Nathaniel, reporting from TIFF, where the French still love la petite mort. Due to the graphic nature of these films the reviews of Gaspar Noé's 3D explicit sex movie Love and the French teens-gone-wild Bang Gang: a modern love story (which is about exactly what it sounds like it's about) are both hidden after the jump where naughty things must go... Think of the children!
Entries in foreign films (316)
Great moments in production design: In the first shot of Homesick, our heroine -- and I use the term ironically since she’s no role model -- is seen with her head cupped in her hands and thrown back to stretch / express annoyance. Beside her, out of focus in the psychiatrists office is a statue in roughly the same pose. There are other little touches like this that suggest that Charlotte ( Ine Marie Wilmann) is something of a mimic... and that director Anne Sewitsky (of Happy Happy fame) are really feeling this project.
When Charlotte returns to proper posture we see an actress that looks suspiciously like Kate Hudson... or is it Malin Akermann? No, wait early Drew Barrymore? In a very happy stroke of casting luck, these unsought comparisons add extra resonance to the very thing the movie is going for. Charlotte, you see, really wants to be someone else... or at leave have their lives. Her parents paid her little attention and she's never even met her half brother. She's terribly lonely and latches on to everyone around her. This is most obvious in a beautifully dramatized friendship with a co-worker, that verges on symbiotic in a playful and tactile dance between them in the dance studio where they work.
But the crux of the drama of the picture is that Charlotte and her half brother do meet and go almost straight to the taboo rutting. Emotional calamities multiply all around them, as one would expect.
Homesick feels a bit slight and sketchy despite its provocations, but Wilmann is terrific in the leading role. Her face is fluid with emotion, but more importantly it's as if she's continually scrolling and searching for the right one to express. She lets other people decide for her all too often. Hence her terrible decision making. B
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Wilmann won the Norwegian Best Actress Oscar (The Amanda) for her role in Homesick. And though the film itself was passed over as Norway's official Oscar submission this year, Wilmann has an even better reward coming: she'll reunite with her current director to play the legendary Norwegian gold medalist figure skater turned Hollywood novelty actress Sonja Henje who became one of the richest women in the world by the 1940s. Wilmann has already logged a lot of time at the ice rink in preparation. Naturally the movie will include other Old Hollywood characters and an international cast. It sounds like a superb idea for a motion picture so best of luck to all.
Interview: The Filmmakers Behind 'Goodnight Mommy' on Working with Children, the Horror Genre as a Mirror, and Hopes of Oscar
Jose here. In the terrifying Goodnight Mommy, two angelic twin brothers named Elias and Luke (played by Elias and Luke Schwarz respectively) become convinced that their mother has been replaced by someone else after returning home from a stay at the hospital. And who can blame them? Their mother (Susanne Wuest) returns wrapped in Franju-esque bandages that only show her eyes, and she seems to have lost her good temper, patience and tenderness. Terrified of this unknown person, the twins proceed to torture her in order to get to the bottom of things. Directed and written by the team of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Goodnight Mommy is the kind of horror film that creeps under your skin because of how committed it is to its aesthetics and points of view.
There is not a single body-horror line Franz and Fiala are unafraid to cross, and the film features torture involving everything from superglued eyes to bondage by bandage; however, there is not a single moment in the film that feels gratuitous, and just like a song would serve a musical, the torture we see onscreen serves the story because it makes sense that these children would be terrified of someone they believe to be a total stranger, and if anything Goodnight Mommy has more in common with Home Alone than with Saw, if not in tone, at least in its intentions. The film has been selected to represent Austria at the Academy Awards and opens in the States on September 11. I had the chance to sit down with the filmmakers to discuss their techniques and tips for working with children, their favorite horror movies and what AMPAS members they wish to scare the most! Read the interview after the jump.
We already shared the EFA's People Choice nominees but it's important to remember that that's a special award, quite apart from their actual nominations. In their slightly tortured roll-out we get part two, the long list. These are the titles that form the "selection list"... they have to do it this way before nominations from a sheer numbers perspective. Add up the annual releases from dozens and dozens of countries and you have hundreds of films, you know? Here are the 52 films their nominators will be considering. We've divvied it up by country for you and if they're already a part of the Oscar race or on TIFF's schedule, we'll say so. The titles will be a mix of familiar to you and "what is that?" to anyone reading because who can keep up with every country's cinema?
Because there are so many films, though, it's all after the jump...
Since Labor Day Weekend is historically a lame box office weekend, it affords us a fine opportunity to look back at the year thus far rather than wait for box office results. Especially in terms of films that aren't usually spoken of in terms of box office. So let's look at two sets of baker's dozens: 2015'S FOREIGN LANGUAGE and DOCUMENTARY HITS.
How many have you seen?
Top Dozen of 2015 thus far
01 Bajrangi Bhaijaan (India) $8+
02 Baahubali: The Beginning (India) $6+
03 A La Mala (Mexico) $3+
04 Wild Tales (Argentina) $3+ Review
05 Dil Dhadakne Do (India) $3+
06 Tanu Weds Manu Returns (India) $3+
07 Clouds of Sils Maria* (France) $1+ Various Sils Maria Articles
08 Piku (India) $1+
09 Assassination (South Korea) $1+
10 Phoenix (Germany) $1+ Nina Hoss Interview
11 i (India) $1+
12 Timbuktu (Mauritania) $1+ Review, César Winners
13 Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Israel) $.9+ Review, Second Opinion
As we always see in the foreign charts in the past decade or so, Bollywood films continue to be solid imported hits without the benefit of any media attention whatsoever. That's what comes when you have distribution companies that cater to niche audiences and understand/market directly to them. This is surely what China Lion is attempting of late though they have yet to find as much regular support for Chinese language films. Aside from the Hindi language films, the top of the charts also painfully remind us that subtitled films have far teensier grosses even when they get breakout media attention than they once had. Wild Tales for example surely would have been at least a $13 million rather than a $3 million hit a decade ago. The chart also shows us that Oscar nominations help (see #4 and #12) but aren't necessary (see #10 and #13). 2015 hasn't yet had a breakout Oscar-headed hit like Ida from Poland last year (Phoenix was passed over for Oscar submission last year by Germany so it's been on its own without awards-buzz to find its audience. Happily, it's done just that). Sadly Sweden's sublime Oscar entry for this year A Pigeon Sat on a Branch... earned only $200,000 at the US box office. Maybe Labyrinth of Lies, Germany's submission, which opens September 25th can fill that semi-annual slot of foreign hit that doesn't wait for its Oscar fate to make a stir.
* I'm fudging to include Clouds of Sils Maria I know. It's surely ineligible for France's Oscar submission as its more than 50% English. If you remove it from the list, the film that enters at the lowest rung is The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared from Swedish director Felix Herngren. It earned nearly a million at the US box office but was a huge hit internationally with an additional $50 million!
Top Ten of 2015 Thus Far
01 Monkey Kingdom $16+
02 Amy $8+ Review
03 The Salt of the Earth $1+ Documentary Nominees Conversation
04 Iris $1+
05 The Wolfpack $1+ Review
06 Dior & I $1+
07 Meru $.8+
08 Red Army $.6+
09 Best of Enemies $.6+ Review
10 Cartel Land $.6+
11 Seymour: An Introduction $.6+ Review
12 Deli Man $.5+
13 The Hunting Ground $.4+
The list includes only one of last year's Oscar nominees The Salt of the Earth since most of them played in their correct calendar year. The big story beyond Disney's nature epic and the Amy Winehouse hit, is the success of Sundance Award Winners since The Wolfpack, Cartel Land and Meru were all hits in release. The late Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) final full documentary feature Iris about eccentric fashion icon Iris Apfel was also well-received.
From this list we really expected Red Army to break out a little further as the Russian Olympic hockey documentary was quite entertaining and benefitted from a highly accessible international-interest storyline. If they hadn't waited for their Oscar nomination -- which they didn't get -- they might have fared better.
Here's a crazy colorful musical number from the year's #1 foreign language hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan starring Salman Khan called "Selfie Le Le Re"
When was the last time you saw a Bollywood film in theaters? Do you seek out the buzz titles from these categories?
Twenty-one Official Submissions for the 2015 Foreign Language Film Oscar race have been announced! That's just under a third of the list given the usual amount of submissions but things are already weird and wild with a colorful LGBT drama (Xenia from Greece), a disaster movie (The Wave from Norway), more documentaries than usual already including animated and 3D offerings (Palestine, Switzerland, and Panama), alongside your more usual type of competitor like World War II focused entries (Germany and Hungary, which I'm currently predicting for nominations) and historical epics (South Korea)
The foreign film charts are a major project each year behind the scenes and we're so proud to have raised the profile of this awards category over the past 15 years. The Film Experience was literally the first website to cover it in detail (all the way back to our humble beginnings) and slowly but surely the fever spread. As did all things Oscar. Now, everyone does it! It's no longer "ours" so to speak -- not that one can own an Oscar topic -- but we're still justified in feeling the pride of original adoption. And if we don't pat ourselves on the back who will since we get no damn respect from the larger online film culture. Ahem.
MAIN FOREIGN FILM PAGE
• Afghanistan through Estonia
Will Brazil send The Second Mother? Will Argentina send festival-premiering crime drama The Clan? Info on Official entries from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and Croatia.
• Ethiopia through The Netherlands
Mexico has a 14 film shortlonglist. Info on official entries from Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Luxembourg
• New Zealand through Vietnam
Speculation on The Philippines. Info on official entries from Norway, Palestine, Panama, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela
AFTER THE JUMP... TRAILERS FOR 16 OF THE 21 SUBMISSIONS (THE ONES I COULD FIND) IF YOU'RE INTERESTED
Have you ever been to Berlin? The annual European Film Awards will be held there this year just 102 days. As part of their annual tradition if you vote on their People's Choice Awards you can be entered to win a trip to the show.
This year's People's Choice slate (the only category thus far announced) feels slightly more "behind" than usual or perhaps we misremember past years? Generally the EFA titles are a mix of current and previous Oscar seasons (due to scattered release dates) but this year's batch feels especially 2014 heavy. On the down side this means it's less helpful in seeing which films are making inroads to general critics prizes and Oscar love down the road... in that they already have or haven't. On the plus side, potential voters will have seen more of them. YOU CAN VOTE RIGHT HERE... They also have an official facebook page up now.
The 10 Nominees...
- A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence d. Roy Andersson
Just announced as Sweden's Oscar submission! This auteur's unique 'vignettes in absurdist tableaus' sensibility must be experienced to be believed. Reviewed / Best of 2015 (Thus Far)
- Force Majeure d. Ruben Östlund
Sweden's acclaimed awards magnet was a big Oscar snub in the Foreign Film category last season... though it was up for Best Film at the EFAs. Is the American remake still planning to go ahead despite being a terrible idea? Reviewed / Blurbed / Top 20 of 2014
- The Imitation Game d. Morten Tyldum
Last year's Best Picture contender qualifies as European because...? Perhaps it's the Norwegian director. But it's a US/UK production so it feels strange to see it here. Past Articles.
- Leviathan d. Andrey Zvyaginstev
Russia's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning hit last season. Past Articles.
- Marshland d. Alberto Rodríguez
A serial killer drama from Spain.
- Samba d. Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano
Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg headline this French film about a struggling Senegalese immigrant and a woman trying to get her life back together
- Serial (Bad) Weddings d. Philippe de Chauveron
A French comedy about a Catholic couple whose four daughters all get married to men of different origins and religions
- The Salt of the Earth d. Wim Wenders & Juliano Riberio Salgada
Best Documentary Nominee at the Oscars. On the international journeys of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Discussed.
- Victoria d. Sebastian Schipper
Winner of 6 Lola Awards. Germany couldn't really select this hard-partying drama about a girl who gets mixed up in a bank robbery for their Oscar submission -- too much English in it -- but it's won raves and a lot of attention for its one take trick. That's right, a 140 minute movie all in one continuous shot without Birdman's tricks. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau star and took the German Oscars (the Lolas) for Best Actress and Best Actor.
- White God d. Kornél Mundruczó
Hungary's Oscar submission last season (not nominated), an allegorical film featuring rampaging packs of wild dogs, has been riveting moviegoers since its 2014 Cannes debut. Now on DVD. Reviewed / Interview
I'll have to choose between the two Swedish films for my personal vote. Who gets yours?