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Movies > Leonidas and his 300 warriors November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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300 | 2007-US-Action/Adventure, Drama

PLOT DESCRIPTION > “Sin City” author Frank Miller’s sweeping take on the historic Battle of Thermopylae comes to the screen courtesy of “Dawn of the Dead” director Zack Snyder in this CG-heavy adventure starring Gerard Butler as Spartan King Leonidas and Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo.

When King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors fall to the overwhelming Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae, the fearless actions of the noble fighters inspire all of Greece to stand up against their Persian enemy and wage the battle that would ultimately give birth to the modern concept of democracy.

Type: Features
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Release Date: March 9, 2007
Rating: R (for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity)
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Rodrigo Santoro
Directed by: Zack Snyder

The 300 Spartans > a k a Lion of Sparta | 1962-USA-Historical Epic/Sword-and-Sandal

PLOT DESCRIPTION > A colorful action film about the Battle Of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. in which the Spartans defend themselves for a Persian invasion against overwhelming odds. King Leodinas (Richard Egan) rallies the locals to stop the attack of thousands of plundering Persian invaders led by evil King Xerxes (David Farrar). Sir Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens leads the international cast this the spectacular cinematic conflict that has more emphasis on action rather than historical accuracy.

Type: Features
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Rating: NR
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Starring: Richard Egan, Ralph Richardson, Diane Baker, Barry Coe, David Farrar
Directed by: Rudolph Maté

Movies > The story of “300” November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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The story of “300”, the popular comic book mini-series and, soon, a film from Warner Brothers, began when Frank Miller, the series’s creator, was 6.

The year was 1963, and “The 300 Spartans” was in theaters. In this telling of the battle of Thermopylae, Richard Egan played the Greek King Leonidas, who in 480 B.C. led 300 warriors in a doomed battle against the much larger Persian army, and David Farrar, regal in robes of purple and green, was the Persian King Xerxes. The film’s dialogue and staging may seem a bit quaint now. But the young Mr. Miller was stunned as he watched its climax, in which the few remaining Spartans are slaughtered in a hail of arrows.

“It was a shocker, because the heroes died,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “I was used to seeing Superman punch out planets. It was an epiphany to realize that the hero wasn’t necessarily the guy who won.”

As a young comic book artist and writer, Mr. Miller would return again and again to the concept of heroic, often seppuku-like sacrifice. In “The Dark Knight Returns” which many credit with reinvigorating the Batman franchise, an aging Bruce Wayne goes out in a blaze of glory in an outmatched battle against his old pal Superman. In “Sin City” one hero shoots himself in the mouth to protect a loved one; another is executed by a corrupt system after ridding the world of not one but two cannibals.

Over the years the story of the famous confrontation at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. stuck in his mind. In the mid-’90s, Mr. Miller started work on what was to become “300.” He researched the battle, spoke with scholars and traveled to Greece, to the site of Leonidas’ last stand. He studied the armor and philosophies and fighting methods of the Spartans, and finally, working with the colorist Lynn Varley, created a series that in 1999 won three Eisners and two Harveys, awards considered among the comics industry’s most prestigious.

In delivering “300” to the screen in March, Warner Brothers will face the challenge of realizing Mr. Miller’s distinctive vision of the bloody battle while avoiding any sense that it is simply extending a series of Greek-theme epics that began with Wolfgang Petersen’s “Troy” and Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” both released in 2004.

Zack Snyder, the 40-year-old director who is now completing postproduction work on “300”, is only too aware of the danger that some viewers might find it hard to distinguish his movie from its more star-driven predecessors, neither of which had a spectacular run at the box office. 

Sitting in his office in an editing facility in Burbank, Mr. Snyder was surrounded by Spartan helmets, a shield peppered with puncture holes and, as a reminder of the precedents, swords from “Alexander” and “Troy.” “We got them from the Warner Brothers prop department,” he said, grabbing one, feeling its heft. “The ones from ‘Troy’ were better.”

To judge from excerpts Mr. Snyder screened this day, he and his co-writers, Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon, have managed to evoke anything but a classic battle epic. The film’s high-flying acrobatics and over-the-top combat scenes remind one of Zhang Yimou’s “House of Flying Daggers”; its fantastical computer-generated beasts evoke the “Lord of the Rings” series or “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” As for the Persians, no tired robes and goofy hats here. These warriors sport chrome Kabuki-style masks and gold rings in their brows, noses and nipples. And then there are the pitched battles, with spears ramming through eye sockets and innards, all played out against a perpetually overcast sky.

All of this is perhaps truer to Mr. Miller’s work than to history. Mr. Miller says that while he strove for historical accuracy whenever possible, art won out in certain areas. The real Spartans, for instance, wore heavy body armor, clunky stuff that weighed about half as much as they did: handy in a pitched battle, but hardly sexy or eye-grabbing, certainly not for an action comic.

“My first versions of the soldiers looked like beetles,” he said. “They looked like they couldn’t move faster than two miles an hour.”

So Mr. Miller ditched the armor in favor of a more natural look. In his series, Leonidas and his warriors wear red capes and little else; when in battle, they cover their privates in what appear to be leather Speedos. “When you look at the ancient Greek vase paintings, you’ll see that soldiers are drawn nude, for the same reason I did,” Mr. Miller said.

For his part, Mr. Snyder, an admirer of Mr. Miller’s work, went to great lengths to reproduce the look and texture of the comic books. He photocopied the series, cut out all the frames, then glued favorites into notebooks, one per page. He would then sketch what he thought might happen before each frame, and what might happen immediately after. Voilà: instant storyboard. He pulled out a notebook to show how it was done. “So this frame is the shot,” he said, revealing a picture of the Spartans pushing an army of Persians off the edge of a cliff. “So now I have to figure out, how do I get there? And what happens next?”

Mr. Snyder began his push to make “300” after releasing his remake of the cult horror film “Dawn of the Dead” in 2004. The next year he created a test shot for the proposed film. It was three minutes long, he said, with “lots of killing.”

Mr. Miller recalled that he was not thrilled initially about the idea of a film adaptation of “300” which he called the “crown jewel” of his career. “ ‘300’ means an awful lot to me, so to see it homogenized into something like ‘Troy’ which manages to turn the Iliad inside out, would betray it,” he said. Mr. Miller was wowed by the test shot, however, and, after repeated prodding by Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton, two of the film’s producers, Mr. Miller agreed to let the project proceed, while reserving the right to consult on the script.

Mr. Snyder remembers things a bit differently. “I think he gave it to us because he thought no one else was going to do it,” he said. “It seems unmakable, in some ways.” Whatever the reason, Mr. Snyder got the project, and preproduction began in the summer of 2005.

To mold his Spartans into fighting form Mr. Snyder enlisted Mark Twight, the author of “Extreme Alpinism” and founder of Gym Jones, an invitation-only workout center in Salt Lake City that is more torture chamber than Sports Club/L.A.: squats and dead lifts, not treadmill runs, supply the cardio. Under Mr. Twight’s tutelage, the actors and stunt people endured a two-and-a-half-month boot camp before the cameras rolled. The diet was brutal, meat, leaves and berries, Mr. Twight said, and the workouts even worse.

Vincent Regan, who plays a Spartan captain, dropped 40 pounds in 16 weeks; his dead lift jumped to 355 pounds from 205. In contrast to the relatively doughy physiques on display in “The 300 Spartans”, the warriors of “300” are ripped. “I told everyone, ‘You guys have got to be in crazy shape, in superhero shape,’ ” Mr. Snyder said. To inspire the troops, he had T-shirts made that read, “I died at Thermopylae.”

To recreate the appropriately gloomy backgrounds, Mr. Miller, it seems, never met an overcast day he didn’t like, he shot almost entirely against a blue screen, then added the settings and weather. To complete the vision of Mr. Miller’s shadowy world, digital effects people went for heavy contrast: the light areas really blown out, the dark areas very, very black.

Much of the zip in the action sequences was also achieved in postproduction: warriors leap and slash in slow motion, seemingly freeze in midair, then speedily dart away. The most visually stunning action sequences, however, had little to do with computer-generated images. Real actors staged the scenes of phalanx warfare, in which tightly formed troops lock shields, forming a nearly impenetrable wall. The Spartans would then thrust their spears out of the openings, or use their mass of shields to push back their enemies.

“It was row upon row of men pushing and shoving and slipping in the mud and stabbing with spears,” Mr. Miller said of the tactic. “It wasn’t one hero alone in a chaotic battle, swinging wildly. They were machines.”

In July Mr. Snyder went to San Diego to pitch his film at Comic-Con, the mecca of the comic book industry. The convention, which drew more than 100,000 fans this year, has become a bubbling cauldron of buzz: if you showcase something good, the news will spread to hundreds of blogs, chat rooms and fan sites the next day; anger the faithful, and you might as well slink back to the editing room.

Two of the film’s stars, Gerard Butler and David Wenham, attended the event, but the audiences really came to see the clips. Mr. Snyder created a special R-rated teaser for the event. Attendees saw scenes of mass carnage, a topless oracle and King Leonidas kicking a Persian emissary down a well. “All gore, all the time,” Mr. Snyder said. The crowd went nuts, compelling organizers to show the teaser three times.

Of course the big question is whether the film will attract an audience not already predisposed toward tales of brave warriors in capes. “The Frank Miller crowd, they’re there no matter what,” Mr. Snyder said. “The trick is getting the average moviegoer to go: ‘What the hell? That’s not normal. I’ve got to go see what that’s about.’ ”

Juliette Lewis holds rock concert at Thessaloniki Film Festival November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Juliette Lewis, the actress of modern cult films such as Cape Fear and Natural Born Killers will be putting on a pop appearance with her band Juliette and the Licks at the Thessaloniki Film Festival Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference in the northern Greek port city, Lewis said that pursuing rock and roll has made her ‘fearless,’ adding that she has temporarily put her movie career on hold to tour with her band.

‘I ended up getting very complacent about making movies and stopped taking risks…. Since I have turned 30 my first objective has been to do live shows because I find music to be very spiritual,’ said Lewis during a stop in Thessaloniki to promote her new album “Four on the Floor”.

Despite being on the road for the past two months, Lewis insists that while ‘it is tiring it is definitely fuelling the fire’ of what she loves to do. Describing the band’s new album as ‘very guitar driven,’ Lewis says she has gained much of her inspiration by artists such as David Lee Roth, Aerosmith and ACDC.

The actress said that while her acting career is not over she will be focusing much of her time on touring. ‘I am not done filmmaking, maybe I will do one film a year and the rest will be to focus on my music.’

Greeks in Newark are remembered in new historical book November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Greek Diaspora.
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While population was small, they helped shape city > Newark’s Greek Community is remembered in a new coffee-table book available through the Newark Public Library.

“Remembering Newark’s Greeks: An American Odyssey” was written by Angelique Lampros of West Orange, a Newark native and a former administrator and educator in the South Orange/Maplewood school district.

The book evokes the Greek experience in Newark through the voices of immigrants and their children, along with photographs, documents and memorabilia. Lampros will sign the book at 6 p.m. November 30 at Snuffy’s Pantagis Renaissance, 250 Park Ave., off Route 22, in Scotch Plains.

The book, which is on sale for $40, will be available for purchase that evening, and is also available through the Newark Public Library. All proceeds from the book will benefit the library’s Hellenic Heritage Fund.

Statistically, the Greeks were a small portion of Newark’s population, numbering about 8,000 at their peak in the early 20th century, but their presence helped shape the city. Between the 1920s and 1950s, 65 percent of the city’s downtown eateries were owned and run by Greeks.

For more information, to reserve a copy of the book, or to make reservations at the November 30 signing, call (973) 424-1832. Information about the book is also available on the library’s Web site, www.npl.org/greek

Greek award-winning scientist appointed at MUHC November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Science.
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Dr. Arthur Porter, Director General and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), announced the appointment of Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos as the new Director of the Research Institute of the MUHC. Dr. Papadopoulos has an international reputation as a scientist and a proven track record of leadership in biomedical research and administration.

As Director of the Research Institute of the MUHC, he will oversee one of Canada’s largest hospital-based research institutes, with over 500 researchers and 1,000 graduate and post-doctoral students. The MUHC-RI operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. With this appointment, Dr. Papadopoulos has also been named a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, as well as Associate Executive Director for Research at the MUHC.

Dr. Papadopoulos comes to the MUHC from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC, where he served as Associate Vice President and Director of the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization. In this role, he coordinated the research of basic science and clinical departments, strengthened existing research programs, and enhanced the clinical and translational research efforts of the Georgetown Center.

A native of Greece, he received his Diploma of Pharmacy at the University of Athens, Greece, and his PhD in Health and Life Sciences at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, in Paris, France. He went on to complete post-doctoral research in both France and Australia, before moving to Georgetown University in the United States. Dr. Papadopoulos has authored over 200 research publications and holds over 30 scientific patents. Among his awards for research excellence, Dr. Papadopoulos holds the Gold Medal Award from the City of Athens, the Sandoz Award from the Endocrine Society of Australia, and the Biotechnology Leadership Award from Georgetown University. He is a member of the National Academy of Pharmacy in France.

“I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards that lay ahead as Director of the Research Institute of the MUHC,” says Dr. Papadopoulos. “I’m committed to developing the institute as an international leader in biomedical research. My vision for the coming years is to bring the three pillars of the MUHC research, health care and education, into even closer harmony in order to provide the necessary environment for a world-class academic health centre.”

“The appointment of Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos comes after an exhaustive international search,” says Dr. Porter. “He is an outstanding scientist as well as a skilled administrator. We are proud to welcome him to the MUHC and are confident that the Research Institute of the MUHC will continue to push the boundaries of health care research under his leadership.”

Dr. Papadopoulos is an accomplished researcher in his own right and brings to this vital leadership position insight, experience and a deep commitment to advancing the highest quality medical research at McGill and affiliated hospitals,” says Dr. Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University. “Through his work at the Institute and in our Faculty of Medicine, he will work to solidify McGill’s international reputation for discovery and the advancement of medical knowledge.”

“We are most fortunate to have someone of Dr. Papadopoulos’s abilities join us as Director of the Research Institute. He comes at a time when medical research at the MUHC, and worldwide, is expanding, bringing with it both challenges and opportunities,” says Thomas R. Burpee, Chair of the Research Institute of the MUHC Board of Directors. “I foresee a productive future under his leadership.”

“As president and CEO of the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ), I was very pleased to be involved in the search process for the new director of the Research Institute of the MUHC,” says Alain Beaudet, President and CEO of the FRSQ. “I am certain that Dr. Papadoupoulos will be a major asset to the team of scientific leadership of Quebec’s health research network.”

Dr. Papadopoulos will continue to pursue his own research initiatives in the field of biochemistry and pharmacology and drug development. His research focuses on developing new tools and treatments for diseases related to abnormal steroid levels and altering steroid compartmentalization as a means to block disease. This research has major implications for reproduction and development, cancer, stress-related disorders, aging, brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and infectious diseases such as HIV.

Dr. Papadopoulos will assume his new role officially on July 1, 2007. Between now and then he expects to be at the Research Institute of the MUHC on a regular basis, working on development and operational issues.

About the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
The Research Institute of the MUHC is a world-renowned biomedical and health care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a university health centre affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1,000 graduate and post-doctoral students, and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For further details visit www.muhc.ca/research.

About the McGill University Health Centre
The MUHC is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca

About McGill University
Founded in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s leading research-intensive university. McGill has 21 faculties and professional schools, offering more than 300 programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. There are approximately 23,000 undergraduate students and 7,000 graduate students at McGill’s two campuses in Montreal, Canada. McGill is one of two Canadian members of the American Association of Universities. For additional information please visit www.mcgill.ca.

Related Links > http://www.muhc.ca/media/news/?ItemID=22799

Goa film bazaar draws Greek participation November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will hold a four-day film bazaar against the backdrop of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that begins Thursday to build better links and create new markets.

The CII’s Goa Film Bazaar will be held November 24-28 at the Kala Academy, a cultural centre and one of the main centres for IFFI 37th edition. The bazaar will also have special workshops on scripting, location shooting and incentives, cracking international markets, co-production and overseas locations, and a perspective on the south Indian film industry.

Overseas delegates participating in the film bazaar include Greek production and location specialist Christos Alex Giotis, producer Ron Lavery of WestHam Films, scriptwriter Rex Weiner, and Latin American producer and distributor Helder DaCosta (Brazil).

Exhibitors include Prasad Group of Chennai, the Mumbai-based Indian Film Experts Association, the National Film Development Corporation, Digiquest Studio of Hyderabad, Mumbai’s Films Division, Ramesh Deo Productions of Mumbai, the Children’s Film Society of India, Golden Square Films of Chennai, and the South Indian Film Experts Association.

In terms of figures, Indian films have some impressive figures, though at the global level it is far from attaining its potential. Indian films currently reach over 100 countries, and the diaspora is now 25 million strong. But its clout is nowhere near that of bigger industries like Hollywood. This year’s film bazaar will have new additions, a location pavilion, a buyer-seller lounge and an independent filmmakers’ lounge.

Officials promoting the event believe that film bazaars could play the role of promoting and position India as a post-production hub, help market Indian films abroad, strike co-production deals, promote Indian shooting locales and enable networking opportunities.

CII has some 57 offices in India and seven abroad, in Australia, Austria, China, France, Singapore, Britain and the US. It also has institutional partnerships with 240 ‘counterpart organisations’ in 101 countries. Its headquarters is in Delhi.

Drought looming for Greece November 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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Greece is in danger of suffering a severe and prolonged drought during the next 50 years if current practices are not changed, scientists told Parliament’s environmental committee yesterday.

A team comprising some of the country’s top environmental experts warned MPs that climate change could have a devastating effect on Greece in the coming years.

“The most significant development is the disruption of the water balance, which has been observed in the most dramatic form in Greece,” said Christos Zerefos, the President of the National Observatory in Athens. “The recession of the water table is evident even in parts of the country where there has not been any huge draw on resources,” he added.

The professor argued that Greece could soon suffer a shortage of water. “Over the last 30 years, there has been a decline by 20 percent of rainfall in the Mediterranean. This reduction will continue over the next 50 years so the drought problem in Greece will be huge, with an impact not only on farming but also on tourism, health and other sectors,” said Zerefos.

The scientists told MPs that significant changes in the environment are imminent.

“It has been forecast that the seafront areas around Thessaloniki will be one of the four zones in the Mediterranean that will be the first to experience negative consequences when the polar icecaps melt,” said Yiannis Ziomas, an associate professor at the National Technical University of Athens.

“At the same time, Crete will experience heavy rainfall in the winter and drier summers. These developments are not in the distant future,” said Ziomas, who argued that Greece has to adopt more sources of renewable energy.