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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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DAY FOR NIGHT -another great movie about movies

I'm not sure if I like it more than 8 1/2 or Singing in the Rain, but when the majestic trumpet music plays, it reminds me of why I love cinema in the first place. The actors are terrific in this film as well. However, nothing will top Topsy-Turvy for me about the mystery,repetition, and heartbreak of the artistic process.❞ -Lars

 

Beauty vs. Beast

Turner & Hooch - 25th anniversary!

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Entries in foreign films (173)

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: "Vara: A Blessing" A Colorful Hallucination

More Tribeca from Nathaniel...

Have you ever felt cheated by a movie you actually liked? If so sit down next to me and let's talk Vara: A Blessing over popcorn.

Vara: A Blessing
A general rule of thumb for non A-list film festivals: the foreign films will be better than the home-grown product. (There's a reason some films don't win the lottery of distribution beyond bad luck). So of all the films I saw at Tribeca one that I was quite excited for was Vara: A Secret, which is about a temple dancer named Lila (played with impish gorgeousity by Shahana Goswami) who is obsessed with Krishna, the blue skinned god. She decides to pose for a lowly field worker named Shyam who wants to be a sculptor. That's something quite above his station and will anger the village if they find out. 

Shyam looks like this... 

(and this isn't even a particularly flattering photo of first time acting beauty Devesh Rajan)

...which means Lila is in deep trouble and not just from spiritual ecstasy. She starts picturing Shyam as Krishna with blue skin in stylized hallucinations and continues to dance up a passionate storm, exciting the wealthy Landlord who is looking for a young wife. Lots of drama of the spiritual, social, political and carnal nature follows.

I was thoroughly engaged though you can see a lot of the plot points coming a mile away rendering several scenes redundant or extraneous when the film only really takes off whenever it ditches plot for Lila's imagination and worship; more dancing and hallucinations, please.

Maybe it's reductive of me, but I enjoy feeling like I've learned something about "exotic" (sorry) cultures when I go to the movies - escapism with subtitles. So color me perplexed that this extremely Indian film (very steeped in old school traditions and the caste system and the taxonomy of Hindi gods) was in English!!! I felt cheated that I didn't get to read the screen. (This also killed the US release of Kon-Tiki for me since I was so looking forward to all those hunky blonde Scandinavians speaking Norsk. Foreign actors speaking English in movies from their home country? No sale!)

Well, there were subtitles but Vara doesn't need them at all because all of the actors speak English well (the only time I've ever needed subtitles for English language films is during slang-filled movies about the British/Irish/Scottish underclasses, Trainspotting and Fish Tank and the like - you know the type.) B/B-

Thursday
Apr032014

DVD Review: The Great Beauty

Tim here. The recent release of Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty on a DVD/Blu-Ray combo from the Criterion Collection means that most of us in North American finally have our first decent chance to see the most recent winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. And by “decent chance”, I mean two things: one is that if you live outside of any of the usual big urban centers that get little foreign releases, The Great Beauty hasn’t been remotely near your home before now. The other is that even if you live in one of those places, The Great Beauty isn’t likely to have played in any of the best & shiniest multiplexes, but in the dogged little art theaters that don’t have the money to do much besides show movies in a more or less tolerable environment. Where I live in Chicago, for example, the film played in the biggest art house that’s long on well-preserved atmosphere from the golden age of movie theaters, and which boasts just about the crappiest projection and tinniest speakers of any commercial venue.

That’s no way at all to see a movie as heavily invested in surface-level appeal as The Great Beauty, so that’s one cause for celebration all by itself. Now we have a chance to see Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography in crisp, retina-searing high definition, allowing all the rich, lurid colors of the production design and costume to glow right off the screen.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar212014

Posterized: Lars von Trier

Denmark's most important and most self important troublemaker Lars von Trier is back with the two-part Nymphomaniac. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the title character and recounts her lifelong sexcapades. Is there really 5 hours of story to tell? Or is it just hard to edit yourself when you're doing something vignette style? And how do we count this in his filmography anyway... as one or two films?

Is it really one film delivered at two separate chunks or two separate films? Not that Von Trier's filmography is easy to parse in the usual way, making posterized a bit more challenging. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar212014

Cannes Watch? The "Return" of Gong Li & Zhang Yimou

Speculating about what might be at Cannes is not something I do so as to prevent the envy but the reunion of director Zhang Yimou with his most beloved muse Gong Li is definitely something to consider. Together they made six international hits, four of them Oscar-nominated (Raise the Red LanternJu DouShanghai Triad, Curse of the Golden Flower), the first two are among the best Chinese films ever made.

Their seventh collaboration just released first stills and a nearly wordless teaser (embedded below).

The film is planning a May premiere at home so Cannes would make sense. The film is based on the novel "The Criminal Lu Yanshi" by Yan Geling about a long term prisoner (Chen Daoming) who, upon release, returns to his wife (Gong Li) who no longer recognizes him. The film also features Miss Chinese Toronto winner (2009) Candy Chang. There's a whole name for young actresses who break through within Zhang Yimou's filmography "Mou girls" (given the global fame of Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi) so she might be one to watch. 

It sounds like the English movie title is yet to be determined, alternately listed as Coming Home, The Homecoming, or Return, depending on where you read about it. Here's the teaser...

Wednesday
Mar192014

Asian Film Awards: Snowpiercer, The Grandmaster, and More

The youngest of film awards for Asian cinema (they have quite a few) is the Asian Film Awards which are now in their 8th year. Unlike the prestigious Golden Horse which (mostly) goes to Chinese language cinema, these encompass just about anything Asian: Japan, China, India, South Korea, The Phillipines and so on. Their best picture nominees this year:

The near misses, we assume, are Ilo Ilo from Singapore (Oscar submission last year) and Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father Like Son from Japan (the one Spielberg might remake) since they did well with nomination tallies in major categories.  If you're interested you should look at their official site because they smartly include photos of everyone - you can even see what the cinematographers, editors and costume designers look like.

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