Foreign Language Film Watch

For the films of 2018
anonymous1980
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:27 am

BuyBust (Erik Matti) ***1/2 - A rookie female police officer joins a drug buy-bust operation that goes horribly wrong and must shoot and fight her way out the byzantine maze-like slum areas to survive. This is my favorite Filipino film I've seen this year so far. Director Erik Matti proves once again he is the Philippines' most reliable genre filmmakers and he crafts a stunningly bone-crunching and intense action movie. It's quite similar to The Raid movies in its style but it does have some depth and social commentary to go along with the insane action sequences. If you're in any way familiar with what's happening in the Philippines today, you'll know what I'm talking about. It's a must-see.

Will it get submitted? It's a genre film that will definitely find an audience with the action genre fans and could get director Erik Matti some meetings with Hollywood. But I doubt it will be submitted. If it did, it will have a hard time getting a nod due to its genre trappings.

It will be available on Netflix in November. I highly recommend it.

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:24 am

Sweden - Border or Ted - Show Me Love (aka A Moon of My Own)

Sweden have two possibilities, neither of which are likely to make any head way into the competition. I'm not aware of any other Swedish films at this point that Sweden would consider and given that one of the films (Border) has international recognition and the other (Ted) was a big domestic hit, one or the other seems highly likely for selection.

Border is the second feature film by Ali Abbasi and won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes and is based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist best known for Let the Right One In. Being a genre film will work against it, though if the film was to gain some sort of profile in the U.S. it could pick up a makeup nomination, which would be fully deserved. It also shares some of the sensibilities of Let the Right One In. It's an oddity that didn't really work for me save the central performance by Eva Melander in extraordinary makeup but I think Border is destined for cult status.

Ted - Show Me Love (aka A Moon of My Own) is the new film from Hannes Holm who directed the Oscar nominated A Man Called Ove a couple of years ago. This is a standard autobiography flick, loosely based Ted Gardestad who was a pop sensation in Sweden during the 1970s. The film charts his rise and fall and includes actors playing the members of ABBA which was really the only point of interest for me and probably anyone outside of Sweden. Apparently this has been hugely successful in Sweden.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:36 am

Iran - No Date, No Signature

The second film from Vahid Jalilvand was warmly received at last years Venice Film Festival and has been playing the festival circuit since and would appear to almost certain to be Iran's candidate. It's a compelling drama about a coroner involved in a minor road accident with a family on a motorbike who the next day discovers that the 8 year old son is in the mortuary awaiting an autopsy. In what is rather typical for Iranian cinema events escalate and tensions rise. Overall, its a good satisfied drama in the vein of Asghar Farhadi to some degree but far from that directors better films. I think better films will probably beat it out but its in there with a chance.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:14 am

Norway - U July 22

It has become common place for filmmakers to make films of human tragedies not that long after they have occurred. United 93 (2006) and Taj Mahal (2015) both come to mind. Now we have U July 22 which is inspired by the mass shooting on the small island of Utøya which is located just 38km out of the centre of Oslo. No doubt most people have some degree of familiarity with the tragedy that unfolded in Oslo that day. U July 22, directed by Erik Poppe, who also directed The King's Choice which made the Academy's Foreign Language Shortlist a couple of years ago, captures the panic and terror of the unknown that unfollowed over more than 1 hour late in the afternoon of 22 July 2011. The film is not based on real characters but on a fictional one called Kaja (Andrea Berntzen) and everything is pretty much told through her viewpoint. It has also been filmed in one take (apparently 5 takes were filmed with the 4th take used for the finished film).

Needless to say this is a most unsettling experience which perfectly captures the confusion, pain, fear, anger that the mainly young people on that island must have felt. Whilst Kaja is not based on a real person some of the scenes are based on actual events that happened.

I think there is a good chance Norway will submit this film. It was commerically successful, has generated good to excellent reviews and never falls into the gratuitous or exploitive territory. With the world seemingly spinning into madness, its a very timely film and the issue of gun control is a universal one worldwide. This has a very good chance of making the final five and would make a very respectable candidate. That it will get people to talk and hopefully take positive steps towards gun control can only be a good outcome.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:15 am

I've seen a few films in recent days which are highly likely to be representing their respective countries.

Japan - Shoplifters

I've already stated, sight unseen, that Shoplifters after its Cannes win is on it's way to Oscar victory but after seeing the film I must retract that statement. It will almost certainly make the final 5 but its not top tier Koreeda and the last quarter of the film turns dark. Nothing that would offend the Academy in any way but the film may be too low key to actually win. It's yet another film by Koreeda in which children are the primary focus and he has a knack for natural unaffected performances from them.

Iceland - Woman at War

I expect this to be Icelands first nomination in about 20 years and possibly its first winner with this very timely, entertaining and audience friendly film. The basic story is a woman going a crusade for the environment in Iceland and the results are constantly engaging and at times oddly funny. It's beautifully paced and features a strong central performance by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir who is in virtually every scene. One of its themes is very much anti-establishment which is bound to resonant with the Academy. It's a good little film in its own right anyway and would be a popular respectable winner.

Turkey - The Wild Pear

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 2014 Cannes winner Winter Sleep couldn't make the shortlist. This is a lesser film, that runs about 10 minutes less than Winter Sleep but without its focus and expertly drawn characters. There is still lots to admire but this film won't be going anywhere with the Academy. Worth noting that it was generally very well received at Cannes but it did have its detractors and failed to win any prizes. Actually, one nomination the film should get that it won't is for the stunning cinematography by Gökhan Tiryaki, who has shoot most of Ceylans films.

South Korea - Burning

Burning has the honour of receiving the best reviews of any film at the recent Cannes film festival and yet failed to win a single jury prize. To be fair to the jury it is not the most accessible film and whilst I was entranced for its two and a half hour running time I can certainly appreciate that some will find it ponderous and dull. It will be interesting to see if South Korea submit this. Burning is Chang-dong Lee's first film since Poetry back in 2010 and he was banned, for political reasons, for making films during most of that period. Given that background Burning is not overtly political though it does have political undertones in its deception of the divide between the haves and have nots. It's something of a third hander with Ah-In Yoo taking the lead role and Steven Yeun & Jong-seo Jeon in two crucial supporting roles. It's a film of mystery, actually many mysteries and to say anymore may spoil it. The film also virtually eliminates that wacky over the top manner that so many Korean films have. Despite my admiration for the film I think it will have a tough time making the shortlist with virtually no hope of a final 5 spot. Burning is my favourite film of 2018 so far.

Paraguay - The Heiresses

This is the feature film debut of Marcelo Martinessi and what a fine one it is. Martinessi shows great command of storytelling only outlining what we need to know. The story begins when one member of a female same sex couple is due to spend time in prison for fraud (we do not find out any further details of this) and her partner, the excellent Ana Run, must fend for herself. Beautifully observed and filmed in a somewhat claustrophobic manner to heighten the limitations imposed on the characters. There can be no doubt that Paraguay will submit this award winning film which has a good chance of making the shortlist and main competition itself.

Hungary - One Day

This is another first features that focuses on one day in the life of a mother of three who not only has to deal with day to day problems of raising a family whilst holding down a job, but on a day in which she has found out her husband has been cheating on her with her best friend. It dabbles a little into soap and really didn't display much insight in just how people cope juggling all these demands. I really can't see this film getting far.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:54 am

Poland - Cold Wars or Mug?

Poland have two 'festival approved' film to choose from. Cold War, which won Pawel Pawlikowski the director's prize at Cannes and Malgorzata Szumowska's Mug which scored second prize in the Berlin competition beyond Golden Bear winner from Romania Touch Me Not which won't be figuring in this thread because it is in English.

Cold War comes across as Pawlikowski trying to strike gold again given that the film it is (stunningly) shot in 1:33:1 B&W with pretty much the same level of bleakness applied to Ida. However, this fragmented story of a relationship spanning from 1949 to 1964, across a number of European cities is a plodding and tedious affair, despite it's short running time. Agata Kulesza shows up for a few scenes earlier on and doesn't really have very much to do whilst Joanna Kulig is hopelessly inadequate in the female lead. She plays the entire role virtually as a teenage girl on heat with there is no sense of the passing of time or maturity on her part. To be fair though Kulig has little to work with here.

Whilst on the surface Mug may tell the story of a young man badly disfigured in a work accident who undergoes a facial transplant, but it is really a dark satire about the moral hypocrisy rift in Catholic Poland. It misses more than it hits and is distinguished by some striking cinematography will divide opinion. The film works to a point but I felt the it was sharp or focused enough.

I suspect they will go with the Pawlikowski but either way I don't see either of these two films getting beyond the shortlist.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:24 am

Something I forgot which has a very good chance of making the shortlist before going on to make it places in the final five is a British/France/Germany co-production, I Am Not a Witch, directed by newcomer Rungnao Nyoni which received a rapturous welcome at last years Cannes Film Festival. Can't remember which Africa country that the film is set but is the story of a young girl accused of being a witch. Its most likely that the United Kingdom will submit the film, and it was released in the years qualifying period.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:27 am

Another possible Filipino submission:

Season of the Devil (Lav Diaz) ***1/2 - It's 1979, during the Marcos Martial Law years. A poet's wife who's a village doctor gets kidnapped by the corrupt military who's supporting a corrupt demagogue. This is the latest from director Lav Diaz and it's four hours long. If you know Lav Diaz, that's actually kind of short for him. It is very much a politically charged...MUSICAL. Yes, musical. There's barely any spoken dialogue in this film. Pratically, every line is either a song, a poem, some sort of rap or talk-sing....and it's all A CAPELLA. Yes, the characters not only break into song and sing live, they do it without music. It's a wild exercise, even for an experimental filmmaker like Diaz. You either open yourself up to it or you check out immediately. I was largely into it. It's not my favorite from him but it's still an extraordinary piece of work that may test your patience especially if you're not used to his style. It features beautiful black & white cinematography and some great performances that produce some great moments. A huge chunk of the audience (mostly seniors who got in for free) left after an hour or so. It's definitely not for Diaz beginners.

Will it get submitted? It will definitely be in consideration since Lav Diaz is an AMPAS member and he's quite well-know in the international film festival circuit. But a four-hour slow-paced black & white a cappella musical may be too out there for the average Academy member and if they could not nominate a more accessible previous submission, Norte, The End of History, this one is going to be tricky.

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Tue May 29, 2018 3:27 am

FilmFan720 wrote:Custody was not on my radar at all, but I loved Just Before Losing Everything (easily my favorite of the shorts that year). This just became high on my watchlist!


Hopefully the eventual home video release will include the short film.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon May 28, 2018 9:32 am

Custody was not on my radar at all, but I loved Just Before Losing Everything (easily my favorite of the shorts that year). This just became high on my watchlist!
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Mon May 28, 2018 4:06 am

Probably premature for me to say considering the chances of me having already seen a single entry from an country so far is remote but I think Japan has this in the bag with Shoplifters.

Whilst there were numerous other films shown as Cannes that were well received few seemed to play as well as Shoplifters was, Hirokazu Kore-eda has a history of making very accessible films that also have pedigree stamped all over them.

His biggest handicap is that Japan may select something else as they are very unpredictable with their selections. That they failed to submit Kore-ed'a Like Father, Like Son and went for some run of the mill fare that would never be played commercially outside of Japan (whatever it was I did see at a Japanese Film Festival - I think it was about a female boxer). Magnolia holding the US distribution isn't ideal but they have proven they can gain a nomination in this category and knowing what they have on their hands, they should be able to promote this to victory with the Academy.

The only film(s) I have seen that could be selected are both from France: See You Up There & Custody. I actually think Custody has a leg up because it was an extension of a short film made by director Xavier Legrand called Just Before Losing Everything, which itself was nominated in Best Short Film, Live Action category a few years ago by the Academy. I have not seen the short film but you don't need to see it to understand or appreciate Custody which works perfectly well as a stand alone film. Custody has also been highly praised outside of France, whilst See You Up There remains little seen outside of France and I would rate it chances of making the shortlist as very good.
Last edited by Precious Doll on Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon May 28, 2018 12:56 am

I thought we could dedicate this thread in watching out and reviewing potential Foreign Language Film entries and contenders especially since we have members from all over the world. It could give us an insight on such things.

I'll start us off:

Citizen Jake (Mike de Leon) ***1/2 - Mike de Leon is one of Philippine cinema's major directors. This is his first film in almost eighteen years! So it is pretty much an event. It's about a journalist whose father is a corrupt Marcos loyalist politician who investigates a mysterious death of a young student. It's a politically charged film with heavy elements of neo-noir and mockumentary/meta elements. The film definitely lines up with my personal feelings towards the current political climate in the Philippines and therefore makes me angry (in a good way). Though it's far from a perfect film, there's plenty to admire about it and its heart is in the right place. Mike de Leon still shows that he is one of my country's important filmmakers and people should definitely give this film a shot.

Will it get submitted? It will certainly be considered. Oddly enough, despite being a giant in Filipino cinema and creating some of undisputed classics in the late '70s and '80s, none of Mike de Leon's films have ever been submitted for Oscar consideration (at least not according to my research).


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