The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III: Foreign Language Edition


Harakiri is great. It has become one of my favorite foreign films, and one of my favorite films, period.
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I think I'll go for Breathless next, then I can read Thief's review

I think I'll go for Breathless next, then I can read Thief's review
Better that way, cause if you read my review first, you might not want to watch the film

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
***A double post for the Asian and the Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III***

Rashomon (1950)

Somewhat sheltered from the downfall of rain, two men convey to a third the bafflingly emotional experiences of a trial they had just witnessed.

Unlike many judicially oriented mysteries that, at one point or another, muse the fallibilities of Human Nature, Rashomon switches the focus entirely around. To the point that we not only do not see the ones convening over the trial, but we never hear them either. Kurosawa's camera is setting us in their place.
As each person's perspective of events is told and the variance of detail is emphasized, we are given a more metaphorical/philosophical conundrum to ponder. The three men's perspective on Life and Humanity creates a kind of discussion board. They are analyzing the stories given and why people lie. The discovery of the truth of the incident in question becoming secondary.

I have always been hesitant about seeing this film for some cockamamie reason whenever I heard it spoken of. Thinking it may be a hard watch or perhaps a little too much of a dirge to experience.
I was very pleasantly mistaken.
Understanding Kurosawa's intentions beforehand also helped so that my mindset wasn't about who was guilty, who was covering up for who, but, instead, on the greater scheme of things that is a staple of an Akira Kurosawa film: Examining Human Nature via Visceral Scenarios. The examinations are taking a more central stage as opposed to being the filler of good storytelling.
Rashomon, for me, emphasizes this even more than my previous viewings of his Movie List so far.
So much so that it is almost an easy mistake to forget to mention the cinematography that is always exceptional when watching Kurosawa. The composition, Point of View, and so forth, adding so much to the subject matter in the cerebral, emotional and visceral aspects.

Another great Kurosawa film and another excellent experience causing yet another, [email protected] YAY
- 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.

Yeah, Rashomon is pretty darn good. I have some very minor issues with the inclusion of the "medium" among the witnesses, but no big deal.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I just looked up Forbidden Games as I never heard of it...only to find out I've seen it! Making my Foreign Language list is going to be so hard, if I can't remember what I've seen.
HA! you did an Ed!!

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Rashomon Rashomon Rashomon
One of us One of us One of us

Yeah, Rashomon is pretty darn good. I have some very minor issues with the inclusion of the "medium" among the witnesses, but no big deal.
That caught me by surprise a little as well at first. I guess during that time period, mediums were the expert witnesses. lol

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Samurai hold their honor and codes closely, and seppuku, or Harakiri, is meant as an honorable way to die.

In Harakiri, the code and honor Samurai live by is challenged.

It begins with a visitor, wishing to commit Harakiri. The counselor is suspicious, as heís heard too many stories of these, to him, disingenuous attempts when all they really want is a hand out. The counselor relates a story of a prior visitor, one who they figured didnít intend to follow through with it and so made an example of him. Both strangers gave the exact same story.
And soon it becomes obvious, that the stranger has other reasons to be there.

I wonít go further into the plot, as the plot is an example of a film combining excellent sword fights and a intelligent plot. It raises the question of honor and duty and how it is upheld. Kobayashi frames together some great scenes, and some incredibly bloody ones. I was surprised at the amount of blood in it. And the final fight is also startling in its finality when you realize how far the Samurai have sunk, especially in their choice of weapons.

This is a great film, with great performances, especially by the lead stranger, Tsugumo. His moments of revelations and mocking laughter is a touch unnerving. And he has the look of a ronin with nothing left to lose.

Great pick
It does limit one's review keeping the plot a secret for others since there is so much more to express and talk about that connects to that.
Harakiri most likely makes my foreign language ballot.
Harakiri is great. It has become one of my favorite foreign films, and one of my favorite films, period.
I second both of these.

(1960, Godard)
A film from the Criterion Collection whose number includes the #4 (#408)

"Say something nice."
"Like what?"
"I don't know."

That's part of the flirting back and forth between the main characters of Jean-Luc Godard's first film. This is peppered between existential conversations, talks about past lovers, ambitions, goals, and the occasional lies. And even though there's an obvious attraction, they just don't seem to be in the same wavelength; they don't jive. Which more or less explains how I felt while watching this film.

Breathless follows Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a small-time but dangerous criminal who is on the run after shooting a cop. Desperate, he seeks refuge with Patricia (Jean Seberg), a former love interest that is an aspiring journalist in Paris. Even though she doesn't know much about Michel, his past, or even that he's on the run, she still spends most of the film resisting his romantic advances or dancing around the idea of being with him, as they wander carefree around Paris.

Breathless was released in 1960 and is considered as one of the earliest examples of French New Wave cinema. Its revolutionary editing and use of jump cuts, as well as the overall visual style are worth noting. Godard's handling of the camera on several continuous shots is also pretty neat and impressive. Belmondo and Seberg's performances aren't that bad either.

But like Patricia and Michel, I found myself falling in and out of it all through. First, Michel is, by his own admission, "an a$$hole". But more important than that, I didn't think his story was interesting at all. He's just a thief waiting to meet someone that owes him money, and that's it. So what we're left is with his interactions with Patricia, and even though there are a couple of interesting lines about philosophy and existentialism, as a whole, it doesn't amount to much in terms of a story that could've grabbed me.

Overall, I can appreciate Breathless place in film history as well as some of its technical aspects, and it's a good checkbox to tick off my list. But to be honest, if you ask me to say something nice about it, I don't know.


To whoever recommended this, sorry

Rififi (1955)

Ugh, I just wrote my review and then poof it was gone. So I'll be brief...

I like this! It was a good choice for me too. I had heard about Rififi for a long time so glad I got a chance to watch it. It reminded me of John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle and Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. I'm sure I'm not the first to compare those three film noirs.

It was great seeing Paris in the 1950s and very interesting watching the master mind criminals plan and then execute their caper. Of course there was an even nastier gang afoot and that spelled trouble for them.
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I knew you'd enjoy Rififi, CR. Didn't nominate it for ya, well I did, but someone else nominated it before me, but I get a serious kick seeing it continually passed along in all three Personal Recommendation HoFs.

Saw about a 40 minutes of Breathless and shut it off. I wasn't feeling that one at all and I don't think it's one that can be chalked up to just being in the wrong mood. Tried two Goddard films and haven't finished either.

Rashomon might be my fav from Kurosawa but that's like picking a fav between Chubby Hubby or Cherry Garcia. Can't do it. Whichever I'm into at the moment is the best.

Thought Rififif was outstanding. It seems to be the Paper Moon of foreign films - always gets nominated and it's mostly a hit. Mostly.

I almost always spell Rififi wrong. Usually with two f's in the middle, sometimes one at the end. Got to get that f in there somewhere

I watched Breathless and will get a review up tonight

The trick is not minding
Rashomon is pretty good, need to rewatch it next week.
I thought Breathless was great.
I remember Rififi being good, but that was well over a decade ago when I watched it. It, along with Bob Le Flambeur, are both due for rewatches sometime.