Foreign Language Film Watch

For the films of 2018
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:32 am

Girl - Belgium

This film about a trans teenage (transitioned from male to female) who aspire a career in ballet, was something of a hit at Cannes. The film is an intimate observation piece that is very engaging from beginning to end. I found myself totally immersed Lara's world and the film handles the subject matter with a great deal of sensitivity and director Lukas Dhont know how and when to hit one in the guts so to speak.

Even before seeing the film I had it pegged as Belgium's entry and seeing the film has not changed that prediction but I did happen to read an article in Variety just after seeing the film that thought the film may run into a backlash in the U.S https://variety.com/2018/film/news/girl ... 202896291/. Provided an internet Lynch mob doesn't descend against the film closer to its release it stands a good chance of making the shortlist. And just for the record Victor Polster who plays Lara is excellent and appropriately cast and besides I've always thought it was called 'acting', but I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Giant/Everybody Knows - Spain

I wasn't going to include Spain because to be honest I hadn't seen anything that I thought Spain would consider but it has just been reported that these two films along with Campeones are on the Spanish short list and the finalist will be announced on 6 September.

I really shouldn't be that shocked the Everybody Knows is being considered, despite its fairly tepid response at Cannes. After all it stars Spain's two biggest international stars and is written and directed by recent two time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi. Given the on-going antics of that fool (a way too kind word to describe Trump), the selection of this film as a nominee will only fuel negative worldwide publicity for Trump by Hollywood but given that one also wants to see the most deserving and acclaimed films hold court in this category a place for this film would be totally inappropriate.

It's a very watchable film - to a point but in the end what may be most interesting about it is what happens after the film has ended. Farhadi seems a little ill at ease out of his comfort zone with this one and the story which is a family drama centre around a kidnapping is nowhere near as gripping or as clever as it should be. Its very much a lesser work by a very capable director and at times feels like a first draft without the thought given to much of his earlier work. Much was made about the 'big revelation' in the film, which was apparently meet with much eye rolling at Cannes. It's one of those revelations that if you hadn't already guessed (like most of the audience I would imagine) you won't be the least surprised.

Anyway, if the Academy want to be political this will get in but if they won't to place excellence first it hasn't got a chance.

I found The Giant (Handia), co-directed by Aitor Arregi & Jon Garano a little disappointing. I'm a big fan of one of the directors (Jon Garano) previous films Flowers (2014) & For 80 Days (2010) which are both very small intimate films. The Giant however paints its story over a much larger canvas, is very much in the vein of an old time fairytale, and is beautifully mounted but it simply lacks that magical quality that fairytales require. I really can't see this film getting any traction from the Academy.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:42 am

Dogman/Happy as Lazzaro - Italy

Italy would appear to have to good ones to choose from this year that are internationally know. Both happen to play at Cannes, both were well received and both one a prize each (Dogman - Actor) & Happy as Lazzaro - Screenplay). But Italy is notorious for going off and selecting some obscure film that nobody much outside of Italy has ever heard so we'll have to wait and see.

Between these two films I think Dogman is more to the Academy taste, however I think that Happy as Lazzaro is the better film and more deserving of the honour of representing Italy but it will have a harder time making the shortlist and more so the final five. It's such a delicate piece filmed at times in an almost dream world that rarely collides with the present. Just too delicate for the Academy's taste I would think, which is such a shame as it is a highly original and rewarding experience.
"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 Aug 11, 2018 8:17 am

Saw a couple of films during the Filipino Cinemalaya Film Festival. Sometimes an Oscar entry premieres here.

Mamang (Denise O'Hara) *** - Set sometime in the '70s or '80s, it's about the relationship between an elderly woman whose past traumas haunt her present and her adult gay son. The lead is played by Celeste Legaspi who's a pretty famous singer-actress I remember growing up. She's making a comeback in this fantastic lead role. The director is Denise O'Hara whose sister is the late Janice O'Hara who directed Sundalong Kanin and whose uncle is the late Mario O'Hara who directed Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and it seems like those three formed a sort of unofficial trilogy with this film whose twists and turns I won't spoil here. Though it's far from perfect, it's still a touching and heartfelt and I feel like it's very personal too.

Will it get submitted? I'm not sure. It doesn't feel like it will be considered.

Distance (Percy Intalan) ***1/2 - A woman estranged from her family returns after living abroad for five years to reconnect with her children and her husband. This film absolutely blew me away. Part of that is really not knowing anything and just allowing the events to unfold which gets you to feel differently about every character. It is a bit of a spoiler to say that this is actually an LGBTQ film but it has to be mentioned that this is one of best LGBTQ films of its kind. It's a restrained, beautifully humanistic piece of cinema with stellar performances all around. Young director Percy Intalan made his best work so far with this and is my favorite Filipino film this year.

Will it get submitted? It *should* be. With the right marketing, and the right eyeballs on it, it could even be a contender.

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:30 pm

Its about the possibility of being a contender not quality.
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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Reza » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:18 pm

Precious Doll wrote:Sofia - Morocco

We don't get too many film from Morocco or one dealing with issues such as sex out of wedlock that produces offspring. Morocco being what it is this scenarios creates a major headache for the parents and families of both the young people involved. The film moves off into a slightly different direction once it gets going that I wouldn't like to spoil for anyone. It's another film that would certainly be in with a chance


Didn't you just give this a 5/10?

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Re: Foreign Language Film Watch

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:37 am

The Guilty - Denmark

This has been slaying audiences across film festivals last year. It's a very tightly wound thriller set in a police emergency room and it's one particular disturbing from a young woman who appears to be in danger, not to mention the fates of her children, that set in motion this rather claustrophobic thriller. Due to its leave running time (85 minutes) it certainly holds audiences in its gripe. Would be surprised if Denmark passed on this one.

Sofia - Morocco

We don't get too many film from Morocco or one dealing with issues such as sex out of wedlock that produces offspring. Morocco being what it is this scenarios creates a major headache for the parents and families of both the young people involved. The film moves off into a slightly different direction once it gets going that I wouldn't like to spoil for anyone. It's another film that would certainly be in with a chance.

The Harvesters - South Africa

Gee, I went into this think it was going to deal with the plight of white African farmers currently facing - the violence some of them are encounter and the deadly outcomes that have emerged as a result. Instead I got a rather sombre family drama that never really digs very deep into the dynamics of the family unit and the new teenage boy that comes to live with them. To be honest the film is rather dull - though looks pretty. Don't see this one getting much traction.

Capharnaüm - Lebanon

A fucking mess and disaster of major proportions I cannot even begin to speculate why this film was at Cannes at all, particularly the Main Competition. Nadine Labaki has been appearing in film for sometime now and is a most engaging presence in almost everything she has appeared in. She has also directed to prior features Caramal (2007) & Where Do We Go Now? (2011). No great shakes either one of the but amamble enough viewing. Her latest is simply a mess with simplistic messages and no style or cohesive storytelling techniques to bring the many strands together. Some scenes go on aimlessly in search of director. Cannes 2018 is exactly shaping up as a vintage year but how the fuck did this win the Jury Prize. I do knot that Gary Oldman, who was on the jury, was crowing away about how much he liked the film so there is no doubt that help as festival juries operate under consultation and comprises.

It's worth noting that I saw the 131 minute cut of the film that was shown at Cannes. Sony Classics intend to reduce the films running time with some reports stating a relative minimal amount of cutting down to 120 minutes (which is listed on imdb - take that with a grain of salt).

I'd hate to see this make the cut period, given I found it inept utter rubbish. However, it should be noted that it did win a prize a Cannes and received a 7 minute standing ovation at Cannes. It was also one of the most poorly reviewing films shown at Cannes. A nominate could go anyway.
"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 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:27 pm

Yomeddine - Egypt

Apparently this is the first film to ever compete in competition at Cannes (I find that hard to believe so I'll take that statement with a grain of salt). It's a road movie of sorts about the friendship between a boy and a man who has recovered from leprosy and bares the physical scars. It amiable enough but their is nothing special about it in any sense to elevate it above festival foder. Chances with the Academy - minimal.

Ash is Purest White - China

I read a couple of weeks ago that China was going to get behind Ash is Purest White. What 'get behind meant' was to allow the film to find a larger audience within China. Jia Zhangke has over the last quarter of a century developed into one of the most important figures of Chinese cinema history. He is arguably better than Western favourite Zhang Yimou and like Yimou has over the years fallen fowl with the Chinese authorities. Zhangke films have all been social realist dramas, mainly contemporary, showing China warts and all.

This film was widely praised at Cannes (along with Burning & Shoplifters) and the three films were largely seen as the best of the films at Cannes this year. Ironically two of them went home empty handed. The first 100 minutes or so of this film is utter perfection and a showcase of leading lady Zhao Tao (married to the director since 2012, she has starred in most of his films over the years), but the film goes lopsided when the leading man comes back into the picture and the tone of the film changes somewhat - change of tone has never been a strong point of Zhangke as Mountains May Depart, his film prior to this film illustrates.

I would like to think that with China prepared to get behind this films home release that that will include submitting it for Academy consideration. Lately China has been submitting homegrown box office giants that have little interest outside China. I really doubt though that this film would make the final cut with the Academy. Not winning anything at Cannes hurts it with the committee and it would be relying on knowledge of Zhangke who has not broken out in the West in the way that Yimou did.

Birds of Passage - Colombia

This films is co-directored by Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra. Guerra has already received Academy attention when his first film Embrace of the Serpent was nominated in this category a few years back. I feel this is a more accessible film with a fascinating story to tell about of Colombian tribes who were living in relative harmony whose lives were dramatically changed, and not for the best, with the rise of Colombia as a major exported of drugs. Far more enlightening and engaging than most of the films that are made now dealing with the illegal drug business Gallego & Cuerra's film is beautifully rooted in the environment and history of its people. I would think this would have a relative good shot at making the shortlist.

Diamantino - Portugal

According to imdb this film will not be released commercially in Portugal until after the qualifying period however I am including it because that could change and to be honest this would be a no-brainer as an entry for Portugal. Aside from the fact that the film is immensely entertaining and socially relevant (without giving anything away anything, even just a general idea of issues facing the EU will more than enough to make the film accessible) it also completely unclassifiable and I have never seen anything like it before. It's co-directed by Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt and at its most basic level it is about a rather simply minded world champion soccer player who comes face to face with a multitude of issues. Imagination plus is on display here and comedy in large, healthy doses too. Its impossible to predict what the Academy would think of this but its worth noting that it won best film at the International Critics Week at Cannes. Its also one of the films that will be interesting to see how time treats it because so many of the themes in the film are literally ripped from headlines of issues facing the EU presently - will it become something of a time capsule of the past or date - only time will tell. Anyway, I'd love to see this make it into the final five which would help it find the bigger audience it deserves.
"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 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.
"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 » 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.
"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 » 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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