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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


Bogie56
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The Platform  (2019)  Spain/Dir: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia  -  Heavy-handed allegorical sci-fi/horror starring Ivan Massague as Goreng. He's volunteered to spend 6 months in a government (?) facility in exchange for a university degree. Those in the facility are randomly paired up with one other person, each person allowed to bring one item with them. They are randomly assigned a room in a series of descending levels. In the center of each room is a large slab containing a huge, lavish spread of food and drink. The slab begins at the top level, and then descends one level in timed intervals. Any attempt to hoard food will result in death, so each room has to eat as much as they can in the short time allotted before the platform descends to the next level. Naturally, as the platform descends, there is less and less food for each succeeding room. The lower down one goes, the more barbaric the desire to survive becomes. At the end of each month, the "residents" are moved to a new room on a different level with a different roommate. 

The symbolism of an uncaring system that rewards those at the top at the expense of those beneath them is obvious, and the ways the residents react are versions of differing governing and economic philosophies. There's also a lot of violence. If someone isn't used to this sort of allegorical storytelling, this may come across as deeply profound, but I found it a bit much. It's still well-made and well-acted. I recall this being much buzzed-about when it debuted on Netflix shortly before or after the first pandemic lockdowns began.  (6/10)

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Dark Forces  (2020)  Mexico/Dir: Bernardo Arellano  -  A mysterious loner (Tenoch Huerta) checks into a seedy hotel. He's searching for a missing girl, and the trail's led him there, but all he encounters are strange and sinister people with demonic ulterior motives. This cheap and cheesy offering plays like a neo-noir/horror hybrid directed by a would-be David Lynch. I was curious to see leading man Huerta in action, as he's rumored to have been cast as the next big Marvel superhero character (Namor the Sub-Mariner). I can't imagine those casting directors watched this one, though.   (3/10)

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The Day of the Lord  (2020)  Mexico/Dir: Santiago Alvarado Ilarri  -  World-weary priest Father Menendez (Juli Fabregas) is approached by an old acquaintance who believes that his teenage daughter (Ximena Romo) may be possessed. Menendez reluctantly agrees to test the girl, and if necessary exorcise her. This is more standard exorcism stuff, the likes of which have been done to death in the past decade. The requisite exorcism scenes are incredibly brutal (apparently this priest's technique is to literally beat the devil out of his victims, as well as some additional gory torture), but thankfully the whole thing barely runs 90 minutes. Also released as Menendez: The Day of the Lord, which makes me wonder if a series was planned.   (4/10)

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U-Turn  (2020)  Philippines/Dir: Roderick Cabrido  -  A reporter (Kim Chiu) becomes obsessed with a fatal car accident case involving an illegal U-turn. This supernatural thriller is light on thrills and heavy on clichés. This is a remake of a 2016 Indian film with the same title.   (4/10) 

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The Bridge Curse  (2020)  Taiwan/Dir: Lester Hsi  -  College students try to summon a ghost reputed to haunt a bridge on campus, with the expected bad results. While this is more cliched stuff, it's a little better made than the others that I've watched today.   (5/10)

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Fever Dream  (2021)  Peru/Dir: Claudia Llosa  -  Amanda (Maria Valverde) and her young daughter travel to a bucolic house in a small village to spend the summer. Amanda strikes up a friendship with neighbor Carola (Dolores Fonzi) who has a strange young son, David (Emilio Vodanovich). David, like many of the children of the village, is afflicted by some unnamed malady. Amanda's connection to David grows with unexpected consequences.

This film aims for obscurity of plot and achieves it in spades, much to its detriment. The audience is very unclear as to what is going on for most of the film, which is intentional. I'm still not 100% sure what happened, or why, but I think it was some sort of environmental thing? The film looks nice, but that's about all I can say for it.   (5/10)

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Two  (2021)  Spain/Dir: Mar Targarona  -  A man (Pablo Derqui) and a woman (Marina Gatell) wake up naked in bed with each other, in a room that neither recognize. They don't know each other, and quickly realize that they've been stitched together along a strip of flesh on their abdomens. They struggle to escape and figure out who did this to them and why. This brief (70 minute) mystery-thriller goes for a less-disgusting Human Centipede-meets-Saw vibe, but there's not much to this, and the resolution is more than a bit silly.   (5/10)

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Homunculus  (2021)  Japan/Dir: Takashi Shimizu  -  A homeless man (Go Ayano) is recruited for a strange medical experiment that requires a hole to be drilled into his forehead. After the procedure he discovers that if he covers his right eye, his left eye allows him to see physical manifestations of people's traumas. This unclassifiable movie from the director of The Grudge is very unusual, with top-grade CGI effects mixed with practical work to bring the "traumas" to life. The film takes a few twists and turns, not all of which work, and things are drawn out a bit too long, but this a notch above the other genre fare I've been watching on Netflix lately.   (6/10)

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The Trip  (2021)  Norway/Dir: Tommy Wirkola  -  A bickering married couple (Aksel Hennie & Noomi Rapace) travel to a secluded lakeside cottage to try and patch things up. Their idyllic trip takes several turns for the worse when uninvited guests start showing. The less known about this one the better, but I'll say that this is a bloody black comedy told with an over-the-top tone, so one's enjoyment may be predicated on your tolerance for such. I thought it was fairly amusing.  (6/10)

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Ghost of Yotsuya Part One  (1949)  Japan/Dir: Keisuke Kinoshita  -  In feudal Japan, Iemon, a money-hungry samurai (Ken Uehara), plots to leave his wife so that he can marry a wealthy heiress. When the wife refuses the divorce, Iemon resorts to drastic measures.

Kinoshita interlaces several characters into a complex web of motivations and emotions, with none being morally clear cut. The performances are decent, and moody cinematography elevates the meager sets. Despite the title, and this film usually listed as horror, there is no supernatural element present. Perhaps that is reserved for Part Two.   (7/10)

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Ghost of Yotsuya Part Two  (1949)  Japan/Dir: Keisuke Kinoshita  -  Immediate follow-up to part one, this time focusing on the guilt of the remarried Iemon (Ken Uehara), as well as the further machinations of his accomplice Naosuke (Osamu Takizawa).

This is a good conclusion to the story, with continued good acting and cinematography. Director Kinoshita eschews the supernatural elements of the long-told folktale. There are other adaptations that concentrate more on those aspects, including a 1959 version that I've seen from director Nobuo Nakagawa.   (7/10)

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Wolf's Hole  (1987)  Czechoslovakia/Dir: Vera Chytilova  -  11 teens receive invitations to attend a skiing camp in the snowy wilderness. When they arrive, the strangely-behaved councilors inform them that only 10 were invited, and that the 11th is an intruder, although for some reason they don't know which kid it is. The teens soon discover that they are trapped at the remote cabin, with little food or other amenities, and things only get worse.

This political allegory from the director of Daisies (1966) is made to resemble the numerous teens-in-peril horror movies of the 1980's, while lacking any suspense or horror. The acting is uniformly terrible, and the dialogue resembles nothing said by actual people. I don't know, maybe this was really how Czech teens of the late 1980's really spoke and behaved, but it all seemed phony and ridiculous to me. Many people seem to really enjoy this one, but I thought it was terrible. Also known as Wolf's Chalet.   (4/10)

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Creepy  (2016)  Japan/Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa  -  A former-cop-turned-criminal-psychology professor (Hidetoshi Nishijima) becomes obsessed with solving an old cold case involving a missing family. Meanwhile, his bored housewife (Yuko Takeuchi) strives to make friends with their new neighbors, but runs into an obstacle with oddball weirdo Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa). This long (over two hours) psychological thriller has a lot of black comedy and some good performances, particularly by the very creepy Kagawa as the weird neighbor. I liked it, even if some of it made little sense.   (7/10)

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Zombi Child  (2019)  France/Dir: Bertrand Bonello  -  Haitian immigrant teenager Melissa (Wislanda Louimat) is enrolled at an elite all-girls school in France. She makes friends with a small clique of girls who are intrigued by her exoticness. Meanwhile, in flashbacks to 1962, we see the story of Clairvius (Mackenson Bijou), who was presumed dead and buried, only to be raised as a zombie slave on a sugar plantation. 

Writer-director Bonello uses as inspiration the supposedly true voodoo-zombie story Clairvius Narcisse in this tale that comments on the controversial historical relationship between France and Haiti. The performances are good, but there's not much to the plot.   (6/10)

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Dream Home  (2010)  Hong Kong/Dir: Ho-Cheung Pang  -  A bank telemarketer (Josie Ho) spends her off-hours murdering people who stand in her way of getting the apartment she wants. This black comedy take on the Hong Kong housing crunch is shockingly graphic, with much more nudity and gory violence than I'm used to seeing in Hong Kong features.   (6/10)

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Sleep Tight  (2011)  Spain/Dir: Jaume Balaguero  -  Luis Tosar stars as Cesar, the front desk clerk at a high-rise apartment building. He spends his night shifts drugging and sleeping with one of the tenants, but his carefully-crafted routine begins to fall apart. This film was a critical success, and Tosar won several awards for it. He's good, and the film is well done, but I was slightly underwhelmed.   (6/10)

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6.  Miquette et sa Mere/Miquette and Her Mother (1950) Henri-Georges Clouzot, France

Daniele Delorme from Gigi (1949) stars as a young shop clerk who is being wooed from all directions.  She thinks she is bound for a life in the theatre and ham bone Louis Jouvet invites both her and her mother to join his troupe.  This reminded me of a Preston Sturges comedy in that all of the small characters are delightfully distinctive right down to an extra who has a two second bit where he tips his hat.  The man is tiny and so old that his top hat shakes with his tremors.  A young bumbling Bourvil is one of Miquette’s suitors but for me Saturnin Fabre as the old lecherous Count steals the show.

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Blood Glacier  (2013)  Austria/Dir: Marvin Kren  -  At a remote station in the Arctic circle, a crew of 3 scientists and one drunken engineer encounter a strange phenomenon: a melting glacier where the runoff appears to be blood. They soon learn that the "blood" has mutagenic properties that twist the local wildlife into deadly monsters. 

The concept was right up my alley (I like remote-locale monster movies), but the execution was lacking. The filmmakers may not have been confident in their effects work, as most of the creature scenes are shot in a frenetic, "shaky-cam" manner that renders much of the action incomprehensible.   (5/10)

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I like that Bogie keeps posting about these sophisticated French classics while I only post about garbage genre flicks from the last 15 years.

I'm an embarrassment and a disappointment to this thread's mission statement.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

I like that Bogie keeps posting about these sophisticated French classics while I only post about garbage genre flicks from the last 15 years.

I'm an embarrassment and a disappointment to this thread's mission statement.

Keep posting. I'm taking notes!   As you know I like all sorts of films but I had been on a Parisian thematic kick.

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I did a 45 films binge  of Jean Gabin in december,so I'am at 84 out of 95, 3 of them  are lost. This is a great one from 1956, his last film Noir.

Voici le Temps des Assassins. 1956 .Directed by Julien Duvivier a great director. Jean Gabin Daniele Delorme Gerard Blain .Excellent film Noir as Gabin is the owner of a celebrated restaurant in Paris in the Halles area of Paris, Delorme is excellent as the sinister daughter of his ex wife. A very good story. Last film Noir of Gabin. 113 minutes. 8/10

 

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Borgman  (2013)  Netherlands/Dir: Alex van Warmerdam  -  An upper-class family have their lives upended when a strange vagrant named Borgman (Jan Bijvoet) inveigles himself into their home. This interesting film is hard to classify. It's not quite a thriller, although it has some of those elements. It also flirts with horror, and comedy, and family drama. Much is left to the audience to decide about the nature of the characters and the situations, which may prove frustrating for some viewers. I found it intriguing but ultimately a little lacking. It would make a good companion piece to similar films like Teorema, Mike Leigh's Naked, and the Japanese film Creepy that I reviewed above.   (6/10) 

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