Though the film is set in Greece, The Heart of the Beast centers on the kind of moody slacker indebted to American indie cinema. Stefanos (Renos Haralambidis, who also directs) has just been released from a humbling stint in the Greek military, and his every foible is set to fumbling, loser-boy accordion music. Stefanos finds his transition back into the real world complicated in no small part by the debts left behind by his dead mother. His beautiful girlfriend has moved on. The job market is grim. And a buddy from high school wants to rope him into a scheme to knock off a bank.
Terminal bachelordom is also treated in Sugartown: The Bridegrooms (March 29), the one true gem in the High Museum's Passport to Greek Film. Sugartown takes a more poignant approach to singledom. The Sugartown of the title is a small Greek village with a unique problem: All the eligible women have fled for the bright lights of Athens (some may wonder if it was Athens or the men of Sugartown that inspired their flight). In some of the funniest early shots in Kimon Tsakiris' beguiling documentary, dejected local fellas sit around cafes dressed in camouflage, their lives in a holding pattern. But the town's mayor has hatched an ambitious plan to import wives from a small Russian town for his depressed citizens. "Women are not goats," one older villager complains, clearly disgusted by the concept, though a number of the men – laborers, electricians and one adorably wistful farmer – take to the idea.
The coming-of-age drama and Greek box-office hit A Touch of Spice (March 15), whose sensibility recalls the foodie cinema of Like Water for Chocolate, is directed and written by Tassos Boulmetic. Based on Boulmetic's own experiences, the story centers on an Athens professor, Fanis (Georges Corraface), who flashes back to his childhood growing up in Istanbul and the enormous influence of his grandfather, a spice seller and food philosopher.
Passport to Greek Film. $5. March 8-29. 8 p.m. High Museum, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.
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