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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


Bogie56
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On 12/24/2021 at 8:18 AM, Bogie56 said:

1937

Of the 7 FF films I have seen from this year

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5.  Lady Killer (1937) Jean Gremillion, France

Playboy Jean Gabin meets femme fatale Mirielle Balin.  A lesser Pepe le Moko but the cinematography by Gunther Rittau (Metropolis 1927) is very good

 

 

Gabin and Mireille Balin were excellent in this film-they actually were involved with each other for a year or two since Pepe le Moko, aka Gueule d'Amour is a very good film quite daring for the period as Gabin gets away with murder...Gabin was behind the project with Gremillon but Gabin felt Gremillon exposed a lot of his real self ,he was a sentimental man and not the masculine hard boiled man he was in films  previously,He cried for the first time at the end of the film,a great film 7.5 out of 10

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Lamb  (2021)  Iceland/Dir: Valdimar Johannsson  -  Married couple Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) run a sheep farm in the remote countryside. One day a sheep gives birth to a strange hybrid - a sheep's head on a human girl's body. The couple decide to raise the child as their own, naming it Ada. The child doesn't speak, but in every other way behaves like a human child. Things get complicated when Ingvar's troubled brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) shows up.

This bizarre film is usually labeled as a horror film, and while there are a couple of very brief horrific scenes, it's more of a magic-realist drama, largely lacking in suspense or thrills. In fact, the strangeness is handled in such a matter-of-fact way as to almost render it inert. The scenery is good, and the performances are muted and suitable. The ending is good.   (6/10)

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Prayers for the Stolen  (2021)  Mexico/Dir: Tatiana Huezo  -  Grim drama about three young girls growing up in a rural, mountainside community. They are literally surrounded by misery and danger, with a giant strip-mining operation blasting away at the mountain; nearby poppy fields run by violent cartels, members of which often kidnap the local girls for horrific amusement; and corrupt police and military forces that pass through town every now and then, leaving more destruction in their wake. 

The film features excellent performances from the six lead actresses, playing the three friends first as youngsters, then as adolescents, as well as Mayra Batalla as Rita, the long-suffering tough-love mother of one of the girls. This film is a perfect example of "why they keep coming here", and a rebuttal to those who ask "why don't they just stay and fix their own country?", but I have a feeling people with those attitudes aren't very likely to watch this anyway.   (7/10)

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1940

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1.  From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940) Max Ophuls, France

I’ve only seen 3 FF’s from 1940 so this number one spot is a bit misleading.  In fact I was rather disappointed with it as it is quite dry and obviously made on a shoestring budget for its ambitious scope.  The impressive thing is that it went into production at all and not surprising that the Nazis banned it for the film takes a patriotic swipe at them at the very end.  Gabrielle Dorziat reprises her role from Mayerling (1936) as the Archduchess Marie-Therese and Jean Dubucourt has a similar role as the Archduke’s foil.  But the two leads (John Lodge and Edwin Feuillere) are no match for Boyer and Darrieux.

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Here Comes the Devil  (2012)  Mexico/Dir: Adrian Garcia Bogliano  -  Low-budget supernatural thriller about a brother and sister who go missing on the outskirts of Tijuana. Their parents (Laura Caro & Francisco Barreiro) search desperately for them, only for the children to reappear a short while later. The parents' relief soon turns to despair once again as the children start exhibiting strange behavior, which leads the mother to suspect demonic influence. This cheap, lurid movie is forgettable and uninspired. It now has a larger-than-deserved platform as it was just added to the HBO Max streaming service. Skip it.    (4/10)

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The winner of the 2020 Polish Film Best European Picture Award was …

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Les Miserables (2019) Ladj Ly, France

 

The winner of the 2020 Polish Film Best Picture Award was …

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Kill It and Leave This Town (2020) Mariusz Wilszynski, Poland

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The Evil Next Door  (2020)  Sweden/Dir: Tord Danielsson & Oskar Mellander  -  Shirin (Dilan Gwyn) is the girlfriend of Fredrik (Linus Wahlgren), a widower raising his 5-year-old son Lukas (Eddie Eriksson Dominguez). The trio move into a new duplex home, the other half of which is empty. Fredrik gets a job that requires him to be gone for days at a time, so Shirin is left to look after Lukas. Soon the boy begins seeing a ghostly presence, another boy his age, but Shirin thinks something sinister is afoot. This was generally competently made (I could have used a bit less of the color desaturation that left everything looking gray), but the story has almost no surprises. Also known as The Other Side.   (5/10)

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The Night  (2020)  Iran/Dir: Kourosh Ahari  -  An Iranian married couple (Shahab Hosseini & Niousha Noor) are traveling in the U.S. with their infant child. They decide to spend the night in a hotel in large city, but they begin experiencing seemingly supernatural incidents, including strange noises, ghostly figures and menacing shadows. This is all very routine, cliched haunted-house/hotel stuff, made unusual by the Persian cast and Farsi spoken language.   (5/10)

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I finally got around to Riders of Justice (2020) which I believe has already been discussed on here. I loved it (8/10), and would rank it my favorite FF of 2020.

Yeah, it is currently my favourite film of 2020, period.

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The World of Kanako  (2014)  Japan/Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima  -  An alcoholic ex-cop (Koji Yakusho) investigates the disappearance of his estranged teenage daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu).  From the director of the cult hit Kamikaze Girls (2004). I didn't much care for that one, and I didn't like this one much more. The film style is careens from rapid-fire edits, jumping from flashback to flashback to the main story with nary a transition, all shot in shaky close-ups and with a continuous music soundtrack that lurches from heavy metal to classical to J-pop. There are even snippets of animation thrown in for "good" measure. I felt like I'd been forced to imbibe too many sugary energy drinks. Much like the earlier film, this one has developed a cult following, so your mileage may vary.  (5/10)

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1942

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1.  Love Letters (1942) Claude Autant-Lara, France

This is only the fourth FF that I have seen from this year and two of which weren’t very good IMO.  Lettres d’amour serve as the catalyst for this light romantic farce set in a provincial town in 1855.  It’s fun.  No more.  No less.

 

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2.  The Marriage of Chiffon (1942) Claude Autant-Lara, France

Another light romantic comedy from Autant-Lara starring Odette Joyeux.  As in Gigi, the main character is a young girl who has grown up in love with her guardian.  IMO Lerner and Loewe’s “I could have danced all night” is oddly derivative of the main theme of Chiffon written by Roger Desormiere.

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The Field Guide to Evil  (2018)  US/Dir: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Peter Strickland, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Yannis Veslemes, Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz  -  Horror anthology focused on folktales from around the world. The stories range from moody allegorical tales, to arthouse abstractions, gory exploitation, and stylistic exercises in form. Like most films of this type, the quality is very uneven, and unfortunately there wasn't as much to recommend as there was to dismiss. The stories from Austria, Turkey, Poland, Greece, and Germany are all in their respective native tongues with English subtitles. The American segment is in English, naturally, while the story from India is in both English and Bengali. The final story from Hungary is presented in a silent film format, with English-language intertitles.   (5/10) 

 

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I Remember You  (2017)  Iceland/Dir: Oskar Thor Axelsson  -  Subdued supernatural mystery/drama that follows two storylines. In one, a psychiatrist (Johannes Haukur Johannesson), still grieving over the disappearance of his young son years earlier, is brought in an investigation into a series of mysterious deaths that seem to have a religious component. In the second story, a trio of twentysomethings head to an isolated farmhouse in order to renovate it, only to unearth terrible secrets. The story may be a bit too low-key for many horror fans, but I enjoyed it, and the performances are excellent.   (7/10)

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The Wasteland  (2021)  Spain/Dir: David Casademunt  -  Set in the 19th century, a family of three hides out in a rural farmhouse during a time of war and strife. When the father (Roberto Alamo) leaves for along journey to town, the mother (Inma Cuesta) and their young son (Asier Flores) struggle to survive against the weather, deprivation, and what they believe is a supernatural monster stalking them from the surrounding darkness. What could have been a tense period-piece horror thriller is instead a dull slog with little characterization and an overreliance on showy camera moves. Also known as The Beast.   (4/10)

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The 2020 winner of Mexico’s Ariel Best Picture Award was …

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Identifying Features (2020) Fernanda Valadez, Mexico

 

The 2020 winner of Mexico’s Ariel Best Latin American Picture Award was …

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The Mole Agent (2020) Maite Alberdi, Chile

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The Official Story  (1985)  Argentina/Dir: Luis Puenzo  -  An affluent school teacher (Norma Aleandro) begins to suspect that her adopted daughter may have been "orphaned" due to the country's recent wave of political violence. This powerful drama won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, so you've likely already seen it or at least heard of it. I thought Aleandro was terrific.   (7/10)

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The White Slave Trade  (1910)  Denmark/Dir: August Blom  -  A young woman, answering an ad in the newspaper for a paid companion to a wealthy widow, is instead kidnapped and sent to London to be a prostitute. Her family and the authorities race to rescue her. This very early crime film (one of the first to address prostitution and perhaps the earliest exploitation feature) was a huge hit all over Europe, but it was denied exhibition rights in the U.S. due to the subject matter. It's extremely chaste by today's standards, of course, and the filmmaking techniques are primitive (lots of mid-field shots with no close-ups), although there is some innovative use of split screen. This one's for film historians only.   (5/10)

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Pinocchio  (1911)  Italy/Dir: Giulio Antamoro  -  First film adaptation of the children's story, with single-named performer Polidor as the boy made out of wood. There are a lot of costumes, most very silly looking, and many scenes of large groups of people frantically milling about. Some of the sets are interesting. Only a short fragment was thought to survive, but a full print was found a couple of years ago and the film was restored. It's currently on YT, featuring a distracting electronica score.   (5/10)

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The Demon  (1963)  Italy/Dir: Brunello Rondi  -  In a small village in southern Italy, a disturbed woman (Daliah Lavi) is obsessed with a local farmer (Frank Wolff) and tries to cast spells to entrance him. When terrible things occur in the village, she believes that she's the cause for "consorting with the devil" so the locals attempt to exorcise her. Despite the lurid subject matter, this is presented in a serious, matter-of-fact manner, and is more a psychological examination of rural beliefs and superstitions than a horror film. Other than the two leads, the rest of the cast seem to be local amateurs.   (7/10)

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Lokis: A Manuscript of Professor Wittembach  (1970)  Poland/Dir: Janusz Majewski  -  Set in the 19th century, a German professor and Protestant pastor (Edmund Fetting) travels to Lithuania to study local folklore, as well as a collection of rare books belonging to the local Count Szemiot (Jozef Duriasz). The professor learns not all is well at the castle, as the Count is suffering from a strange affliction, said to be caused by a incident years earlier when his mother, pregnant at the time with the Count, was attacked by a bear. The bear was killed, and locals believe that its spirit inhabited the unborn Count.

This is based on the same folktale that inspired the silent Russian film The Bear's Wedding (1925) that I watched a couple of months back. This version has a lot more story to it, and the production values are excellent, particularly the settings. I was still underwhelmed by the film in general, but it's worth a watch if the subject matter appeals to you.   (6/10)

 

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The winner of the 2020 Cinema Brazil Best Picture Award was …

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The Fever (2019) Maya Da-Rin, Brazil

 

The winner of the 2020 Cinema Brazil Best Ibero-American Film was …

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The Heist of the Century (2020) Ariel Winograd, Argentina

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