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!

Advertisements

Castaway On The Moon (2009)

 FlickJist: I will never look at instant noodles the same way again.

Title: Castaway On The Moon

Release Date:  May 14, 2009

Country:  Korea

Directed By: Hae-jun-Lee

Starring:  Min-heui Hong, So-yeon Jang and Jae-yeong Jeong

Other films by director (s) Like A Virgin (2006), Au Revoir, UFO (2004)

I felt the strong urge to write about this film at 3:24am, having just watched it and fallen in love.  If I ever had to make a emergency review , this is one of them.

***SEMI-SPOILER ALERT***

A man attempts suicide by jumping off a bridge finds hope and self worth, in an unlikely place– a deserted island only a few reaches away (but not easily accessible)  from civilization.

If a movie can make black bean instant Jajangmyeon dramatic—it’s a GOOD movie. Truly inspirational WITHOUT being corny and force fed, THIS is what we all strive for in life. When you find someone or something worth the time and effort, whether intentionally or coincidentally, it forces you out of your shell.  We each of us have the power to trap ourselves into an island of our own creation…and perhaps it takes looking at someone else’s life to figure a way out. Nearly 2 hours at 1:56:15 minutes– I never wanted it to end!!!

The concept of no man is an island, has never been this appealing (nor has it ever been this captivating.)

Like all of my favorite foreign films, although the plot can often be farfetched, the film is so engaging that I want to believe that all of it is remotely possible; almost hoping it’s all possible. Unlike other films with realistic events, but horrible dialogue, this film has that certain je ne sais quoi (aside from being very well written) that I just adore.

Definitely one– if not my favorite Korean movie to date.

-JRB

 ***This movie was suggested by Research Techy & Guest Writer Danielle Parker who will also be posting her review on this film (and more)

Why I Love Foreign Films: Magic Without Needing Graphics

CLICK pic to see our Twitter feed for up-to-date tweets on which and when I'm watching movies

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?

Magical world of Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

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!!!

The Price of Milk (2000)

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. 

Good 'ol Gremlins (1984)


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.  

A "baby" tree stump that eats people Little Otik (2000)

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.

-JRB

Time (2006)

Time (2006) FlickJist: Insecure lady gets a new face, but looses her mind

Title: Time

Release Date:  August 10, 2006

Country: Korea

Directed By: Ki-duk Kim

Starring: Jung-woo Ha, Ji-Yeon Park & Jun-yeong Jang

Other films by director (s): 3 Iron (2004)  Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall…Spring (2003)


“The South Korean Answer to Vertigo…a dance along the rim of insanity”, hailed John Anderson of NY Newsday), I found the tale of this twisted heroine (if you can call a crazy chick with severe body  dysmorphic issues that) surreal yet relatable.

I notice that a lot of my favorite foreign films have unbelievable plots, YET are so well told and executed with perfection, that the  suspension of disbelief  lingers to the point where you actually question “wait…is that actually possible?!”

Time forces you to recognize the ugly insecurities in past (or present) dysfunctional relationships you’ve had, with a cautionary tale of  you-never-know-what-you-have-till-it’s gone.  “A calmly assured spellbinder” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune), both women and men will identify with disturbed Seh-hee, in that sometimes…we go a little koo-koo for the ones we love, and push the delicate balance of sanity towards disturbing.

A timely twist in the end that leaves you with the feeling of  confusion, all the while nodding in sense of  ” of course. It makes sense now…but not really?”, great movies should ALWAYS make you think.

-JRB

The Ghost of Movies Past

image

A bit dramatic I know, but it’s true. Yesterday I started making a list of foreign films I’ve already seen–from the year 2000 to present.

I just got back from the local library and added another +20. So far, I’ve listed 83…but will be bouncing from one library to another, before checking at last in Netflix with the help of Danielle Parker (’cause I’m too poor for Netflix at the moment.)

I couldn’t help myself (of course) so I rented 3 more films to watch lol, and will probably rent more from the next library. I am a woman obsessed!!!

THIS is going to take a while ^.^

Posted from WordPress for Android

Rumba (2008)

Title: Rumba

Release Date:  September 10, 2008

Country: France

Directed By: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon & Bruno Romy

Starring:  Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon & Philippe Martz

Other films by director (s):  L’ iceberg (2005)  The Fairy (2011)

“Absurdly funny and stylish” claims the Montreal Mirror, this movie is one of those feel-good-I-wanna-watch-it-over-and-over-again types that make you wish the world was just as simple.

Charming, with very little dialogue, I adore this movie’s ability to tell a love story without being sappy, and with simple-yet-effective comedy reliefs, that only an odd-couple-that-seem-to-only-make-sense-together can deliver.

This ” Whimsical, wisp of a movie, likely to bring a smile to viewers’ faces” (National Post), is great for Girl’s Night In, or a lovely ice breaker for daters.

Definitely one of my favorites!

-JRB