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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


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1963

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The Little Nuns (1963) Luciano Salce, Italy

When jets flying over their little chapel continue to do damage to its ancient fresco two nuns decide to travel to Rome to confront the airline.  This is the set up for a series of comedic adventures with recurring characters.  It isn’t bad by any means but not top notch either.  I really liked the sequence where the nuns wander onto a film set that has other faux nuns as extras.  Unfortunately I could only see a dubbed version.

 

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Suzanne’s Career (1963) Eric Rohmer, France

A pleasant enough little film (it runs 54 mins.) about an average working girl who meets a cad and his friend.  Is she being taken advantage of or doesn’t she mind?

 

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Attack Squadron! (1963) Shue Matsubayashi, Japan

I expected much more from this film about Japanese fighter pilots defending the homeland in the waning days of WWII.  It’s theme was should one become a kamikaze or live to fight another day.  It has an impressive cast with Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Takashi Shimura and even Kiyoshi Atsumi who played Tora-San in over 50 films.  But it is cheesy and there are only a handful of shots of real airplanes.  The rest of the film looks like it could have been done by Gerry Anderson of ‘Thunderbirds’ fame!  Very lame.

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1964

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The Scarlet Camellia (1964) Yoshitaro Nomura, Japan

Beautiful Shima Iwashita plays a young women who lures men to their deaths in this period revenge saga.  At 2 hours 43 minutes it is a bit long but not bad at all.

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The 2019 winner of Mexico’s Ariel Best Picture Award was …

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I’m No Longer Here (2019) Fernando Frias, Mexico

 

The 2019 winner of Mexico’s Ariel Best Latin American Picture Award was …

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Pain and Glory (2019) Pedro Almodovar, Spain

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1966

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5.  A Man and a Woman (1966) Claude Lelouch, France

This is so well known that I don’t think I need say much about it.  I recently saw it again for the third time and moved it from number 8 of the year to number 5.  According to my diary I actually didn’t like it much at all when I first saw it in college.  This time I think I just enjoyed its relaxed approach much more.

 

1986

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A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later (1986) Claude Lelouch, France

I was happy to watch another film with this screen couple but I wondered why it was taking so long to see them in a scene together.  After quite a while it was revealed that they separated soon after the finale of the first film.  Anouk Aimee goes on to become a film producer while Jean-Louis Trintignant is still involved in car racing.  The film begins with a very exciting rally race.  The couple get together 20 years later as Aimee wishes to produce a film about their love story as seen in the first film.  During production she decides that today’s audiences need something more and she injects a murder plot into the story along the lines of Dial M For Murder.  The irony for me is that this complication served to make the film a mess and actually removed what was the charm of the original: a simple love story.

 

2019

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8.  The Best Years of a Life (2019) Claude Lelouch, France

Another sequel to A Man and a Woman (1966).  I say another as it completely ignores everything in A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later (1986).  Jean-Louis Trintignant’s Jean-Louis Duroc is now living in assisted living and his memory is fading.  His son, played by the same actor in all three films by the way,  thinks it will help him if he is able to see his one true love again whom he seems to remember well.  He tracks down Anne Gauthier, played by Anouk Aimee and she agrees.  It seems that they parted (again) after the last one because he couldn’t stop chasing skirts.  Lelouch keeps this one simple and that’s why it fares better than 20 Years Later.  I found it an enjoyable watch.

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The winner of the 2019 Cinema Brazil Best Picture Award was …

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Bacurau (2019) Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles, Brazil

 

The winner of the 2019 Cinema Brazil Best Ibero-American Film was …

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Heroic Losers (2019) Sebastian Borensztein, Argentina

 

The winner of the 2019 Cinema Brazil Best Foreign Film was …

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Parasite (2019) Joon-ho Bong, South Korea

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1966

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10.  Wings (1966) Larisa Shepitko, Russia

This was like a Russian Antonioni movie.  The main character, a middle aged school teacher played well by Maya Bulgakova searches for some meaning in her life while reminiscing about the times when she was a fighter pilot during WWII and in love.  This is one I would already like to see again.  I couldn’t tell if I was missing something as with the first viewing it felt a bit flat and dated.  But like some films, my impression of it the next day was better.

 

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La Grande Vadrouille (1966) Gerard Oury, France.

Terry-Thomas and his RAF Bomber crew are forced to bail out over WWII occupied France and comic duo Bourvil and Louis de Funes come to their rescue.  If silly French farce is your cup of tea this should not disappoint.  One of the English titles is The Big Runaround which aptly describes the film.  Terry-Thomas surprisingly takes a back seat and is quite restrained.  For me the real star of the film was the gorgeous cinematography which I was to learn in the tail credits was done by none other than Claude Renoir.  It has amazing locations which make you want to go touring in France immediately.

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China’s Hundred Flowers Award for Best Picture of 2019 was …

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My People, My Country (2019) Kaige Chen, Hu Guan, Has Ning, Muye Wen, Zhen Xu, Xiaolu Xue, Yibai Zhang, China

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1967

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The Last Adventure (1967) Robert Enrico, France

With Alain Delon, Lino Ventura and Joanna Shimkus.  Today the film seems a bit sloppy and all over the map but I think that was the point in 1967.  It begins as a sort of Jules and Jim triangle but in this the guys seem more interested in their planes and fast cars than lovely Joanna Shimkus.  Then it shifts gears into a treasure hunt adventure film but even then everyone seems more interested in having a few laughs.  So it is a bit confused but amusing nonetheless.

 

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Les Mauvaises Frequentations (1967) Jean Eustache, France

Like a few other French films of this period this one is about young insincere men on the hunt for girls.  I didn’t find it very endearing.  The imdb lists it at 42 minutes.  The criteria in this thread was for a film to be 40 minutes long.  The print I saw was 38 minutes so it barely qualifies as a feature.

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1967

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The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) Jacques Demy, France

I can hardly believe it has taken me all this time to catch up with The Young Girls of Rochefort.  It was pleasant but a bit weird.  The music is not quite catchy enough, the film not quite funny enough and even not quite Frank Tashlin enough.  But it probably deserves its place on the 1001 Films to See Before You Die list.

 

1993

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The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993) Agnes Varda, France

Varda’s documentary about the town of Rochefort celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film that put them on the map.  I liked this perhaps more than the original film itself but then I always am interested in the actual making of films.  Catherine Deneuve turns out for the event but strangely does not even comment about her sisters’ absence.  My disappointment was with the poor turnout.  Where was Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, Michel Piccoli and Gene Kelly?  We have to settle for behind-the-scenes archive footage which thankfully is plentiful.

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