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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD


"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael


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Entries in foreign films (437)

Friday
Nov102017

26 Films Eligible for Oscar's "Best Animated Feature" 

by Nathaniel R

Italy's "Cinderella the Cat" which is aimed at adults

Twenty-six films have been deamed eligible for this year's Animated Feature Oscar competition which means we'll have 5 nominees yet again (only 16 eligible features are required to trigger the maximum category size). The only mild surprise was that Leap!, Nut Job 2, and Spark were not submitted --usually, even if an American picture doesn't have a prayer in hell, the studios will submit it anyway. This year the rules are slighly different for the category as people that aren't within the animated branch can also take part in the nominating process. Consider this year a test to see if this new rule crowds the little seen but artful deserving foreign titles, that the category has become known for, out of the race. We fear that it might though we're currently predicting business as usual (three US pictures, two foreign) anyway...

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Saturday
Nov042017

Interview: Ferenc Török of "1945" on making a Western about the aftermath of WW2

On a summer day in 1945, an Orthodox Jewish man and his grown son return to a village in Hungary while the villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk's son. The townspeople – suspicious, remorseful, fearful, and cunning – expect the worst and behave accordingly. The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village's deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property back.

In the new film 1945 director Ferenc Török tells the story of a society trying to come to terms with the recent horrors they’ve experienced, perpetrated, or just tolerated for personal gain. Based on the short story ‘Homecoming’ by Gábor T. Szántó and shot in gorgeous black and white cinematography, 1945 is a historically detailed drama that plays like a ticking clock Western. We recently spoke to Török in New York.

 

MURTADA ELFADL: I’m curious about the inception of the project. How did you come about it?

FERENC TÖRÖK: I read the short story by Gabor in 2004. It was visual without too much dialogue, but I thought there wasn’t enough for a feature. The timing especially was good - 1945 in the summer, after the war. It takes place in only a 2-3 hour span of time, like an old greek drama, Antigone or something. Like a western. I’ve always wanted to make a movie in real time with different points of view from different characters like a Robert Altman movie.

You mentioned westerns, I thought of High Noon while watching because of the ticking clock structure...

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Saturday
Nov042017

European Film Nominations: "The Square" and "On Body and Soul" lead

by Nathaniel R

Hungary's weird and wonderful ON BODY AND SOUL keeps collecting kudosOne of our favorite undersung awards bodies is back. The European Film Awards, a hodgepodge of vastly different cinemas that sometimes has surprising results, have released their nominations for 2017. As per usual they're the awards body with the most in common with Oscar's Foreign Language Film race with many of their nominees being submissions this year from their respective countries. As such it's worth noting that Hungary's dreamscape slaughterhouse romantic oddity On Body and Soul and the Palme D'or winning Swedish satire The Square are both looking strong heading into the Oscar race; they lead the field here, each with four nominations. Russia's Loveless and the latest Yorgos Lanthimos provocation The Killing of a Sacred Deer are just behind them with three nominations, though the latter was a miss in the top category for Best European Film where France's masterful ACT UP drama BPM (Beats Per Minute --  currently in release in the US -- why is noone seeing it? It's brilliant! --  struck instead. 

The ceremony moves each year and this time it will be hosted in Berlin, Germany on December 9th. Full set of nominees (links go to our reviews) including a France heavy Best Actress list are after the jump...

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Wednesday
Nov012017

Interview: Alain Gomis on Why Senegal's Oscar Submission 'Félicité' is a Film About the Modern World

By Jose Solís

The title heroine of Félicité is unlike any film character you’ve met. As played by Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, she’s both larger than life and an everywoman trying to make a living as a singer in a Kinshasan bar. When her son Samo (Gaetan Claudia) has a devastating motorcycle accident, Félicité is forced to go in a race against time, as she tries to find the money to pay for his treatment. But this is only the first of Félicité’s many plights and before we know it, the film has become a soulful character study in which a woman must learn to accept love from others. If the film sounds like a social drama, it’s only because director Alain Gomis uses that familiar structure to invite us into a world that will seem new to many, but once inside he defies the conventions of genre and traditional plot to convey something more lyrical.

The film has been selected as Senegal’s official Oscar entry and is now playing in select US theaters. I spoke to Gomis during the New York Film Festival, where the film was shown, and learned about his process, and why he thinks his film is a reflection of the modern world. Read the interview after the jump...

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Sunday
Oct082017

Nick's Foreign Film Take, Pt 1: Sheikh Jackson, First They Killed My Father...

by Nick Davis

There’s niche-marketing, and then there’s micro-targeting, and then there’s saying to your friend Nathaniel, “I hope you’ll still keep an eye out for Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep, even though Afghanistan didn’t select it as their Oscar submission.” We really do live in a weird bubble, but that is why one is grateful for The Film Experience, where folks are all the same kind of different as you. And as we all know, this site has been a longtime devotee of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in all stages of curation and competition. So, seizing the opportunity of a sympathetic audience, and amidst a season where many of the 84 movies put forward by their home countries as Academy Award contenders are floating around at festivals—big and small, rural and urban, American and elsewhere—I thought I’d weigh in on the titles I’ve caught.

Argentina, Zama
It’s an amazing vote of artistic confidence for Argentina to choose Lucrecia Martel’s deeply demanding, deeply rewarding colonialist-bughouse period drama as their contender. They passed over all three of her previous features as their submission, and as always, they had plenty of viable possibilities this year, including Santiago Mitre’s The Summit, an absorbing drama of North and South American political machinations. That movie’s somewhat televisual style might have made it palatable to some voters. Zama, by contrast, is as cinematic as they come. In fact, “they” don’t really come like this: a movie almost without establishing shots or hand-holding narrative cues, aggressive with its weird ambient sounds and literally eccentric frames. The movie telegraphs the protagonist’s escalating madness but without letting him go Full Aguirre and without entering the kind of outsized, Lynchian vortex that unmistakably makes the point: it’s easy to watch and think that you, not Zama, are failing to keep up. This seems like a Shortlist prospect with Oscar at the very best, but it’s also guaranteed to be among the year’s most extraordinary movies. Talk about a summit!
My grade:

Austria's Happy End, Cambodia's First They Killed My Father, and Egypt's Sheikh Jackson are after the jump...

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Thursday
Sep282017

NYFF: Norway's Oscar Submission "Thelma"

by Jason Adams

Sometimes a critic can't help but interject him or herself into a review, and Joaquim Trier's Thelma is one of those times for me. Thelma tells the story of a young woman from a cripplingly religious family who goes off to college and starts having epileptic seizures that coincide with an awakening of same-sex longings. Meanwhile I'm the homosexual son of an epileptic and was raised in a speak-in-tongues Pentecostal church. Needless to say I felt Thelma, you guys.

So much that it's hard to divorce myself critically to see the forest for the dead birds dropping down among the trees. Trier gets so many precise details so right that I know from my own specific, particular life experience - the warm waves of excitement and guilt at discovering drink and swear-words when you first leave home; the way an epileptic seizure can be a sudden horrific tearing open of reality itself's seams -  that I'm more than willing to go along with anything he does, even when it is sometimes a hint too austere for its own good.

It's hard to say something that features a woman deep-throating a python - but you know, in a sexy way - remains austere, but Trier manages. He is Norwegian, after all. Thelma is an ice pond of a film floating over fiery little volcanic eruptions - like its protagonist (an exquisitely conflicted Eili Harboe) Thelma is Fire & Ice, Passion & Repression, a Freudian phantasmagoria strapped into a cool silk blouse.

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