Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks- Non-English Language Movies

Talk about an open theme! Some will have a huge amount of films to choose from while others may be more limited. I enjoy foreign film, when I can see them, because I don’t have the wide ability to see many foreign films...but I will always try. Check out Wandering Through The Shelves to see what theothers have chosen. are my 3..

1. M-1931

This is a German Expressionist film at its finest. It is an early sound film so one has to take the early process into mind. It stars Peter Lorre as a serial killer of children who becomes the hunted by the terrified people of that city. When he is finally caught by the denizens of the city he is brought to a kangaroo court and before you realize, you actually  feel sympathy for that killer. This is a testament to Peter Lorre’s virtuoso acting performance as the killer and the direction of  Fritz Lang who, in 3 years,with Peter Lorre and many others, escaped to the U. S and Hollywood, when Hitler came to power. I love the cinematography with all the great imagery which results in a truly artistic style of film making.

2. 400 BLOWS-1959

Talk about a film that blew away the film industry and is cited in all film books plus, as one of the best films ever made. It was part of the New Wave cinema that came from France driven mainly by Jean Luc Godard and the director of this film, Francois Truffaut. This film is semi-autobiographical, about a young boy (Jean Pierre Léaud who is 71 now!) who is misunderstood by his mom and step-dad and gets into trouble at school and in life..poor kid. He ends up in jail and a home for juvenile delinquents. The kid is amazing and believable which resulted in 4 more films about this kid’s life. I just love this film that stands up so well today as back then...a must-see.

3. KOLYA-1996

This is a sweet, bittersweet but still a happy film about a man and a child. Now, many of you know that I am not a child lover. They are okay long as they don’t talk:) This film made me smile especially because the kid is so cute but can hold his own against the older actor. This takes place, in the Czech Republic, in 1988 when a down on his luck musician is playing at funerals after being fired from the philharmonic. His friend sets him up to marry a woman from Russia so she can emigrate out of her country. Due to many reasons, she go to West Germany to be with her boyfriend and leaves her son with the older musician. Neither the kid nor the old man know how to communicate at first, but soon, they develop a bond and each teach the other that the world is not as bad as it seems. This film has received some negative reviews a few years after it came out to many accolades, but I think, it is unjustified. I found it funny, sweet, sad and everything else in between due mainly to the acting, writing and directing.

Which films would you choose?


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    These foreign language films are all new to me, dear friend. Your review of M has me keenly interested. I love that exciting period in film history when sound first came in (and, in America, before the Hollywood censors clamped down). Peter Lorre is one of my favorite actors. I was a young boy when I first saw Mad Love (1935). Needless to say it made quite an impression on me and helped cultivate my appetite for horror.

    400 Blows does indeed look gripping and intense. Thanks for introducing it. Although I don't usually enjoy films with cute kids, Kolya also looks compelling. I think I would appreciate observing the bond that develops between old and young.

    Thank you very much, dear friend BB!

  2. That's how I feel about kids.
    That is a wide-open field. The Devil's Backbone set against the Spanish Revolution comes to mind first. There's also Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And countless other Oriental films.

  3. I like your first two picks. I just watched M for the first time a few days ago as it's one of my Blind Spots. Kolya I've never seen .

  4. M and The 400 Blows are both brilliant. Love those picks. Haven't heard of your last pick, but it sounds like Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud. Since I hate that movie, I probably won't rush to see this one.

  5. M is a riveting deeply distressing film that Peter Lorre and Lang make essential viewing. Did you know there's a 50's remake directed by Joseph Losey and starring David Wayne with the same title? While its not in the same class as the original its an earnest attempt at the material.

    I'll be honest, I only liked The 400 Blows. It was very well made but for whatever reason didn't captivate me.

    Koyla is on my to see list but I haven't gotten there yet.

    The theme is vast this week so by way of winnowing I stuck to an all French list.

    A Man Escaped (1956)-Director Robert Bresson tells the tale of Fontaine (François Leterrier), a member of the French Resistance, who is being held by the Nazis at Fort Montluc. Notified that he is scheduled for execution he begins to devise a plan to break out. Things are coming together slowly when he is assigned a new roommate. At first wary but needing to proceed Fontaine grudgingly brings the newcomer into the escape effort relying on crudely made weapons and an intricate knowledge of the prison’s layout to try for his freedom. Tense and involving this is based on fact.

    Elevator to the Gallows (1958)-Duplicitous Florence (an extraordinary Jeanne Moreau) married to the wealthy arms dealer Simon Carala (Jean Wall) is carrying on an illicit affair with one of his employees, Julien (an equally fine Maurice Ronet). They make a pact to dispose of Simon so late one night Julien climbs a rope into Simon's office, kills him and leaves unnoticed. Anxious to get away from the site Julien accidentally leaves the rope at the crime scene. After retrieving it he becomes stuck in the building's elevator while Florence desperately waits below. Frantic he soon finds that his bad luck is just beginning. Compelling, nerve jangling noir filmed with enormous style by Louis Malle.

    Police Python 357 (1976)-One night while pursuing a crook loner police inspector Marc Ferrot (Yves Montand) meets and is immediately smitten with the alluring Sylvia (Stefania Sandrelli) and they begin an affair. Unknown to Ferrot Sylvia is the mistress of his direct superior Commissaire Ganay (François Périer) who when he discovers the liaison murders Sylvia in a fit of jealousy. Panicked Ganay confesses his crime to his paralyzed wife Thérèse (Simone Signoret) who offers him advice on how to shift the evidence away from himself. Once the death is discovered Ferrot is assigned to investigate and as he wades through the case finds that all evidence points to him. Now he must race the clock to reveal the true culprit. A reworking of the 1948 Charles Laughton/Ray Milland film The Big Clock and rethought again in 1987 as the Kevin Costner/Gene Hackman No Way Out.

  6. Hi Birgit; Yeah; kids are okay as long as they're quiet and not in my house. ☺ Dogs, on the other hand, are welcome any time!

    Thanks for the introduction to these foreign films, although M looks familiar so I must have seen it at some point. I don't see many foreign films either. The most recent is an excellent German film called The Lives of Others, about life in East Germany before the wall came down.

  7. I don't like kids either but I think I'll give Kolya a chance.

  8. Good choices. Alas, I am that ugly American stereotype who won't watch movies with subtitles, so I have no movies I would be able to add. (In my defense, I saw bits of one at a formative age that was absolutely dreadful. It's famous for being wonderful, but I hated it. It colored my perception of "foreign" films since.)

  9. Hi Birgit I don't know any of these ... but I love watching foreign movies - cheers Hilary

  10. The films that immediately come to mind are most any by Federico Fellini. Love his films and I've watched several of them multiple times. Also I liked Abre los Ojos (the film upon which Vanilla Sky was based. Another big favorite in Spanish language is Time Crimes (I'm still hoping for an English remake, but I don't know that it's going to happen).

    I could think of a bunch more, but these are the first that come to mind.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  11. I've never heard of any of these, but as always, your synopses are worth the visit. Hope you have a great day because this seems like a thread that would be hard for me.

  12. 'M' was a good choice, BIRGIT!

    I haven't seen a lot of Foreign films because, as I've often said, they (meaning moviemakers outside of the U.S) generally don't really understand how to tell a story on film. It's a completely different approach than writing a novel, but they don't seem to get that. Therefore their film stories are usually too loose plot-wise. They aren't "tight" enough, not moving directly from plot point to plot point.

    But, anyway, I have seen a few that I genuinely liked. And the ones that come to mind first for me are 'TWO WOMEN', 'WILD STRAWBERRIES' and 'NOSFERATU'.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents 'Battle Of The Bands'

  13. When I was young, I loved watching Fellini's films. I wonder if I would think the same if I watched them today.

  14. Never seen a one. Can't think of many foreign films that I have seen. haha yeah, if kids don't speak they can be easier for people to tolerate.

  15. I know several people who don't like foreign films because they have to read subtitles. I only go along with that if there's so much dialog, reading it keeps my eyes from fully seeing the action.

    I really enjoyed 1997's Life Is Beautiful.

  16. I blush to admit, I'm not familiar with any of them.
    YOU, have a grand evening. Hope you're feeling good.

  17. Never heard - let alone seen! - any of these. I think if I had to watch, I'd probably pick #3 as one I'd like, mainly because of the characters. (I do heartwarming...better than angst!) TFS

  18. I see Alex mentions Crouching Tiger, I did see that. Bit far fetched but I enjoyed it anyway. Basically I don't think I have seen many foreign films - never really appealed to me. But then I am not the film aficionado that you are.

  19. M and The 400 Blows are great! Haven't seen Kolya, but I have heard it's good.

  20. I totally endorse the recommendation for The Lives of Others. A wonderful film - I was mesmerised. Sad that the star died soon afterwards.

    1. I didn't know. How sad! :( It was an excellent film.

  21. Life is Beautiful is one of my favourites.

    Also, Norwegian horror movies are great. Cold Prey is awesome, and REC, which is in Spanish, is fantastic too.

  22. The only one I've seen is 400 Blows, but that was so long ago I hardly remember a thing.

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