Thursday, September 10, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks: Non-English Language Movies

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you
Without a strong blog to step to
Think of how many weak posts you slept through
Time's up, sorry I kept you

Before you go giving me credit for that bit of genius in the open, I was just paraphrasing the great urban poet known as Rakim, from his song "I Know You Got Soul." The point of it all is that this is my first time taking part in Thursday Movie Picks (hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves) is way too long. I once took pride in delivering Thursday goodness on a weekly basis. And I even got to do it in my native language. However, I'm here to talk about movies I couldn't enjoy without subtitles.

Non-English Language Movies

Layla M.
(2016)
Our main character is a Moroccan girl of Muslim faith living in Amsterdam. The racism and Islamophobia she faces causes her to become progressively more extreme in her views. Soon enough, she marries a young man, attends a Jihadist camp and relocates to Jordan. The movie goes from there. It's an emotional roller-coaster and an excellent character study.


The Insult
(2017)
Truth told, all of the movies I've picked this week can be categorized as character studies. This one focuses on two men in Lebanon: one a native, the other a Palestinian refugee. They have a run-in that leads to fisticuffs that leave the Lebanese native injured. From there, it becomes something of a courtroom drama, but it's all about the journey of these two men. Interestingly enough, though this is not an American movie, many of the immigration talking points we hear in this country are dealt with. It provides them and a number of other things with depth and treats them with care. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. And yes, it all stems from an insult. 


On Body and Soul
(2017)
The very same year as <i>The Insult</i>, this film was also nominated for Best Language Film at the Oscars. Both would lose to <i>A Fantastic Woman,</i> which I haven't seen. Here, we get a movie about a pair of introverts who work together at a slaughterhouse. An investigator is there trying to figure out who is responsible for a theft. Through this, it comes to light that the pair has matching dreams every night. Inevitably, this leads to a relationship between them. Both have their quirks, but neither is played for laughs. In fact, it's all pretty serious despite being an oddball love story. Fair warning to those who wish to watch: the slaughterhouse setting comes into play for one really uncomfortable scene. We get to see the graphic killing and beheading of a cow, and it looks painfully real.


24 comments:

  1. Welcome back!! Unfortunately for your first time out in a long while I'm 0 for 3 on these. At first the second two were appealing to me until I got to the end of your description of On Body and Soul and now I'm giving that one a hard pass. But I'll put The Insult on my too see list.

    With foreign language films I have a hard time remembering what I've used before so I try and pick ones that I liked that I've seen since the last time the theme came up. That's how I came up with my trio this time out as well.

    Drunken Angel (1948)-The chaotic worlds of the Japanese Mafia (Yakuza) and an alcoholic doctor collide in this film noir classic from Akira Kurosawa. Gangster Toshiro Mifune visits Doctor Takashi Shimura, after an unfortunate incident with a bullet. The doctor, who despises the Yakuza, discovers the young man is suffering from tuberculosis, a disease symbolic of what is happening to the doctor and the community he serves. Facing his own anger and fear, the doctor aligns himself with the gangster's world.

    Le Silence de la Mer (1949)-An elderly Frenchman (Jean-Marie Robain) and his niece (Nicole St├ęphane) are forced to give shelter to a Nazi soldier (Howard Vernon) who seemingly loves their country and culture. Though they refuse to speak to him over time they form a strange sort of bond.

    La Notte (1961)-In Milan, Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) suddenly storms out of a fancy party held in honor of her husband, Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni), to celebrate the publication of his new novel. Distressed at the news that her friend Tommaso (Bernhard Wicki) has a terminal illness, Lidia begins roaming the streets of the city, questioning her marriage to Giovanni. Meanwhile, Giovanni, seemingly oblivious to his crumbling relationship with Lidia, attempts to seduce beautiful young Valentina (Monica Vitti). Written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.


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    1. Thanks! I'm returning the 0 for 3, though. They do all sound like movies I should give a look to. Of my movies, I think you'll enjoy The Insult. Honestly, I think On Body and Soul would work for you, on the whole. It's just that one scene. That said, I fully understand if that's a step too far.

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    2. I truly do think it's a step too far even if I was prepared for it.

      Asian cinema is one of my biggest blind spots so I was delighted when TCM ran a day of Akira Kurosawa films on the anniversary of his birth. I figured it was best to start at the top and I had seen only his major classics, Seven Samurai, Rashomon and my personal favorite of his work High and Low, so it was a great way to fill in some blanks.

      I still have a way to go but I was able to see eight new films of his and while I really liked them all Drunken Angel was the one I enjoyed the most. It's very much a noir which is probably why it appealed to me so that being one of my favorite genres.

      For the record the others I saw in order of preference were: Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Red Beard, Sanjuro, Kagemusha and Stray Dog.

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    3. Kurosawa is a big blind spot for me, too. Seven Samurai and Rashomon are the only two I've seen.

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  2. So glad to see you return with a Thursday Movie Picks post! I haven't been taking part as much as I'd like to, either. I'm also still so far behind when it comes to foreign-language movies, but at least today I can add a lot to my watchlist!

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    1. Thanks! I think these three are a fine place to start.

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  3. I preferred On Body and Soul and The Insult to A Fantasic Woman that year. Both were solid films. I haven't seen Layla B but now I'm going to put it on my watch list.

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    1. Hey, somebody has seen these! I need to see A Fantastic Woman to say where I stand. Hopefully, I will soon.

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  4. Welcome back. Not seen any of the three but always a pleasure to get yout take on a film. Do you have a favourite non-English lanagusge film from the 1990s?

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    1. Thanks! Unfortunately, I didn't watch many non-English movies during the 90s. I do have a few, though. Audition
      All About My Mother, Princess Mononoke.
      I've seen a decent amount more, but almost all the rest are martial arts flicks.

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  5. These are three films I think I've heard about in passing but have never seen them but I hope to see them soon.

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  6. Welcome back! I haven't seen any of these movies, but they all look interesting! I need to check them out!

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  7. I have been to a slaughterhouse for real and I was just a kid! I will pass on the 3rd film unless I knew when that scene was going to happen and just walk out of the room until it was over with. I still can't get over the scene in John Wick with the cute little beagle puppy. I know it is not real but I can't ...I just can't. The middle film sounds like one that I would be most interested in.

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    1. If you only watch one, then The Insult is not a bad way to go.

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  8. Worthy picks, hard to wade into such a vast category.

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  9. I think I may have heard of Layla M, but never knew the plot. The other two are completely new to me...have not been keeping up with the foreign language Oscar nominees.

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    1. Easy to lose track of. These are good films, though.

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  10. I've never heard of Layla M. but it sounds like a compelling film. I absolutely loved On Body and Soul and I wanted it to win so much.

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    1. Layla M. is very compelling. I hope you get to see it soon.

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