance upon. Take Killer Bunny Thing for example. The title about says it all though doesn’t even allude to the fact that the film and executed premise is one which’ll stay with the viewer for some time to come. Much like another, recent release, by the name of Trauma. Extreme films of this nature and caliber don’t come along too often and I’ll be the first to mention that the hype that precedes it about nails what to expect from the feature itself. Go into this with a strong stomach and a bucket and be prepared, for this one delivers.

Well, would you look at that, I appear to have deviated somewhat, from my intended trajectory.

(courtesy of Odean GR)

The first thing one discovers when watching Do It Yourself (known from now on as merely DIY) apart from the fact that it is subtitled is that it’s based on actual events (which took place on February/15/2015 for those taking studious notes) with the names and faces (obviously) changed to protect the innocent and, it goes without mentioning, the filmmakers from any legal shenanigans which might ensue.

Apparently, let’s just call him, Daniel B (for the likelihood that my keyboard and spellchecking application go on strike during the time it takes me to compose this whilst feverishly reentering quite specific Greek suffix and prefix spellings over and over) has been wrongfully accused of wrongdoing and is suffering a prison term because of his actions. Another, lets just call him Mr. F is at fault or so Daniel B would have our hero Alkis (Vidalis) believe. Daniel B asks that Alkis get back into Mr. F’s good books in order that he may be able to locate the files he needs to clear his name. With that being done he then asks Alkis’ help in making a viral video containing the relevant information for all to see.

alkis viral video

So, what are my lines again?

Sounds like a plan, right? Well, it’s not really that simple. Bursting with double crosses, intrigue and nefarious business dealings it’s obvious that it isn’t going to be, merely, that simple. And Alkis somehow knows this. Strangely he’s allowed himself to be ensnared in a predicament where it’s likely he could only escape in either a body bag or a box (in pretty much the same condition). As it happens Alkis fancies himself as somewhat of a MacGuyver type, true to form he has the skills and the tech know how to something elaborate off. And…I’m not here to spoil it folks. Suffice it to say that DIY is in part a comedy of errors. A crime film in which comedy is the partner to the main star, or the films hero, if you will.  For starters, Alkis is trapped in a compound of sorts in which a myriad of adult movies are produced, edited and distributed. His antics are often set against a vocal soundtrack which includes moaning (which isn’t at all convincing) and the phrases “It’s so big” and “I’m so wet!” (both of which were most probably uttered in the film Jaws of which surprisingly this isn’t a remake of or sequel to).

Alkis’ decisions based on the situation are often questionable but more often than not ‘on the fly’ (though this “fly” certainly doesn’t help his endeavors when he decides that an abrupt plummet from a sixth story window is his most promising course of action). In instances Alkis might have the viewer wondering where his loyalties lie as his actions aren’t quite what one might expect, given the situation he’s in. With this being said however, his choices portray him as one who is unwilling to go with the flow. His actions add depth to his character making him one who can and will fight back against the injustices heaped upon him. Simply put when you can’t trust anyone you can only trust yourself and you’ll attempt, by any means necessary, to bend ‘fate’ to your own advantage.

alkis gun to head

I will not allow this film to be silenced.

Will Alkis live to tell of his exploits, will organized crime syndicates continue to reign supreme? What are the chances that the ‘spill all the beans’ video will become viral before it’s removed, based on community guidelines? I’ll not spoil the fun or the viewing experience though I shall discuss why I believe DIY works where perhaps others of similar likeliness fail.

 

Similar in part to Raimis’ Intruder (there’s an obscure genre reference for ya’) the camera work is often experimental though not as wildly vertigo inducing as that experienced in Irreversible (another example of celluloid one will need the assistance of bleach to help scrub its lasting effects from their system) but not wholly traditional either. Occasionally POV shots are utilized, where in other instances a shot might be upside down. Another example has the camera, over the course of a minute or so, follow a well-dressed gent to his intended location only to pan up to display him utilizing his shoe as a ‘wake the fuck up’ device. The film sports a stylish air, a no-nonsense approach which is often blunt. Added touches like the display of a cell phone as its operator scrolls through its applications and on-screen assembly instructions as Alkis ponders on how he might disassemble something add to the films allure. The film’s ability to laugh at itself and the genre in which it resides is a fresh take on Hollywood action epics which take themselves too seriously. The gallows humor angle is effective too. An early standout scene shows the resident mafia assassin having troubles maneuvering a body into a vehicle. Later in the film, as Alkis is exploring the spacious confines of his ‘prison’, performance issues in the adult film industry are addressed to riotous effect especially since Alkis is seen clambering around the same scene trying his best not to be seen (it’s ironic).

alkis meets the mob

Shoes are not just for wearing, as the tread marks on the side of your face can attest.

Of all the characters portrayed Alkis, played brilliantly by Konstadinos Aspiotis, is obviously the most prominent. His frenetic mannerisms, problem solving abilities and relatability make scenes with him in them a pleasure to watch. He’s merely a pawn thrust into a game which is, for all intents and purposes, beyond his control. But is it really? He tries his damnedest to change the rules and parameters by which the game is operated and in doing so becomes a likable underdog the viewer wants to root for.

suntan film

Another character which stands out is the resident mafia hit man, Petros, portrayed by a ’George Costanza’ (Seinfeld) type Makis Papadimitriou.  Nonchalantly he follows orders, sans preamble, though finds himself in a spot of bother when his charge suddenly goes missing leading him to frustration and a standout scene in which he must explain his connections and phones pass code with a ball gag affixed to the back of his throat. Its no wonder the same director chose to utilize him after seeing him in another features he was involved with entitled Suntan.

 

The soundtrack is another element worthy of mentioning. Spanning from traditional passages, which are somewhat folk in their rhythms, through the use of synth and galloping stoner rock it rarely lets up and only adds to the desired aura each scene demands. The part of the soundtrack utilizing a stoner rock feel could have easily been composed by none other than Old Man Wizard (if you haven’t yet, take time out to discover this amazing act, you can thank me later) displaying as it does a familiar retro feel oozing with melody.

blame it all on the sorcery

The album ‘Blame it all on the Sorcery’ by Old Man Wizard

What’s left to mention? If I had the time, I could type till my digits wore down into bloodied nubs, but no one would want to visualize that, or read the resulting diatribe, so I’ll cut this loose here with a parting flourish of words. If you’ve ever wondered how a Greek crime/comedy might feel upon the retinas though have never taken the plunge, I’d suggest giving DIY a shot.

artsploiatation film logo

The kind folks at Artsploitation Films have done it once again, they’ve taken a chance and the risk has paid off. Now if only there were folks brave enough to drop their preconceived notions and/or prejudices to give this a chance (for it rightfully deserves it!) we might in fact get someplace with this whole Indy film thing and start getting the numbers and respect many of the films in the genre warrant.

 

Cult

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