Thursday, December 29, 2011

I am wondering into the Foreign Land

HAPPY NEW YEAR Everyone !! Since, I started writing this blog back in June, one thing that has definitely changed is now a days, I am watching a lot of Foreign movies. Not that I did not watch them before but with this exposure, whole new world has opened up in front of me and I am trying to get as much of it as I can. I have seen more Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian or Swedish movies than Indian movies in past two and half years. So in this new year, it is only fitting that I am coming up with one more list - list of my favorite Foreign Films. More so since my End of the year list will take at least couple of more weeks to come up.

Foreign Films to me are films in the language I cant speak. So No English Films, no Indian films either. I am completely aware of the fact that even though I am watching many more foreign films these days, it still remains to be the drop in the ocean. So If you don't see a movie you love here, it is probably because I haven't seen it yet(As I said I haven't seen a lot of them) or I remain blissfully unaware of its existence. All the recommendations are most Welcome. Please let me know, I will love to check them out.

So, Here we Go !! 

1. Cidade de Deus (City of God)(2002): Definitely one of the most realistic films I have seen. It was also my Film of the year 2002. I said there as well that this film leaves a much lasting impression when you know that the almost all real life characters were the same age of the characters portraying them.

2. Rashômon (Rashomon)(1950): It tells you the same story in 3 different ways - 3 characters telling the same story from their perspective. It serves to show how important pretense is for everyone to preserve their dignity even after life. It questions humanity but restores your faith with the amazing ending.

3. Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves)(1948): One more classic and rightly considered as one of the most widely acclaimed European movie. It is a Story of a man and his son looking for their bicycle stolen on the same day he bought it. Beauty of this movie is in it's simplicity. But when it hits you, it hits you really hard.

4. Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)(1988): Tragic story of survival of Brother and his little sister in wartime Japan. I also admire the film for taking the medium of animation and exploring it beyond the typical animation world, now-a-days movies are limited to.

5. Incendies(2011) : There have been many movies with a really powerful ending - that one last moment which elevates the whole movie to another level. However, at least I haven't seen anything as powerful as Incendies(2011). From the very first scene it is imminent that we will witness something disturbing. But when it actually does, it is much more devastating than you can imagine.

6. Festen(The Celebration)(1998): It is 60th Birthday of patriarch of family. Whole family is gathered at their estate to celebrate it. What do you expect next? Nothing you will see in this film because plain simple truth is devastating. Also, It is first film made in Dogma 95 style with handheld cameras, direct sound and on location filming. Interesting stuff.

7. Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)(2006): Story of a Secret Service Agent in Communist Germany asked to spy on the writer and his lover. While watching their lives through his own eyes, he finds his loyalty towards the government questioned. Most Fascinating part of the movie is watching his transformation from dedicated SS Agent to an anti establishment figure himself.

8. Shichinin No Samurai(Seven Samurai)(1954): Probably the best known work of Legendary Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa. Storyline of Seven unemployed Samurai hired to defend a village under bandit attach does not sound too illustrious. However, film has attained the cult-classic status and like The Godfather(1972), is the inspiration of many films to follow.

9. Trois Couleurs: Rogue(Three Colours: Red)(1994): Best film of the Kieslowski's Three Colours Trilogy by far. Maybe it is Just Irene Jacob, I found it really hard to take my eyes off the whole time. And maybe I haven't digested the whole thing yet and it will take few more viewings to do that. But even then I loved this multi-layered story of how our lives interconnect with complete strangers. 

10. La Scephandre et la Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)(2007): Real life Story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, Amicable, playboyish editor of French Elle magazine who suffers a stroke at age 43. This stroke leaves his left eye as the only functional part of his body. It's quite a fascinating story of how he survives to write a book about it.
And as I said I have seen many good foreign movies, it was almost impossible to stop at 10. So, I am just mentioning my 11 to 20 as well in no particular order. Any of these movies easily could have appeared in top 10 as well.


  1. Ohhh, Grave of the Fireflies always makes me cry. It's one of my favourite films.

  2. @Ruth: Yup. It does. I haven't seen it again but it is beautifully sad movie. One of my favorites too.

  3. I've only seen Das Leben der Anderen (sure, every German film fan has to watch it), Seven Samurai (which, as you know, I didn't love quite so much) and Amélie, which I found nice but not totally overwhelming.

    I really want to watch City of God, it is loved by so many.

  4. @Mette: City of God is terrific. No doubt. Off course I loved it. If you get chance watch Rashomon. After your reaction on Seven Samurai, I would love to see what you think of it.

  5. Actually Rashomon is in the same box that I borrowed from the library, which also had Seven Samurai in it. I've considered watching it, so since you're asking me directly I'll make sure to give it a go!

  6. You're watching some seriously excellent films, glad to see you're enjoying them! Incendies blew me way, it'll definitely be in my top 10 for '11. Watch more Bergman, he's my favorite director!

  7. They are brilliant Alex and I am enjoying it immensly. Incendies is currently enjoying the top spot in my list ahead of your other favorite Hugo.

    And about Bergman I have seen Wild Strawberries, Smiles of Summer Night, Persona, Fanny and Alexander, Hour of the Wolf, Cries and Whisper. The only problem is so beyond the reach that even after watching them multiple times, I feel like I still haven't really understood him. And I don't mean it as a negative remark.

  8. Oh wow you've seen many of his best works, that's awesome. I saw my first Bergman film many years ago, and it literally took me months to fully appreciate it. Persona is in my top 5 of all time, but the first time I saw it, I didn't understand it at all. His films have a way of growing on you like no other.

    I'm speaking only for myself, of course, but that man is a master. Can't wait to read what you think about more foreign greats!

  9. That's a pretty solid list there man. Some truly excellent cinema.

  10. Thanks John. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Alex: That is exactly what I am saying. I don't think I have really understood anything from Persona or Hour of the Wolf or Cries and Whispers. And No doubt he is a master. Someone who can understand the medium in all its essence has to be. I just hope I will learn enough so that I can appreciate it.


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