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The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III: Foreign Language Edition

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The trick is not minding
Bicycle Thieves


Post WW2 Italy was a bitter time, with many doing anything they could to make ends meet and to feed families. Poverty and despair reigned. Many directors of the time turned to filming these times to accurately capture and portray these bleak moments.

This film captures that moment in time perhaps the most accurately. The story of a man who is hired for a job, much to his family’s relief. A job that pays well, but requires him to ride a bike to get to each location. All is good. Until a thief steals his bike. Desperate he sets out to find it along with his young song.

That’s it. That’s the plot. It’s so simple, yet there’s a richness to it. It isn’t just merely a search for his bike. It’s about survival. Without that bike, things will go from bad to worse in no time for him and his family. He knows this. The bike is a means to a better life.

De Sica has a way of drawing you in with an almost effortlessness, as you start to pity the poor man. He has been beaten down by life and circumstance. Desperation gnaws at him as the day grows late. Time isn’t on his side. I kept asking myself when and how he will get his bike back. Surely, he must right?

Without spoiling anything, De Sica goes with the right ending. And it left me hollow, as “fin” appeared so suddenly.
My jaw literally open. Film makers today wouldn’t dare consider such an ending. It’s so powerful without really trying to be.

I can’t decide if this is better then Shoeshine (De Sica’s earlier film, with the same theme but dealing with juvenile delinquents in post WW2 Italy). Shoeshine is probably the more “polished” film, but Bicycle Thieves is slightly more powerful. Both were tragic in their own way.
They’d definitely make a great double feature.

Italian Neorealism has become probably my favorite of the film movements. It’s certainly up there with French New Wave and Japanese New Wave, but above Taiwanese New Wave if the 1980’s, which owed a great debt to Neorealism. The similarities are plain to see.
As is the influence.



Bicycle Thieves

...De Sica goes with the right ending. And it left me hollow, as “fin” appeared so suddenly. My jaw literally open. Film makers today wouldn’t dare consider such an ending. It’s so powerful without really trying to be...
Excellent review all the way around and I especially like the way you described the ending. So true.



The trick is not minding
Excellent review all the way around and I especially like the way you described the ending. So true.
Yeah, that ending.....man. And it isn’t even one of sudden violence or anything. Just a simple ending but it conveys so much in it. Such hopelessness and shame.



Bicycle Thieves

Without spoiling anything, De Sica goes with the right ending. And it left me hollow, as “fin” appeared so suddenly.
My jaw literally open. Film makers today wouldn’t dare consider such an ending. It’s so powerful without really trying to be.
I literally gave it an extra half-star for the ending.
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I've been on the fence with this film, for the silly reason that it's Italian and I've always had the foolish preconception that, for the most part, Italian films are over my head. But after seeing Dolce La Vita and Rome, Open City, I no longer have that preconception.
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- This is one of those films where I liked it on first viewing but I feel like watching it again might actually make me dislike it, but that's pretentious existentialism for you.



The trick is not minding
I've been on the fence with this film, for the silly reason that it's Italian and I've always had the foolish preconception that, for the most part, Italian films are over my head. But after seeing Dolce La Vita and Rome, Open City, I no longer have that preconception.
I’m quite sure there was a lot I missed concerning both La Dolce Vita and Bicycle Thieves, but really, even if I have, it doesn’t diminish the impact nor the process itself.



I've been on the fence with this film, for the silly reason that it's Italian and I've always had the foolish preconception that, for the most part, Italian films are over my head. But after seeing Dolce La Vita and Rome, Open City, I no longer have that preconception.
Weird as I'm starting to feel this way with French films for me



Children of Paradise



Like I said in the previous post, I can tell that I sometimes have issues with connectivity in regards to French films which is a real bummer because there is a lot to offer. But the main thing going through my head while watching this was wondering if I could ever feel a full appreciation to enjoying this film. There was a lot to offer, and I feel like just one watch will only allow you so much with this sort of a story. I couldn't really find that character to lean on that helped me to really connect to the film, which always seems to be one of my go-to downfalls for not appreciating a movie to the fullest, but that's just how I felt. It's a really well constructed film, there's a lot of great filmmaking to it, but for me the story just isn't fully where it needs to be for me to appreciate the greatness. The length is definitely felt due to this struggle. In a way it's kind of how I feel about The Rules of the Game, another French film considered among the greatest of it's languages films. It's a bummer that it didn't connect for me more. But I can still appreciate it and it does have a lot of technical greatness, especially for a 40s film.




Children of Paradise
...The length is definitely felt due to this struggle. In a way it's kind of how I feel about The Rules of the Game, another French film considered among the greatest of it's languages films. It's a bummer that it didn't connect for me more. But I can still appreciate it and it does have a lot of technical greatness, especially for a 40s film.

I have Children of Paradise to watch too, and the length has me a bit concerned. I should check it out soon.

I felt the same as you about The Rules of the Game. I was lost for most of the film and didn't know who was saying what. That's because it has so many characters who are all talking fast, that reading the subs took me out of the movie and I couldn't follow the story very well. I like subs when the are placed (left or right sides) over the person talking, that helps to know what character just said what. Of course most foreign films aren't a problem but some fast paced dialogue foreign comedies are for me.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Weird as I'm starting to feel this way with French films for me
Yeah, I feel like a kid sitting at the grown-ups table and having NO idea what everyone is talking about and feeling like I should. I want to know. I'm dying to know. . .

So I get hesitant when I venture into such a film and hope I find that "link" into delving into the film/story.



I feel like feeling the length of a film often comes out as a dull criticism, but to me you don't feel the length of a film if you are fully engrossed in it. Like Schindler's List for me.



When I first started watching foreign movies I thought I'd be most into Italian movies since I've been there and I've always been around Italians. It turned out to mean nothing because that's the country I've struggled with the most.

As far as Children of Paradise, if I had to make a list of the 10 best movies I've ever seen, it'd be on it.



When I first started watching foreign movies I thought I'd be most into Italian movies since I've been there and I've always been around Italians. It turned out to mean nothing because that's the country I've struggled with the most.

As far as Children of Paradise, if I had to make a list of the 10 best movies I've ever seen, it'd be on it.
Interesting. As far as foreign I've always connected with Japanese and probably Russian the most. But I haven't delved into a whole lot of some countries then again either.



La Ceremonie (1995)



This movie is from the Ebert list, and it's also nominated for Siddon. If I remember correctly, this was a member's 4th choice for me after Vengeance is Mine, which was taken, Paprika, which I'd seen but wasn't crossed off my list, and The Terrorist, which I couldn't find a way to watch. A quick look at it's IMDb page and I was happy, although it was still basically a blind watch.

I guess you would say there are 6 main characters, including 4 women. Out of those 6, I'd call 3 the real main characters and all 3 are women played by Jacqueline Bisset, Isabelle Huppert, and Sandrine Bonnaire. I don't see a lot of movies centered on female characters but I really enjoy them when I do. They don't even have to be lesbians. One of my favorite TV shows is Big Little Lies. I just find the interplay more interesting than between men.

A pretty well off family brings in a new maid who has a few secrets. That's a similar concept to a lot of movies but this all felt fresh. The family is somewhat demanding but pretty nice. The maid befriends the local postmistress who has some secrets of her own. That's about all I want to say about the story. This is a slower paced film that had me hooked from the start. I never knew where it was going and the acting is excellent. I see it all over described as a psychological thriller. I wouldn't argue against that but I view it more as a psychological drama, if that's even a thing.

My favorite movies are usually those that I'll remember because they leave a mark on me, something that makes me say holy crap. This movie did that and I was not expecting it. A great nomination and it's on YouTube.




Mephisto (1981)



This is an Oscar winner from the Ebert list that I was unfamiliar with. It's probably not a movie I would have picked for myself, but I had hope due to the fact that I've generally been fond of the nominations coming from the member who chose it for me.

Klaus Maria Brandauer has a name and a face I know, but I'm not sure from where. He plays the title role and is spectacular. Well, he plays an actor who plays Mephisto, the same Mephisto from Faust, and there's a parallel there about selling your soul. He's a struggling actor in Germany as the Nazis are rising to power. He wants fame, and when the Nazis give him his opportunity, he takes it. I loved this movie when the man was a struggling actor but then struggled myself to maintain interest once the main narrative kicked into gear. I'm not sure why that is because everything about the movie is impressive. I don't have a negative thing to say about it.

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Diabolique



This one was really good. I always had a feeling that I would enjoy this film and I'm glad I finally got around to it. It has really good acting from the two lead females and a Hitchcock type of a story. The ending was truly shocking, shocking enough that the end credits told everybody to not ruin the film for anybody who hasn't seen it. It comes as a pretty straightforward thriller but for whatever reason has some really good early horror elements. Near the end of the film the film certainly gets pretty tense. The pool scenes we're also really well done and the look of the film was pretty darn solid. Really good nom here.




I need to see Diabolique again. I remember not being as much of a fan as I thought I should be.
I'm pretty sure I would elevate it even on my next watch. Lot to think about with this one.