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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


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Denmark’s 2020 Robert Best Picture Award went to …

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Another Round (2020) Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark

 

Denmark’s 2020 Robert Best Foreign Picture Award went to …

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) Celine Sciamma, France

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Time of the Gypsies (1988) I tried to find this on the thread but apparently did not make your radar.  Very entertaining, a coming of age story, interestingly told, with humor and Magic Realism. It was submitted to the Academy for Best Foreign Film nominee i either '88 or '89 but was rejected.

Anyone know or like this one?

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097223/mediaviewer/rm32399616/?ref_=tt_ov_i

 

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2002

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10.  Jet Lag (2002) Daniel Thompson, France

An enjoyable romantic comedy where two very different people meet cute while stuck in a fog bound airport and inevitably fall in love.  Juliette Binoche is good and Jean Reno is excellent.

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Bawdy Tales (1973) Sergio Citti, Italy - 6/10- lackluster knock off of Pasolini's Decameron. Ninetto Davoli and Franco Citti are two murderers who tell each other ribald stories to pass the time before their executions by hanging. The stories are mostly Sergio and Pasolini's (who wrote the film) own invention though I did notice the one story of the husband hiding in the confession booth to hear his wife's carnal betrayals was clearly based on the Decameron, Day 7 Tale 5.  The editing and pacing are a bit mediocre and tales just follow into one another sometimes without explanation. It is certainly nowhere near as fun as the Trilogy of Life but it is worth one watch at least.

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2004

Of the 26 FF’s I’ve seen this year, this one is at the very bottom of my ‘I’ve also seen list.’

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Le Pont des Arts (2004) Eugene Green, France

IMO, quite simply pretentious garbage.  I like watching all manner of films, even bad ones but this was at another level entirely.  With Bresson and Duras influences gone all wrong.

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Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales). 2014. Directed by Damián Szifron. Argentina. An Anthology movie composed by six short stories about the unexpected consequences of revenge. 'Bombita' is my favorite segment, and I also liked 'Pasternak', 'The Rats', and 'The Proposal'; 'The Strongest One' has a good ironic ending, but 'Til Death Do Us Part' goes on and on to an underwhelming end.

The cast includes Ricardo Darín, Rita Cortese, Oscar Martínez, and Leonardo Sbaraglia.

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9 hours ago, Arsan404 said:

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Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales). 2014. Directed by Damián Szifron. Argentina. An Anthology movie composed by six short stories about the unexpected consequences of revenge. 'Bombita' is my favorite segment, and I also liked 'Pasternak', 'The Rats', and 'The Proposal'; 'The Strongest One' has a good ironic ending, but 'Til Death Do Us Part' goes on and on to an underwhelming end.

The cast includes Ricardo Darín, Rita Cortese, Oscar Martínez, and Leonardo Sbaraglia.

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Wild Tales was my overall favourite film of 2014 and my number 1 FF of the 2010's.   Erica Rivas in the Wedding Reception sequence was my favourite supporting actress of the year.

It is a brilliant movie and every episode is linked by having events that comically spiral out of control.

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I've watched several foreign language films over the last couple of months:

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Black God, White Devil (1965) Brazil/Dir: Glauber Rocha - A peasant (Geraldo Del Rey) and his wife (Yona Magalhaes) join various revolutionaries in a quest to find a more just and equitable life. Director Rocha attempts to blend neo-realism with experimentalism and heavy-handed allegory, with the results not much to my taste. It felt pretentious and amateurish, although the use of Brazilian folk tunes was a good touch.  (5/10)

 

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Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) Italy/Dir: Sergio Martino - An author (Luigi Pistilli) and his wife (Anita Strindberg) live in a large, decaying mansion, where they entertain friends in between vicious verbal attacks. Things get more complicated when the author's niece (Edwige Fenech) arrives, and a series of murders beset the neighboring town. This is a slick, tawdry giallo-style thriller with a lot of exposed skin. The many twists and turns of the plot proved a bit much for me, but the movie is recommended to fans of Italian films of the period.  (6/10)

 

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Torso (1973) Italy/Dir: Sergio Martino - Giallo thriller that's as interested in naked women as it is bloody murders. The cast includes Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, and John Richardson. This lacks the style of the better titles in the subgenre, but still provides some entertainment.   (6/10)

 

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In a Glass Cage (1986) Spain/Dir: Agusti Villaronga - A former Nazi, long in hiding and now suffering from illness that forces him into an iron lung, is tormented and tortured by his new "caretaker", a disturbed young man with a shared past. This controversial, very disturbing drama about mental and physical trauma is hard to watch.  (6/10)

 

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Nekromantik (1987) West Germany/Dir: Jorg Buttgereit - The infamous, low-budget shocker about lovers of the dead. I found it repulsive, amateurish and dull, and I've much preferred Buttgereit's later works.   (3/10)

 

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My Lovely Burnt Brother and His Squashed Brain (1989) Italy/Dir: Giovanni Arduino & Andrea Lioy - Proof that America isn't the sole source of beyond-dreadful shot-on-video dreck, this beautifully-named yet excruciatingly-produced travesty is obnoxious, incoherent, and just plain stupid.  (1/10) 

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Der Todesking/The Death King  (1990)  West Germany/Dir: Jorg Buttgereit - Bizarre, unsettling drama/thriller (?) that features a series of short vignettes of various people committing acts of violence upon themselves and others, interlaced with time-lapse footage of a corpse decaying. Not for everyone, to put it mildly, but it has an undeniable power taken as a whole.  (6/10)

 

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Three Colors: Blue  (1993) France/Poland/Dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Powerful, understated drama about a woman (Juliette Binoche) struggling to move on after the sudden death of her famous composer husband and their young child. Binoche gives an exemplary performance. Recommended.  (8/10)

 

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The Untold Story (1993) Hong Kong/Dir: Danny Lee & Herman Yau - Anthony Wong stars in this outrageous horror comedy based on the true story of a homicidal butcher-shop proprietor. Wong is terrific is this infamous "Cat 3" (basically NC-17 rated) bloodbath.  (7/10)

 

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Chungking Express (1994) Hong Kong/Dir: Wong Kar-Wai - In two loosely connected tales, policemen (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung) fall for mysterious, unusual women (Brigitte Lin and Faye Wong, respectively). Wong's signature style, love it or hate it, is on full display, with a meandering, improvisational feel that's more interested in mood than story. I thought the cast was very good, particularly Kaneshiro and Wong. Recommended.  (8/10)

 

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Three Colors: White  (1994)  France/Poland/Dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Black comedy with Zbigniew Zamachowski as a Polish immigrant in France who seeks revenge against his French wife (Julie Delpy) after she divorces him. This seemed like an anomaly compared to Kieslowski's Blue and Red films, but it's still enjoyable.  (7/10)

 

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Ring 2 (1999) Japan/Dir: Hideo Nakata - Director Nakata's unnecessary follow-up to the hit 1998 original about a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it in three days. A group of investigators search for the survivors from the first film as more people die from the curse. Bland and perfunctory.  (5/10)

 

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Ring 0: Birthday (2000) Japan/Dir: Norio Tsuruta - Prequel to the prior Ring films that attempts to explain the origin of the mysterious girl behind the cursed videotape. The plot is confused and the suspense negligible.  (5/10)

 

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Memories of Murder (2003) South Korea/Dir: Bong Joon Ho - Acclaimed serial killer thriller, based on a true story, with detectives Kang-ho Song and Kim Sang-kyung on the hunt for murderer. I enjoyed the film despite the tired subject matter.  (7/10)

 

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One Missed Call (2003) Japan/Dir: Takashi Miike - More J-horror "thrills", this time centering on a cursed mobile phone call that leads to the death of anyone who receives it. Miike may have been attempting to parody prior J-horror films, but it's a bit too straight faced to succeed.   (5/10)

 

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Kamikaze Girls  (2004) Japan/Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima - Cult film about a gangster's daughter who's obsessed with 18th century French fashion. This is fast-paced, loud, colorful, and not to everyone's taste, including mine, I guess.   (5/10)

 

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Noroi (2005) Japan/Dir: Koji Shiraishi - Found-footage J-horror about an investigative TV reporter attempting to do a show on a mysterious series of deaths in a small village. I'm not much of a fan of the found-footage subgenre, but this one worked for me, with a blend TV footage from various styles of programs mixed with security camera footage and other types of "real-world" surveillance.  (7/10)

 

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) Sweden/Dir: Niels Arden Oplev - Thriller about a disgraced investigative journalist (Michael Nyqvist) hired to look into a long-unsolved murder case that involves a wealthy and powerful family. He's finds unexpected assistance from a troubled, unpredictable computer hacker (Noomi Rapace). This original adaptation of the novel by Stieg Larsson was overshadowed a few years later by the big-budget American version, but this one is well worth checking out. Rapace is phenomenal as Lisbeth Salander, the title character, and it's a star-making turn. Recommended.  (8/10)

 

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The Girl Who Played with Fire  (2009) Sweden/Dir: Daniel Alfredson - Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is back in Sweden after the events of the first film, but now she's been framed for three murders, and it's up to her and former associate Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) to clear her name. This sequel seemed much sloppier and uneven, perhaps due to the change in director, but the stars still make it worth checking out.   (7/10)

 

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Trollhunter (2010) Norway/Dir: Andre Ovredal - Found-footage dark comedy/fantasy thriller with a collegiate documentary crew following Norway's official troll hunter, a man tasked with killing any of the mythical giant beasts that escape from their designated habitats. The special effects are good, and the filmmaking clever, with a good, wry script.   (7/10) 

 

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Witching & ****ing (2013) Spain/Dir: Alex de la Iglesia - A group of bumbling robbers attempt to hide out in the country after a botched job, only to be confronted by a coven of murderous witches. Slick production values highlight this loud horror comedy. I found it a bit too obnoxious, but it has its moments.  (6/10)

 

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The Wave (2015) Norway/Dir: Roar Uthaug - Disaster movie about a rock slide causing a tidal wave to push through a fjord into a coastal town. A father and mother race to save their children from the deluge. This was a huge hit, and features US-style effects and production values. I found it entertaining.  (7/10)

 

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Knife + Heart (2018) France/Dir: Yann Gonzalez - Giallo-style thriller set in the world of gay adult films, where a mysterious masked assassin is picking off the cast and crew in grisly fashion. Vanessa Paredes stars as the world-weary production boss. The neon-soaked cinematography accentuates the period decadence.  (6/10)

 

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) France/Dir: Celine Sciamma - Period-piece romance about a repressed painter (Noemie Merlant) hired to paint a portrait of wealthy woman's daughter (Adele Haenel) in hopes of enticing a proper suitor. The painter and her subject instead fall for each other. Gorgeous cinematography and subtle performances are the best part of this low-key film.   (7/10) 

 

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Another Round (2020) Denmark/Dir: Thomas Vinterberg - A group of middle-aged school teachers make a pact to try and maintain a steady level of alcoholic buzz in an attempt to better their moribund lives, with mixed results. With Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe. I enjoyed this Oscar winner for Best International Film, although I wasn't as blown away by it as some seem to be, and I prefer some of Vinterberg's earlier films. The real-life tragedy behind-the-scenes, with Vinterberg's adult daughter, who had been cast in the film and was on her way to the filming location, dying in a car crash caused by another drunk driver, casts a pall over the proceedings as well.    (7/10)

 

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The Binding (2020) Italy/Dir: Domenico Emanuele de Feudis - Scary in-laws in this supernatural thriller about a woman (Mia Maestro) who travels with her young son to stay with her fiancée's mother in her large, crumbling estate. As the mother begins to suspect something sinister is afoot, the clichés begin to pile up.   (5/10)

 

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Cadaver (2020) Norway/Dir: Jarand Herdal - In a grim, post-apocalyptic world, a couple are invited to attend a lavish dinner party in order to "raise their spirits". Their are ulterior motives, of course, and things go predictably awry. Blah.  (5/10)

 

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Don't Listen (2020) Spain/Dir: Angel Gomez Hernandez - Supernatural thriller about a family dealing with an unruly spirit in a decrepit mansion that the parents hope to renovate. The film plays like any of a number of American films of the same ilk, using loud audio in an attempt tp elicit jump scares.  (6/10)

 

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Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight  (2020) Poland/Dir: Bartosz M. Kowalski - Highly uneven homage to American summer camp slashers movies about an isolated retreat for youths with tech addictions who are forced to rough it in the wild without the use of cell phones or computers. Unfortunately for them, a murderous psychopath is also on the loose in the area. This has a few good moments, and the back story of the killer is unusual, but overall I found this lacking.   (5/10)

 

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The Scary House/The Strange House (2020) Austria/Dir: Daniel Prochaska - Juvenile-targeted horror thriller about a group of kids dealing with a haunted house in the Austrian countryside. A bit too routine for me.   (5/10)

 

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Sputnik (2020) Russia/Dir: Egor Abramenko - Cold War-era sci-fi thriller starring Oksana Akinshina as a doctor brought to a secret military base to evaluate a cosmonaut who recently returned from a space mission...changed. Big-budget special effects highlight this engaging-if-familiar genre outing.  (7/10)

 

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The Superdeep (2020) Russia/Dir: Arseny Syuhin - A remote scientific installation is the setting for this horror/sci-fi thriller. The world's deepest man-made hole unleashes something nefarious. A good set-up and an unusual antagonist are undercut by bad direction.  (5/10)

 

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Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula  (2020) South Korea/Dir: Sang-ho Yeon - Lesser sequel to 2018's Train to Busan, with a group of people traveling into the now-quarantined Korean peninsula, which has been overrun by zombies, in order to secure a truckload of cash. I liked this more than most other viewers seem to, although it's a far cry from the excellent first film.  (6/10)

 

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Blood Red Sky  (2021) Germany/Dir: Peter Thorwarth - A group of hijackers take over a passenger jet over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, one of the passengers happens to be a vampire. This was a well-made action thriller with horror touches and good performances.   (7/10)

 

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Oxygen (2021) France/Dir: Alexandre Aja - Claustrophobic sci-fi thriller with Melanie Laurent as an amnesiac who awakens in a sealed cryo-sleep chamber with a rapidly depleting oxygen supply. She must figure out who she, where she is, and how to escape before time runs out. Engaging thrills and a solid performance from Laurent elevate this familiar suspense outing.   (6/10)

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The 2020 winner of Spain’s Goya Award for Best Picture was …

 

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Schoolgirls (2020) Pilar Palomero, Spain

 

The 2020 winner of the Goya Award for Best Spanish language Foreign Film was …

 

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My Father (2020) Fernando Trueba, Columbia

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Alice (1988) Czechoslovakia/Dir: Jan Svankmajer - Bizarre, hallucinatory mix of live action and stop-motion animation in this adaptation of Lewis Carroll's works. Director Svankmajer wanted to make a version of the oft-filmed tale that was more dreamlike than fairy tale, and he succeeds, although it's more nightmarish than dreamy. The film has a unique (at the time, any way) visual aesthetic that became highly influential over the next decade, a mixture of children's iconography and distressed, decayed art direction. Recommended.   (8/10)

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Koko-di Koko-da (2019) Sweden/Dir: Johannes Nyholm - A grieving couple decide to go on a camping trip to try and patch up their failing marriage and come to terms with their feelings of loss. They are menaced by an odd trio - a grinning carnival barker, a pig-tailed and gun-wielding woman with a vicious dog, and a mute simpleton giant carrying a dead dog. The couple's horror increases as they are forced to relive their encounter with the strangers over and over again, Groundhog Day style.

This was certainly an unusual film, but I found it tiresome. It's supposedly all allegorical, dealing with trauma and PTSD. Sure, okay.  (5/10)

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest  (2009) Sweden/Dir: Daniel Alfredson - Third entry in Millennium trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's book series. The events pick up immediately after those of the previous film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and deal with the far-reaching ramifications of fugitive hacker Lisabeth Salander's (Noomi Rapace) actions in that story. She's to be put on trial, but her friend Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), editor of Millennium magazine, works diligently to clear her name.

I found this installment to be about on par with the previous one - worth a watch but a step down from the first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The production values are modest, and there's a lot going on, occasionally bogging the pace down. The performances are outstanding.   (7/10)

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The Spider's Stratagem  (1970) Italy/Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci - A young man (Giulio Brogi) returns to the small town where his antifascist father was assassinated many years earlier. He's now considered a local hero, with memorial statues in his honor, but his son believes that there's more to the story of his father's death, and so sets out to investigate the details. With Alida Valli. 

The cinematography is impeccable, but I found Brogi too bland of a leading man, and a distinct lack of surprise or suspense in the story.   (6/10)

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Dynasty Warriors  (2021) Hong Kong/Dir: Roy Hin Yeung Chow - Historical action/fantasy, based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms stories, and the Japanese video game series. As the Han dynasty loses its grip on China, various factions vie for control. Corrupt general Dong Zhou (Suet Lam) enlists the aid of legendary warrior Lu Bu (Louis Koo) to ensure his rule, while noted young warrior Cao Cao (Kai Wang) gathers his own army. The three brothers-in-arms known as Liu Bei (Tony Yang), Zhang Fei (Justin Cheung), and Guan Yu (Geng Han) try to defeat them all in defense of the people. Also featuring Carina Lau, Ray Lui, Coulee Nazha, and Eddie Cheung.

It would be near impossible to do the Three Kingdoms stories justice in a single feature film, as there are far too many characters and factions to wade through in such a short running time. Even the better filmed versions, such as John Woo's Red Cliff films, leave much out. This version, more specifically based on the long-running video game series, focuses more on fantastical magical weapons, big battle scenes ruined by subpar CGI effects, and only a few of the usual characters. The costuming is both lavish and a bit silly, while the casting is often questionable, particularly Louis Koo as the fearsome Lu Bu.    (4/10)

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Kandisha  (2020) France/Dir: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury - A group of young women, living in poor immigrant housing projects in Paris, summon a vengeful Moroccan spirit known as Kandisha. The girls struggle to find a way to stop the demon, while it goes on a killing spree. 

Writer-directors Bustillo & Maury were behind the excellent 2007 film Inside, so I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it ended up being too similar to a half dozen other American-made "urban boogeyman" films, with very few surprises along the way. The creature effects are well done, and the multicultural cast and setting make it a bit more unique, but not enough to seek this one out.   (6/10)

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2005

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1.  L’enfant (2005) Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium

This turned out to be my current favourite film of 2005, period.  Young Deborah Francois has just given birth to ‘Jimmy.’  Her petty thief boyfriend is not only indifferent to the new responsibility of fatherhood but thinks he can now make some money by selling the newborn on the black market.  This sets off a chain of events and his life soon spirals out of control.  Excellent film.

 

and I’ve also seen …

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Little Jerusalem (2005) Karin Albou, France

An extended Jewish family living in the suburbs of Paris encounters everything you might expect in a film about the same: a love affair with an Arab that is forbidden, a husband and wife’s struggle with sexuality and their religion, etc., etc.  Not only boring but heavy-handed.

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The Mother and the Wh*** (1973) France/Dir: Jean Eustache - An aimless jerk (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is in a terrible relationship with two women (Bernadette Lafont and Francoise Lebrun).

My opinion of this differs wildly from the norm. I absolutely loathed this tedious, mind-numbing excursion into pretentious navel-gazing. Everything I hate about French arthouse cinema is exemplified in this torturous exercise in ponderous self-indulgence: uninspired - even ugly - production values (16mm BW cinematography); irritating, occasionally amateurish acting, in service to unappealing and uninteresting characters; ceaseless conversations about nothing; and all in a self-referential way meant to critique its own milieu. Dragging this tepid affair on for three and a half hours should be considered a crime against humanity. I found this to be arguably the worst highly-praised movie that I've ever watched. It was the kind of viewing experience that makes me want to never watch a movie ever again.   (3/10, which may seem too high a score, yet it fails to be impressive enough in its badness to earn a 2/10 or a 1/10)

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

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The Mother and the Wh*** (1973) France/Dir: Jean Eustache - An aimless jerk (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is in a terrible relationship with two women (Bernadette Lafont and Francoise Lebrun).

My opinion of this differs wildly from the norm. I absolutely loathed this tedious, mind-numbing excursion into pretentious navel-gazing. Everything I hate about French arthouse cinema is exemplified in this torturous exercise in ponderous self-indulgence: uninspired - even ugly - production values (16mm BW cinematography); irritating, occasionally amateurish acting, in service to unappealing and uninteresting characters; ceaseless conversations about nothing; and all in a self-referential way meant to critique its own milieu. Dragging this tepid affair on for three and a half hours should be considered a crime against humanity. I found this to be arguably the worst highly-praised movie that I've ever watched. It was the kind of viewing experience that makes me want to never watch a movie ever again.   (3/10, which may seem too high a score, yet it fails to be impressive enough in its badness to earn a 2/10 or a 1/10)

I cannot argue with any of the things you say but I saw it again recently amongst a group of 60's French films and again I really liked it.  I thought Leaud was really good too as that navel gazing jerk.  :D

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49 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

I cannot argue with any of the things you say but I saw it again recently amongst a group of 60's French films and again I really liked it.  I thought Leaud was really good too as that navel gazing jerk.  :D

Yeah, I know my opinion goes against the critical consensus. It's written of ecstatically in multiple film books that I have. But I kind of suspected it would not be my cup of tea. One would be hard pressed to assemble a film that was less appealing to my tastes.

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Yeah, I know my opinion goes against the critical consensus. It's written of ecstatically in multiple film books that I have. But I kind of suspected it would not be my cup of tea. One would be hard pressed to assemble a film that was less appealing to my tastes.

You are not alone in the negative response to the film.  I have read others with the same view.  In fact the first time I watched it I was quite a bit into it and still on the fence as to what I thought about it.  I think I then decided it was pretty funny, especially Leaud and just went with it.  There are a heck of a lot of French films including almost all of Rohmer's work that are basically about people who cannot decide who they are in love with.   I find as a viewer I'm not always on the same page as the characters in the film.  In Mother and the W you wonder what on earth these people see in each other.  I guess in this case because Leaud is so self absorbed, I found it rather funny.

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The 2019 winner of Russia’s Nika Best Picture Award was …

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A Frenchman (2019) Andrey Smimov, Russia

 

The 2019 winner of Russia’s Nika Best Picture Award from the CIS and Baltics was …

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Inhale Exhale (2019) Dito Tsintsadze, Georgia

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The 2020 winner of Russia’s Nika Best Picture Award was …

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Dear Comrades (2020) Andrey Konchalovskiy, Russia

 

The 2020 winner of Russia’s Nika Best Picture Award from the CIS and Baltics was …

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Shambala (2020) Artypal Suvyndukov, Kyrgystan

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