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Do watch, I think it's wonderful. In French class, we're going to watch "Etre et Avoir". Any thoughts?

It was quite successful in France back in 2003 (more than 1.5 million viewers) and had several prizes (prix Louis Delluc, the

prize of the listeners of the radio program Le Masque et la Plume...) I had found it quite moving, some of the kids are really lovely. But don't think all French schools are like that- it was filmed in a small village in a rural, isolated region (so it's a tiny school with only one class and one teacher) and an ordinary class in the average elementary school would probably have looked less idyllic.

Unfortunately, there was a sort of polemic about it a few months later: the teacher, Georges Lopez, made a lawsuit to get some parts of the profits of the film, he was defeated but all that brought some bitterness very far from the emotions of the movie... See for example:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,12...1315116,00.html

This is an interesting thread, but well, the topic is so huge, and it feels a bit strange because of course the definition of "foreign " depends on the speaker (e.g. for me English speaking films are as foreign as Chinese speaking films or Italian speaking films...)

I confess that I have never seen "Les enfants du Paradis"- I guess I should try to see it sooner or later...

"Volver" is the only movie by Almodovar that I've seen so far, and I found it really enjoyable, especially Carmen Maura who really was wonderful as the old lady.

bingham, I'm probably going to see again "Cinema Paradiso" tonight or tomorrow: my husband and I have tickets for an Italian cine-club (we used to take Italian classes in the last 3 years but couldn't continue due to schedule problems) and it's the first film of this season. I had seen it many years ago on TV and had found it quite moving (perhaps a bit saccharine sometimes), I wonder if I will appreciate it more now that I speak Italian a little bit. The choice of this film will be a homage to Philippe Noiret, who passed away last year and who was such an important actor of French and Italian cinema. This is our second year with this cine-club, the films are quite diverse, with mostly recent films but also some classics like "Riso amaro".

Ballet and cinema are the two things of Paris that I regret the most (but well, anyway with a baby I probably wouldn't have had much time for that anyway), the choice of cinemas there is so much larger. Lyon isn't that bad compared to most French cities, it has a decent choice of "art et essais" cinemas but there is nothing like the wealth of cinemas in the neighborhood of the Pantheon in the Quartier Latin...

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ntgitanjali,

The oldies are the goodies, for sure. I grew up in a small town and if someone got hold of a vhs of an Indian movie, it would make the rounds. When I got to college I realised that our movie watching was at least 10 years behind the times! But yes, Pakeezah is amazing. (By the by, when I was in Uni I was also apparently in a top party school... this stunned me! I had no clue where most of said parties were... I think those lists are rather flawed, for a variety of reasons!)

cubanmiamiboy, thanks for the recommendations! I'm going to see what I can find over the Christmas holiday... and start brushing up my Spanish as well.

I admit that I've never really gotten into French films... Anyone care to recommend a good first one?

I'm also going to have to dig up some Nollywood examples for you folks...

Since I have been raised here, in the US, my parents were able to show us their favorite Bollywood films, which, for my father, were popular in the late 60s and 70s, and for my mother, were popular in the 70s and 80s. Therefore, I grew up on the names "Hema Malini" "Rekha" (Umrao Jaan is a must see), and the movie "Mughal-e-Azam". I don't even watch the modern Bollywood films because the acting has disintegrated in favor of the big name stars. In fact, now, Bollywood is just remaking all the old films, which is a mistake, since a lot of us who remember the old versions aren't leaving them :angel_not:

My favorite old movies?

Devdas (1955). My grandmother watched it when my father was a baby. He said that it began his lifelong obsession with Suchrita Sen. Watch this, then watch the new version. You'll be appalled at the lack of artistry, as compared to the old version, which is poetry on screen. The only thing which redeems the new version is Madhuri Dixit, one of last actresses of the "talent generation", as my mother calls it.

Mughal-e-Azam (196?). Watch the BW version if you can, it was colorized, which is a travesty. Once again (like in Devdas), Dilip Kumar plays the leading role, and Madhubala does a stunning job as the tragic heroine. The story is pretty much the same as Aida, however, this one is real. The love between Prince Jehinger and Anarkali did happen, but she was murdered or sent away, depending on different sources. Another movie, Anarkali, was made earlier, but it wasn't as successful.

Sholay: (1975). My mother's favorite actor: Amithbah Bachchan. He actually is a decent actor, and Jaya Badhuri did a great job as the silent widow. She does have more talent then he does, IMHO. Hema Malini stole the show as she danced on glass to save her love (common theme in India) and the plot twist at the end was heartbreaking. A little overacted, but still great, nonetheless. Fun fact, when my mother was growing up, her house was next door to Amitbah's father's house. She even had small conversations with "Bachchanji" on the way to school!

Paakeezah: Just listen to the song "Chalo Dildar Chalo". The lead singer's, and Meena Kumari's acting (she died during or shortly after hte production of this film) make this movie the reason for watching Bollywood. I was in tears when I first saw the movie.

Thought you'd like to see some more!

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I admit that I've never really gotten into French films... Anyone care to recommend a good first one?

Besides my favorite "Les Parapluies...", i also vote for the chic Claude Lelouch's 1966 "Un homme et une femme"-("A Man and a Woman")- with Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant :angel_not: . This film was the winner of the Grand Prix at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay . Also Aimée was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Lelouch for Best Director. Besides that, I just love its tasteful environment and lovely story, amen its beautiful score. Try it.

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Well, my French professor gave us a choice. Either we would watch 2 movies and write two 1 paragraph responses to them, or we would give 10 minute oral presentations on a topic of our choice.

Now, while I had picked Roland Petit, I was not relishing the thought of coherently explaining his role in modern ballet in a foreign language. English? Sure! French? *runs*. Therefore, I voted with teh class to watch our two movies

1) Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse

2) Etre et Avoir

Any thoughts for either of them? I've already gotten responses on Etre et Avoir, but has anyone seen the other one? It seems interesting, I'm just nervous about watching it without ANY subtitles.

Thanks so much!

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1) Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse

2) Etre et Avoir

Any thoughts for either of them? I've already gotten responses on Etre et Avoir, but has anyone seen the other one? It seems interesting, I'm just nervous about watching it without ANY subtitles.

Both films can be used as the basis for discussion of ethical and moral issues.

1) Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse

The Gleaners and I because Varda illustrates the many aspects of waste in our society and she leads the viewer to thinking about the role of gleaning... the philosophical basis, the practicalities and different societies' attitudes towards gleaners. Brief article about Gleaning

2) Etre et Avoir

Georges Lopez, the teacher in this wonderful film, was described as money hungry for suing after this film was such a success. And documentary film makers see the failure of the law suit with much relief. However, this case brings up several ethical issues.

Georges Lopez Speaks Out

Film's fallen hero fights on for his class: Teacher star of hit French documentary speaks out for first time after court defeat

by Amelia Gentleman, 3 October 2004, The Observer

The quotes in this article were not widely reported but here is the core of what Lopez had to say...

'We were misled. The production company told me and the children's families that they were making a small documentary about the phenomenon of the one-teacher village school and that the film would be used primarily for educational purposes.

'They said it would have a restricted screening and never discussed marketing the film to make it such a commercial venture.'

"One child, who had been very stable and happy until the film's release, was so distressed by his unexpected fame, that he started wetting the bed, and became afraid of the dark.

'Other children have been teased at their new secondary schools because of their involvement. All have been subjected to a great deal of stress as a direct consequence of the film,' he said.

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Many very interesting recommendations already, but just one I'd like to add - Krzysztof Kieślowski's trilogy, the Three Colours (White, Red, Blue - the colours of the French flag) films, which I enjoyed very much.

The original language was French.

He also did a series of short films based on the Ten Commandments - in Polish -which were televised in the UK - I only saw a couple, but they were excellent too IMHO. That has reminded me to try and trace a copy to watch all 10 !

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Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. Keep them coming!

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Just watched The Counterfeiters which is based on the memoirs of Adolf Burger, a Holocaust survivor. Burger's memoirs are going to be published in English in early 2009 and will be titled The Devil's Workshop: A Memoir of the Nazi Counterfeiting Operation . The extra material on the dvd includes interviews with Burger, a man with tremendous will, whose life's mission is to bear witness to the Holocaust.

From wikipedia:

"The Counterfeiters (German: Die Fälscher) is a 2006 Austrian/German film written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. It fictionalizes Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis during the Second World War to destabilize the United Kingdom by flooding its economy with forged Bank of England currency. The film centers on a Jewish counterfeiter, Salomon Sorowitsch, who is coerced into assisting the Nazi operation at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The film is based on a memoir written by Adolf Burger, a Jewish Slovak typographer who was imprisoned in 1942 for forging baptismal certificates to save Jews from deportation, and later interned at Sachsenhausen to work on Operation Bernhard. Ruzowitsky consulted closely with Burger through almost every stage of the writing and production. The film won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008."

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Thank you for reviving this venerable thread, innopac.

I saw the Soviet film 'The Cranes Are Flying' for the first time not long ago and it was very good.

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From the Soviet years, i vividly remember "Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears" (1980), surrealistic and melodramatic. Anybody familiar with it...?

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From the Soviet years, i vividly remember "Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears" (1980), surrealistic and melodramatic. Anybody familiar with it...?

No, but that reminds me of the great Tarkovsky film 'Stalker', which I only saw this year. Much beauty, but many people died as a result of scenes with the filthy chemical waters, and hardly anyone of the cast is left even though it's just late 70s. It's got those long silent passages of landscapes for 5-10 minutes of real time, etc. Very slow, but worth seeing, reminds me of some of Lynch's recent work, like 'Inland Empire'(which I don't care for.)

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I've seen a few "foreign films" recently.

By far the best - and most effective - is "Waltz with Bashir". It is defined as an 'animated documentary' of the Israel-Lebanon War in 1982 and the events surrounding the Sabra and Shatila massacres in August of that year, however I would've called it an auto-biographical film, rather than a documentary. The framework is set in the present day, with an Israeli veteran (Ari Folman, the writer-director) who has no recollection of the massacres trying to fill in the gaps in his memory. He goes to talk to his old army buddies, and along the way there are flashbacks, some straightforward and some more fantastical, to the war. The film is very engaging, partly because of the technical dexterity and partly because despite the subject matter, there are lots of funny bits. For instance, comparing the skinny and spotty (and horny) teenagers with the middle-aged men they became. Also, some of the film could have been taken from an episode of M.A.S.H. On the other hand, war is, as the last minutes of the film show so devastatingly, deadly serious and very, very real. Highly recommended.

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Last week I saw 'The Class' (the original title is 'Entre les murs'), winner of this year's Palme d'Or. It is an adaptation of a non-fiction book written by and about a white middle class teacher (Francois Begaudeau) teaching a mutiracial and multicultural 9th grade class in the Parisian 'inner city'. The twist is that the author of the book plays himself as the teacher in the film. It is to his - and the director's - credit that if I hadn't known that fact in advance, I would have had no idea that it wasn't a professional actor. I do wonder however whether Mr. Begaudeau would have kept his part if he wasn't a pretty good looking man.

I have no idea what other films were nominated for the Palme d'Or this year, but this seemed like quite a minor film for a winner. Once one is past the initial shock of seeing a French classroom that looks like an American one - black, white, oriental and anything in between - there isn't that much that we haven't seen before. Yup, it's tough being an immigrant and it's tough to be part of the society that the immigrants are joining, especially in the 21st century when the immigrants want to retain their own cultural, national and religious identity. Since the pupils are typical self-involved teenagers, I didn't feel that the classroom interaction really gave me much insight into the issues. It could have been any really 'bad' neighbourhood. The staffroom scenes and the few scenes with parents were the most interesting and illuminating.

That said, I am sure there is an entire layer that I missed as I don't speak French and the classroom scenes are almost all French (grammar) lessons. Interestingly, the set book that the class is reading is 'The Diary of Anne Frank', a translated book.

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Thanks for those two detailed reports, GWTW. These both sound as if they're worth checking out.

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I recently got the Criterion Collection's new release of four of Mizoguchi's films, packaged together as "Fallen Women." The films are Osaka Elegy, Sisters of the Gion, Women of the Night, and Street of Shame. They are in a way incredible films, for their hard look at prostitution, but they don't make for easy viewing. But for those who want quality foreign films, I'd say pick any film by Kurosawa, Ozu, and Mizoguchi, and you can't go wrong.

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Recently watched Bunuel's 'that Obscure Object of Desire' for the first time and revisited 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie'. I don't love Bunuel, but I do think he is great and full of weird wit. My favourite actress (besides Deneuve), Delphine Seyrig, is very funny in the second, and her hair and clothes are all arranged to make her the same colour. I have a cousin who used to do this look, and it's a bit strange, all blonde and beige. Both have the homely Fernando Rey in them, resistible alike to Carole Bouquet and Seyrig. Bunuel also impresses me in 'Milky Way', which also has Seyrig as the prostitute at the end who gives relief from the long tension Bunuel always builds up, and 'Tristana', which was one of Deneuve's best young roles. I also admire 'Belle de Jour', but there is something about Bunuel--a friend says it is 'lack of heart'--that always impresses but does not move. Seyrig, for example, is much more moving in 'Muriel' and other Resnais films.

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If you're a foodie, and you don't mind something very low key and gentle, try the French/Danish 'Babette's Feast'. Based on a Karen Blixen novel set in a remote part of Denmark in the late 19th century, it tells the story of a French woman refugee from whatever was going on in France at that time who turns up on the doorstep of two elderly Danish sisters. Despite their own poverty, they take her in and for many years she cooks and cleans for them until an unexpected opportunity arises for her to repay the sisters' kindness. Surprises (and lots of food) are in store for everyone. A real charmer.

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Totally agree, Peggy R. Definitely for foodies! and a most unique film--with the heroine at the end saying 'An artist is never poor'.

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In the Mood for Love Written, produced and directed by Wong Kar-Wai, shot by Christopher Doyle, with Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. One of my favorites, a movie I watch at least once a year. Maggie Cheung has (at least) 32 costume changes, always into yet another perfectly cut, brilliantly patterned cheongsam.

Chungking Express also written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai, shot by Christopher Doyle, with an astounding cast of Hong Kong actors at the top of their game. Two barely related stories of two Hong Kong police officers. The stories connect in the basement of the huge Chungking Mansions, "a labyrinth of guesthouses, curry restaurants, African bistros, clothing shops, sari stores, and foreign exchange offices" (Wikipedia) and Chungking Express is the fast food counter where the cops stop for lunch. Hard to summarize, still controversial among Hong Kong movie fans--some hate it, some (like me) love it.

Shaolin Soccer written and directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi who also stars. Includes most of Chow's usual rep company, a parody of and commentary on both sports movies and kung fu movies. Made before Kung Fu Hustle in many ways superior to it.

Probably any of Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy but particularly Carmen with Antonio Gades, Laura del Sol, Cristina Hoyos, chroreographed by Saura and Gades. One of the best retellings of the Merimee/Bizet Opera comique hit.

Almost anything by Pedro Almodovar although I am currently enamored with Hable con ella (Talk to Her). When it opened in one of the two "art house" movie theaters in Motown I watched it once, walked to the box office and bought a ticket for the next showing since I was so awed by my first viewing I felt I missed most of it. Also Todo sobre mi madre (All about my Mother) and any of his earlier ones with Carmen Maura.

Throne of Blood by Akira Kurosawa. His retelling of "Macbeth" with the great Toshiro Mifune. Shot in sumptuous black and white, just about every scene is a masterpiece. Yojimbo, written, directed, edited and produced by Kurosawa, Mifune as a wily ronin who is hired by both factions of a divided town. A terrific Samurai movie and very funny. High and Low one of Kurosawa's most gripping "modern" movies although full of the same moral questions and ambiguities that are part of all of his work.

And then there is...

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Probably any of Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy but particularly Carmen with Antonio Gades, Laura del Sol, Cristina Hoyos, chroreographed by Saura and Gades. One of the best retellings of the Merimee/Bizet Opera comique hit.

I do love all three, but my personal favorite is El Amor brujo (Love the Magician) -- it takes a very eccentric attitude about the 'realism' of film, and uses is to help us with the magical aspects of the plot. And the dancing is fantastic. Hoyos and Jimenez do some of their best work here.

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Funny you should mention the flamenco version of Carmen. The upcoming NY Flamenco festival at City Center will be presenting the flamenco company Antonio Gades Company in Carmen on Feb. 19 and 20. If you're in NYC, you might be interested in atttending.

By the way, one of my favorite foreign films is Cinema Paradiso.

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Thanks for reviving this thread, innopac, and to everyone who's joined in.

I love Chungking Express. I just saw Infernal Affairs again after a long time and it's as nifty as ever.

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"Chungking Express" is one of my favorite recent Asian films. I think the image of Faye Wong dancing around Tony Leung's apartment is really iconic. A lot of the film really walks that fine line between totally random and sublime. And Doyle's work in "In the Mood for Love" is stunning.

One of foreign language films that I really admire is Fritz Lang's "M." Even if I'm just flipping channels, I get completely mesmerized by how Lang captures the total despair of Berlin during the Depression. It really makes you appreciate the depths to which the country had sunk when the Nazis came to power.

Although I really like "Cinema Paradiso," I've never really been able to look at it the same way since I saw the director's cut (which was the cut originally released in Italy) a few year's ago. The Weinstein's recut the film, trimming about 40 minutes, when it was released in the U.S., and the whole tone and thrust of the film is very different, much more melancholy than the U.S. version. Both versions are good, but yes, different.

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