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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


Bogie56
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Neutron the Atomic Superman vs the Death Robots  (1962)  Mexico/Dir: Federico Curiel  -  Masked superhero Neutron battles the evil Dr. Caronte, who uses his mind-controlled death robots in an effort to steal a formula for making neutron bombs. Very shoddy luchador sci-fi actioner, the second in a series of five.   (3/10)

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Planet of Storms  (1962)  USSR/Dir: Pavel Klushantsev  -  The first manned mission to Venus, as multiple Soviet ships travel to the cloud-enshrouded planet. Once they make landfall, they encounter a number of dangers, both from the hostile environment and the prehistoric creatures roaming about. This is badly dated in many ways, and there's even a disclaimer at the beginning stating that most of the science is probably wrong. However, the sci-fi aesthetic is ahead of it's time in regards to the spacesuit design, and the crew's somewhat helpful robot, which seems to be a precursor for the one in Lost In Space. Many in the West saw parts of this movie as it was edited into American footage and released as Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet.   (6/10)

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Santo vs the Zombies  (1962)  Mexico/Dir: Benito Alazraki  -  Masked wrestler Santo (Santo) battles a mad scientist who is using technology to create an army of mindless killers. Most of the running time is taken up by lengthy wrestling matches.    (4/10)

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1973

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Vivre Ensemble (1973) Anna Karina, France

A pretty good effort with Karina, acting, directing and writing the story.  Simply put, it is a role reversal of Days of Wine and Roses.

 

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The Woman In Blue (1973) Michel Deville, France

By all rights Michel Piccoli should be satisfied with his relationship with Lea Massari but he becomes obsessed with finding a woman he had only caught sight of for a brief moment.  This is a typical 70’s film - it’a about all the big questions and about nothing.

 

and I’ve also seen ….

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The Big Store (1973) Claude Zidi, France

This film is atrocious.  Featuring the French mod comedy troupe, Les Charlots and slumming thespians Michael Galabru and Michel Serrault.  This makes the tv show, The Monkees and The Banana Splits look like an Ingmar Bergman film.  Cringe worthy and boring.

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The Exterminating Angel (1962) Mexico. A torturous examination of group dynamics; allegory on fascism; satire of the upper classes; horror story … and anything else viewers care to read into this enigmatic masterpiece by Luis Buñuel, is fair game. In summary,  a bourgeois set is invited to a dinner party at the luxurious home of a punctilious host, but something inexplicable is preventing the guests from leaving, sending them into extreme mental distress, as food and tempers grow short. The servants, perhaps sensing an ominous note, exit the property. Meanwhile, police gather outside, but are powerless to enter the house to help. I think Buñuel may have had Franco’s Spain in mind, and the institutions — industrial, religious — that facilitated the regime’s repression.

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1974

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10.  Supermarkt (1974) Roland Klick, Germany

A homeless small time petty thief gets involved in bigger and bigger schemes as he meets more unsavoury types.  This has a rough, Fassbinderesque style that I thought was quite good.  Walter Kohl won Best Supporting Actor at the German Film Awards.

 

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The Fossil (1974) Masaki Kobayashi, Japan

On a vacation trip to Paris a Japanese businessman is diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  He avoids treatment and choses to reflect upon life.  At three hours and twenty minutes this is a challenge especially when the lead is so, can I say inscrutable and flat.  Nevertheless Shin Saburi as the businessman and the film won both the Blue Ribbon and Mainichi Awards.

 

and I’ve also seen …

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Femmes Femmes (1974) Paul Vecchiali, France

The bottom of the barrel of 1974 films.  Two elderly unemployed actresses live together in Paris.  It’s no Baby Jane.  Atrocious and amateurish are two words that come to mind.

 

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Emmanuelle (1974) Just Jaeckin,  France

Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle) joins her free thinking husband in Thailand and goes on a sexual romp.  This attempt at making soft core porn more mainstream might have been more effective during its day.

 

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Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) Jun Fukuda, Japan

A different set of Space Aliens masquerading as young Japanese men are at it.  This time they bring along a giant metallic Godzilla made of, what else, but space titanium to do battle against the big guy so that they may conquer the planet.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

I recently watched Sundays and Cybele (1962). I know this one is very well known so I won't go into detail, but I will say I enjoyed it quite a bit, and would place it as my #5 FF for that year.

You must check out the dvd extra interviews of Kruger and Patricia Gozzi which can be found on youtube.  Kruger's story is amazing and Gozzi's perspective is very interesting as well.

I thought she was very good plus she had to redo her entire performance in post and nailed it spot on.  Quite often kids are better at doing dubbing than adults.  They treat the mimicry as a game.  The very best at post sync are the women who used to be child actors.

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Speak No Evil  (2022)  Denmark/Dir: Christian Tafdrup  -  A Danish married couple (Morten Burian & Sidsel Siem Koch) on vacation in Italy with their young daughter meet a Dutch couple (Fedja van Huet & Karina Smulders) vacationing with their young son. They hit it off, so a few months later the Dutch couple invite the Danes to visit them at their country home for a long weekend getaway. The Danes agree, but things quickly turn tense and uncomfortable.

This is a slow burn, and much of it reminded me of a Michael Haneke film with more dark humor. The last act turns very sinister, with one scene in particular that may be too much for many viewers. I found myself getting frustrated by this late turn of events, but I understand that the director was intending to make some commentary about the state of modern Scandinavian culture and the desire to avoid confrontation even when things clearly call for it. 

I'd say 95% of the film is subtitled, although much of it is in very heavily accented English, which is the shared language between the two families. Some exchanges are in Danish and are also subtitled, while the Dutch language bits are left un-subtitled to reflect the confusion of the Danish protagonists. Unusual.    (5/10)

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The Best Picture winner of Taiwan's 2020 Golden Horse Film Festival was …

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The Falls (2021) Mong-Hong Chung, Taiwan

 

The Best Asian Picture winner of Taiwan's 2021 Golden Horse Film Festival was …

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May You Stay Forever Young (2021) Sum Lam, Via Ren, Hong Kong

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Rififi (1955) The Greatest Heist Film ever and thats saying a lot when you have the films of Jean - Pierre Melville to go up against.  Jules Dassin, blackballed from Hollywood,  goes to France and makes this masterpiece. 10 out of 10.

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Harakiri (1962) The greastest Samurai Film ever,  and thats saying a lot going up against Akira Kurosawa.  Masaki Kobayashi makes a Samurai masterpiece which , like Jules Dassin's Rififi, builds beautifully to a very poignant climax.  Tatsuya Nakadai  stars here in one of his greatest performances. 10 out of 10.

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The Great Silence, (1968) The greatest Western ever, and thats saying a lot with Sergio Leone being a master of that genre and the Sphagetti Western genre in general.  Sergio Corbucci delivers this masterpiece which goes against every Hollywood Western trope and succeeds, very well.  Jean-Louis Trintgnant gives possibly his greatest performance and never utters a word.   Klaus Kinski also gives one of his greatest performances. 10 out of 10.

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Black Orpheus, (1959)  Director Marcel Camus takes this Greek tragedy and sets it in 1950's Rio De Janeiro Carnival.  This masterpiece features fantastic on location filming, direction, acting, and musical scoring.  10 out of 10.

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Black Crab  (2022)  Sweden/Dir: Adam Berg  -  Set during an unspecified war in Northern Europe, the story centers on Caroline Edh (Noomi Rapace), a mother who has been conscripted to fight for one of the warring factions. Things are looking grim for her side, with the other side poised to win a decisive victory, but in a last ditch effort, Caroline is assigned to a small group of soldiers tasked with transporting a top secret package to an isolated island base. The roads and the skies are dominated by the enemy, so her team must make their way on ice skates across the frozen seas. This urgent mission is codenamed "Black Crab".

I enjoyed this one much more than I expected. The details are deliberately vague regarding the war, and the characters are slight, although the acting is superb. The cinematography and score are excellent, as well.    (7/10)

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Athena  (2022)  France/Dir: Romain Gavras  -  When a boy is killed by police and the incident is caught on cellphone video, violence erupts in Athena, a sprawling public housing complex. The story centers on the three older brothers of the murdered kid: Karim (Sami Slimane), the charismatic young leader of the uprising; Moktar (Ouassini Embarek), a career criminal and drug dealer whose sole concern is getting his stash out of the area before the police lock it down; and Abdel (Dali Benssalah), a decorated soldier respected by the authorities who provides a link between the rioters and the police.

The mildly engaging plot is overshadowed by the film's structural conceit - the majority of the movie is comprised of very lengthy "single take" shots, some stretching as long as 11 minutes. The seams are visible (this kind of thing has been enough now to pick up on the tricks used), and for the most part I didn't find it added anything to the experience. Supposedly the right-wing in France was enraged by the film and criticized it as a call to "civil war". The director is the son of Costa-Gavras.   (6/10)

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1975

and I’ve also seen …

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Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) Ishiro Honda, Japan

Spacemen in tin foil uniforms from the Third Planet of the Black Hole retrieve Mechagodzilla from the bottom of the sea and rebuild it for this sequel.  There are some pretty funny battles of the big monsters including some boxing.  I felt sorry for the actors in those rubber monster suits as they were constantly surrounded by explosions and giant fireballs.  Must have gotten pretty hot!

 

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Ła Betę (1975) Walerian Borowczyk, Poland

A young woman travels with her aunt to a a country estate for an arranged marriage.  They learn of a legend of a woman who was raped by a beast.  It devolves into repetitious hard core porn quite quickly.  Even Marcel Dalio could not save this one.

 

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Oh Seagull, Have You Seen the Ocean? An Encounter (1975) Kenji Yoshida, Japan

A kooky high rise window washer is infatuated with a depressed young office worker.  This was just a mess, IMO.  And the third Japanese film that I have seen about window washers falling for office workers.  Also Vertigo (2019) and Gondola (1987).

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Incantation  (2022)  Taiwan/Dir: Kevin Ko  -  A woman struggles to protect her young daughter from a supernatural curse, and is aided by a team of amateur ghost hunters. Told in a faux-documentary, found-footage style. Some inventive body horror and creepy atmosphere slightly elevate the material, although there were probably a lot of cultural details that were lost on me.   (6/10)

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RRR  (2022)  India/Dir: S.S. Rajamouli  -  Absurd over-the-top action extravaganza based on real historical figures. Raju (Ram Charan) is a tough-as-mails cop working for the British colonial forces. He's tasked with tracking down Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), a villager said to be in Delhi in a search for a missing girl. 

There's a lot going on this over-3-hour epic, but I'll leave most of the details out as their development is a highlight. This was a global smash hit, and was one of the most talked about movies earlier this year, but I was disappointed in it. The action scenes are ridiculous and physics-defying, but largely entertaining. The musical digressions are grating for me, though, and the romance was clumsy. And the running time was too much. The film was made in Telugu, but the version I saw was in Hindi. I'm not sure what language this version had the British characters speaking in; it certainly wasn't English, and at times sounded German and at others Russian. All of it was subtitled. Weird.    (6/10)

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Gamera, the Giant Monster  (1965)  Japan/Dir: Noriaki Yuasa  -  First in the giant turtle monster series. The flying, fire-breathing Gamera is awakened from slumber beneath the Arctic ice, and he commences to wreak havoc on Japan. Shot in B&W and very cheap looking, this was a quickie Godzilla rip-off produced by Daiei Studios that proved to be a bigger hit than they expected, leading to several sequels. Much like in the first Godzilla film, Gamera here is a destructive monster, but in later films became a protector of humanity, particularly children. This was my first time seeing the original Japanese version of this, as I'd only seen the American version, dubbed in English and with additional scenes featuring Brian Donlevy and Albert Dekker.    (5/10)

 

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Return of Daimajin  (1966)  Japan/Dir: Kenji Misumi

Wrath of Daimajin  (1966)  Japan/Dir: Kazuo Mori

The second and third films in the Daimajin series. In each film, poor villagers are beset by hardships caused by evil outsiders. The villagers' only hope is their local deity Daimajin, whom they worship in the form of a huge stone statue that comes to life by the end of each film. All 3 of these films are a cut above a lot of the kaiju (giant monster) movies of the period, and their historical setting is a bonus. The third film was at one time released in the West as Return of Majin,  as well as Majin Strikes Again.  (7/10 for both)

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Even the Wind Is Afraid  (1968)  Mexico/Dir: Carlos Enrique Taboada  -  Several students at an exclusive girls school encounter unexplainable phenomena. Good performances and superb atmosphere make this low-key horror tale worth checking out.   (7/10)

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Gamera vs. Jiger  (1970)  Japan/Dir: Noriaki Yuasa  -  Sixth entry in the Gamera film series. This time the giant turtle battles Jiger, a horned, 4-legged giant monster that shoots darts and has a poisoned barb on its tail. It's tied to a cursed statue that was removed from a remote island. Typical Gamera-movie stuff, with sub-par special effects, and a bunch of kids in the cast. Also released as Gamera vs. Monster X.   (4/10)

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Casanova 70 1965 SNC France. Carlo Ponti France Italy prod. Directed by Mario Monicelli. Marcello Mastroianni Virna Lisi Michele Mercier Marisa Mell. Good comedy with a great Marcello as a volatile seducer , he seeks psychiatric help because he needs a situation of danger for physical stimulation, he can seduce every woman he wants with terrible results....A series of sketches,vignettes,a bit long but funny and enjoyable.116 minutes In Italian with subs.6.5/10

 

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La Religieuse aka The Nun 2013. Worso Films France Germany Belgium. Directed by Guillaume Nicloux. Pauline Etienne Isabelle Huppert. Adapted in 1966 by Jacques Rivette,featured Anna Karina in the title role,heavily censured,even  barred  then, Simone Simonin la Religieuse is a famous book from Diderot. This is the 2013 adaptation.Set in 1765, Simone is forced by her parents to become a nun and to live in various covents, Huppert arrives in the middle of the film as the crazed,sex starved, lesbian mother superior, right in Huppert's alley...What an incredible actress,my favorite,imho the best actress in the world (she does theatre as well), she loves all her roles and is a workaolic A good movie .114 minutes 6.75/10

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