The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III: Foreign Language Edition

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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?


[ Me, trying to figure out how to approach the review for Fantastic Planet ]
It is a conundrum, isn't it?
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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 watched Memories of Murder (2003). Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film is set in 1986 in a small Korean province and focus on the detectives investigating a series of murders. The film has a smart screenplay and is stylishly directed. The cinematography is fantastic and the actors do a good job. Memories of Murder is an effective and memorable mystery thriller. Highly recommended. My rating is
.
Fantastic film. I love it as well. My favorite from Bong so far, a director I haven't actually been that high on. Love this though, think Mother is really good. Parasite was just good for me, which always feels like I am dogging it because of how much everyone loves it.
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Open your Eyes: About halfway through this I had to pause and check because I knew I was getting really strong vibes of an American movie. I haven't seen Vanilla sky but the imagery of it is striking enough that it struck me. Anyway, the reason I never saw Vanilla Sky is because erotic thrillers not made by Kubrick usually aren't my jam.

This also has the reality vs dream/nightmare twistiness that doesn't work for me a heck of a lot either. I just find my interest waning when the motivations of the characters really don't factor in at all. I would have much rather spent more time with the love triangle conflict, which is pretty well discarded as quickly as it showed up.

I love Cruz as an actress, but she is one of those that rarely picks scripts that grip me. For that reason she is on the outside looking in of my favorites. She was her sultry self here though. I liked the mime sequence quite a bit. That and the tennis scene were my favorite thing in a movie that didn't have a lot going on to me.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Open your Eyes: About halfway through this I had to pause and check because I knew I was getting really strong vibes of an American movie. I haven't seen Vanilla sky but the imagery of it is striking enough that it struck me. Anyway, the reason I never saw Vanilla Sky is because erotic thrillers not made by Kubrick usually aren't my jam.

This also has the reality vs dream/nightmare twistiness that doesn't work for me a heck of a lot either. I just find my interest waning when the motivations of the characters really don't factor in at all. I would have much rather spent more time with the love triangle conflict, which is pretty well discarded as quickly as it showed up.

I love Cruz as an actress, but she is one of those that rarely picks scripts that grip me. For that reason she is on the outside looking in of my favorites. She was her sultry self here though. I liked the mime sequence quite a bit. That and the tennis scene were my favorite thing in a movie that didn't have a lot going on to me.
:: makes note:: "do NOT recommend What Dreams May Come to sean."
Got it.

I know what you mean about Cruz. She's really pretty amazing and I'd love to see more of her but she seems to be a number of films that don't quite interest me and I end up watching them for her only.



The Tin Drum: I have a friend who occasionally has called me, jokingly...I think, the movie douche. When I watch a movie like The Tin Drum I always remember why. From the opening shot of a potato field with a single women and fire burning I thought to myself, "oh awesome, I get to watch cinema instead of a movie today". Whether that makes me a snob or means I have developed taste? I don't really care anymore, because I love "cinema", and that's exactly what The Tin Drum is.

The metaphor at work here is exactly what I love in art film. Just out of my complete grasp but also I am absorbing enough for it to make my heart ache throughout. The descent into hell is constant and never leaves you for a second.

I loved absolutely everything about this. It is gorgeous and ugly all at the same time. The characters are all engaging and top notch. Absolute masterpiece. Not only the best of my bunch so far but the best I have seen in probably over a year.



:: makes note:: "do NOT recommend What Dreams May Come to sean."
Got it.

I know what you mean about Cruz. She's really pretty amazing and I'd love to see more of her but she seems to be a number of films that don't quite interest me and I end up watching them for her only.
I saw that way back when it was released. It was during my I watch everything with Gooding because he made one of my favorite characters ever phase. That one didn't last long, and this movie didn't help.



My favorite film from Cruz is Volver. I think she has amazing presence.

I like Cruz and Eduardo Noriega, so I quite enjoyed Abre los Ojos.



cricket's Avatar
Registered User
Great job Sean!

The Tin Drum is a great movie, and I think we have 2 other members who are going to watch it. It's been on my list of potential HoF nominations.

I've seen Open Your Eyes once. I didn't love it but it's better than Vanilla Sky.



My favorite film from Cruz is Volver. I think she has amazing presence.

I like Cruz and Eduardo Noriega, so I quite enjoyed Abre los Ojos.
I think it's mine too. But, in true Sean fashion, I don't remember it much at this point.



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
I just finished watching Nights of Cabiria (1957). Directed by the legendary Federico Fellini, this Oscar winning film stars Giulietta Masina as Maria 'Cabiria' Ceccarelli, a prostitute looking for love. Masina is excellent her in a layered, complex performance. She feels real and believable. The cinematography is beautiful and the film tells its story in an effective way. This wouldn't be one of my absolute favourite Fellini films, but it is very good and highly recommended. I would rate it a
.



Open your Eyes: About halfway through this I had to pause and check because I knew I was getting really strong vibes of an American movie. I haven't seen Vanilla sky but the imagery of it is striking enough that it struck me. Anyway, the reason I never saw Vanilla Sky is because erotic thrillers not made by Kubrick usually aren't my jam.

This also has the reality vs dream/nightmare twistiness that doesn't work for me a heck of a lot either. I just find my interest waning when the motivations of the characters really don't factor in at all. I would have much rather spent more time with the love triangle conflict, which is pretty well discarded as quickly as it showed up.

I love Cruz as an actress, but she is one of those that rarely picks scripts that grip me. For that reason she is on the outside looking in of my favorites. She was her sultry self here though. I liked the mime sequence quite a bit. That and the tennis scene were my favorite thing in a movie that didn't have a lot going on to me.
I loved this film. One of those I films I caught halfway through while at a friend's house, and we both ended up glued. If I remember correctly, I think that once it finished, we started it again to catch it whole cause the network had it scheduled twice.



FANTASTIC PLANET
(1973, Laloux)



"I grew up fast in that slow world, for a Draag week was equal to one of my years. I was just a living plaything that sometimes dared to rebel."

Set in the mysterious planet of Ygam, Fantastic Planet follows the clashes between the human-like Oms and the giant, blue humanoid Draags that are trying to eradicate the former from their planet, while also keeping them as pets. Terr (Eric Baugin) is a young Om that has been kept as a pet since infancy by Tiwa (Jennifer Drake). But when he accidentally starts to absorb knowledge from his captors, he ends up leaving Tiwa and joining a group of rebel Oms in order to oust their captors.

I found this film both amazing and mesmerizing for so many reasons. I'll start by saying that the opening scene was such a perfect way to capture what this world is about, to expose the themes without spelling them out, but rather with haunting and eerie visuals. Second, the animation was so effective, and you feel like it suits the plot and the era so well. The use of colors and certain angles only helped to amplify the eeriness of this world. Third, the creativity with which director René Laloux and co-writer Roland Topor build this planet and set its environment and rules is nothing short of impressive. Finally, the music is so cool and helps to establish the trippy mood extremely well.

Fantastic Planet was a troubled project to begin with; not only for its themes and ambitions, but also because of the circumstances surrounding its production. While production started in France, it was animated in Czechoslovakia which had more resources in that field. Halfway through, Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Soviet Union in an effort to suppress a reform movement in the country. Casually, co-writer Topor was of Polish-Jewish descent and had to spend his childhood hiding from the Gestapo. All of this adds more weight to the themes of oppression and subjugation that permeate through the film.

I still have some issues with it. Even though I understand it's not the film's goal, but the lack of character development and depth hinders its effect a bit. Plus, the resolution feels somewhat abrupt and a bit too convenient. Still, I would definitely say that this was one of the most interesting film-watching experiences I've had recently.

Grade:





Ikiru, 1952

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a meek public servant who works at the head of the Public Affairs office, where he and his fellow workers participate in a merry-go-round of foisting projects onto other departments. But when Watanabe discovers he has terminal stomach cancer, he has a sudden crisis about the impact he has had in his life. Encountering callous behavior--including from his own son--Watanabe must decide how he will make his mark.

This film made me feel very deeply, and on a variety of levels. This is really a masterpiece from Kurosawa. And while I think that the mystery and action elements of High and Low and Seven Samurai keep them as my "favorites", I can easily see how someone would argue that this is Kurosawa's best film.

From an organizational/technical level, this film was just fantastic. There is a heart-wrenching (but also borderline darkly comedic) sequence in which a fellow patient at the doctor's office fills Watanabe in on what the doctors really mean when they say certain things. As the man rattles off symptoms--pain, reduced appetite, burping--we see from Watanabe's face (which the other man cannot see) that these are his symptoms. And just as the man in the waiting room predicts, the doctors tell Watanabe that he has a "stomach ulcer" and not to worry, choosing not to let him know about his illness even when he tells them he wants the truth. And structurally speaking, there is a really neat and bold choice when (sort of spoilers)
WARNING: spoilers below
the final 50 minutes of the film take place after Watanabe has passed away, and other characters are left to interpret and dissect his behaviors after the fact
. This is a really neat trick of the narrative, because it forces us into a different perspective.

The performances are, of course, excellent. I love Takashi Shimura and have always felt that he has a way of grounding a film with a character who feels truly three-dimensional. Watanabe is a sympathetic character, but he is a man in a horrible crisis and it isn't pretty. Watanabe has a look of misery and borderline-panic on his face for much of the film. He is afraid of dying, afraid of leaving behind no legacy except for a retirement bonus over which his son and daughter-in-law want to squabble. We see the unflattering side of this when Watanabe becomes overly dependent on a much younger coworker named Toyo (Miki Odagiri). Watanabe becomes desperate and intrusive (both physically and emotionally), and it is a lot for Toyo to handle. He wants to understand her joy for life, but his failure to communicate his situation to her creeps her out. I appreciated that the film acknowledged this. It isn't Toyo's job to do the emotional labor of helping her coworker through his end-of-life crisis, and especially not when she doesn't understand the scope of what is happening. I like that the film was honest about the bumps and scrapes of trying to work through such a fraught time. Going through a crisis can be ugly, and the film doesn't present Watanabe's journey as some smooth arc.

Thematically, I related strongly to this film. I have two jobs that are service type jobs--teaching and massage therapy--but I still often grapple with whether I am doing enough or making enough of a positive change in the world. Ikiru shows a man confronting sch feelings, but it also takes the time to show the aftermath of his actions. The scenes in which other characters react to Watanabe's change in personality are almost as powerful as the scenes featuring him. Everyone wants to filer his behavior through their own lens of priorities and egocentrism. The staging of the final gathering is really excellent, especially the way that the blocking of the characters subtly changes as it progresses. I loved the on-point critique that sometimes people doing good will be met with suspicion or even derision from people who find being negative easier than making positive changes in their own life/behavior.

I guess my one "missing piece" was more of a final reflection from Watanabe. I think that you can infer a lot about it, I think that it might even be better for the narrative that we don't get that, but it was what I wanted. It's something I will reflect on, especially if I rewatch the film.

A really, really excellent film. I have avoided it for a while because I was pretty sure that it would take a bit of an emotional toll on me. I wasn't wrong, but it's a beautiful kind of melancholy.




Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?




Yojimbo (1961)

Gonji - Tavern Keeper: What'll you do now?
Sanjuro Kuwabatake: Go next door and buy a coffin.
Gonji - Tavern Keeper: How can you give up like that?
Sanjuro Kuwabatake: You idiot! I'm not dying yet! There's a bunch of guys I have to kill first.

This has been THE MOST FUN I've had watching an Akira Kurosawa so far.
The few I've seen have been very serious dramas, and unlike them, there is a playfulness to this - what could be considered a classic popcorn-munching action film. One that is very much in the top echelon of that subgenre. Dark humor and sarcastic wit permeate this very entertaining film. Even the Soundtrack invokes a kind of "Comedic Carnival" tone that worked very much in its favor.
The inspiration to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and Walter Hill's Last Man Standing, it is said that Kurosawa was inspired, equally, with Hollywood Westerns, and, what I didn't know, by The Glass Key (1942). Which is getting bumped in my Sh#t I just GOTTA see. SOON.

Toshirô Mifune, taking Kurosawa's advice that his character is a wolf or a dog, incorporated, along with some truly great, and at times, amusing expressions, will shrug/twitch much like a dog scratching at fleas.
I can't help but think that he may have had a lot of fun with this character, because of the evident humor within his, as always, fantastic performance.

Along with him are two exceptional actors, Tatsuya Nakadai as the pistol-toting Unosuke and the crotchety Tavern Keeper, Gonji (Takashi Shimura), holding their own with the scene-stealing Mifune.


Exploring my initial pleasure regarding, Dark humor, sarcastic wit, Soundtrack = a very cool "Comedic Carnival" tone, is the numbskull, cowardly, wannabe thugs, that are the hired soldiers for the two bickering Bosses of the nearly deserted town.
I am UTTERLY heartbroken I could not locate a gif of the cowards vs. cowards attempt at, but too afraid to, street fight.

But, this guy was, and that's how I felt too.




This was utterly, UTTERLY, [email protected] AWESOME!

I discipline my dumb @ss for taking this long to see this FINALLY


And thank whomever



The trick is not minding




Yojimbo (1961)

Gonji - Tavern Keeper: What'll you do now?
Sanjuro Kuwabatake: Go next door and buy a coffin.
Gonji - Tavern Keeper: How can you give up like that?
Sanjuro Kuwabatake: You idiot! I'm not dying yet! There's a bunch of guys I have to kill first.
When I first watched this that quote above made me laugh. I believe this was my second film I watched, after Seven Samurai, and before Ran and Kagemusha. All four are amazing to watch and made me a fan of his



cricket's Avatar
Registered User
A round of applause for Thief as he gets on the board with Fantastic Planet. I do believe that made my animations list. I love the score and it makes me feel just a bit uneasy.

Then back to back Kurosawa movies. My favorites of his are The Seven Samurai, High and Low, The Idiot, and The Hidden Fortress. Ikiru is close behind, and even though Yojimbo would be further down the list, it's certainly better than most movies.



A round of applause for Thief as he gets on the board with Fantastic Planet. I do believe that made my animations list. I love the score and it makes me feel just a bit uneasy.
The whole film oozes uneasiness. The music, the weird-looking giant humanoids and their googly red eyes, the trippy meditations, the "savage" world and creatures that lurk... it makes you fidget.