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Bogie56

Your Favourite Foreign Language Films

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Devilman, Hiroyuki Nasu, Japan (2004)  -  4/10

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Live-action version of the cult-favorite manga book series, as well as several popular anime series and films. High school student Akira (Hisato Izaki) discovers that he's genetically linked to a demon, which in times of stress allows him to transform into a demonic being with supernatural powers. He uses his power to fight against other demons bent on world destruction. I recall the late 80's anime version being popular with kids who enjoyed seeing bloody violence and hearing abundant cursing in their cartoons. This live-action version sticks close to that pattern, although the very bad CGI used undermines much of the film. 

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Fetih 1453, Faruk Aksoy, Turkey (2012) -4/10 - Erdoganist propaganda action movie about the "heroic" siege of Constantinople by the Ottomans. At first, the siege is a failure but then Sultan Mehmet is visited by his dead father in his dream who assures him Mohammed has ordained the Turks would take the city. The worst thing about this film is the terrible CGI. It doesn't even try to look real and is literally like 95% of the movie. I can only think of a handful of scenes without CGI. The script is corny and includes tons of cliches. One martyr even says "tell my wife and children I love them" as he dies. I had to roll my eyes at that. There are also some lame romantic subplots in this that add nothing as are common in these types of movies. The Vatican and Orthodox christians are the main villains here with scenes showing Crusaders slaughtering muslim women and children for no reason and Greek christians hanging Turk POWs over the side of a wall (forget how unlikely that would be in real life as they wouldn't want retaliation). The soundtrack is generic foreign near eastern stuff you would hear on an History Channel documentary about the region. The only good thing I can really think of are the costumes. They looked decent. The sultaness actress was also pretty, though she is only in the first half of the film. Overall, it is cheap, historically inaccurate, action movie, muslim propaganda. Avoid.

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Angel Dust (1994) Gakuryu Ishii, Japan

A serial killer targets women in public places on Mondays.  Not my cup of tea.  Quite stylish but soon became too contrived for its own sake.

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Tell No One, Guillaume Canet, France (2006)  -  7/10

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Thriller based on American author Harlen Coben's best-selling novel. Francois Cluzet stars as a doctor who is still grieving the death of his wife eight years after she was abducted and killed by a notorious serial murderer. When the doctor receives an e-mail suggesting that his wife is still alive, he finds himself the target of both the police, who believe that he may have had a hand in his wife's murder. as well as other sinister forces with their own agenda. Featuring Kristin Scott Thomas, Nathalie Baye, Marie-Josee Croze, Andre Dussollier, Marina Hands, and Jean Rochefort. The excellent cast help sell this modern-day Hitchcock-style thriller from actor-turned director Canet. The story kept me guessing for quite a while, which is a rarity, and despite the 131 minute runtime, it never gets dull or overlong. 

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1969

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10.  Goyokin (1969) Hideo Gosha, Japan

This came really close to being an excellent Samurai film in my view.  It has all the elements.  Good cast, photography, action and story.  But something about the overall execution just didn’t click.

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Ichi, Fumihiko Sori, Japan (2008)  -  6/10

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Based on a manga series, this is a sequel to the classic Zatoichi stories. Haruka Ayase stars as Ichi, a young blind woman who works as a traveling singer and shamisen player. She's also a master sword fighter, having been taught by Zaotichi, who she believes may be her father. She's been searching for him for years, and her travels bring her to a village being terrorized by a bandit gang led by the mad Banki (Shido Nakamura). 

The film has colorful costumes and larger-than-life characters, and the fight scenes are well choreographed. The score is also well done. However, the cinematography is hi-def digital video, and I think it makes a lot of the film look like someone's home movie. I think this movie will be of interest to Zatoichi fans, but in the end it's not much different than the several dozen female-led action films that Japan was churning out in the 00's, only this one is less exploitative.

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Jean-Francois Richet, France (2008)  -  8/10

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, Jean-Francois Richet, France (2008)   -   8/10

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Epic crime drama/biopic of notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), who cut a swath across France and the rest of Europe, as well as Canada and the U.S., from the 1960's through the 1970's. He, along with various compatriots, committed dozens of bank robberies, prison escapes, and murders, becoming feared by law enforcement, as well as being hailed as a sort of anti-establishment hero by revolutionary groups. The large supporting cast includes Elena Anaya, Cecile de France, and Ludivine Sagnier as love interests at various stages of Mesrine's life; and Gerard Depardieu, Gilles Lellouche, Roy Dupuis, Samuel Le Bihan, Gerard Lanvin, and Mathieu Amalric as criminal cohorts.

Taken together, I would have to rank this as one of the best crime dramas of the 00's. Cassel excels in an award-winning performance as the volatile, charismatic Mesrine. My one real complaint about the films is the score, a collaboration between Marco Beltrami and Marcus Trumpp, that often comes across as something from an American B-level action programmer. Recommended.

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Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodovar, Spain (2009)  -  7/10

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Melodrama with Lluis Homar as blind former film director who reflects on the circumstances of his last film and the events leading up to his blindness. It involves his affair with the mistress (Penelope Cruz) of a rich and insanely jealous older man (Jose Luis Gomez). With Bianca Portillo, Ruben Ochandiano, Tamar Novas, and Angela Molina. The cinematography is good, and the score by Alberto Iglesias is outstanding. The film itself is a little too self-referential for my tastes, though I still enjoyed it.

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1996

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2.  Deep Crimson (1996) Arturo Ripstein, Mexico

This is an adaptation of Lonely Hearts Killers which was made earlier as The Honeymoon Killers.  I saw them back-to-back and enjoyed both.  The Ripstein film takes place in Mexico’s badlands and the Martha Beck character played wonderfully by Regina Orozco is much more pathetic than was Shirley Stoler’s interpretation.  And because she is pathetic Deep Crimson has more of a black comedy feel to it.

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La Dentelliere 1976 aka the Lacemaker by Claude Goretta excellent drama with a young isabelle Huppert -23 then-with altready 25 films under her belt at the time,she delivered a masterful performance. 8.5/10

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Polytechnique, Denis Villeneuve, Canada (2009)  -  8/10

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Based on the "Montreal Massacre" of 1989, when a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at an engineering school, mainly targeting women. The killer (Maxim Gaudette) says that he's striking out against "feminism". The film also looks at the impact on two students: Jean-Francois (Sebastian Huberdeau), who feels guilt that he couldn't do more to stop the attack; and Valerie (Karine Vanasse), set to move out into the real-world job market when the attack occurs, leaving her scarred both emotionally and physically.

Shot in stark B&W, this is more of a mood piece than a dialogue-heavy drama. It's also very short, running a brief 77 minutes (really only 70, as the last 7 are credits and a lengthy "In Memoriam" to the real victims of the massacre). I was moved by the atmospheric filmmaking, and would rank this among my favorite films of its year. It was a big winner at that year's Genie Awards. Villeneuve shot both French and English language versions, but I watched the French one. Recommended.

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Who Killed Captain Alex?, I.G.G. Nabwana, Uganda (2010)  -  2/10 or 9/10

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Unbelievable no-budget action spectacular about a bunch of kung-fu expert Uganda Army commandos led by Captain Alex (William Kakule) who are battling a criminal organization known as the Tiger Mafia. This shot-on-video epic is said to be Uganda's first action film. The budget was stated as $200. Director Nabwana utilizes a lot of very bad CGI effects for maximum hilarity. Prop guns were unavailable, so obvious toys guns are used, as are chunks of wood carved and painted to look vaguely gun-like. The director stated that the movie was meant just for the villagers who helped film it, but it later appeared online and has since become a cult favorite. The version I watched had the option of watching it with either the original Swahili language track, or a soundtrack with a guy commenting on the action in broken English (not a traditional commentary track about the making of the movie, this was part of the original Ugandan edition and features humorous heckling). This is a must-see for bad movie fans, but others will find it atrocious.

 

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Beyond Outrage, Takeshi Kitano, Japan (2012)  -  7/10

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Takeshi's sequel to his 2010 Outrage sees his yakuza thug character Otomo released early from prison by a shady cop who hopes that the volatile killer will wipe out rival yakuza gangs. Takeshi had renounced the yakuza genre before making Outrage out of financial necessity. Much like that one, this film leans more on violence than story. Takeshi was even quoted as saying that he devised death scenarios first, and then wrote a screenplay around them. The resulting film is brutal, largely humorless, and very dark. Another sequel followed in 2017.

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Blessed Are Those Who Thirst (I997) Carl Jorgen Kionig, Norway

Scandinavian crime drama that resembles a TV MOW with jumpy pacing, terrible character development and awful music.  It won the Norwegian Best Picture Award.  It wasn’t terrible.  I’m just being a little critical.

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Mark of the Devil (1970) Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven, West Germany.

The imdb lists this as a German language film.  The version that I saw was completely dubbed in English.  I suspect that the German version is completely dubbed or post synced in German.  In other words, none of the production sound recordings were ultimately used in any version of the film.  Many of the lead actors, Herbert Lom included did their on set original performances in English so while a German language version may exist I don't personally see this as a foreign language film.  For the same reasons I don't view The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as foreign language as the leads were also performing in English.

All that aside, I saw this yesterday so it is pretty fresh.  It is borderline S&M soft core porn.  It has none of the virtues of a good Hammer or AIP witchfinder film.

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9 hours ago, Bogie56 said:

Mark of the Devil (1970) Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven, West Germany.

It is borderline S&M soft core porn.  It has none of the virtues of a good Hammer or AIP witchfinder film.

Yeah, it was considered boundary-pushing and controversial when released. It's really just a trashy exploitation movie, although some of the production values were a bit higher than in many of those. And like most "shocking" movies of their eras, they seem sillier and cheesier years later. 

The DVD I watched of it had English, German and Italian soundtracks. Like many European movies of the era, they had the actors perform in their native tongues and just made multiple audio tracks in various languages in post, just like the spaghetti westerns.

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Female Agents (2008) Jean-Paul Salomé, France - 7/10 - Basically an all female version of the Dirty Dozen. In 1944, an English geologist doing a test to prepare for D- Day is captured by the Germans and an all female team of prisoners and soldiers is made to go behind enemy lines and bring him back. They are headed by a man but soon he is captured and they are left alone in enemy controlled France with the mission of killing the evil German general Heidrich who has him prisoner and is going to reveal the D- Day plans to the Fuhrer. This film is very well acted and the guns and weapons are mostly accurate. Sophie Marceau is good in the role of the main female who tries to keep them together after their male leader (who also happens to be her brother) is captured. The only problem I have with the film like with the Dirty Dozen is the implication that the resistance fighters were forced into it because they were prisoners instead of heroes who willingly signed up to liberate their nation. This is a very beautiful film and I recommend it.

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****-moi (2000) Virginie Despentes, Coralie, France

The two female leads who have been abused go on a killing spree with lots of hard core porn thrown in.  Not for everyone, that’s for sure.

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AMOUR 2012 Jean Louis Trintignant Emmanuelle Riva Isabelle Huppert.Film won Palme d'Or at Cannes.Moving film about an octogenarian couple,Trintignant and Riva were both in their 80's then.Huppert is the daughter.Wife had a stroke,we see the husband taking care of her.en excellent film 8/10

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2001

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10.  Sleepless (2001) Dario Argento, Italy

Another decent Argento serial killer film.  The gore is quite well done too.

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2003

and I’ve also seen …

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Memories of Murder (2003) Joon-ho Bong, South Korea

This won South Korean’s Grand Bell Award for best picture and best actor but was not my cup of tea.  I found it overlong, too much meandering and the portrayal of the police as undisciplined buffoons didn’t ring true for me.

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Haute Tension (2003) Alexandre Aja, France

I felt cheated and manipulated by the twist ending.

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2006

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5.  Death Note (2006) Shusuke Kaneko, Japan

A student receives a book that enables him to prescribe anyone’s death.  This soon becomes an interesting cat and mouse between the student and the police who have employed a super detective.

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Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006) Shusuke Kaneko, Japan

A glaring case where the sequel is not nearly as good as the original.  The plot becomes too convoluted by half and the quirkiness that was charming in the original becomes tedious as it is overplayed.

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34 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

Haute Tension (2003) Alexandre Aja, France

I felt cheated and manipulated by the twist ending.

Don't feel bad...a lot of people were ticked off after watching it. It was very divisive, and I think I alluded to that when I made comments about it. I enjoyed it though, even if the twist renders some of the previously viewed events implausible, at best.

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"Eat Drink Man Woman"  (1994) This movie was written and directed by Ang Lee.

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My Fuhrer (2007) Dani Levy, Germany - 5.5/10- In late 1944, Adolf Hitler is extremely depressed about losing the war with the USA and Russia so Goebbels plans to cheer him up for his next rally by bringing in his favorite Jewish comedian. Of course, things aren't as simple as that as the comedian's family tries to push him into assassinating Hitler. Things are also complicated when Heinrich H1mmler comes back from the Eastern Front and wants to kill the comedian. I thought this one had a great set up but the jokes themselves were just not that funny and could have been done better. I did think it was a bit funny though that H1mmler is shelled so his arm is in a cast permanently in a "Sieg Heil" salute.

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