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Entries in foreign films (317)

Friday
Aug262016

Foreign Oscar Race Begins: Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark

Over the next couple of months we'll be hearing the names of the 70ish films that will be competing for Oscar's coveted shortlist as Best Foreign Language Film. So far nine countries have selected their films and other countries have begun the winnowing to get to their top choice.

Our charts are now in progress with posters, info, and links to official sites and such as well as links back to highlights from last year's global class. 

The Companion forces a boxer and a soldier with AIDS to spend lots of time together

Chart 1 Afghanistan to Finland

Denmark and Brazil have narrowed it down to three films each with Brazil's choice already embroiled in a lot of controversy due to political fighting in regards to Aquarius (starring Sonia Braga which hits TIFF & NYFF shortly and which was very well received at Cannes) though I have to admit it's hard to make sense of the turmoil from an outsider's perspective given the Google translate limitations. Thank to Jon in the comments for alerting us to this brewing controversy but if someone can sum it up for us in brief that would be appreciated. But on our first chart we have three official submissions

CUBA - THE COMPANION
Cuba's submission is about a boxer accused of doping who is forced to become a companion to a soldier who has contracted AIDS. Cuba has only been nominated for the LGBT drama Strawberry & Chocolate (1994) in the past but I maintain that Behavior (2014), their most recent submission, would have been a worthy nominee. Here's the new film's trailer with subtitles:

CROATIA - ON THE OTHER SIDE
There is a trailer available but not subtitled. It's about a mother who's kept a secret for a very long time.

AUSTRALIA - TANNA
Australia's entry takes place on a remote island and is performed by the Yakel tribe. This one opens in New York City and Los Angeles in September so cross your fingers that it wins further expansion. Here's the official site and the trailer. Our own Glenn Dunks wrote about it for Paradise magazine. It won two prizes at Venice last year and it looks potentially exciting...

Tanna - Trailer - All parts performed by the people of Yakel from Lightyear Entertainment on Vimeo.

 

 

Sunday
Aug072016

Box Office Special: When Films are Bigger Abroad...

What did you see this weekend?

Let's ignore Suicide Squad's big box office weekend (read Lynn's review here) as that story is overworked already given the months of hoopla on the internet and the expected fact of a very big weekend (that's what happens with much-hyped superhero films). Instead for the weekend box office column, let's talk about a situation that occurs each year in terms of different preferences in blockbusters around the globe. Those differences sometimes go a long way in explaining why some franchises never die (Hello, Ice Age) even long past their natural expiration dates. Though Finding Dory has easily topped the domestic charts in the US to become 2016's champ, it couldn't reach the global power of Captain America: Civil War (#1), Zootopia (#2) or The Jungle Book (#3) worldwide. Taste and success do vary across borders.

Stephen Chow's "The Mermaid" is the 7th biggest hit of 2016... but it did only $3 million in the US

After the jump let's look at the titles from 2016 with less than a third of their treasure chests coming from the US (currently the biggest film market though China will reportedly surpass us soon). What can we learn from this list?

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul172016

Box Office: Ghostbusters, Sultan, Café Society

Though the new Ghostbusters couldn't defeat the very family friendly Secret Life of Pets to take the box office crown, it was still a win for Paul Feig & Melissa McCarthy company (their best opening yet, just beating their previous best for The Heat). Other winners this weekend: Sultan, the Bollywood sports drama starring Salman Khan, is now the #1 foreign language release of the year, jumping over the Chinese hits The Mermaid and Ip Man 3; Woody Allen's Café Society experienced more demand in its opening weekend than of his films since Blue Jasmine; and, finally, the provocative survivalist family drama Captain Fantastic led by a typically sterling Viggo Mortensen expanded fairly well. Next weekend will be key for Captain Fantastic with word of mouth; there's neither anything like it in the marketplace nor really anything to compare it to in ages (since maybe The Mosquito Coast in the Eighties?) but unfortunately that much originality in topic and purpose usually hurts movies at the box office in this era of intense branding.

TOP WIDE
800+ screens. arrows indicate gaining or losing screens
🔺01 The Secret Life of Pets $50.5 (cum. $203.1) 
🔺02 Ghostbusters $46 NEW Review 
🔻03 The Legend of Tarzan $11.1 (cum. $103) Review 
🔻04 Finding Dory $11 (cum. $445.5)  Review
🔺05 Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates $7.5 (cum. $31.3) Review
🔻06 The Purge: Election Year $6 (cum. $71)
🔻07 Central Intelligence $5.3 (cum. $117.5)
🔺08 The Infiltrator $5.2 (cum. $6.7) NEW Review
🔻09 The BFG $3.7 (cum. $47.3) Review
🔻10 Independence Day: Ressurection $3.4 (cum. $6.7) 

Sultan is now the #1 foreign hit of the yearTOP LIMITED
Excluding previously wide. 
🔻01 Sultan $985K (cum. $5.2)
🔻02 Hunt for the Wilderpeople $563K ($1.4) Review 
🔺03
 Cafe Society $355K NEW Review

🔺04 Captain Fantastic $277K (cum. $406K) Review
🔻05
Swiss Army Man $262K (cum. $3.7) Halfway Mark Achievements


What movies did you catch this week?

Beyond Captain Fantastic and Ghostbusters, I Netflixed it bingeing Stranger Things (we'll talk about it soon) and finally finishing Grace and Frankie Season 2, and I apologize that I didn't have Estelle Parsons on my Guest Actress ballot for Comedy and that Emmy didn't nominate her either. This is why they need blue-ribbon panels; there are just too many eligible shows that voters aren't taking seriously that contain better specific performances than the shows they vote for reflexively in all categories as we saw all over the Emmy nominations.

Saturday
Jul092016

Stream This: Mustang, The Big Short, Hello Dolly, The Painted Veil

In the effort to stay au courant we're going to try to do "new to streaming" weekly, alternating between Netflix and Amazon Prime sometimes, big lists, sometimes highlights. This will also give us a chance to link to previous coverage of the old films that are "new" again via the power of the internet. But first a last chance notice...

Last Chance Netflix (Expires July 16th)

-Y'all were watching I take it. Did you see us fight?
-No.
-Trap." 

Serenity
I've been curious to watch Serenity (and Firefly for that matter) again to see if you can easily chart Joss Whedon's growth from self-created warm-up to Studio-hire mega-success in The Avengers. He was always good at selling team dynamics, though. That was clear from the earliest episodes of Buffy. We previously covered Serenity in Season 3 of Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I miss Whedon as TV creator on his own urges -- Agents of SHIELD just did not do it for me.

New to Netflix
We've freeze framed nine more titles totally at random to share whatever popped up for your amusement. Here we go...

-Lot of smug looking people here.

- It's like someone hit a piñata filled with white people who suck at golf."

The Big Short (2015)
Remember when this was suddenly a major Oscar player last season. That took me off guard even though I was at the actual premiere. It won Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. Serious films with funny memorable lines are often popular in those categories.

I've decided to join the human race again.

Hello, Dolly! (1969)
Babs. Babs. You're really overworking this monologue...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun272016

The Furniture: The Venomous and Fanatical 'Embrace of the Serpent'

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber... 

Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia’s first-ever nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, contains multitudes. Ciro Guerra filters the Amazon Basin into a tremendous cinematic document, a rich cornucopia of unexpected tableaux. The choice to confine this colorful landscape to black and white would be uncanny enough on its own, but the narrative is also unmoored by transitions between the two timelines. Long before the final hallucination, our perceptions are overwhelmed by the range of complex images.

And, of course, the work of production designer Angelica Perea, art director Ramses Benjumea and set decorator Alejandro Franco is an essential component. The best example of their work comes right at the film’s midpoint, with a pair of profoundly unsettling episodes that interrogate the role of Catholic missionaries in Colombia’s colonial history. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102016

Interview: 'Diary of a Chambermaid' Director Benoît Jacquot on Léa Seydoux and Literature

With the release of Diary of a Chambermaid, which reunites the director and star of the great Farewell My Queen, here's Jose with a new interview...

Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel Diary of a Chambermaid has been turned into a film no less than two times before, with filmmakers like Luis Buñuel and Jean Renoir taking on the task of bringing to life the tale of feisty, tragic chambermaid Célestine. Now, director Benoît Jacquot (Farewell My Queen) has re-teamed with Léa Seydoux to bring Célestine to life one more time. Jacquot’s adaptation injects Célestine with an even stronger sense of self awareness, she is often granted the power of breaking the narrative to address the audience, or herself even, and is given a sexual agency that forces audiences to see Mirbeau’s heroine under a different light. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Jacquot to discuss his take on the novel, working with Léa Seydoux, and how literature influences his work.

Read the interview after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun012016

Review: Chevalier

It’s Eric, with thoughts on the new art house release, Chevalier.  

First seen at the Locarno Film Festival last August, and now in limited release in the US, Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari’s comedy focuses on six men onboard a ship in the Aegean Sea.  They challenge each other to an extended contest to see which one of them is “The Best Ever”.  They construct a series of games to compete against one another, but take the challenge even further to rate each other on every aspect of their behavior in an attempt to see who is the best man in the group.

It’s a fantastic premise, and Tsangari mines some rich comedy and pathos from it...

Click to read more ...