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11 Foreign Language movies to go

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The Hitman's Bodyguard - (2017)

Okay, I admit it - The Hitman's Bodyguard is cinematic junk food. Samuel L. Jackson is there for one reason only, to yell a lot while dropping the word "Motherf***er" into every other sentence. The action is ridiculously paced, and goes on a little too long. But for what it's meant to be, I though it does the job quite well. I really enjoy that Jackson persona, and he appeared to be very much enjoying unleashing it. Ryan Reynolds plays the exasperated straight man better and more often than most others as well, and I genuinely enjoyed him in this. The story was very simple, and simply a vehicle to get Reynolds and Jackson on the road facing an army (A Belarusian one in this.) It was just a couple of hours of fun - I wasn't expecting anything more, and it delivered - even Gary Oldman's modern day ruthless dictator was spot on. There's some lip service to our two heroes' love lives, with that angle brought to satisfying conclusions. I'll give this the positive tick it didn't seem to get when it came out.

7/10


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Surrogates - (2009)

What the hell happened to Surrogates? It has a science-fiction storyline that is good enough to make something out of, but on the whole it just feels so cheap. Like a made for television movie. It's set in a world where most people use robotic Avatars - and in such a world everything is safer. If you get into a car accident, the most that happens is you need a new surrogate (they can't be cheap though.) Along comes a weapon that can kill the users at home when the surrogate is blasted, and FBI Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is on the case. We get a younger Greer for his surrogate, and an older more haggard looking one when he's onscreen as a real person. Really interesting, and an area that could have been endlessly explored - but the film doesn't look and sound as good as it should. The CGI effects used to de-humanise most of the people in it could have hindered the film - making it seem cartoonish, and Willis (who doesn't perform that well himself) lacks a supporting cast. Could have been a lot better.

6/10


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Beneath Hill 60 - (2010)

Serviceable Australian World War I film, where miners tunnel under the German front line - but I want to get to this film's unfortunate major issue. Actor Brendan Cowell was in his mid-30s when he took this role, and he looks mid-40s, but unfortunately his character visits friends back in Australia and starts canoodling their 16-year-old daughter. This just looks so awfully wrong - I couldn't get past it. He looked older than her parents. He gets engaged to her, and marries her - but talk about robbing the cradle. Sheez. Other than that weird aspect, this is a true story that does well recreating the muddy trenches of France and Belgium, along with battle action.

6/10


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10 Things I Hate About You - (1999)

With Heath Ledger and a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this certainly has star power behind it, and the film's soundtrack is supreme (and must have cost a million dollars.) It's fun and well acted, but I found moments that should have been more funny fumbled occasionally. I think this film was one of those the films for a generation - and is fondly remembered. This was my first time watching it.

7/10
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Latest Review : Paper Moon (1973)



What Have They Done to Your Daughters (1974)

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This is called a combo of giallo and poliziotteschi, and after watching it that makes perfect sense. The police are led to a teenage sex ring while searching for a motorcycle riding hatchet weilding killer. Nothing boring about this one, nothing spectacular either, but certainly a good watch for those who like these films. I had to look up an actress who plays a 15yo girl to check her real age or else I may have needed to shut it off. Crisis averted! Damn good score which a lot of these films have. It's free on YouTube under the Italian title "La Polizia Chiede Aiuto", which translates to "The Police Ask for Help".



What Have They Done to Your Daughters (1974)

+


This is called a combo of giallo and poliziotteschi, and after watching it that makes perfect sense. The police are led to a teenage sex ring while searching for a motorcycle riding hatchet weilding killer. Nothing boring about this one, nothing spectacular either, but certainly a good watch for those who like these films. I had to look up an actress who plays a 15yo girl to check her real age or else I may have needed to shut it off. Crisis averted! Damn good score which a lot of these films have. It's free on YouTube under the Italian title "La Polizia Chiede Aiuto", which translates to "The Police Ask for Help".
Good movie. I have it on blu ray as part of Arrow's Giallo Essentials (yellow) box set. What other giallo films do you like?



Good movie. I have it on blu ray as part of Arrow's Giallo Essentials (yellow) box set. What other giallo films do you like?
I'm pretty up and down with them. Deep Red is my favorite but I don't like Suspiria. A lot of the others I'd have to look up because I mix them up. Opera was a good one.





10 Things I Hate About You - (1999)

With Heath Ledger and a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this certainly has star power behind it, and the film's soundtrack is supreme (and must have cost a million dollars.) It's fun and well acted, but I found moments that should have been more funny fumbled occasionally. I think this film was one of those the films for a generation - and is fondly remembered. This was my first time watching it.

7/10
Heath Ledger is really the only thing that makes this movie worth watching.





The Guilty, 2018

Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is a police officer who is on desk duty until he can appear at a hearing about his involvement in the shooting death of a teenager. Working at an emergency services call center, one evening he takes a call from a woman named Iben (Jessica Dinnage) who has been abducted by her husband. Over the course of the evening, Asger will pull out all of the stops to identify Iben's kidnapper and find the missing woman while trying to unravel the events that led to her abduction.

I do love a single-location film when it's done well, and this one manages to pull off several tense sequences and plot turns with aplomb, all while confined to the emergency call center.

Feeling very much like a play adapted to a film, the whole movie rests on the shoulders of Cedergren, the only actor playing a key character who we actually get to see. The rest of the characters--Iben the abducted woman, Michael her abductor, Mathilde her daughter, and the other dispatchers and officers in the field working on the case--are only present as voices on the other end of the phone line.

I thought that the film did a good job of balancing action-type logistics (such as trying to navigate a police cruiser to the correct vehicle on the highway) with character moments that force Asger to reflect on the kind of violence that people do to one another and why they do it. Despite never seeing Iben, Dinnage manages to craft a character who feels dimensional, and the relationship of trust that builds between Iben and Asger adds urgency to the proceedings.

I also thought that the film did a good job of accessing that feeling of anxiety and frustration when you cannot communicate with someone. We hear Iben's cheery voicemail probably a dozen or more times during the movie, and each time it's like a bell tolling doom.

I thought that the ultimate payoff with Asger's character--his own revelations about the violent act he committed--was fine, but it felt a bit tacked on to be honest. I get that it's the pivot point of his character development, but the events happening with Iben were so compelling that Asger's own personal drama just didn't feel quite as impactful.

A solid thriller, especially if you're a fan of single-location/small cast movies.

Have you seen the American version of this film with Jake Gyllenhaal? A link to my review:

https://www.movieforums.com/reviews/...he-guilty.html



But I think HT was meant to be more elegiac. Poeticized. At least that's how I took it. And Strother Martin's Poe might have come off a little threadbare but that was the character in a nutshell. Alcoholic and a drug addict to boot. It worked for me. Walter Hill was never much for frills but his unfussy style seemed to really mesh with the story. And it especially played to Bronson's strengths. I don't know. I've always been really fond of the movie.
I really like it too. It's hard to believe its a directorial debut considering how much confidence is on display. I enjoyed it as a story about the worst and best parts of being a drifter. It's not a life that's suitable for forming long-term attachments, romantic or otherwise, but you have almost absolute freedom, you can still be a friend as well as do good deeds. I also like how it sort of plays out like a Depression-era samurai or gunslinger movie.



I really like it too. It's hard to believe its a directorial debut considering how much confidence is on display. I enjoyed it as a story about the worst and best parts of being a drifter. It's not a life that's suitable for forming long-term attachments, romantic or otherwise, but you have almost absolute freedom, you can still be a friend as well as do good deeds. I also like how it sort of plays out like a Depression-era samurai or gunslinger movie.
It was a straightforward concept and I thought Hill nailed it.



Have you seen the American version of this film with Jake Gyllenhaal? A link to my review:

https://www.movieforums.com/reviews/...he-guilty.html
I haven't. I'm kind of off Gyllenhaal right now after that article about his treatment of the woman he worked with.

When I saw the original was available to watch I jumped on it because I dug the premise.

Have you seen both versions? If so, did you have a preference between them?





Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001

Bridget (Rene Zellweger) is in her early 30s, working as a publicist's assistant and feeling the pressure of being single. Determined not to spend another year alone, Bridget ends up in a fling with her caddish boss, Daniel (Hugh Grant). At the same time, Bridget constantly finds herself pushed toward stuffy lawyer Mark (Colin Firth), a man who has some history with Daniel.

I tried to read the novel on which this film is based many many years ago and just couldn't click with it. I also remember watching a few minutes of the film at some point and not being all that engaged. This viewing, however, I quite enjoyed the story and the film.

Zellweger is a lot of fun in the lead role, getting to play a woman who starts out as a mess and ends up . . . still kind of a mess? It's part of the film that I found most enjoyable, actually. Yes, Bridget seems to stop smoking and drinking quite so much, but this isn't so much a film about a person fixing themselves, so much as figuring out how they should be treated.

Grant and Firth are both good in their roles, despite the writing of their characters being pretty shallow. Both men benefit from playing characters that are well, WELL in their wheelhouse. Grant just gets to work his bumbling charm, though with a bit more sleaziness than normal. Firth just literally needs to show his face as a buttoned-up character named Darcy and we're like Oh, okay. We get the memo.

The hijinks that move Bridget through the different sequences are pretty good. Salman Rushdie makes a cameo for a scene where Bridget gives a toast at a book release party for a novel, calling it the "Greatest novel of this century," before spotting Rushdie and another well-known author in the crowd and walking back her praise for the new novel to "Top 30, definitely." There's also the iconic sequence where she shows up in her Playboy bunny suit to a party whose costume theme was revoked. Zellweger's physical comedy isn't exactly to my taste (see the simple and exaggerated flop to the ground when she gets off the exercise bike), but she does a great job of conveying the "Why can't I make this stop?!" mortification of finding oneself in an awkward social situation where the only way out seems to be through.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are also fun as Bridget's parents, who are going through a rough patch as her mother is considering leaving for greener pastures.

On the down side, the character development is a bit light, outside of Bridget figuring out what she wants. The film is also shockingly undiverse, something that especially stands out because of a running joke about Bridget's mother remarking that the Japanese are "a cruel race".

(Also, as a sidenote, one of my main associations with this film is a review I'd read that remarked on the weight that Zellweger gained for the role, saying that she was "obese" and that her features had been, like, absorbed into her face because of all the extra weight. I just want to retroactively say: What the heck? She looks fine, beautiful even.)

A light, easy-breezy romantic comedy with engaging performances, even if the actual character development is a bit thin on the ground.




Bullet Train

Kinda annoying. Kinda fun. Great cast. Quality action.

3.5/5
I'm anxious to see this latest picture with Brad Pitt. I didn't think it was to be released until tomorrow. Will have to look for it.





Beast, 2017

Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a young woman still living at home with her oppressive, mind-game-playing family. One morning a handsome man named Pascal (Johnny Flynn) saves her from a handsy man Moll met at a nightclub, and the two begin a love affair. But when a series of abduction/murders take place, Pascal is on the short list of suspects and Moll finds herself lying to protect him even as she starts to realize he might have some serious issues.

There's a horror/thriller trope that plays out in a lot of films which I'm sure a lot of movie viewers will recognize. You know, a quirky or innocent young woman gets into a relationship of some sort with a seemingly dangerous man. But wait! Could it be that our quirky young woman is just as dangerous or--GASP--even more dangerous than the dude?! When done well, it can certainly be effective, as in Stoker, but it's definitely an overly-familiar dynamic.

For the first two-thirds, I felt that Beast walked the right line with this dynamic. It refuses to tip its hand either way regarding Pascal's guilt or innocence, and likewise plays things close to the chest when it comes to an act of violence in Moll's own past.

There's also, for about the first half, a really neat contrast between Moll's treatment by her family and her treatment by Pascal. Moll's family, and especially her mother, keep her in a constant state of apology and guilt. Part of the emotional manipulation is referring to Moll as being their "friend", and we see the way that Pascal utilizes the same techniques, but Moll can't see it because she's so alienated from her family.

Buckley is good as Moll, and Flynn is also solid as Pascal. Together they manage to generate tension and build anticipation about who will reveal or do what. There's also the mundane wickedness of Moll's family, with Geraldine James and Shannon Tarbet giving icy cruelty as Moll's mother and sister, and Trystan Gravelle exuding smarmy concern as a local police detective with designs on Moll.

From a visual standpoint, the movie has a lot of lush colors and makes the most of Buckley's flaming red hair and Flynn's deep blue eyes. The richness of the colors also echoes Moll's emerging passions, contrasting with the sterile beige of her family's home and outfits. I also liked the element of a hair that grows on Moll's throat, a great representation of how one small difference or abnormality can weigh heavily in making a person feel different.

The last act, though, and really just the last twenty minutes are where the film falters. It's a case of having done things differently in some neat ways, but then not quite knowing how to wrap things up without dipping back into the cliched territory it skirted for the rest of the film.

A good thriller with strong central performances that doesn't quite manage to escape the weight of the cliches baked into its central premise.






Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001

Bridget (Rene Zellweger) is in her early 30s, working as a publicist's assistant and feeling the pressure of being single. Determined not to spend another year alone, Bridget ends up in a fling with her caddish boss, Daniel (Hugh Grant). At the same time, Bridget constantly finds herself pushed toward stuffy lawyer Mark (Colin Firth), a man who has some history with Daniel.

I tried to read the novel on which this film is based many many years ago and just couldn't click with it. I also remember watching a few minutes of the film at some point and not being all that engaged. This viewing, however, I quite enjoyed the story and the film.

Zellweger is a lot of fun in the lead role, getting to play a woman who starts out as a mess and ends up . . . still kind of a mess? It's part of the film that I found most enjoyable, actually. Yes, Bridget seems to stop smoking and drinking quite so much, but this isn't so much a film about a person fixing themselves, so much as figuring out how they should be treated.

Grant and Firth are both good in their roles, despite the writing of their characters being pretty shallow. Both men benefit from playing characters that are well, WELL in their wheelhouse. Grant just gets to work his bumbling charm, though with a bit more sleaziness than normal. Firth just literally needs to show his face as a buttoned-up character named Darcy and we're like Oh, okay. We get the memo.

The hijinks that move Bridget through the different sequences are pretty good. Salman Rushdie makes a cameo for a scene where Bridget gives a toast at a book release party for a novel, calling it the "Greatest novel of this century," before spotting Rushdie and another well-known author in the crowd and walking back her praise for the new novel to "Top 30, definitely." There's also the iconic sequence where she shows up in her Playboy bunny suit to a party whose costume theme was revoked. Zellweger's physical comedy isn't exactly to my taste (see the simple and exaggerated flop to the ground when she gets off the exercise bike), but she does a great job of conveying the "Why can't I make this stop?!" mortification of finding oneself in an awkward social situation where the only way out seems to be through.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are also fun as Bridget's parents, who are going through a rough patch as her mother is considering leaving for greener pastures.

On the down side, the character development is a bit light, outside of Bridget figuring out what she wants. The film is also shockingly undiverse, something that especially stands out because of a running joke about Bridget's mother remarking that the Japanese are "a cruel race".

(Also, as a sidenote, one of my main associations with this film is a review I'd read that remarked on the weight that Zellweger gained for the role, saying that she was "obese" and that her features had been, like, absorbed into her face because of all the extra weight. I just want to retroactively say: What the heck? She looks fine, beautiful even.)

A light, easy-breezy romantic comedy with engaging performances, even if the actual character development is a bit thin on the ground.


You've never seen this??


I like it well enough, but it's obviously not for me. But I appreciate a movie like this not catering to total artless pointlessness, so it gets points for me there. Both Zellweger and Grant are good. Probably Firth too, but I can't remember. Is there even a Firth in it??



11 Foreign Language movies to go

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The Adjustment Bureau - (2011)

I couldn't fully get into this - it's religious implications were more pointed than I expected them to be. I don't want to really tie myself up in knots explaining the other parts of it I found unattractive, except to say in a broad way that I didn't like the characters either, and the choices they made. I thought there'd be something interesting and Charlie Kaufman-like behind the curtain this film operates in, but instead it's played dead straight, and thus I couldn't read anything in to it. It means what it means on the surface - so there's little interpretation to be done. That's just my taste though - it's fine enough for those who like it.

5/10


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Bad Boys - (1995)

Standard 90s Michael Bay action here, with plenty of explosions, gunplay, chases, murders, crime and torture. This film's strongest card though is it's humour and the chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Will "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!" Smith. It's big brash and dumb (and was Bay's feature directorial debut.) As it ended I felt satisfied with the sheer amount of destruction and pyrotechnics I'd witnessed. I might have loved this if I'd seen it when I was a kid, but I've only now decided to check it out.

6/10



You've never seen this??
Well, like I wrote, I bailed on the book and wasn't vibing with the film shortly after. That was like 20 years ago though, and this time I liked it.

I like it well enough, but it's obviously not for me. But I appreciate a movie like this not catering to total artless pointlessness, so it gets points for me there. Both Zellweger and Grant are good. Probably Firth too, but I can't remember. Is there even a Firth in it??
Of course---the Firth is the Darcy of the film (literally and figuratively)!

I was disappointed to look at the scores on IMDb and see that this is an example of a "female audience" movie whose rating has been tanked by male users. It's not amazing, but it deserves a bit more than its 6.7







Paths of Glory - I can't help but wonder what sort of picture Stanley Kubrick would have turned out if he hadn't been constantly butting heads with producer/star Kirk Douglas. They say that Kubrick would makes changes to the shooting script whereupon Douglas, as producer, would overrule him and have it changed right back. I think most of this had to do with the director's notoriously perfectionist nature. There are recorded instances of dozens of takes of a single scene and since Douglas was charged with keeping an eye on the bottom line the clashes were inevitable.

This is first and foremost described as an antiwar film but I'm not convinced that's an accurate fit. I came away with more of a people-are-scumbags-and-the-setting-happens-to-be-wartime feeling. But then I guess your individual take would depend on how cynical you're feeling.

Douglas plays Colonel Dax, a French officer charged by his superior General Mireau (George McCready) to lead an assault on the heavily fortified Anthill. It's a suicide mission with little to no chance of success but the ambitious Mireau has had a promotion dangled in front of him by his superior, General Georges Broulard (Adolphe Menjou), a member of the French General Staff. The attack fails miserably with the regiment suffering heavy losses. After seeing so many of their comrades lose their lives, a second company refuses to leave their trench. An enraged Mireau orders his artillery commander to open fire on them which the man refuses. The next day Mireau wants to court martial 100 of the men for cowardice under fire, a charge that carries a sentence of death upon conviction. After meeting with Broulard and Dax he opts instead to have three enlisted men chosen at random to stand trial. Former trial lawyer Dax volunteers to defend the men.

There are so many hissable performances on display here, from McCready's duplicitous Mireau, Richard Anderson's smarmy Major Saint-Auban, Mireau's aide de camp, Menjou's indifferent Broulard and actual coward and drunkard Lieutenant Roget (Wayne Morris). Douglas delivers a powerful lead performance that serves to underscore the futility of it all since in the end nothing has changed. The characters are back at square one. There is no closure or equity. Even the fragile and unexpectedly humane coda is diminished by the inevitability of the miseries to come.

90/100