The MoFo Top 100 Foreign Language Film Countdown

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Stalker would have made my list if I didn’t do the one per director thing. It’s wonderfully spiritual and ambiguous. Looks awesome too.

Come And See has one other worldly amazing sequence for me. The rest I found underwhelming. Good flick, nowhere near this level for me though.

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

Professional horse shoe straightener
Wow. What a double bill:

Come and See was my #1

Stalker was my #7

Both films are just so important to me. They almost changed the way I look at cinema and got me to broaden my film horizons. Come and See is just such brave film-making that pushed actors and pushed boundaries. Stalker is just essential and one of the most beautiful films ever made, I watched it in a trance first time round, that's what Tarkovsky does to you.

Hmm, I could've sworn Stalker would've ended Top 3. Anyway, I saw it last year I think and I really liked it, but I feel like I need to rewatch it to fully grasp it. So it didn't make my list.

Come and See was in my mind, but ultimately decided to go with other films. Still, I think it's an extremely powerful film. Here's my Letterboxd review, if anyone's interested.

My Summary:

Seen: 45/94
My list: 11/25

My List  
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Haven't ever seen Come And See, one day hopefully. Stalker is decent but was never really in with a shout of making my personal ballot.

Seen: 71/94 (Own: 42/94)

Faildictions ((バージョン 1.01):
10. Det sjunde inseglet [The Seventh Seal] (1957)
9. La Grande Illusion [The Grand Illusion] (1937)
8. Le jour se lève [Daybreak] (1939)
7. Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948)

6. Onibaba (1964)
5. Idi i smotri [Come And See] (1985)
4. Stalker (1979)

3. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi [Spirited Away] (2001)
2. 8½ (1963)
1. Shichinin no samurai [Seven Samurai] (1954)
NomsPre-1930 Countdown

Fashionably late to every party since 1473!

It's #1!

1. Stalker (1979)
2. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
3. Rashomon (1950)
5. Close-Up (1990)
6. Chungking Express (1994)
7. Playtime (1967)
8. La dolce vita (1960)
13. Sonatine (1993)
14. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
15. The Mirror (1975)
17. Red Desert (1964)
21. Caché (2005)
22. Pather Panchali (1955)
24. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
25. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2004)
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Haven't ever seen Come And See, one day hopefully. Stalker is decent but was never really in with a shout of making my personal ballot.

Seen: 71/94 (Own: 42/94)

Faildictions ((バージョン 1.01):
10. Det sjunde inseglet [The Seventh Seal] (1957)
9. La Grande Illusion [The Grand Illusion] (1937)
8. Le jour se lève [Daybreak] (1939)
7. Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948)

6. Onibaba (1964)
5. Idi i smotri [Come And See] (1985)
4. Stalker (1979)

3. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi [Spirited Away] (2001)
2. 8½ (1963)
1. Shichinin no samurai [Seven Samurai] (1954)
You know you’re just getting one right, right? Should have cheated just a little on your predictions to keep that (im)perfect record

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Stalker was my least favorite of the 5 movies I've seen from that director.

3. Downfall (#16)
4. City of God (#14)
6. Pather Panchali (#47)
8. Children of Paradise (#58)
9. The Skin I Live In (#92)
10. Contempt (#71)
11. Harakiri (#37)
12. Woman in the Dunes (#22)
13. Come and See
14. Sundays and Cybele (#73)
16. Samurai Rebellion (#79)
20. The 400 Blows (#35)
23. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (#36)
24. Three Colors: Red (#54)
25. High and Low (#41)

Welcome to the human race...
Stalker was my #2. Easy enough canonical pick but as someone whose tastes skew pretty hard towards science fiction, it's hard to disregard one of the true greats in the genre (and yet no Solaris on my list? How foolish). Takes a few viewings to truly get (and even I'm not entirely convinced that I get *everything* about it) but it remains such a pure and atmospheric experience nonetheless.

Come and See was my #14. I've managed to catch a couple of screenings of the recent 4K restoration and they really do an astonishing job of immersing one into the unpleasant realities of warfare, where civilians suffer and even resistance movements struggle to survive, let alone get any kind of advantage over occupying forces (and that's without getting into the question of what would actually happen if they did).
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.

You know you’re just getting one right, right? Should have cheated just a little on your predictions to keep that (im)perfect record
I know there's a fairly high chance that Seven Sams will be #1, I didn't write the program to absolutely nullify any chance of screwing up - that would have been oh, so simple by just making it pick mainly no-hopers .... but where would the fun be in that approach?

Anyway 99% (im)perfect (if that's what it turns out to be) will still be a slight improvement from the 98% it achieved on the Refresh list so it's still progress.

I am a devotee of Musical Comedy, so it should be no surprise that Come & See made my ballot. I gave it only thirteen of its 277 points. What else needs to be said about this film? Obviously it is well known and well regarded here at MoFo, I figured it would be top ten material for the group list no matter where it placed on my tally. If you haven't seen it don't spend too much time reading about it, just buckle up.

That makes sixteen of my choices with only one more coming, though that one is very likely in the top five.

1. Rashōmon (#13)
2. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (#15)
3. Amélie (#19)
4. RAN (#18)
5. The 400 Blows (#35)
6. Army of Shadows (#90)
8. Incendies (#61)
9. Solaris (#12)
11. Ikiru (#24)
12. Z (#55)
13. Come and See (#8)
16. The Lives of Others (#38)
19. The Conformist (#88)
22. Roma (#83)
23. Samurai Rebellion (#79)
24. Wages of Fear (#67)

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Come and See basically tells the story of a boy who is thrust into the unknown horror of World War II. His country, and more specifically, his village, needs him to help combat the Nazis. The central character, probably no more than 15, feels pride in being allowed to fight with what amounts to a Resistance movement, since there is really no organized military involved. Director Klimov is a master of sight and sound, and although the film is accessible to everyone, there are periods where it almost seems like an experimental film. After a particular loud nearby explosion, a hum stays on the soundtrack for maybe 20+ minutes because the characters are unable to actually hear each other. One thing about Come and See is that even if you can sense the feeling that you should expect the worst, when it shows up, you are not prepared for how visceral and spontaneous it truly is. I don't really want to reveal anymore, but the boy, despite spending an idyllic couple of days with a girl he meets along the way, looks at the end like he's literally aged from 15 to about 30 in the span of weeks.

Here's an interview with director Klimov who discusses how he tried to make the movie for years but was blocked by Soviet censors. He and his co-writer lived through the war and says, "That subject was too sacred for us to be false" and he says, "I think the film is rather reserved... we could have shown such things there, but no one would have beren able to watch it, and our work would've been in vain." I've also included an obituary which highlights the fact that he had problems with the government before and after all the films he made. His wife's death and the whole experience left him incapable of making another film the remaining 18 years of his life.

I will continue to watch Stalker because I do get more out of each time. You get to derive what you want from Stalker because it and Tarkovsky don't make it clear what it's about. That turns a lot of people on, but not me. The more personal Tarkovsky got (and that increased with each film), the more he lost me. I didn't find it depressing but it sure is cold. I've seen it a few times now and it holds very little meaning for me, but you can just say that I don't get it. I'm a prejudiced, unwashed heathen, but I still think viewers should watch it for themselves since there's a lot of beautiful imagery and deep philosophy to be found. Even though his films present the human condition, the talkiness and extreme length tend to make me feel icy toward him. I keep watching him to try to see and feel what others do, but it comes off as an intellectual exercise. I know Tarkovsky is trying to communicate differently and touch my soul, but it rarely happens. However, I do agree with him when he says, "So much, after all, remains in our thoughts and hearts as unrealized suggestion."

Long ago we had a thread where we were asked to compare two movies. One post asked us to compare Mildred Pierce and The Marriage of Maria Braun, my #20.

The main comparisons I find between the films are that they are both set in the 1940s, they both show unusual marriages, they both have the title female character scramble to make lots of money (although for different reasons), they both involve a murder, and they both are prime examples of Hollywood melodramas (yeah, even if Maria Braun was made in 1979 Germany).

Anyone who has seen the beginning or ending of Maria Braun would certainly remember those parts, so if you saw it, honey, you must have missed both the beginning and ending. They are both quite spectacular and cause the film to come full circle. No, they are not subtle bookends, but they are both a wow! Mildred Pierce (1945) is an incredibly-competent Hollywood film noir melodrama and contains Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning performance and a striking turn by Ann Blyth as her Queen Bitch daughter. It's more melodrama but the noir flourishes are also in your face and wow. The cinematography of both films is spectacular. DP Ernest Haller paints James M. Cain's story in high-contrast shadows, especially in the suspense/murder scenes so that it's difficult to solve the mystery but the entire film has a punched-up B&W pallet. In Fassbinder's Maria Braun, Michael Ballhaus's camera intensely prowls around the characters and there are a few tracking shots which reveal more about the devastation of post-WWII Germany than pages of dialogue ever could. Ballhaus shoots in color but often the effect is very gritty and realistic. You have to remember that The Marriage of Maria Braun was the first of a trilogy which Fassbinder made critiquing life in Postwar Germany, but each film looks completely different. The second film, Lola, is shot in pastels and looks like the cousin of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and the third film, Veronika Voss, is shot in a low-contrast B&W which utilizes almost no blacks at all.

I'm not sure how you came up with these two flicks, but they are good for comparison and contrast . I'd obviously recommend both of them, and if anybody is feeling up to putting their tootsies into Fassbinder's enormous filmographic swimming pool, I'd say that Maria Braun is probably as good a place as any to start. I cannot honestly say which one is better until I watch them back-to-back though.

MoFos who enjoy Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring or any of the Fanny trilogy, whether in French or English, should love this beautiful film. In fact, since My Father's Glory, my #19, is the best ever made with a Marcel Pagnol pedigree, everyone should enjoy it. Pagnol is the genius writer/playwright/film director who told a series of (mostly) autobiographical tales in the middle of the 20th century. Rarely has anyone compared to his wit; I mean, Pagnol rivals both Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw for wit, yet he's far more subtle so that it seems much more naturalistic. (I worship at both Wilde's and Shaw's altars). The thing where Pagnol sells things to a normal human being is the way he totally understands the dynamics of the family. Plus, his imagination is almost unrivaled, especially when it comes to turn-of-the-century stories set in some of the most beautiful locations on Earth. I wish all MoFos have life experiences as exhilarating as those found in it.

This beautiful film is one of my wife's fave films; in fact, she calls this her favorite film and one the most romantic films ever made, and who am I to contradict her when she's expressing such clarity? The way it paints a picture of family as beautiful, whether it seems idealistic or even better still, realistic, is almost unmatched. It also details a world where nature and mankind seem to get along pretty well. Overall, the thing which makes me think this is obviously one of the greatest films ever made is the way that all the characters let you in on their secrets up front so that you can later on relate to their utterly-perfect interpretations of an unfortunately lost world of simple pleasures. As I said, this may well be the most-romantic film ever, so you don't just need some idiot like me to explain it to you, you just need an overriding heart and brain to tell you that you may actually be closer to reality while watching this luxurious and hilarious concoction than maybe you realize.

My Mother's Castle is the beautiful continuation of My Father's Glory where the Pagnol family returns to Provence for the Winter and Spring Breaks and eventually the weekends, this time walking through luxurious estates they are not really allowed to traverse. The key scenes are the continuation of the rustic country vacations, but this time Marcel (Julien Ciamaca) falls for the demanding Isabelle (Julie Timmerman), much to the chagrin of his best friend Lili (Jorias Molinas) and his younger brother Paul (Victorien Delamare). The second thing plotwise which is new in this film are the adventures of the family getting to and from their home away from home. A former student (Philippe Uchan) of the father (Philippe Caubère) works as a canal guard and gives Dad a key to unlock and lock all the gates along a shortcut which will help give all the family, especially frail Mother (Nathalie Roussel), a much quicker walk along the way. Right from the melancholy music playing over the opening credits, you can tell that My Mother's Castle will eventually become much more serious than the romantic innocence of the first film. The ultimate lesson of this film is that life moves quickly and innocence will be lost and pain gained, but there really is no need to tell the children before it's time to learn these unforgiving facts of life.

My List

1. War and Peace
2. Z
5. Downfall
6. Night and Fog
8. Pan's Labyrinth
13. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
17. The Celebration [Festen]
19. My Father's Glory - make sure to watch My Mother's Castle since it's Part 2 of the same film (They Both Did Not Place)
20. The Marriage of Maria Braun (Did Not Place)

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
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Ah. Now we're getting into the stuff I really couldn't care about but knew/feared would be at the top.

I don't include Come And See in that, it's just that I haven't seen it. Not that I don't want to.
5-time MoFo Award winner.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
It seems I am stuck at around 50% viewing on this Countdown with out of the last four, I've only seen one.
The irony of it is that nearly all of my Voting List is showing up. An All-Time High for me to boot. And Pan's Labr joins in at #15

Pan's Labyrinth

As stated multiple times previously, I am a fanboy of Guillermo del Toro; his love and admiration for creatures and the supernatural is a beautiful thing to behold and this movie is one of his best.
A dark sojourn like any true Grimm-like fairy tale, we see the cruel dangers of both our reality and the reality of the underworld via a young girl's extremely difficult travel through the labyrinth of both of them.
Del Toro does not hold back either, especially when it comes to the violence inflicted by the Captain and the imaginative creation of the creatures that inhabit the quests young Ofelia must face.
The tension never really lets up, especially when it comes to the rebellion forces inhabiting the woods looking to remove the tyrannical and excessively volatile Captain.
On the first watch, these two extreme worlds may seem a bit jarring. I know on my original watch I had wished for more of the fantastical than the war story. But in retrospect, and in continual re-viewings, I see the delicate balance of the two and the flawless blending that creates this excellent story and film.
The filming and composition are rather exquisite with the use of shadowing that add a kind of dark life all its own on many of the interior shots and even the woodland shots have this old forest feel to it.
Everything works exceedingly well in this movie, including the pacing that grips you and holds you to the very last moments.

Movies Seen: 49 of 94 (55.13%)
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. Pan's Labyrinth #91
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[/quote]
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.

My prediction for Top 5:

Seven Samurai
Spirited Away
Bicycle Thieves

Seventh Seal in #6?

Heard of but didn't see either Stalker or Come and See.

At this stage of the game only my #18 is likely to be revealed of those that aren't.

Will talk about my remaining items on the list as well as my honorable mentions when it becomes time to.

Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Come and See is certainly up there with the best anti-war films ever made. It's a masterpiece. A stark portrait of the hell of war as seen through the eyes of a child. The use of sound is as effective as the use of visuals, and Kravchenko's face is something you will have forever imprinted in your mind. Khatyn massacre seen as it was, stripped of the poetics so often visible in other anti-war masterpieces (e.g., equally incredible Burmese Harp). Klimov's excellent use of film techniques (image, sound, movement, pace, rhythm) leaves no room for escape for the viewer, no safety valve, we are forced to live through hell together with the boy and observe how war strips a human being of humanity. All that's left at the end is just an empty shell of a man. The film's title, taken from the Bible, is very apt. We have no other choice - just come and see. It's the Apocalypse.

"I lost interest in making films ... Everything that was possible I felt I had already done." - Elem Klimov, 2001

Stalker is Tarkovsky's most revered film (although his die-hard fans usually prefer either Mirror or Offret). It's a great philosophical treatise, one of cinema's greatest ever. You can watch it numerous times and every time notice something else, every time have a slightly different interpretation. Why did Tarkovsky shoot the out-of-Zone scenes in sepia? Does that represent the gloomy reality of Communism? Or is that, given Tarkovsky's extensive knowledge of Russian icons and Western European painting of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, a representation of the symbolism of the bronze color, which often stands for vanity, boredom, sterility, and resignation? Isn't this how the Stalker perceives the world he lives in? Who is Stalker? Is he John the Baptist as seen in a sunken fragment of Jan van Eyck's painting in Stalker's dream? Or is he a yurodivy - a fool for Christ, who conducts a pilgrimage to the Zone - that promises nothing but is everything he has?

"А главное, пусть поверят в себя и станут беспомощными, как дети, потому что слабость велика, а сила ничтожна…"

"Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined." - Chris Marker

I was hoping to revisit Come and See at some point this year, but I do remember it knocking me on my ass. I owe Stalker a rewatch as well, couldn't really get into it on my first viewing but that's probably just me.

Didn't vote for either, no qualms with either of them showing up.

All good people are asleep and dreaming.
I haven't seen either of today's movies.

That makes only 38 out of 95 (including #101) that I've seen.
Come and See has a scene with a cow in it that you are not going to like. Didn't treat the kid in the film much better.

Live ammunition was used in the film - in interviews, actor Aleksey Kravchenko has described actual bullets passing some 10 centimeters above his head.

Come and See (1985) Trivia IMDb