The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III: Foreign Language Edition

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Damn, that reminds me of something....
I have to watch approximately 7 minutes a day of Seven Samurai to stay on track!



I have to watch approximately 7 minutes a day of Seven Samurai to stay on track!
It's a long one I hear I haven't seen it ever myself. One of these days.



Trying to keep some sort of pace here. Started Tokyo Story, got halfway through. Will finish tomorrow. Enjoying it so far.
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The trick is not minding
Stalker


Tarkovsky has always been a blind spot for me. I first heard of him back in 2003, I think? When the remake of Solaris had come out. I had read his original version was the one worth seeking out, as well as Stalker. For some reason though, I never did. Maybe because his films werenít as easy to find in the Hollywood video rental I frequented at the time.

Stalker begins with a unnamed man who takes anyone willing to pay into the Zone, an area steeped in mystery and legend. A meteor hit it years ago, and when trips were sent to recover it, they never returned. The area was then blocked off and no one is allowed to enter under threat of imprisonment or death. But inside the Zone, lies a room that grants all who enter their desires.
So of course, our Stalker is hired to lead two strangers the writer and the professor, to this mysterious room.

The film is really an essay of sorts, on the human psyche. It is deeply psychological and even on my first viewing, I know there was a lot I missed or it went over my head. As such, it demands repeated viewings. We watch as these three struggle to reach the room, and debate with each other while waxing philosophical. Stalker is deeply philosophical.

It is shot beautifully. Alternating between color and sepia tone, the switch is sudden and almost seamlessly. And there are some scenes of foreboding as they enter the zone. Scenes of tanks from where the lost troops made their last stand.

But what is the Zone exactly? Is it sentient? Seems so. It reacts to you and changes every minute, setting up traps according to our Stalker. And what of the mysterious dog that appears and follows them? Is there some significance to it? And the ending? Does that suggest the Stalker once entered the room?

Indeed, it is more of an experience, and one has to experience it first before you can find the answers. The answers may or not come in repeated viewings. In that way, stalker is much like The Zone itself. Or even the Room that is so desired by them.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Shoplifters



It was cool to finally connect with a Kore-eda film. It was a very touching film that really didn't have much of any flaws. Was it completely realistic? No probably not but with the way Kore-eda told the story it really made me look past all of that. It was very well acted and technically it had no flaws and looked fantastic. Almost felt like a modern Ozu story but perhaps even one that all audiences could connect with better. In the end felt pretty invested in the kids fates and that definitely seems to linger after the end credits role. A really good recommendation for me.

+
I do believe this will be my next viewing. Love the comparison you made to Ozu.
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Trying to keep some sort of pace here. Started Tokyo Story, got halfway through. Will finish tomorrow. Enjoying it so far.
Got that one on my Watchlist. Looking forward to your review when you finish





Blue is the Warmest Color(2013)

Emma: You still need some practice.
AdŤle: I'll give it all I've got.

Had a nice dreary, rainy day yesterday so what better way to spend it than with a 3 hour movie about a young woman, Adele, struggling with her sexual identity. The film starts with us following Adele in high school where she tries to live up to the expectations of her friends by shagging the cute guy in school. I don't believe I'm out of line in thinking it did not satisfy her. A later conversation with one of her friends leads to a kiss which opens Adele up to the possibility that she may be gay. Adele goes out one night with one of her closest friends who takes Adele to a gay bar. After spending some time there, she decides to head across the street to a lesbian bar where she meets the second lead, the blue haired Emma. A relationship forms and thatís what the rest of the movie is about.

The strength of the movie, without a doubt, are the lead performances. These two actresses are fearless and they are very good. The movie itself is a bit of a mixed bag. Itís a little jumpy and a few times leaves things sort of unresolved. Not even unresolved more ignored. Adele lives at home with her parents and is still attending high school then, all of a sudden, sheís living with Emma and teaching. How did that come about? Also, after Adele is outted at the bar by one of her friends she gets some serious harassment from her friends and thatís the last time we see her ďfriends.Ē Her friends just lob some homophobic stuff at her, there's a little scuffle and thatís the end of that. It seems the movie wants to just jump into the relationship and not deal with any of the harder aspects of what a young woman may have to deal with as far as coming out. The way some of that stuff was glossed over was a bit of a letdown.

There were a couple of things that grossed me out a little and itís more something that just bothers me and probably wonít bother anyone else. I HATE watching close ups of people eating. Itís disgusting and the director uses close ups extensively throughout the film, and it works 95% of the time, but when the characters are eating? Spaghetti and oysters up close... "Can't do it!" Itís silly but itís something I have to deal with. Also, Adele is pretty emotional and prone to bouts of crying. Totally understandable in a film like this but who, after the age of ten or so, lets the snot just flow without wiping it? In one of the most important scenes of the film she has snot running into her mouth. That was a bit distracting and I donít want to say ruined the scene but it did affect the overall impact. What can I say - people are disgusting.

The movie kind of has a rep for being a tad explicit as it pertains to the sex scenes and...it's earned. So if long, explicit sex scenes are a problem for ya, keep the remote handy. I was able to power through them (one in particular was lengthy) but I get it's not everybody's cup of tea.

I liked the way it ended. A lot. Overall this was pretty good and this is from someone who really isnít into love/romance films. Never in a million years would I have seen this had it not been recommended.



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Blue is the Warmest Color(2013)

Emma: You still need some practice.
AdŤle: I'll give it all I've got.

Had a nice dreary, rainy day yesterday so what better way to spend it than with a 3 hour movie about a young woman, Adele, struggling with her sexual identity. The film starts with us following Adele in high school where she tries to live up to the expectations of her friends by shagging the cute guy in school. I don't believe I'm out of line in thinking it did not satisfy her. A later conversation with one of her friends leads to a kiss which opens Adele up to the possibility that she may be gay. Adele goes out one night with one of her closest friends who takes Adele to a gay bar. After spending some time there, she decides to head across the street to a lesbian bar where she meets the second lead, the blue haired Emma. A relationship forms and thatís what the rest of the movie is about.

The strength of the movie, without a doubt, are the lead performances. These two actresses are fearless and they are very good. The movie itself is a bit of a mixed bag. Itís a little jumpy and a few times leaves things sort of unresolved. Not even unresolved more ignored. Adele lives at home with her parents and is still attending high school then, all of a sudden, sheís living with Emma and teaching. How did that come about? Also, after Adele is outted at the bar by one of her friends she gets some serious harassment from her friends and thatís the last time we see her ďfriends.Ē Her friends just lob some homophobic stuff at her, there's a little scuffle and thatís the end of that. It seems the movie wants to just jump into the relationship and not deal with any of the harder aspects of what a young woman may have to deal with as far as coming out. The way some of that stuff was glossed over was a bit of a letdown.

There were a couple of things that grossed me out a little and itís more something that just bothers me and probably wonít bother anyone else. I HATE watching close ups of people eating. Itís disgusting and the director uses close ups extensively throughout the film, and it works 95% of the time, but when the characters are eating? Spaghetti and oysters up close... "Can't do it!" Itís silly but itís something I have to deal with. Also, Adele is pretty emotional and prone to bouts of crying. Totally understandable in a film like this but who, after the age of ten or so, lets the snot just flow without wiping it? In one of the most important scenes of the film she has snot running into her mouth. That was a bit distracting and I donít want to say ruined the scene but it did affect the overall impact. What can I say - people are disgusting.

The movie kind of has a rep for being a tad explicit as it pertains to the sex scenes and...it's earned. So if long, explicit sex scenes are a problem for ya, keep the remote handy. I was able to power through them (one in particular was lengthy) but I get it's not everybody's cup of tea.

I liked the way it ended. A lot. Overall this was pretty good and this is from someone who really isnít into love/romance films. Never in a million years would I have seen this had it not been recommended.
When I got to that line it didn't even occur to me that you were talking about food and I was thinking well that's a strange criticism. Not sure if that's the movie or how my mind works.



CRIES AND WHISPERS
(1972, Bergman)
Freebie



"Don't you hear it? Don't you hear the crying? Don't you hear it? Someone is crying endlessly."

This is the question that maid Anna (Kari Sylwan) desperately asks everybody in one segment of this film. But unfortunately, nobody seems to notice, listen, or care about the "endless" crying, which is a recurring theme in this Ingrid Bergman film. Cries go unnoticed, and whispers are heard "all around".

Set in the 19th Century, Cries and Whispers follows three sisters and their maid as they cope with the terminal illness of one of them. The film opens with Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is afflicted with an unspecified ailment, writing in her diary "It is early Monday morning and I am in pain". That sums up her days as she goes from just resting in her room to writhing in pain, all while under the watch of her two sisters, Karin and Maria (Ingrid Thulin and Liv Ullmann), and the maid.

The thing is that, beside's Agnes illness, the whole family is plagued by repression, depression, frustration, loneliness, detachment, infidelity, insatisfaction, gossiping, and a good dose of "thumb up their asses". Most of these elicit cries of frustration and anger from the people involved; cries for love, attention, or any sort of contact. Cries that tend to go unheard of or simply dismissed by others. These interactions give Bergman room to explore his usual themes of relationships, gender roles, and sexuality.

This was one of Bergman's first films in color, and he clearly makes sure to make the most of it. His vibrant use of red and white, and how he transitions from scene to scene adds a lot to the film. The performances are great, especially Thulin and Ullmann, who have the most intense exchanges. There is a certain "staginess" to it, and there's a lot of surreal vibe to everything, but for the most part it works.

Like most of Bergman's films, Cries and Whispers is a visually striking film; one that ends up being an emotional rollercoaster, as characters go up and down the spectrum: arguing, screaming, crying, loving, whispering.

Grade:







Rififi (1955)


An aging gangster is released from prison and gets together with a crew for one last job in Jules Dassin. This is a good movie, but it's not a great movie. Dassin loves the art of film-making but he could have used some help when it came to storytelling and pacing. The shot selections are incredible, and each part of the theft is treated like it's own act. The attention to detail works well but it also drags the film down. You do the heist and then you don't really have anywhere else to go so you end up with a new movie after the Heist movie.


One of the things that I found annoying about the film, and this is more reflective of the time period is that the violence mostly occurs off screen, behind a closed door or a wood pile. Dassin definitely overcompensates several Hitchcock homages (though he doesn't necessary get them quite right). Still that is more of a nitpick.


Still I would likely recommend this film, it wouldn't make my top 25-50 noir list but its still a good enough pick for me.



Hated Cries and Whispers and I've seen twice. Really like Bergman overall too so it's strange.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
LOVE Rififi! Haven't seen Cries and Whispers, nor heard of it.


Just finished Shoplifters. That was so beautiful. And yeah, I bawled as the credits rolled. Still am, a little bit.
Should get a review out in the next couple of days. Gonna try to knock out another film, most likely from the Asian, over this weekend.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I bet Shoplifters is going to do well on the Foreign Language countdown.
Definitely will for me.

Now watching Playtime
Had to IMDb that. lol
A Tati "Houlut" film. Very nice! Enjoyed the vaudevillian physical comedy in Mon Oncle and Houlet on Holiday.
Familiar with them, Thief? Can't remember what ya said in the preliminary thoughts.