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Entries in foreign films (245)

Wednesday
Jul292015

Nina Hoss on Searching for the Soul and Identity in 'Phoenix'

Jose here.

In her six films with director Christian Petzold, Nina Hoss has explored the roles women have played in German history during the twentieth century, in Jerichow she played a postmodern femme fatale trying to convince an Afghanistan veteran to kill for her, in Wolfsburg she played a mother being wooed by the man who ran over her son, in Barbara she was a doctor trying to escape East Germany in the 1980s, and in the post-WWII set Phoenix, which might be their greatest collaboration to date, she plays Nelly, a former cabaret singer who survived a Nazi concentration camp, but was left brutally deformed. As she tries to reclaim her past life through a surgery described as a recreation, rather than a reconstruction, she must come to terms with the fact that she is now living in a world that has very little to do with the one she left behind.

Hoss’ layered performance as Nelly is the kind of work that should be garnering awards buzz, as it helps her establish herself as one of the best living actresses, and places her as Petzold’s greatest collaborator, rather than his muse. In 2014, English speaking audiences got their first taste of Hoss’ brilliance as she managed to steal the show in A Most Wanted Man and Homeland (her character is returning for Season 5) and asPhoenix makes its Stateside debut, it’s about time we all start talking about Hoss more frequently. I had a chance to talk to her to discuss her work in Phoenix and how it relates to classic Hollywood films, as well as her preferred acting method and the career path she might take years from now.

Our interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul082015

Best Shot Visual Index: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

I was so certain that I owned Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that I didn't bother to rent it at all for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode. Come Tuesday night I discover that my dvd had vanished into the clouds after apparently leaping from its perch near the top of the dvd shelf. Worse still it's not available for rental on iTunes or Amazon but only for purchase and if I'm going to purchase something I still want the physical object. Old school! Which means that I will be late yet again with my own entry as the host which is all but inexcusable but par for the course this week (experiencing meltdowns backstage - this too shall pass?). But an unexpected development, just this week the sequel -- the reason we were doing this, was moved back to 2016 from its expected August bow.

But please do visit these articles elsewhere on Ang Lee's much Oscar nominated, much earning, much ripped off classic. I know I will. The film won 4 Oscars including cinematography for Peter Pau and probably just missed the Best Director win too since Ang Lee took the Globe, DGA and BAFTA that year. Imagine if he'd taken the Oscar that year. He'd have 3 wins by now.

CROUCHING TIGER'S BEST SHOTS
(click on the pics for corresponding articles)
ACCORDING TO THESE 9 BLOGS

 Almost like Cupid’s arrow...?
-I Am Derreck 

When you look at this image, you could easily mistake the film for a traditional Western... 
-Film Actually  

That Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon focuses on the traditionally Chinese conflict between reason (li) and emotion (qing) is unsurprising, the way the movie expresses the conflict through images, however, is anything but. 
- Coco Hits NY

 If I made a list of ‘top 10 overrated movies’ this would definitely make that list...
-54 Disney Reviews

a portrayal of love as the light in the darkness...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Lee's romanticism is also utilized simply to make interesting, unexpected choices... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it, since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous...
-Movie Motorbreath 

It's all about Zhang Ziyi. For someone so small, she has immense screen presence...
-Sorta That Boy 

Where is Michelle Yeoh's international superstardom?
-Paul Outlaw

And finally...

Nathaniel's Placeholder Best Shot
For the record, in closing, this is the single image that my mind races to first when I am reminded of the film. I'm not saying it will be my "best" upon a close rewatch inspection, but I remember the whole scene vividly and fondly and the entire movie felt this way to me the first time I saw it; a magical film transcending the standard laws, balancing delicately and easily in the treetops while breathing rarified instant-classic air.

I'll update this list when more articles come in including my own - you should still join us since the sequel is delayed and we can continue to add articles. Perhaps I'll choose a shot from each half hour as penance? It's been so long since I've seen it and I'm eager to have it memorized again before the possibly ill advised sequel arrives which is no longer next month but early 2016.


NEXT WEDNESDAY: IT'S A MUST MUST MUST MUST PLAY AT HOME EPISODE.
Sunset Blvd (1950). But you can't choose the infamous "close-up" for Mr DeMille at film's end so if that's your shot your choice must be "second best shot". I am starting on this one FRIDAY so that there is no way in hell I'll be late for my own event next Wednesday. If you've always wanted to try "best shot," here's you classic opportunity with a film from Old Hollywood about Even Older Hollywood that nonetheless never gets old. 

Saturday
Jun202015

Victoria sweeps German Film Awards

Sebastian here with a quick update from the German Film Awards (Deutscher Filmpreis).

A still from VICTORIA

Fresh off its Silver Bear win at the Berlinale, Sebastian Schipper's Victoria, a two hour and twenty minute thriller filmed in one continuous shot without editing or camera tricks, dominated Friday night's Filmpreis ceremony, claiming "Lolas" in six categories, including Best Picture, Director, Actress (Laia Costa), and Actor (Frederick Lau).

Other prizes went to dramas Phoenix (Supporting Actress Nina Kunzendorf) and Germany's 2014 Oscar submission Beloved Sisters (Costume Design, Makeup), the thriller Who Am I (Editing, Production Design, Sound), and Citizenfour (Documentary).

I'm a huge fan of Schipper's previous work, especially his debut film Absolute Giganten (1999), so I was rooting for Victoria even without having seen it - in a cruel twist of faith the one movie I was eager to see that I didn't have to worry about being dubbed didn't open in my town at all. Adopt Films has acquired Victoria for distribution in the US and "plans a late summer/early fall 2015 release." Though Victoria beat last year's Oscar submission and two more traditional Oscar submission hopefuls (Labyrinth of Lies and Elser both deal with WW II or its repercussions) for the 2015 Lola, this doesn't necessarily mean it will be Germany's Oscar submission. We'll have to wait and see who takes that honor later in the year.

Thursday
May282015

Tim's Toons: Sex in clay

For The Lusty Month of May, we're looking at a few sex scenes. Here's Tim...

Say "animated sex", and two things immediately leap to mind. If you’'e hung up on American cinema, it's the self-consciously edgy and smutty underground animation of the '70s - Fritz the Cat and its heirs. Or, God help you, maybe it's the legendary (and, to be fair, very much exaggerated) cult of anime tentacle porn out of Japan. We are not going to talk about either one of those things.

Though in fairness, the particular animated sex scene I have in mind isn't much less disturbing than mythological Japanese fetish porn. It's the second segment of Jan Švankmajer's 1982 short Dimensions of Dialogue, one of the most important works of Czechoslovakian animation. I promise that Czechoslovakian animation is definitely a thing.

The whole movie is available online, and it’s pretty NSFW even for totally non-sexual reasons. If you have a reasonably strong stomach for grotesque manipulations of synthetic bodies in stop-motion animation, I'd beg you to watch the whole thing, but the sex is only in the second part starting at 5:02, "Passionate Dialogue". Or "Dialog vášnivý" to the Czech speakers in the crowd.

And boy, if that still doesn't promise a totally appealing and pleasant film below the jump, I don't know what...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May242015

Cannes Closing Prizes


12:25 The jury arrives and out pours their little soundbytes. Anticipation. Who will win the Palme D'Or?

We're proud of our choices."
-Rossy de Palma 

It was so congenial. One of the best experiences of my life. It was a great group."
-Joel Coen 

Beautiful. Every time we deliberated we went very deep. We argued back and forth in a good way. The Coens made it very clear we should be very passionate. It was one of the best experiences "
-Guillermo del Toro 

It feels like a little family. And the movies were so wonderful. It's odd artists judging artists but I guess it has to be done."
-Jake Gyllenhaal 

The reporter reminds us that Xavier Dolan leaves WITH Marion Cotillard tomorrow to start filming his next movie. He never stops. No rest for the Francophones. All the Jury prizes and quick thoughts after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May232015

Potential Foreign Oscar Submissions from Cannes

While most of the world obsesses on Eurovision today, we'll stayed obsessed with France. The Cannes festival ends tomorrow with the awards ceremony and the biggies like the Palme D'Or (the overall winner) Best Actress (or 'The Anti-Marion' as it will surely soon be retitled since she's in the mix every single year but never wins) and the Camera D'Or (first film). But until tomorrow afternoon when we hear those honors, we've still got plenty to discuss including potential Oscar submissions (I must soon create those massive foreign submission charts) and the first wave of jury prizes.

UN CERTAIN REGARD
Isabella Rossellini's jury has handed out their prizes with this statement from Rossellini

We, the jury, would like to thank the Festival de Cannes for inviting us to be part of the Jury for Un Certain Regard. The experience of watching nineteen films from twenty-one countries was memorable. It was like taking a flight over our Planet and its inhabitants… Any anthropologist would be envious of us. We would like in particular to thank Thierry Frémaux and his team for their incredible kindness. I cannot refrain from expressing also my personal gratitude to the Festival for having chosen my mother Ingrid Bergman for the poster of the 68th edition of this festival. Mamma seems to hovered over all of us, filmmakers and film lovers, as a guardian angel. Thank you.

Here's a roundup of prizes including many potential Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Language Film...

Click to read more ...