Foreign: Other Recommended Titles

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

Expectations

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 this case the kid finds a strange creature and tries to change his family’s fortunes.

Great Expectations (1946): British director David Lean sculpted an incredible adaptation of Dickens’ story with one of the best child point-of-view shots ever done, and a creepy opening scene that scared the “dickens” out of me as a youngster.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989): Probably the lightest of Miyazaki’s films, this one follows a 13-year-old witch and her smart-alec cat as she tries to “fly solo” in a small European village.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (aka Wind in the Willows) (1996): The Monty Python crew, sans Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman, got together for this live action romp that is more a celebration of Britishness than Kenneth Grahame likely intended.

The Peanut Butter Solution PBSolution(1985): This Canadian production is like nothing you could possibly imagine (and has a cult following for that very reason), with hobo ghosts, an evil art teacher, neverending pubic hair, and Celine Dion. Yeah, it’s that weird.

Song of the Sea (2014): Like Tomm Moore’s Secret of the Kells before it, this is an animated retelling of an old Irish folktale. But it’s not the story that sets his films apart; it’s the style. With every new effort, the art becomes richer and worlds more enrapturing. The combination of careful pacing and densely packed compositions in this film is simply mesmerizing, and is exceeded only by the great Miyazaki.

A Town Called Panic (2009): Any kid who has enacted life situations for their toys will love this joyous production about Horse, Indian, and Cowboy figurines. The three stop-motion-animated characters live in a rural home together and it plays out like a nonsensical network sitcom, with Horse being the responsible adult and the others as bumbling troublemakers. The voiceover and physical comedy gags are spot-on, but the true artistry is in their straightforward use of materials. Their surroundings are simple and monochromatic, like elementary school dioramas, but the mise en scene of the interiors is nothing short of brilliant, with such items as the giant waffle vending machine and sliding guitar door. There’s a couple of grumbled swears and some adult comedy, but otherwise it’s just brilliant childhood shenanigans.

Triplets of Belleville (2003): A wonderful animated French film with a strange appeal for those looking for something silent, yet loud, and grotesque, yet attractive.

War of the Buttons (1962 and 1994): A delightful Irish affair taken from Louis Pergaud’s novel about two warring camps of working class children.

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