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aren't there any fun foreign films?


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#1 of 76 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:17 AM

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. Posted Image
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#2 of 76 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:28 AM

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 of 76 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:32 AM

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 of 76 OFFLINE   Mitty

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:38 AM

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.

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#5 of 76 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:38 AM

Yes,

perhaps you mean Like Water For Chocolate... and Benigni's Il Mostro is quite amusing...

Cheers,


#6 of 76 OFFLINE   Simon Massey

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:39 AM

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 of 76 OFFLINE   Ryan Peter

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:39 AM

Il Mostro, as mentioned, is great.
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#8 of 76 OFFLINE   Mark Evans

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:52 AM

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...
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#9 of 76 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted January 13 2002 - 08:52 AM

Quote:
Il Mostro
Good choice... wish I'd have said that...
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#10 of 76 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted January 13 2002 - 09:11 AM

I'll second the vote for Amelie. It was delightful. Another fun foreign film is The Gods Must Be Crazy.

#11 of 76 OFFLINE   Ken Jones

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Posted January 13 2002 - 09:42 AM

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.

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#12 of 76 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted January 13 2002 - 09:42 AM

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. Posted Image
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#13 of 76 OFFLINE   Scott H

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Posted January 13 2002 - 09:45 AM

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.
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#14 of 76 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted January 13 2002 - 09:56 AM

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.
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#15 of 76 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted January 13 2002 - 10:13 AM

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

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#16 of 76 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

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Posted January 13 2002 - 10:29 AM

By fun, I take it that heavy dramas like Farewell, My Concubine are out of the question then, huh? Posted Image

For less serious foreign films in recent years, I enjoyed the following:

Amelie
Life Is Beautiful
Divided We Fall
Together
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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#17 of 76 OFFLINE   Ryan Peter

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Posted January 13 2002 - 10:32 AM

Mr. Tooze, :b that's what happens when you only read the first post. Posted Image
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#18 of 76 OFFLINE   Nate Anderson

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Posted January 13 2002 - 10:57 AM

Get Real (Great Britian)
Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (France)

Those are two of my favorites...
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#19 of 76 OFFLINE   Mark Pfeiffer

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Posted January 13 2002 - 11:21 AM

Talk about a tough question. I guess The Dreamlife of Angels probably won't be getting added to your collection any time soon. Posted Image

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.
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#20 of 76 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted January 13 2002 - 11:57 AM

Quote:
By "fun", I assume you mean comedies or lighter fare.
It's not as simple as that. I don't really understand it myself.

Here are some more examples for me. Maybe someone will see a pattern. Posted Image

Bridge over the River Kwai is fun (for me), Lawrence of Arabia isn't
Goodfellas is fun, Taxi Driver isn't
Sleeper is fun, Annie Hall isn't
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly is fun, The Searchers isn't
Top Hat is fun, An American in Paris isn't
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir is fun, Wuthering Heights isn't
Stalag 17 is fun, Sunset Boulevard isn't
High Noon is fun, Stagecoach isn't
Godfather is fun, Raging Bull isn't
To Have & Have Not is fun, Treasure of the Sierra Madre isn't

And so forth. Please note that I understand how 'good' many of the films are that I don't have 'fun' watching. Let the psychoanalysis begin. Posted Image
"Movies should be like amusement parks. People should go to them to have fun." - Billy Wilder

"Subtitles good. Hollywood bad." - Tarzan, Sight & Sound 2012 voter.

"My films are not slices of life, they are pieces of cake." - Alfred Hitchcock"My great humility is just one of the many reasons that I...





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