The MoFo Top 100 Foreign Language Film Countdown

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I've currently seen 63/90 (63/91 if you count the honorable mention).

Since this list started, I've watched several films from this list and, since we have a couple days before the list resumes, I might as well share my thoughts on them:

Nights of Cabiria: Before watching this film, I had yet to rate any of Fellini's films higher than an 8/10 (I've also seen La Strada, La Dolce Vita, , and Amarcord). Upon going into it, I was curious if this would be the first 9/10 or 10/10 rating I'd give to Fellini, but unfortunately, I ended up giving this one an 8/10. With that being said though, it's definitely my favorite of Fellini's films (I plan to revisit this year though, so that may change). While you obviously sympathize with Cabiria and root for her to find happiness, I liked how the film simultaneously recognized that her loneliness was partly her own doing. While she got along with some people in the film, she also acted argumentative with some of the other people she met, causing her to come off as cold, distant, and unappealing. While this isn't to say she deserved what happened to her in the film, there was definitely an implication that her behavior might have been a reason for her loneliness. Overall, I found her plight compelling and, even though I was able to predict the outcome of the final act, the last scene won me over and made for a rather oblique culmination to the film.

Rififi: This would make for a great introduction to foreign and classic film since it feels both classic (the first act) and modern (the last act), so it contains enough to give newcomers a sense of what classic film feels like while simultaneously displaying some modern sensibilities which may appeal to them (and, of course, the dialogue-free jewelry heist in the middle is nothing short of excellent). Overall, the jewelry heist was the only part of the film which dipped into favorite territory for me (the rest of the film ranges from really good to great), so it wouldn't have made my ballot, but I still enjoyed my time with it and I could see myself watching it again. As an aside, Kubrick's The Killing is my favorite heist film. It's also, arguably, Kubrick's first great film.

The Celebration: When I watched this, it didn't seem like the kind of film which would have any chance of making this list, so I found myself pleasantly surprised when I saw it here. Decently high, no less. I was impressed at the emotional appeal and the mystery of the family, but even more so at the terrific style and the cinematic technique Vinterberg employed throughout the film. Initially, the rough and unpolished camera shots (which I don't consider to be a flaw, btw) and unorthodox camera angles and shooting positions mildly impressed me. As the film went on though, my admiration over those aspects grew more profound. As more revelations about the family were revealed and as the siblings kept turning on each other, the bizarre camerawork resonated with me in the best way possible as it matched the craziness of the situation at the birthday party. Also, I briefly mentioned this film in the low budget film thread I started a few days ago, but I think the grainy feel of the camerawork makes the cinematography look even more stylish and crazy. I can't imagine the film giving off the same effect with a high budget. At times, I struggled with the film as it hit a bit too close to home for reasons I'd rather not get into, but I'm sure I'll like it more when I revisit it since I'll know what to expect. If I had to nitpick something though, I think it would be better to build to the unorthodox cinematography as opposed to utilizing it right at the start of the film. This isn't to say I disliked the unorthodox cinematography in the first act per se, but since it worked best for me when paired with the family conflict, it might have been cool to have the camerawork escalate in weirdness, with it growing more unorthodox and dreamlike as the film went on. This minor issue though was ultimately lost in the grand scheme of everything I loved about the film, so I don't mean to imply this matters much. Just some food for thought. But yeah, this film would've surely made my ballot had I seen it prior to this list.

High and Low: Didn't like this one as much as I hoped I would; sorry, y'all! It got its hooks in me at first, but it lost some steam after the first hour. Gondo's moral dilemma was my favorite thing about the film (in addition to the slow-burning suspense of how they had to prevent the kidnapper from finding out about the police). After this segment ended, Gondo mostly disappeared from the film in place of the less interesting police officers and the film turned into an entertaining and well-detailed, albeit far less emotionally engaging police procedural. The final scene is really chilling though. I'll give the film credit for that. Overall, it has a handful of good ideas and some great ideas here and there. It wouldn't crack my top 5 Kurosawa's though.

Also, when I watched this film, I found out that you can buy the Criterion version of this film on Amazon Prime for 4-5 dollars (the digital version though). Or, at least, you could do this when I watched it a few weeks ago. Since I already bought it, I can't see the price anymore, but hopefully it hasn't changed since then:

Harakiri: I gave this film an 8/10, so it wouldn't have made my ballot, but it's still a great demythization and deconstruction of the customs and practices of samurai, specifically the code of honor which existed amongst them. I'm not a historian or anything, but from what I know, honor was really important for samurai and those who broke this code could face death. Given both this and how themes of honor were present in many other classic samurai films, I can only imagine how shocking this film was when it was released. Also, in regards to a statement someone made earlier in this thread on how Tatsuya Nakadai is a better actor than Toshiro Mifune (Mr Minio, I think), yeah, I can see that argument. I'd have to watch more of Nakadai's films though to decide whether I completely agree or not.

Woman in the Dunes: I watched this film a week or so before it was revealed in this list, so I'll just copy/paste what I wrote on it upthread as I've already written a lot in this post:

Woman in the Dunes is great, but it didn't make my list. It's the kind of film where I enjoyed thinking about it later more than actually watching it. However, I found its premise to be a thought provoking and deceptively simple adaptation of Sisyphus.

Overall, terrific list, and I'm excited to see which films make the top 10

Watched Cinema Paradiso last night so I could be in the 90/90 club. Feel like there should be a pin or something. I enjoyed it a good bit. Ending was really cool. Three hours was long for the story but it is solid. Wouldn't have been a contender for my list. Which I feel obliged to post before the top ten.

1. Going to be the upset special
2. Very surprised this wasn't in a 100
3. Never had a chance
4. Now I'm starting to worry about Mofo
5. Mofo has officially lost it's mind
6. Children Of Paradise (58)
7. Chungking Express (75)
8. Solaris (12)
9. Ran (19)
10. Thought might make lower third, bummer
11. It's a coming
12. Have to believe this is underseen for...reasons
13. Playtime (45)
14. Didn't think so
15. See #10
16. See #15
17. See #16
18. get the point
19. Blue (49)
20. Never had a shot
21. Harakiri (37)
22. Pretty shocked about this one
23. Memories Of A Murder (57)
24. No sir
25. The Mirror (One pointer)

Thanks! And yeah, I haven't seen much from Peter Lorre, but from what I've seen, he's really great. It's cool how this film essentially launched his career.
You bet. A fascinating guy who unfortunately went down the tubes to drug addiction-- like Bela Lugosi did.

A few of my favorites: The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and Arsenic and Old Lace.

You bet. A fascinating guy who unfortunately went down the tubes to drug addiction-- like Bela Lugosi did.

A few of my favorites: The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and Arsenic and Old Lace.
Arsenic and Old Lace has been on my watchlist for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll see if I can knock it out this October.

... and of course you miss out the best Kurosawa
For what it's worth, I love most of his films and I also like High and Low quite a bit. Just not as much as some of his other films.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
As is my ritual, I'm going to start posting my movies which aren't going to make it but not until tomorrow. So that gives you a little while to cuss me out.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

minds his own damn business
... and of course you miss out the best Kurosawa
My preferred pronoun is "smee".

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
As threatened, here are some of mine that didn't make the Top 100.

Buffet Froid, director Bertrand Blier's cracked Bunuelian nightmare from 1979. I own it and have seen it about eight times now, but it never fails to deliver laughs, smiles and WTF?s. Gerard Depardieu and the director's father Bernard lead a solid cast in a movie which inspired several later "nightmare comedies", but this one has to be the most unpredictable. I'd also highly recommend Going Places and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, but all his "earlier" films have their charms.

Love Exposure is a wildly-entertaining four-hour epic from Sion Sono (The Suicide Club, Noriko's Dinner Table) which I find the best of his films which I've seen. It's hard to believe that a film can cram so many different ideas and themes even at four hours, but the pace is frenetic enough that it's done easily and mostly completes the various story arcs successfully. What the movie tackles are subjects involving Christianity, true love, the concepts of sin and perversion, revenge, cult programming and deprogrmming, stalking, terrorism and even a skewed Doris Day/Rock Hudson romantic comedy involving mistaken identity, but here adding the dimension of cross-dressing. Throw in some martial arts, lots of Ravel's Bolero, Beethoven's 7th Symphony and some excellent modern rock songs, and the four hours fly by. I don't want to get into too many plot details because there are several twists and turns, but sometimes the film repeats scenes from different perspectives, so one could be reminded of Pulp Fiction, and there were a few moments I flashed back to Fight Club near the end, but for the most part, this is a highly original comedy-drama which perhaps is a little too outrageous to be taken completely seriously, but is honest enough to still create a considerable amount of power.

Europa Europa is one of Agnieska Holland's great looks at identity, in this case involving Nazis and Jews with the kicker that sex is involved. I love it a lot, but I have to confess that I really wanted to vote for her Olivier, Olivier which I thought would have less of a chance, so I'm out of luck either way. Everything about Olivier, Olivier, another thriller about identity, is handled originally and often beautifully. The time-frame changes, the characters and their motivations, the little touches which seem to be throwaways but mean so much, often in unexpected ways, the beautiful photography of the French countryside, and the mounting dread and disturbing twists and turns of the plot combined with the witty dialogue.

My List

1. War and Peace
2. Z
5. Downfall
6. Night and Fog
13. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
17. The Celebration [Festen]
21. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
22. Europa Europa - should have been Olivier, Olivier (They Both Did Not Place)
23. Love Exposure (Did Not Place)
24. Buffet Froid (Did Not Place)

25. Das Boot

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
City of God is something I most likely I'll only see in a HoF and not something I'd seek out on my own. Where I'll greatly respect but would have not rather experience.

Ranking in at #14,

Rashomon (1950)

Somewhat sheltered from the downfall of rain, two men convey to a third the bafflingly emotional experiences of a trial they had just witnessed.

Unlike many judicially oriented mysteries that, at one point or another, muse the fallibilities of Human Nature, Rashomon switches the focus entirely around. To the point that we not only do not see the ones convening over the trial, but we never hear them either. Kurosawa's camera is setting us in their place.
As each person's perspective of events is told and the variance of detail is emphasized, we are given a more metaphorical/philosophical conundrum to ponder. The three men's perspective on Life and Humanity creates a kind of discussion board. They are analyzing the stories given and why people lie. The discovery of the truth of the incident in question becoming secondary.

I have always been hesitant about seeing this film for some cockamamie reason whenever I heard it spoken of. Thinking it may be a hard watch or perhaps a little too much of a dirge to experience.
I was very pleasantly mistaken.
Understanding Kurosawa's intentions beforehand also helped so that my mindset wasn't about who was guilty, who was covering up for who, but, instead, on the greater scheme of things that is a staple of an Akira Kurosawa film: Examining Human Nature via Visceral Scenarios. The examinations are taking a more central stage as opposed to being the filler of good storytelling.
Rashomon, for me, emphasizes this even more than my previous viewings of his Movie List so far.
So much so that it is almost an easy mistake to forget to mention the cinematography that is always exceptional when watching Kurosawa. The composition, Point of View, and so forth, adding so much to the subject matter in the cerebral, emotional and visceral aspects.
Solaris is another I'll not seek out but will respect when placed before me with no rush for it to occur.

One of my first loves when it came to focusing my attention specifically on directors, way back as a pup - whom I need to see a whole lot more of, Fritz Lang comes in with his second iconic masterpiece. (yeah, I [email protected] said it, but, yeah, for me, it's not a cliched compliment but it's [email protected] true) And yet, Fritzy didn't make my List. Bad llama.


I'll go over the common ground first. German Expressionism is the father of noir directing and one of those that took up shop in Hollywood was Fritz Lang, along with others being an inspiration for the said genre. This movie, along with Metropolis are the ones first to be mentioned and easily recognized. Both being excellent examples when showcasing Lang's creative, intuitive, and at times, thought-provoking style.
Just the beautiful artistry of any given shot is an extraordinary spectacle and its influence can be seen to this very day in far too many to even attempt to mention.

M delves deep within, not only the psychology of the murderer, but of everyone across the board.
Starting with the parents; a mother in particular who is agitated by the sing-song in the courtyard that the children sing about the killer; to the police's frustration-infused raids, to citizens accusing and attacking anyone that so much as talks to a child. Hitting rather strongly, seeing the kind older gentleman answering a child's question only to be grabbed up by a small mob. We have that very mentality today.
"What's that? You TALKED to a child that doesn't belong you?!?! YOU PERVERT!! Why haven't you been arrested and locked up?!"
--But enough of that rant.

The exploration continues into the crime world, unable to continue their pursuits see the very necessity of removing the killer.
I really enjoyed the intercuts between them, and the police, working out strategies and noticing the similarities and, more so, WHO was coming up with the better searching method.

In the end, it is a race between the police and the criminal mob to snatch up the killer and bring him to their version of justice.

The chase and the mock trial were quite brilliant. Some of the best "shots" were during the chase and any time Lorre was involved.

Movies Seen: 48 of 87 (55.17%)
1. Severely doubt it
2. Amélie (2001) #18
3. Shoplifters (2018) #72
4. Rome, Open City (1945) #93
5. Rififi (1955) #76
6. Army of Shadows (1969) #90
7. The Cranes are Flying (1957) #28
8. Yojimbo (1961) #42
9. Quite possible
10. Not gonna happen

11. Harakiri (1962) #37
12. Le Samouraï (1967) #30
13. Samurai Rebellion (1967) #79
14. Rashomon (1950) #13
15. Very possible
16. Sincerely doubt it, but who knows

17. The 400 Blows (1959) #35
18. Hell no
19. Paprika (2006) #100
20. La dolce vita (1960) #27
21. High and Low (1963) #41
22. Late Spring (1949) #26
23. Oldboy (2003) #21
24. Wild Strawberries (1957) #33
25. In This Corner of the World (2016) One Pointer

Rectification List
1. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) #43
What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue:
Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.

I'll wait until the countdown is over to unveil my picks that didn't make it. There's definitely some I'm quite surprised on and I would be shocked if some weren't in the 102-110 range.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Since I post my blathering, it'll be easier in small doses as I sprinkle throughout the final ten. Which I wholeheartedly agree with everyone about this Countdown. I LOVE these things and all kinds of love and Admiration to @Thursday Next as our very kewl Hostesse de la Mostesse!!

Bravo my dear, BRAVO

258 points, 16 lists
10. Pan's Labyrinth


Guillermo del Toro, 2006


Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdu, Sergi Lopez, Doug Jones

272 points, 16 lists
9. 8½


Federico Fellini, 1963


Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Sandra Milo

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