The MoFo Top 100 Foreign Language Film Countdown

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I love La Dolce Vita as well. Here's a recent review I wrote. If you have a different take and/or think I don't know what I'm talking about, let me know (it contains spoilers):

This is the masterpiece I hoped it would be. What's surprising about it, though, is that the title is not so much a statement about the life of the tabloid journalist protagonist as it is a question: is La Dolce Vita one of freedom? One of stability? Somewhere in the middle? Speaking of Mastroianni's character, Marcello Rubini belongs in the ranks of Don Draper in Mad Men and Princess Margaret - well, the version of her in The Crown, anyway - of memorable characters who are unhappy and unfulfilled despite having astounding privilege. Even though he has a city like Rome as his playground and has affairs with the most beautiful women in the world, Marcello envies his longtime (and mutually envious) friend Steiner, who has a more respectable career, a nuclear family; in short, everything he claims to be against. What I love the most about how the movie depicts Marcello's dilemma is that the portal into the kind of life Steiner lives is so close (yet far away) in the form of his devoted yet long-suffering fiancée Emma and that it gets farther and farther away as the movie progresses until it closes completely with his failure to communicate with the sweet waitress Paola. Also, the way the movie hints that the life Marcello strives for is analogous with being dead is fascinating and fascinatingly presented. From the parties that are described as funerals to the journey through the castle's catacombs to that stare on the beached fish, the movie certainly has a much different attitude about the lives of the rich and famous than, well, the show of the same name does, and makes it a counterpart to another Italian masterpiece from the same year, L'Avventura. There is also that other form of death - one which may be the overarching elephant in the room - which is Rome succumbing to modernity. Besides all those shots of the soulless, boxy apartment complexes, this is best exemplified in the breathtaking opening scene of the helicopter transporting what may be the last vestige of the ancient city to the new one. I do have mixed feelings about the episodic structure of the movie, which, while clever, is a bit alienating and disorienting considering each one begins practically context free. I'm not asking to be spoon-fed or anything, but adding titles to the episodes would not have been an unwelcome touch. To be fair, this is a very minor complaint, especially since I'm still replaying scenes from the movie in my head days later, can see myself ranking it as one of the best movies I've ever seen and am still wondering just what La Dolce Vita could be. Thankfully, the movie leaves that question up to you.
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I still haven't seen Metropolis. It looks like there is a 2 hour cut and a 2 hour, 30 minute cut on VOD. Which one do you recommend?
The mostest.
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I had The Cranes Are Flying at #21. Besides it's incredible camerawork and cinematography, the lead actress is really fantastic.

My List:
2. The 400 Blows (#35)
4. Playtime (#45)
7. Three Colours: Red (#54)
9. High and Low (#41)
10. Let the Right One In (#40)
12. The Wages of Fear (#67)
14. Diabolique (#69)
21. The Cranes are Flying (#28)
23. A Man Escaped (#60)
24. Le Trou (#81)
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Funny thing: I had Akira at my #25 for the top 100 list, but dropped it for this one


Apart from its obvious sensual qualities, like the colorful and psychedelic visuals and the sparkling Geinoh Yamashirogumi soundtrack, I've noticed that it's one of those films where people either are condescending beyond these surface features of its style (ie, comparing it to "video games and Saturday morning cartoons") or find it incomprehensble in substance for its esoteric profundity. There's a certain sweet spot about films that trigger such extreme reactions. The film does require some thought, and probably multiple viewings, but the profundity is apparent and not just the kind of postmodernist brain candy that passes for profound in a lot of modern sci-fi. It is an anime masterpiece.



Cranes was my 6! A beautiful film!

And I also had La Dolce Vita at 16! Liked it even more the second go around!



La Dolce Vita is on my list at #1. It's a very well done film in every facet, and the story and direction were completely innovative in 1960 as far as I know.

This film, along with one or two others, had a major impact in my philosophical development-- certainly as a late teen. The mood of the movie, it's style, and it's sexual freedom --in contrast to what I'd grown up with-- were absolutely magnetic to me. It was something that having seen, it stayed with me for a decade. Either that, or it could have been the booze..



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From what I remember, I enjoyed most of it, but wasn't sure of what to make of the final 10 or so minutes and its significance to the rest of the film, specifically with Zampanò crying at the end, unless it was supposed to signify him having regrets over his treatment of Gelsomina and Il Matto or something. I've been meaning to revisit it for a while though, so I might enjoy it more this time around.

Zampano could be cold, but also avoided any talk of vulnerability. You'll probably remember when they were going to sleep in a field, and she even asked, "Would you be a little sad if I died?" and he wouldn't answer, and just told her to sleep. He was a very basic man. Working for food and women.



But after 5 years of not seeing her, and then hearing the song she would sing, it probably all hit him at once. I'm sure he felt a lot of regret and BLAME for her predicament. He ran away from her after she had a breakdown, which was also cause by Zampano, after he killed The Fool.



Zampano could be cold, but also avoided any talk of vulnerability. You'll probably remember when they were going to sleep in a field, and she even asked, "Would you be a little sad if I died?" and he wouldn't answer, and just told her to sleep. He was a very basic man. Working for food and women.



But after 5 years of not seeing her, and then hearing the song she would sing, it probably all hit him at once. I'm sure he felt a lot of regret and BLAME for her predicament. He ran away from her after she had a breakdown, which was also cause by Zampano, after he killed The Fool.
That's a good interpretation of the ending and it makes sense. Admittedly, I sometimes have a bad habit of overthinking movies, heh.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
2 more from my list: Cranes at #7 and Dolce at #20





The Cranes Are Flying aka Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Veronika's Father: That is what love is, my dear. A harmless mental illness.

Initially, I had expected a very Arthouse Film. Cold, aloof, a harsh, cerebral experience filled with symbolism. Sans emotion. Sans beauty.
Sans love; for life, for family. . .

All of which is wonderfully dashed within the first fifteen minutes of this exquisite composition by Director Mikhail Kalatozov and Cinematographer Sergey Urusevskiy.
We meet Veronika "Squirrel" (Tatyana Samoylova) and her lover, Boris (Aleksey Batalov), sneaking into their homes early in the morning.
How it plays out and the warmth of their families along with the brilliant camerawork pulled me in, and, in bliss, there I remained throughout this story of star-crossed lovers during WWII.

This was, at the time of its release, a surprise for the audience. Stepping outside the rigorous limitations that had been implanted during Stalin's lifetime:

"When the film was released in the Soviet Union, it caused a sensation amongst audiences weaned on propaganda fare. For the first time, audiences were able to weep at the pain of losing millions of their population in the war. It was also the first time that subjects like draft-dodging, war profiteering, and the black market had been expressed on film."


Like numerous Life-affirming films that illustrate the Beauty of those enduring Horrorific situations, TCAF captures the very essence of it and all the subtitles, nuances, and cinematic magic that we, as movie lovers, crave: To be engaged, be entertained, laugh, cry, and be happily lost in the story/film before us.
The pacing, the story, dialogue, characters throughout held a beguiling spell over me. Experiencing, intimately, the lives of everyone with such artistry. In equal measures of camerawork and the actors who never appeared as if they were acting. Giving performances that express the Beauty, the Love of Life, and Family counterbalanced by the Loss that is heaped upon everyone during wartime. And, in the end, endured as Hope is given a chance.



La Dolce Vita aka The Good Life

Poetess at Steiner's Party: [Le tre grandi evasioni -- fume, bere, letto.] The three great escapes -- smoking, drinking, bed.

Ahh, so this is Fellini. . . molto bello
I remember as a young adult seeing the occasional parody of starlets and emotionally dead older gents demanding both the attention of, and to be left alone by scurrying hives of photographers.
Dismissing, what I figured as European Arthouse and way above my meager intellect to comprehend and thereby, appreciate.
Some thirty odd years later, having experienced such similar escapades and those bored, aloof individuals dreading and yet insisting on attending every single soiree so that they may spew contempt on those who celebrated life, love and living in the moment.

Fellini brilliantly takes us along to witness without judgement (leaving that to us, the viewers) one of these individuals who is dead inside. Incapable of true celebration. Forever seeking pleasure and fulfillment. Or more specifically, the Pursuit of it. A dog chasing a car. After car. After car.
Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) claims to seek out something that he, himself has no idea what. Not that he would bother if he did. Being far too intent in The Chase itself. An empty vessel that demands to be filled, but instantly casts it to the ground so that he may search out some other fluid to fill his, once more, empty glass.
My favorite was Maddalena (Anouk Aimée)

who is of a similar ilk, though with a more worldly wisdom. Acknowledging the pain that seems to always accompany her momentary pleasures as meager debts to be paid.

What I found intriguing is that that Fellini never ever ends the party. It continues from one to the next. Intermixed with tragedy that seems almost trivial as the next party is happened upon. Till even years later, an older, still unfulfilled Marcello, continues to Chase and Release. The only arc of his character is that he is a little more callous in his demands for personal entertainment.
Perhaps, in the end, it is the continual pageant of the parties themselves, the immortality of the La Dolce Vita that is the true focus and everyone else is merely pretty dressing.

Having a taste, I do desire to explore more Fellini in the future.



Movies Seen: 39 of 74 (52.7%)
1. Severely doubt it
2. Still possible

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. Definitely
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. Pretty [email protected] good odds
23. No idea --

24. Wild Strawberries (1957) #33
25. In This Corner of the World (2016) One Pointer

Rectification List
1. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) #43
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La Dolce Vita just missed my ballot. It's a film that needs to be seen more than once to be appreciated.

The Cranes Are Flying did make my ballot it was my #13. Such a beautifully somber, poetic movie.



Le Samourai was one of the first movies that I watched for this countdown, and I liked it a lot. It was on my list for a while, but it just got pushed down as I watched more movies, and eventually it just fell off my list.

I watched Akira for a HoF a few years ago. It was okay, but it's not really my type of movie.

I watched The Cranes are Flying for this countdown, and I liked it, but not as much as I had hoped, so it didn't make my list.

I haven't seen La dolce vita.
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2 more from my list: Cranes at #7 and Dolce at #27
Hey - I'm crying foul at this clear example of preferential treatment ..... exactly HOW MANY spots was Ed allowed on his ballot????

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30. Le Samourai
My favourite Melville film. A direct lineage to neo noir films like Drive. Delon's character in this is one of the coolest characters I've seen in cinema.

29. Akira
Decent anime but not really my thing.

28. The Cranes are Flying
Fabulous Kolatazov film that is one of a few that he did with cinematographer Sergey Urusevskiy, who to me is one of the greatest cinematographers who ever lived. The angles the high shots, the close ups...all alleviate the tension and drama. A stunning film. I had another Kolatazov in my list though.

27. La Dolce Vita
A Fellini that I have seen and is indeed very beautiful but didn't make my list.



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Catching up a bit.

Two of these films are on my list, Le Samouraï and La Dolce Vita. Both are amazing films. The former is my favorite Melville and the latter my second favorite Fellini. Le Samouraï is just the essence of cool distilled. A fabulous take on noir with an incredible lead performance. La Dolce Vita is similarly terrific with both leads giving iconic performances.

I've seen Akira. I enjoyed it well enough but didn't find it that interesting - frankly, I don't get its reputation. I've never seen or heard of The Cranes are Flying but reading about it and the votes here mean it's going on my watch list!

My ballot so far:

1.
2.
3.
4. Wings of Desire (1987) (#32)
5.
6.
7.
8.
9. Le Samouraï (1967) (#30)
10.
11. Metropolis (1927) (#31)
12.
13. Playtime (1967) (#45)
14. Fanny and Alexander (1982) (#39)
15. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) (#36)
16. The Exterminating Angel (1962) (#95)
17.
18. Paprika (2006) (#100)
19.
20.
21. Pather Panchali (1955) (#47)
22. La Dolce Vita (1960) (#27)
23.
24. Harakiri (1962) (#37)
25.



I've seen a version of La Dolce Vita years ago called Elsa and Fred with Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer...they placed a giant plot point where Elsa wants something similar to the scene in Vita involving the Trevi Fountain. It was alright, but I'd love to check out the original.

Hadn't heard of The Cranes are Flying until a couple of days ago, but look forward to placing it on my list as well.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Hey - I'm crying foul at this clear example of preferential treatment ..... exactly HOW MANY spots was Ed allowed on his ballot????

It's a seniority thing. Not exactly sure about the math but it has to do with how many years you've been here, calculated with actual screen time spent on the site, and broken down into some hyperbole of algebra algorithm that only Yoda truly comprehends (I hope). But, yeah, it ended up being around 33.65888. Which, I gotta tell ya, I had a b#tch of a time with the .65888 finding a short film with the correct running time to fit it. It was HELL I tell ya, absolute hell.




It's a seniority thing. Not exactly sure about the math but it has to do with how many years you've been here, calculated with actual screen time spent on the site, and broken down into some hyperbole of algebra algorithm that only Yoda truly comprehends (I hope). But, yeah, it ended up being around 33.65888. Which, I gotta tell ya, I had a b#tch of a time with the .65888 finding a short film with the correct running time to fit it. It was HELL I tell ya, absolute hell.

You shoulda rounded up



My List
2. La Haine
3. Knife in the Water
5. Close-Up
10. Diabolique
11. Wild Strawberries
12. Cache
14. Three Colors: Blue
15. La Dolce Vita
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