I geek out when I talk about the indescribable reasons why I think foreign films have a certain mojo that is lacking in box-office Hollywood films.
I often wondered why I find non-English speaking films (that require subtitles almost 90% of the time) MORE enticing? Could it only be because French sounds sexier than English? Perhaps foreign films are written better? Maybe executed better? More creative perhaps?
I mean…It’s easy to see why young adults would love to believe that we can somehow escape the mundane reality with Pan’s Labyrinth by drawing a door with a chalk to visit another world. It’s clearly understandable why I’m willing to believe for an instance that a horse who drives a car, can play the piano in claymation A Town Called Panic: It takes some serious skills and dedication to create such cinamatographical goodness!!!
However, that doesn’t explain why I would rather watch a woman who collects baby shoes (in a suitcase) living in a farm, trade a quilt for a kine of cows– while fighting for the one she loves; in The Price of Milk, as oppose to watching “No Strings Attached” (with the overrated Ashton Kutcher) which I didn’t see but is probably about a boy and a girl who were once strictly platonic and decided to have a sexual relationship (and nothing more), then ended up falling in love; a story that targets demographics like myself!? (take a breath)
Well I think I just figured it out. My friends think I’m psychic because when we go to the movies I can predict what’s going to happen, almost always to a T: “…after the kiss there will be a wide shot from behind the car, as it drives off into the sunset.” But it’s more than just because I learned film for 4 years in college. I don’t want to know what’s coming next, but I can’t help it, having seen it a million times!!!
I cannot say that all foreign films are written and executed well. I cannot testify that they are all as creative as The Science of Sleep— or sound sexy like French. But I can say that I gravitate toward films that are unpredictable– with unusual but undeniably engaging plots; as opposed to the typical, predictable– photocopied-to-death box office cash cows in Hollywood.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cheesy ’80s- ’90s flicks like “Honey, I shrank the kids”, or “Gremlins”, as much as the next ’90s baby. I equally appreciate easy-goin’ films like “You’ve Got Mail”, “Spaceballs”, and respect films like “Benjamin Button”, “Pursuit of Happiness”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Hurt Locker”, “Pulp Fiction” or “Avatar”, just to name a small few. I hold in high regards Tim Burton, James Cameron, Quintin Tarantino, and good ‘ol Steven Spielberg among other creative geniuses that have written and or directed notable American films.
But more often than not, the need for bigger and badder, lets-re-release-a-classic-in-3D, gets in the way of the art that is film.
The foreign films I love are unapologetic, humbling, thought provoking, no-need-to-explain-just- accept-what-you’re-about-to-witness, that give a sense of perpetual wonder. Films that feel like it comes from the heart, and not from the pocket.
Soon, I will make a list (I freakin’ love lists) of my favorite foreign films and perhaps some American Independent films as I gather all that I’ve seen in the past 9 years.
P.S. I respect everyone’s right to like what I don’t, and to love what I loathe, but I’m not going to apologize if I’ve offended anyone. THIS is MY house.