Ten More Foreign Films
“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of out better selves?” Mad Max George Miller James McCausland
After ten months of isolating, most of us have exhausted the list of films and TV shows we wanted to watch if we had the time. Lately foreign TV shows and films with beautiful photography are a way of traveling for me. Here are some that I have watched or rewatched that you might like. Most can be found on Amazon Prime.
Winning the Palm D-or at Cannes is more prestigious in some circles than the Academy Award. Shoplifters is a quiet story which asks the question what is a family? This family lives together in a poor section of Tokyo relying on the grandmother’s pension and shoplifting to survive. As the film unfolds, secrets are revealed and your conventions of morality are tested. This is my personal favorite of all the films.
I rewatched Parasite. If you have not seen it, I think it is brilliant. It is a mix of black comedy, classic thriller and drama. There are twists and turns at every corner. Parasite tells the story of the Kim family. Struggling to make ends meet, the Kims decide to con a wealthy, unassuming family into hiring them in various household positions while posing as completely unrelated, highly qualified individuals. The very best films are those that become more and more impressive the longer you think about them and Parasite is an intelligent and layered narrative masterpiece. The Academy got it right this time.
No is a true story of the ad campaign that helped persuade Chileans to cast their ballots against the dictator General. Augusto Pinochet. After eight years, due to international pressure to legitimize his government, Pinochet allows a referendum on whether he will be allowed another eight years in office. This movie dramatizes the “No” campaign devised by young advertising executive René Saavedra, played by Gael García Bernal. This young media type apparently proposed to take their resistance to tyranny and sell it like some Pepsi alternative to Pinochet’s Coke. It is a fascinating and heartfelt study of democracy.
Honeyland is a documentary about a wild beekeeper in Northern Macedonia. Hatidze lives in an abandoned village with her frail mother and no electricity or running water. It is beautifully shot and for whatever reason you can watch this poor, caring, optimistic, brave woman and her bees for hours. Lucky for the filmmakers, during the three years of filming, a family moves in next door which adds more drama. The story tells of the delicate balance between humans and nature and should not be missed.
Timbuktu is a poetic response to the jihadist occupation of the title city and its imposition of Sharia law. It is the story of a city shattered by bigotry and violence. At the center of this is the tragic story of one family: a herdsman, Kidane, his wife, Satima , and their 12-year-old daughter. Kidane angrily confronts a fisherman who has killed his cow with terrible results. There are beautiful, visual moments that give us scenes from the life of a traumatized nation. It is a difficult film to watch because it depicts a future that no one wants to see.
Aquarius revolves around the story of Clara a retired music critic who is the last remaining tenant in her beautiful beachfront apartment building in Recife. She refuses to be evicted by the company who now owns and wants to demolish the building no matter what they do to her. Clara is a woman who refuses to be confined by age or circumstance and I think this is Sonia Braga’s best role since Kiss Of the Spider Woman. The film is a story of past and present with social and personal conflicts seamlessly intertwined. I loved this character.
Force Majeure Sweden
An avalanche erupts during a middle class ski break in the Alps. The father seems to only be looking out for himself not his wife and kids which emphasizes the marriage problems. Mid Life Crisis mountain man and his young hippy girlfriend arriive which reflects on their relationship. It is a dramedy about how we cant control nature or our lives and is being remade into an American film called Downhill. I recommend the original.
Ash Is Purest White China
Ash is Purest White is a love story between Qiao and Bin in an ever changing China. It is their on again off again love story which would make her a victim but she ends up being strong and true to herself. It is a bit long but the photography, history and poetic aspect of the film is beautiful, The character of Qiao, is played in a spectacular performance by Tao Zhao.
White Material France
Amid turmoil and racial conflict in an undisclosed African country, a French woman fights for her coffee crop and her life. The film explores colonialism and its lingering effects and the poisonous nature of violence. No matter how much Maria played beautifully, by Isabelle Huppert believes she is African, or that her son is African, she will always be an outsider because of the cultural, historical, and racial issues that exist between her and the locals. Her identity and the “white material” of her life are what the rebel army is hoping to eradicate. It is a haunting, unromantic portrayal of the land and the people who inhabit it.
Il Divo Italy
Il Divo” tells the shocking story of Giulio Andreotti, an Italian senator and later Prime Minister who many believe was behind the murder of several journalists, mafia members, and fellow political figures. It is a great performance by Toni Servillo. It tells an abundance of information that we as Americans probably don’t know but it doesn’t matter because the purpose seems to be just to show the scope of Andreotti’s power and evil. It is weirdly both strange and mesmerizing. (if this one doesn’t show up, click on watch this video on you tube)