aren't there any fun foreign films?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by george kaplan, Jan 13, 2002.

  1. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    Like all of us, I love film, but there’s tons that I haven’t seen. I use books and lists, etc. to select new films to watch, and the holes in what I’ve seen has been getting considerably smaller. Those that I like enough I add to my dvd (originally my ld) collection. It may take watching two or three movies to find one I like enough to buy, but I’m always glad I’ve seen the new film, even if I didn’t like it much.
    Before I get to my problem, let me just explain quickly how I evaluate a film. I do it two-dimensionally, as art and as entertainment. And for me, it is the second one that is more important. I only buy films I enjoy and would have fun watching again. No matter how good a film is, if I don’t enjoy watching it, I’m not going to buy it. Raging Bull and Taxi Driver are both great films, but I did not have fun watching them, hence neither are in my dvd collection. The Long, Long Trailer isn’t great art, but I enjoy it, hence I own it. Of course, the best films are the ones that are both (The Apartment, Rear Window, The Godfather, Casablanca). The enjoyment factor of a film is a lot more subjective than that art factor, but that’s what guides my purchases.
    Foreign films have been a problem for me. I’ve seen dozens of the highly recommended ones, but so far, only two of them have been ones I’ve enjoyed enough to watch again. Many of them I agree are great art (The Bicycle Thief, Umbrellas of Cherbourgh, Seven Samurai) but I didn’t ‘enjoy’ watching them. Some I think are artistically overrated (Cries and Whispers, Alphaville). So far, only M and Metropolis have been ones I’ve wanted to see again.
    Either foreign films are somehow by their very nature the type of film I don’t like (e.g., All About Eve, Annie Hall) or I’m just not seeing the right ones.
    Since some of you are very knowledgeable about foreign films, I’m asking for recommendations. I’ve already seen the foreign film equivalents of All about Eve, Gone with the Wind, and A Streetcar Named Desire, so what are the foreign film equivalents of Double Indemnity, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, North by Northwest and How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying? I want to start watching some foreign films I’ll actually enjoy. [​IMG]
     
  2. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2000
    Messages:
    3,055
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thats pretty tough George... it sounds like guessing your personal tastes would be next to impossible...
    I have a thread running where people post their top 100 Foreign Language Films...
    It is HERE
    I would recommed the following:

    1 * The Passion of Joan of Arc * Dreyer * 1928
    2 * Mirror * Tarkovsky * 1975
    3 * The Bicycle Thief * De Sica * 1948
    4 * Le Notti di Cabiria * Fellini * 1957
    5 * Autumn Sonata * Bergman * 1978
    6 * Andrei Rublev * Tarkovsky * 1969
    7 * Ordet * Dreyer * 1955
    8 * The 400 Blows * Truffault * 1959
    9 * Ikiru * Kurosawa * 1952
    10 * Red * Kieslowski * 1994
    11 * Summer * Rohmer * 1986
    12 * In The Mood For Love * Kar-Wai * 2000
    13 * Les parapluies de Cherbourg * Demy * 1964
    14 * High and Low * Kurosawa * 1963
    15 * Beau Pere * Blier * 1981
    16 * Grande Illusion * Renoir * 1937
    17 * Il Grido * Antonioni * 1957
    18 * Not One Less * Yimou * 1999
    19 * Tokyo Story * Ozu * 1953
    20 * Chloe in the Afternoon * Rohmer * 1972
    21 * Vive L'Amour * Tsai * 1994
    22 * The Woman Next Door * Truffault * 1981

    as some of the best cinema I have ever seen... but, as I have said it is pretty personal... is it sub-titles that you don't like ?
     
  3. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    1
    Italian comedies are revered and enjoyed by many around the world. Probably the most recognizable Italian comedic actor is the guy from Life is Beautiful. I believe he was in Lobster for Breakfast, a quite enjoyable film.

    Then again, I have a dramatically different outlook on movies than George. Entertainment and art are really two sides of the same coin, as far as I'm concerned. Taxi Driver is, indeed, enjoyable: Deniro makes me want to watch him over and over again, with a big bag of popcorn. I don't sit there and pick out the cinemotagrophy and art direction- heck, I don't even know what those terms mean. Also, Office Space is art: clever dialogue and new comedic twists is creative, artistic expression.

    However, I still think you would enjoy Italian comedies like Lobster for Breakfest and Bread and Chocolate (or is it Chocolate and Bread? I don't remember exactly what it's called. My memory stinks.:b )
     
  4. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 1999
    Messages:
    886
    Likes Received:
    5
    Currently playing in theatres, Amelie is exactly what you're looking for. In fact, Delicatessan, also from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is another fun foreign film with high rewatchability.
    La Cage Aux Folles is another.
    The thing about foreign language films is that we only see the good, acclaimed ones. The others don't get exported to other countries. Like it or not, "good" sometimes translates, among critics, to "dramatic." But, yes, you're right, it seems that many of the films that get press in North America can seem inaccessible. It almost seems that in order to break a cultural barrier and make it palatable to English speaking audiences, it somehow needs to sum up the conditions, or cultural identity of the originating country. That way we can stand around and have pseudo-intellectual discussions on them. And sometimes, that's not entertaining.
    Another reason some foreign films don't seem fun is that, frankly, we don't know enough about the country of origin to "get" them. Look at many of the acclaimed comedies that are released in North American - the Coen Brothers' films, Wes Anderson, and so on. These films depend on a certain level of pop culture awareness for their maximum effect. It's pretty difficult to be culturally "in the know" unless you live in that place.
    Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. That carries a high degree of probability. [​IMG]
     
  5. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2000
    Messages:
    3,055
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes,
    perhaps you mean Like Water For Chocolate... and Benigni's Il Mostro is quite amusing...
    Cheers,
     
  6. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,382
    Likes Received:
    202
    Location:
    Kuwait
    Real Name:
    Simon Massey
    Recent Foreign films that I could recommend are Amelie, Brotherhood of the Wolf, and The Devil's Backbone, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. All are different genres as well.
     
  7. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 1999
    Messages:
    1,220
    Likes Received:
    0
    Il Mostro, as mentioned, is great.
     
  8. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2001
    Messages:
    585
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ah, I don't see enough foreign films to be a great judge, but I do know what I like.
    Run Lola Run is one of my favorite films from any country, a great little action movie that also has a lot to do about fate and how people's lives can work out different just because some stranger does one little thing like run into them on the street or not run into them.
    It's visually very appealing, and very hard to describe. But I'd definitely recommend checking it out. I don't know many people who haven't found it at the very least entertaining...
     
  9. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2000
    Messages:
    3,055
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  10. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,694
    Likes Received:
    164
    I'll second the vote for Amelie. It was delightful. Another fun foreign film is The Gods Must Be Crazy.
     
  11. Ken Jones

    Ken Jones Auditioning

    Joined:
    May 2, 1999
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting thread, George.
    One of my basic requirements is that a movie take me to an interesting place where I have an experience I could not have had otherwise.
    Great points by Mitty regarding the context of the humor. However, this is one of the most appealing traits of foreign films. European comedies have a subtle humor that you almost never see in a US film.
    Also, Mitty's point about primarily 'acclaimed' films being exported. In the past we have only really had a chance to see the great movies, which more often than not tackle serious subjects. Thankfully this is changing with home video.
    As a bit of an Anglophile I tend towards films from the UK. Re: my point above I'm more interested in a new experience even if it isn't a production in the category of NBNW, et el.
    Fever Pitch (Colin Firth) and East is East are two which are slice of life types that are in the mold of The Full Monty. Not *great* films by any stretch but certainly worth two hours of your time.
    Regards,
    P.S. Boston Celtics 16 time NBA Champs :
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thanks for all the ideas. And Mitty, I think what you said makes a lot of sense.
    I actually already have one on my list that no one mentioned that I have high hopes for: Rififi. Any thoughts on that one?
    Ken, I was really thinking of foreign language. I love british humor (A Hard Day's Night, Monty Python).
    As to your Boston Celtics remark, you're correct, but let's talk in 4 years. [​IMG]
     
  13. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2000
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmm, three of my favorite films from last year are foreign, and I'd classify them as "fun":

    The Princess and The Warrior (Germany)

    Amelie (France)

    The Devil's Backbone (Spain)

    I also believe that in general I may find foreign films often more "fun" than US ones. That's not to say that they are not simultaneously serious. Examples: The Dish, Full Monty, Run Lola Run, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Legend of Drunken Master, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down, The Closet, Belle Epoque, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Trainspotting, Strictly Ballroom, more.
     
  14. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    9,306
    Likes Received:
    0
    And, of course, though it's still coming out in U.S. theaters, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, the best action/adventure movie out of any country in years.
     
  15. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1999
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd recommend:

    Amelie

    Belle Epoque

    Cinema Paradiso

    Central Station

    Like Water for Chocolate

    Run Lola Run

    Strictly Ballroom

    Shall We Dance?

    The Third Man
     
  16. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 1998
    Messages:
    3,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    By fun, I take it that heavy dramas like Farewell, My Concubine are out of the question then, huh? [​IMG]
    For less serious foreign films in recent years, I enjoyed the following:
    Amelie
    Life Is Beautiful
    Divided We Fall
    Together
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    ~Edwin
     
  17. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 1999
    Messages:
    1,220
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mr. Tooze, :b that's what happens when you only read the first post. [​IMG]
     
  18. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2001
    Messages:
    1,152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Get Real (Great Britian)

    Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (France)

    Those are two of my favorites...
     
  19. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 1999
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    0
    Talk about a tough question. I guess The Dreamlife of Angels probably won't be getting added to your collection any time soon. [​IMG]
    By "fun", I assume you mean comedies or lighter fare. The Closet, which should be coming to DVD sometime soon, is worth a look. The Dinner Game also falls into that category. (Same director too, I think.)
    Here are some links to my reviews of films that might fit your criteria:
    Big Deal on Madonna Street
    Le Million
    Le Trou
    Mississippi Mermaid
    Open Your Eyes (that is, if you considered Vanilla Sky fun)
    Peeping Tom (a "British Psycho)
    Rififi
    Un Flic
    (I wouldn't necessarily consider Fever Pitch foreign, so to speak, although it is. Consider it a sports equivalent of High Fidelity.)
    And there's always Plucking the Daisy, which is most definitely not serious, heavy cinema.
     
  20. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
     

Share This Page