Foreign

Foreign: Introduction

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Foreign: Introduction

“If you do not like musicals or documentaries or silent films or foreign films or films in black and white, that is not an exercise of taste, but simply an indication that you have not yet evolved into the more complete filmgoer that we all have waiting inside.” – Roger Ebert As you browse the titles of this section, you’ll likely notice one name repeated several times – Hayao Miyazaki. If you’ve been living in a cave for the last 30 years, or you only watch domestic Hollywood films, Miyazaki...

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988) *available with English dub

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) *available with English dub

Disclaimer: Extremely wholesome, but perhaps a bit startling. Hayao Miyazaki’s films, perhaps even more than Walt Disney’s (if you can believe it), are the epitome of this book’s title. Miyazaki brings us to worlds that are strange, beautiful, enchanting, wondrous, and awe-inspiring. Ebert hailed Totoro (pronounced Toto-Row), specifically, in his Great Films series as one of the greatest animated films of all time. “Here is a children’s film made for the world we should live in, rather than...

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The Red Balloon (1956) *French language film, but with very little dialogue

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

The Red Balloon (1956) *French language film, but with very little dialogue

Disclaimer: Intense disappointment and sadness await you. In the book 1000 Films to Change Your Life, critic Malena Janson describes her most memorable and intense emotional responses to films she saw as a child. She briefly mentions the fearful experience of Watership Down and the happiness that resulted from Hugo and Josefin, but she spends the most amount of time describing the overwhelming sadness of The Red Balloon. All three exude raw emotional responses, to be sure, and Janson aptly...

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The Adventures of Milo & Otis (1986) *English-narrated film

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

The Adventures of Milo & Otis (1986) *English-narrated film

Disclaimer: Animals were likely harmed in the making of this wholesome film. Diary entries, stories, and even a documentary film have given us the infamous trials and tribulations that plagued directors in completing the modern masterpieces of Apocalypse Now and Fitzcarraldo. But while we know so much about Francis Ford Coppolla’s and Werner Herzog’s difficulties, it’s unfortunate we don’t know the complete story of author/zoologist Masanori Hata’s four-year adventure in bringing this epic...

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Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998) *available with English dub

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998) *available with English dub

Disclaimer: Lots of animated nudity, kind of like a cartoon version of National Geographic. When Kirikou and the Sorceress was released, several countries and their shortsighted officials concocted a ridiculous controversy that barred it from their borders. Even the overseas countries that allowed it had a miniscule number of screenings and its VHS/DVD release wasn’t much better. To say it has a cult or under-the-radar following would be a vast overstatement. Yet, in France and Belgium (its...

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Lord of the Flies (1963) *English language film

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Lord of the Flies (1963) *English language film

Disclaimer: Intense savagery in the form of male nudity and murder. Two young boys wearing dirty school uniforms slowly make their way through thick jungle brush. Our view of the subjects is close, borderline claustrophobic, making it hard to decipher their surroundings. They eventually penetrate the thick trees and make their way toward a sandy beach. Though the tropical sun blinds their view, they scan their eyes over a vast ocean. The camera pans slowly toward the ocean, leaving the...

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Children of Heaven (1997) *Requires English subtitles

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Children of Heaven (1997) *Requires English subtitles

Disclaimer: The most contagious crying ever captured on celluloid. I almost forgot about how monumentally big the smallest of events felt when I was a kid. Accidentally breaking something, hiding it from my parents, lying about it through my teeth, and all the while torturing myself with guilt. Those were the days. And I have Children of Heaven to thank for that little piece of nostalgia. Here is a movie quite simply about a pair of shoes – and if I may be so bold, far and away the most moving...

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Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) *English language film with some native Aboriginal subtitles

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) *English language film with some native Aboriginal subtitles

Disclaimer: Tear-jerking racism (and presumed rape) beyond imagination. No doubt you’ve read all about the Holocaust in school, so the devastation detailed in Schindler’s List probably wasn’t a surprise. You’ve probably at least heard about genocide, so Hotel Rwanda wasn’t entirely new. But unless you’ve seen this film, I highly doubt you’ve heard much about the irreparable damage still felt by an entire culture due to acts not unlike slavery, which was abolished a century before this was....

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Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005) *English spoken film

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005) *English spoken film

Disclaimer: Nothing too scary for the young ones, but a bleak presentation of the middle class. Though it’s a Hollywood production with DreamWorks Animation Studio, the Wallace and Gromit franchise has been a thoroughly British venture since it began as a brainchild of Nick Park in 1982 as a film school graduation project. Shortly after working with the claymation duo and earning some acclaim, Park joined up with Aardman Animations to create three hugely successful shorts, the TV series...

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The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) *English language film

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) *English language film

Disclaimer: Some brief child nudity, but nothing you wouldn’t see changing a diaper. With The Secret of Roan Inish, writer/director/editor/producer John Sayles created a film as magically entrancing as Whale Rider, and a realm where the real and fantastical become one in the same (as in Pan’s Labyrinth). At first the film seems to be a complete abandonment of Sayles’s typical material, which usually comes loaded with socio-political themes. But, like his other films, Roan Inish explores the...

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) *available with English dub

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) *available with English dub

Disclaimer: Violence, war, demons, and all-out chaos. This Hayao Miyazaki film once again introduces a magical male figure to lead a female protagonist, but you’ll likely find the castle of the film’s title to be the true centerpiece. The large, heavy, and noisy mass is slapped together with millions of gadgets, pulleys, extremities, and planks of scrap metal. It towers above the earth with stick-size legs that disprove physics as smoke billows from its nooks and crannies creating a path that...

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Foreign: Other Recommended Titles

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Foreign: Other Recommended Titles

The Bear (1988): This practically silent French film comments on the unfair treatment of bears at the hands of ruthless hunters. Castle in the Sky (1986): Another solid Miyazaki release, Castle skews on the younger side of the spectrum (along with Kiki below) as a young boy and girl race against sky pirates to discover the last remaining city in the sky. CJ7 (2008): Stephen Chow’s knack for visual hyperbole and frantic style make him a natural in capturing life from the eyes of a child. In...

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Foreign: For Adults Only

Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Foreign: For Adults Only

Battle Royale (2000): To make sure kids behave and manage the population, a class is sent to an island with combat weapons and forced to kill each other until only one is left. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008): Though not as well crafted as Goodbye Children, this film follows an 8-year-old German boy who makes friends with an 8-year-old Jew through the barbed wire fence of a concentration camp. The content is affecting, to be sure, but it’s made...

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