Monday, July 23, 2007
They are not from here but that's ok...
Maybe the summer blockbusters have started to wear on you or maybe you want just want to expand your movie palette.
Anyhow, I'd been meaning to put together a list like this for sometime now so here it is.
This list isn't comprehensive by any means, I always tend to forget movies when I go for comprehensive list, but these are some of my favorites and worth a look, at least in my humble opinion, if you hadn't seen them before hand.
Here are a few of my favorite foreign films, from 1990 forward.
So with no further adieu here is my list in no particular order.
RUN LOLA RUN (1999)
Run Lola Run features a story told three times, each with a different result. The premise: A courier named Manni has left a bag of mob money on the subway by mistake, money that's due to be paid in 20 minutes. Manni calls his girlfriend, Lola (Franka Potente), for help in raising replacement funds before he has to face the gangsters.
Cast Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Joachim Krol (more)
Director(s) Tom Tykwer
Writer(s) Tom Tykwer
Release Year 1999
DVD Release Date Dec. 21, 1999
Running Time 87 minutes
MPAA Rating R
Run Lola Run is one of my all time favorite films. Energetically frenetic, some might dismiss this movie as all style with no substance but it's not the case, mainly due to fantastic performances from fiery headed, literally, Franka Potente and Moritz Bleitreu. As mentioned before this film has style in spades and uses it create a wonderfully original movie watching experience.
Vampires and villains hold sway in this Cannes Festival Critics' Week Winner which tells the tale of the "Cronos Device," a 14th-century golden scarab that holds the key to eternal life. Nightmarish and surreal, this stylish film still manages to get across a healthy dose of humor as its characters battle for control of the insidious device.
Cast Claudio Brook, Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Tamara Shanath, Margarita Isabel (more)
Director(s) Guillermo Del Toro
Release Year 1994
DVD Release Date Oct. 14, 2003
Running Time 92 minutes
Cronos was the film that put Guillermo del Toro on the map. Del Toro's foreign films have always exceeded his American entries in my opinion, even though I did enjoy Hellboy quiet a bit. This modern day gothic tale of a device that turns its users into vampires does away with most of the typical vampire lore. Instead Del Toro focuses on his characters and in doing so makes a much more personal movie were we feel empathy for the protagonist plight. All in all Del Toro creates a surreal slightly twisted anti fairy tale, something he would perfect with Pan's Labyrinth.
This drama follows the last 10 days of Adolf Hitler's life, from his 56th birthday on April 20, 1945, to his suicide on April 30.
Cast Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Juliane Köhler, Thomas Kretschmann, Ulrich Matthes, Heino Ferch (more)
Director(s) Oliver Hirschbiegel
Writer(s) Bernd Eichinger
Status On DVD
Release Date March 11, 2005 — expands to limited release; March 18, 2005 —
expands to top 25 markets
DVD Release Date Aug. 2, 2005
Running Time 155 minutes
MPAA Rating R - strong violence, disturbing images, and some nudity
Downfall is a chilling character study about Hitler as he lives out his final days before his suicide April 30, 1945. Bruno Ganz gives a stellar performance as Adolf Hitler, displaying a man who's lost his grip with reality while still being incredibly cold and menacing. This film is directed with a wonderfully unsympathetic hand and puts on display the level of insanity that was at play in the Nazi command.
MURIEL'S WEDDING (1995)
Muriel (Toni Collette) spends her time in Porpoise Spit, Australia, listening to ABBA and dreaming of marriage. But Muriel is overweight, has dropped out of secretary school, and doesn't dress right. Her father (Bill Hunter) thinks she's useless, but when her mom gives her a blank check, she heads to a tropical island, the same spot where her snotty friends are vacationing without her. There she runs into Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), an old acquaintance and a free spirit. Soon they're best friends, and they eventually move to Sydney together, where opportunities and boys abound.
Cast Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths, Jeanie Drynan, Gennie Nevinson (more)
Director(s) P.J. Hogan
Release Year 1995
DVD Release Date May 18, 1999
Running Time 105 minutes
MPAA Rating R
Muriel's Wedding is fun is not entirely uplifting film that showcases Toni Collette's talents as an actress. Toni Collette put on about 40 pounds for the role and her performance is so good that it makes you forget that you are rooting for a lying, steal dysfunctional character. The ABBA soundtrack is just awesome to listen too whether you enjoy that type of music or not; it flows perfectly with film.
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, a man is released and given a wallet full of money and a cell phone. The man becomes even more confused about his circumstances when a stranger calls and asks him to figure out why he was locked up. At that moment, a woman arrives and promises to help him solve the riddle and get his revenge.
Cast Choi Min-Sik, Bo-Kyeong Kim, Yoo Ji-tae (more)
Director(s) Chan Wook Park
Writer(s) Chan Wook Park
Status On DVD
Release Date March 25, 2005 — New York/Los Angeles
DVD Release Date Aug. 23, 2005
Running Time 120 minutes
MPAA Rating R - strong violence including scenes of torture, sexuality, and perverse language
Oldboy is a thoroughly gripping magnificent piece of revenge filmmaking. The movie's extreme violence might put some people off but at it's core it's a great piece of film making that keeps you engross from the wonderfully set up conceit to it's deranged yet oddly romantically sweet ending. This is the kind of film that'll probably require multiple viewing to digest fully.
Ryo Ishibashi stars as Aoyama, a single father who has not dated since his wife died seven years earlier. To help find another woman to bring joy into Aoyama's charmless life, his best friend, television producer Yoshikawa, convinces Aoyama that they should add a fake part to a show they are auditioning actresses for--a role that will become Aoyama's real-life companion. After a series of comical auditions, in walks a woman whom Aoyama thinks is perfect--Asami, played by former model Eihi Shiina. But when Aoyama proves too tentative in his courting--and starts learning odd things about Asami's past--she decides to exact a revenge that filmgoers will never forget.
Cast Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura, Miyuki Matsuda, Ren Osugi, Renji Ishibashi (more)
Director(s) Takashi Miike
Writer(s) Daisuke Tengan
Status On DVD
Release Year 2001
DVD Release Date Aug. 23, 2005
MPAA Rating R - violence/torture and sexuality
Takashi Miike's Audition is an audacious assault on viewer expectations. Tonally, most of the movie is similar to a tender love story and shot wonderfully as such. The last 20 minutes are like hallucinatory surreal nightmare which we aren't ever told is actually happening or simply a product of the imagination, Miike's crafts this effect by never actually cluing the audience as to who's point of view we are seeing everything from. The star of the show is Eihi Shiina, her angelic façade is tempered enough to see that there is just something not right with her character in the film. Audition is definitely not for the weak of heart.
LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992)
A sensuous comic fable of a young Mexican woman's tortured life and her main influences--her domineering mother, her forbidden lover, and the overwhelmingly sensual power of food and cooking. Based on the novel by Laura Esquivel.
Cast Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, Regina Torne, Andres Garcia Jr. (more)
Director(s) Alfonso Arau
Release Year 1992
DVD Release Date Jan. 14, 2003
Running Time 114 minutes
MPAA Rating R
Like Water for Chocolate is deliciously wonderful fairy tale of a film that captures the audiences attention with 2 things common to all people, love and food. Wonderfully directed by Alfonso Arau, adapted from his wife's (Laura Esquivel) book, Arau captures the time period perfectly and allows the cast of characters to come to life in a very organic manner. Excellent performance all around from the stellar cast along with the luminous Lumi Cavazos as the title character Tita make this film a joy to watch.