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10 Foreign Language movies to go

By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51603393

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy - (2011)

A 1970s period piece now, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was something I've never read, but have seen on television with Alec Guinness as George Smiley. This version goes all out with absolutely incredible set decoration, production design and art direction - and it also features the impressive talents of Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Stephen Graham, Tom Hardy, John Hurt and Toby Jones - a cast to die for. Impressive and well acted, and backed by a classic story of intrigue, this was well worth watching.

7.5/10


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The Notebook - (2004)

It doesn't look like Nick Cassavetes has the same artistic talent that his father did, but it's nice seeing Gena Rowlands in yet another Cassavetes film. Here she plays an old version of the main character, who's dementia drives her husband to tell her the story of their lives together over and over again every day. Aww - ain't that romantic? Everything about this film was pretty much okay - from Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams' chemistry and acting to the visuals and the pace of the story. Nothing spectacular, but nice. It tells a story told many times before - from the economic disparity between families causing problems for the young lovers, to the choice Allie (McAdams) has to make between old and new love.

6/10


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Definitely Maybe - (2008)

Ryan Reynolds makes for a great romantic lead for 12-year-old girls to scream about, and there's plenty else in this film for the casual film watcher to enjoy, but Definitely Maybe didn't do a whole lot for me. I enjoyed seeing a Little Miss Sunshine-aged Abigail Breslin again, but the film doesn't make the most of Reynolds' talents, and the screenplay is very middling. I never felt chemistry between the main star and any of the three other actresses in this film. Kevin Kline shows up a few times and shows us all how charisma works - ending up the best thing about Definitely Maybe.

5.5/10


By Impawards.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24649680

The Graduate - (1967)

A classic - and a rare perfect film that manages to eke out the best in every aspect of filmmaking. Timeless.

10/10

RIP - mark f - I'll miss you
__________________
My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.





Jerry and Marge Go Large - I wanted to watch this because the premise sounded interesting and because of the two leads Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning. But it's remarkably bland even by geriatric genre standards. Those are movies that feature older actors like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or the Going In Style remake. Cranston and Benning's characters aren't that old. They just act like it. I kept waiting for something, anything, to happen. It's based on a true story about Jerry and Marge Selbee where Jerry figures out a flaw in their State lottery. They eventually recruit some fellow townspeople and use their winnings to revitalize their town.

That's it. That quotidian and inoffensive synopsis pretty much captures the entire movie. Nothing remotely original transpires up to and including the handful of well worn rock songs they trot out sporadically as ... I don't actually know what purpose they served. They do introduce this stereotypically snotty Harvard student as someone else that figured out how to game the system but he's there and gone without making much of an impression.

This was maybe one step above a Hallmark Channel movie and I'm genuinely sorry I took the time to watch it. If this is the kind of original content Paramount+ is cranking out I'm glad I never subscribed to it.

40/100



Victim of The Night

By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51603393

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy - (2011)

A 1970s period piece now, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was something I've never read, but have seen on television with Alec Guinness as George Smiley. This version goes all out with absolutely incredible set decoration, production design and art direction - and it also features the impressive talents of Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Stephen Graham, Tom Hardy, John Hurt and Toby Jones - a cast to die for. Impressive and well acted, and backed by a classic story of intrigue, this was well worth watching.

7.5/10
I think this is the best acting by a male ensemble cast I have ever seen, from Oldman (giving a master-class, probably the best performance of his career, IMO) to Hurt to Firth to Hinds to Toby Jones to Mark Strong (really great in this) to Cumberbatch (so strong here that I was instantly like, "that guy's a star", wish he did more like this), even Hardy.
Best male ensemble acting ever. Puts Heat to shame.



I think this is the best acting by a male ensemble cast I have ever seen, from Oldman (giving a master-class, probably the best performance of his career, IMO) to Hurt to Firth to Hinds to Toby Jones to Mark Strong (really great in this) to Cumberbatch (so strong here that I was instantly like, "that guy's a star", wish he did more like this), even Hardy.
Best male ensemble acting ever. Puts Heat to shame.
LOVE this movie!
__________________
I’m here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. That’s why I’m here now.



The Graduate - (1967)

A classic - and a rare perfect film that manages to eke out the best in every aspect of filmmaking. Timeless.

10/10
Brilliant movie. Seen it a million times.



I think this is the best acting by a male ensemble cast I have ever seen, from Oldman (giving a master-class, probably the best performance of his career, IMO) to Hurt to Firth to Hinds to Toby Jones to Mark Strong (really great in this) to Cumberbatch (so strong here that I was instantly like, "that guy's a star", wish he did more like this), even Hardy.
Best male ensemble acting ever. Puts Heat to shame.
Couldn't agree more.





Another Thin Man - This 1939 installment was the third Thin Man film following 1934's The Thin Man and 1936's After the Thin Man. This is probably my favorite of the three with William Powell and Myrna Loy really settling in to their respective roles as Nick and Nora Charles. For anyone who isn't already familiar with the series Nick is a retired detective who has married into money and Nora is his well to do spouse. She's also apparently a frustrated gumshoe because she's perpetually eager to bring Nick out of retirement to help out whichever friends or family are in danger. As is usually the case they're accompanied by their loyal dog Asta and in this one, their newborn son Nicky Jr.

The San Francisco couple are once again in NYC and are invited by Colonel Burr MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith) to spend the weekend at his estate in Long Island. MacFay was Nora's late fathers business partner and manages her fortune and he's been receiving death threats from an ex-employee named Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard). The film franchise follows the usual successful formula with bodies piling up and all manner of shifty eyed suspects putting in an appearance. But, like the other two, it's smartly written and filled with droll wordplay and playful banter between Nick and Nora. They're a charming couple and Myrna Loy remains one of the most captivating of early Hollywood leading ladies. Powell is also fully in control as the hard drinking, wisecracking and unflappable Nick Charles.

There are three other entries in the series and I fully intend and look forward to either revisiting or watching each for the first time.

85/100




Birth of the Pool (Giuseppe Andrews, 2013)

that's the only screenshot i could find on google images lmao. a film that falls apart as it goes, like not in terms of quality but in like, being a movie. i don't know how to explain what i mean by that. it's kind of cool.




The Guilty (1947)

This is an “A” noir story filmed as a “B” movie by Monogram Pictures. Cornell Woolrich’s work was a cornucopia of noir stories used as a basis for many films. Here Woolrich’s short story Two Men in a Furnished Room provided the dark and claustrophobic tale. Along with the able direction of John Reinhardt (HighTide) underpinned by the effective score of Rudy Schrager (Deadline for Murder, Gunsmoke) this film’s innovative production deserved far better than the paltry budget it had to work with.

Much of the story is told in flash back. Two ex-army pals, Mike and Johnny, share an apartment. Mike gives support and comfort to Johnny’s PTSD from the war. Johnny had dated a gal (Linda), but for various reasons broke the relationship and started dating her twin sister (Estelle). Mike starts half-heartedly seeing Estelle, but we learn that both of the sisters were after Johnny. One thing is common in noir: if there are twins, generally one is good and one is bad. Here, which one is which keeps changing. One of the sisters is murdered, and for the rest of the film we’re treated to a number of twists and a surprise ending.

The cast is surprisingly effective for a cheapo production. Bonita Granville (Nancy Drew; Now Voyager) plays the twins, while Don Castle (High Tide; The Invisible Wall) plays Mike, and Wally Cassell (White Heat; City That Never Sleeps) plays the troubled ex-soldier. The dependable Regis Toomey turns in a nice part as the world weary and shady police detective.

The movie basically uses three rather threadbare sets, which has the unintended result of enhancing the story. It features not only twin ladies but an “unreliable narrator”, which adds to the mystery. And DP Henry Sharp frequently shows his talent for noir lighting and staging.

This is a little gem of a noir doesn’t get enough notice due to it’s “B” status. It does share some similarity to Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror (1946)-- a full on “A” picture from Universal. The Guilty is a fine example of noir, and it’s available on YouTube.

Doc’s rating: 8/10





The Manchurian Candidate, 1962

Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) returns from the Korean War a decorated hero, credited with saving the lives of many in his company. There's just one little problem: the heroic action that Shaw and his companions remember never happened. Instead, the men were captured and brutally brainwashed. As Shaw strives to handle the pressures of his life back home---including a ruthless mother (Angela Lansbury), a politician stepfather (James Gregory), and his love for a woman named Josie (Leslie Parrish)--he unwittingly acts as an assassin for a communist group. Meanwhile, one of Shaw's old squad mates, Major Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) grows suspicious when he begins to suffer from strange dreams where Shaw does terrible, terrible things.

This was a very enjoyable, twisty-turny thriller, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that while I knew certain things about it via cultural osmosis, there were still several moments or plot elements that took me by surprise.

Overall the film is very strong and suspenseful, but the disorienting, unnerving sequence of Shaw and his companions being conditioned is a special kind of horror. The perception of the men is that they are a women's horticultural meeting, when in fact they are sitting in front of a panel of communist doctors and agents. The film alternates between the point of view of the men and the reality, to at times comedic effect (such as when one woman boisterously objects and a quick cut shows us that it's really a man in the front of the group). But as the sequence goes on, terrible things happen. Shaw is ordered to strangle one of the men. His victim objects, only to be told to hold still and cooperate. Later, Shaw is directed to shoot the squad's smiling, fresh-faced teenage member in the face. His fellow soldiers absorb this all with borderline boredom, yet these moments will torture them later in the form of unceasing nightmares.

Harvey makes for an interesting lead. Shaw is prickly and doesn't connect with the other soldiers. All of his peers have been brainwashed to say that he is a wonderful warm person---and one of the more tragic parts of the film is when Shaw reflects that this doesn't make sense, because the other men didn't like him. Sinatra is likable enough as Marco, who finds some common ground with Shaw because both of them have reason to believe that they may be going crazy, and find tremendous relief any time that they are able to connect some of the dots. Lansbury makes the biggest impression, though, as Shaw's power-hungry mother. She is a straight-up ice queen, and there's a giddy kind of suspense with her character as to whether she's involved with what is happening or just incredibly controlling.

If I had one criticism of the film, it's the extent to which the film at times throws in coincidences that feel a bit too far fetched. Characters with crazy connections just happen to meet-cute. Someone shows up to a fancy-dress party in a particularly relevant costume. I was more than happy to suspend disbelief for all of the hypnotism elements, but some of these other coincidences just felt a bit too out there in terms of the narrative reality of the film. And in the reverse of that: why was Janet Leigh in this film? She's just sort of . . . there, and it seems like a waste of her magnetism and intensity.

Frankenheimer's directing is kinetic and jarring. He manages to create sequences that combine incredibly upsetting visuals and actions with a kind of nonchalance and the effect is strong.




I was going crazy trying to figure out what The Manchurian Candidate made me think of, then in the shower it hit me: Seconds, which makes sense because it's another Frankenheimer.