Them (2006)

The psychological thriller “Them” (or if called by it’s rightful name “ils”), evokes an O-M-G-I’m-gonna-pee-my-pants-impending-doom- feeling, that can be related to the more theatrical  American filmThe Strangers” (2008), starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.

Luring us with young beautiful actors who quarrel then hanky-panky to make up, all the while prepping our subconscious with ambiance music and dark warm lighting–“The Strangers” is a gory character driven film for the young cabin-in-the-woods type’a horror-film-lover. While on the other hand, “Them” seems to happen smack in the middle of a boring mundane night, with cold shadowy colors; which to me, makes for a more convincing mature need-to-protect-my-family-from-crazy-mofos scare.

I absolutely detest watching movies that make me feel like I’m going to die, because of course, I simple have to know what happens, just in case I’m in a similar situation (smh) lol. I’ve compile a short list of what to do in such a case (which includes finding a weapon, trying NOT to get injured, being quick but quiet, and definitely fighting back.) I don’t know about you, but the New Yorker in me wants to fight to the death–especially if you’re comin’ into MY home, try’na scare me: not without a fight!

Anyways, you can see how these kind of movies make me neurotic (smh), enjoy the film! The ending statement (if it is based on a true claim) is a jaw dropper in any standard.

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Ocean Heaven (2010)

Ocean Heaven

Ocean Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“This film is dedicated to all the ordinary heroes among our parents”Ocean Heaven

*SPOILER ALERT*

Not the typical action film I was expecting from Jet Li–so  I was pleasantly surprised ^.^

What a lovely movie! Jet Li plays an ill father by the name of Wang Xingchang, who spends his last dying months, teaching his Autistic 21 year old son how to take care of himself.

What makes this film feel authentic is in the story development, which takes its time to mature, and of course, the little peices of humanity one feels when one recognizes the father is pushing through the pain, to make sure his son will be fine without him.

Really captures the little sacrifices (that mean SO much), that good parents do for the sake of their children. Whether something small like giving us the last chicken wing, or useful skills like teaching us  to find answers for ourselves; this film shows how love is immortality.

It’s the lets- make- things- into- a- fun- game- so- he- doesnt- realize- this- is good- bye- and-that- he- has- -to- fend- for- himself, that gets me all teary–and reminds of other great film-fathers like Roberto Benigni in “Life is Beautiful” (1997) , Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happiness” (2006), Brendan Fraiser in “Extraordinary Measures(2010) and Tom Hanks (my favorite actor) in Extremely Close And Incredibly Loud” (2011)

And may I add that it’s so refreshing to see films with the “father” character being an admirable positive role model, instead of the lazy iggit dads on tv (no offense to the entertaining Mr. Simpson and Mr. Griffin.)

“Like” Foreign Film Fans on Facebook

I finally made a “like”‘ fan page for Foreign Film Fans on Facebook.

Find it, LIKE it, and if you have  pictures, links–or anything to share pertaining foreign films and your experiences, I’ll make you an administrator so you can add it on the page directly ^-^

The Tribeca Film Festival Experience

Danielle (lower left corner) checkin' out the schedule for Tribeca Films @ Chelsea

Danielle and I got lucky, that the movies we wanted to watch were not sold out. With my CUNY student ID, I was given a $2 OFF discount ($14 instead of $16 dollars.) ^-^

So basically, The Tribeca Film Festival is NOT a closed off, exclusive event that I thought it was. In my experience, it was an extra-ordinary movie event (catered by people wearing Tribeca Film press passes) where international films such as “Rat King” and “Head Shot” can be viewed in movie theaters across the TriBeCa region for a period of time.

What makes the festival so intriguing is that you get to watch the movie WITH the director, reporters, and other important people in the movie industry! There’s something about being the first few people to watch a film, and being in the presence of the film makers, that sparks my creative juices!

Me (left) Danielle (right) checkin' out what to see next

Danielle and I were geeking out during the question and answer portion after the movie, and I just had to say something to Finnish director Petri Kotwica ^-^

Unfortunately, due to poor planning (which was the reason for the low $40  budget), we only saw two movies. BUT we plan to plan ahead, and get fancy when the film festival rolls around next Spring ^-^

Movie Tip: If you like film noir, video games & foreign films check out “Rat King.” If you like action, crime, drug films with a twist, take a gander at “Head Shot”

2012 Tribeca Film Festival

TriBeCa Film Festival

TriBeCa Film Festival (Photo credit: summerbl4ck)

I ADORE any sort of  “festival” or  “fair” because it brings like individuals together to appreciate the aesthetics of our times (or different eras)–without nay sayers poo-pooing the festivities (’cause you don’t have to be there if you don’t want to.)

Whether it’s the Renaissance Fair, Comic Con Conventions or the annual Tribeca Film Festival–trust that I will want to be geeking out about it ^-^

I must admit that although I knew of these awesome film festivals, I have no idea how it works, who started it, and when it happens–I didn’t even know little ol’ me could attend without being important >.<

Clearview Cinemas Chelsea @ Tribeca Film Festival

Clearview Cinemas Chelsea @ Tribeca Film Festival (Photo credit: tamaradulva)

Is it a gated or scattered venue(s)? Do I have to produce a film to be part of it? Do I pay once or multiple times?

BUT today, I’m goin’ with a fellow film buff Danielle P. to the annual  Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, to see what the big hooplah is all about!

We didn’t get the opportunity to purchase tickets ahead of time, but we’ll see how much entertainment can be had with my $40 budget.

One of these days, I’ll be featuring MY own film in Tribeca ^-^ But for now I’ll be the wide-eyed nerd looking up at the silver screens going “WTF was that!?!” or “GENIUS!”

-JRB.

 

7 Tips For Foreign Film Beginners

I LOVE the simplicity and utility of making “lists.” I make a list for just about everything: what I’m about to do, where I’m supposed to go, and of course, what I’m going to watch.

This  starter list, describe which foreign film characteristics may be easier to digest, for people who don’t normally watch foreign films–the do’s and don’ts if you will.

Find films that…..

Cover of "Absurdistan"

1) don’t have too many dialogue; in fact my favorite foreign films are the ones that are visually striking, and can evoke emotions with very little words spoken like Fiona Gordon & Dominique Abel’s “L’Iceberg” (French) or Veit helmer’s “Absurdistan” (Turkish.)

The Story of the Weeping Camel

2) are family friendly; movies like “Happy Times” and “The Story of The Weeping Camel” have the je ne sais quoi that I love about foreign films, but is easily relatable.

Amélie

3) are creative BUT not confusing; I love surrealist filmmakers like Jan Svankmajer  who might harmoniously mix character inner monologue with actions, but can often be confusing and can therefore be misunderstood.-Start with “Amelie” or “Billie Elliot” at first, as it is better to be able to appreciate complex films like “I Am A Cyborg, But It’s Okay” or “Wool 100%” when you can accept it as is.

Promotional poster for the US release of the C...

4) aren’t too long; magnificent films like Zhang Yang‘s “Sunflower”  and “Aftershock” by Feng Xiaongang are phenomenal films that can only do justice to character development, if the film’s plot took it’s time to unfold. An antsy beginner may not have the patience to watch a heavily dramatic film that is more than an hour,  and in turn may despise instead of understanding them.

Gong Li at the Cannes film festival

5) look for familiar faces; many talented foreign actors such as Gong Li, Audrey Tautou and Michael Caine have become internationally known and have crossed over and captivated Americans with their exotic charms. A familiar face may make it easier to follow an otherwise different culture.

6) sound familiar; and I don’t mean similar plots to typical Hollywood box-office hits. I mean, pick a language that is already familiar for you. Language such as Spanish or Italian may be easier to follow–just by tone and common day exposure alone! I’ve gotten used to subtitles, so much so that I turn captions on even when when watching regular American television (smh.) Which leads me to #7…

Rosario Tijeras

7) do not use subtitles as an excuse not to listen; at first, subtitles are crutches that aid us into the world of foreign languages. However, as you start absorbing the movie, you should slowly ween-off of  using subtitles alone, to understand the story. Sometimes, I am so involved in the narrative of story–like in “Rosario Tijeras”, that I forget it’s a foreign language ’cause it’s that engaging.

 

***But Of course, we all enjoy and appreciate films differently. I wish I knew which to watch first before I started; as I disrupted & shunned classic films like “Farewell My Concubine” because it didn’t interest me at first glance. Good luck at your ventures and always!

Aftershock (2010)

FlickJist: Which of your two children will you choose to save, if you can only save one? How would you  feel if you are not chosen—but survived?

Title: Aftershock

Release Date: July 22, 2010

Country: China

Directed by: Feng Xiaogang

Starring: Daoming Chen, Chen Li & Yi Lu

Other films by director(s):  If You Are The One (2008), A World Without Thieves (2004)

Aftershock is what movies are all about: to be able to express complex human emotions with the poetic license to us music, dialogue and visual storytelling.

It’s odd, because although the film is in Mandarin (Chinese dialect), the cinematic quality made me feel as though I was watching a western film. Used sparingly and only when required, digital effects can enhance (rather than destroy) the human experience (like too much 3D.) Either my education in digital media is paying off or I just watch too many movies, but it was bugging me to know that something feels different in this movie, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Naturally, I turned to Google and I found that Aftershock was produced by IMAX— making it the company’s first (and China’s first) internationally-produced digital media remastered (DMR) film!

As a student in film, I’ve experience how hard it is to re-create everyday simplicity—and end up being dramatic, unrealistic or scripted. This film however, was a happy marriage of feeling theatrical, all the while keeping a sense of authenticity. Usually I get lost in time period films if it’s suddenly brought into the future, because it feels unwarranted and displeasing. However, the 2 hours and 14 seconds of Aftershock didn’t feel like 2 hours, because the characters are well-developed; making it almost necessary to move on into present time.

The last scene of the movie is set in the memorial for the 242,769 who lost their lives from the 1976 Great Tangshan Earthquake (USGS.gov.) It makes me wonder, if this could happen to one family, imagine what the possible stories of the hundred thousands of people who also survived the earthquake?

Like I always say: great movies should always make you think. I’ll be thinking for days.