Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Remaining 5 in "Ten Foreign Films You Must See Before You Die"

As promised, the remaining 5 foreign films in my list of "10 Foreign Films You Must See Before You Die." I encourage you to watch the video trailers, especially for "Paradise Now."

Paradise Now (2005-Israeli, Arab)

There's not enough that can be said about the insane motivations of suicide bombers, but  "Paradise Now" is the closest I have seen to making this point. 

The plot of this movie follows approximately two days in the lives of a couple of young Palestinian men who are friends. It begins with one of them losing his job and proceeds to cover the twists and turns of being brainwashed into thinking martyrdom will aid the Palestinian cause. 

"Paradise Now" illustrates how suicide bombers are nothing more than pawns in the hands of cowards who decide their fate. When push comes to shove, they both have second thoughts. The preciousness of life--ALL life--is examined, and the futility of it all is quite well addressed. 

"Paradise Now" is an excellent film on many levels. Filmed on location in the West Bank with great  production values; generous close-ups are frequent, adding a very personal tone to the film. This film does not glorify terrorism. It does put a human face on terrorism, especially the frustrations of the Palestinian people. This movie attempts to truly capture what Palestinians feel and think, and all they see is the occupation and Israeli soldiers ruining their lives and taking away their freedom. As much as I love Israel and believe in Israel's right to exist and divine right to the land of Israel, this film gave me greater insight into the plight of the Palestinian people who want to possess the same land, at the expense of Israel. 

Dear Frankie 2004-France
This is a moving, sweet film that you won't soon forget. Nine-year-old Frankie and his single mom Lizzie have been on the move ever since Frankie can remember, most recently arriving in a seaside Scottish town. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth that they've run away from his father, Lizzie has invented a story that he is away at sea on the HMS Accra. Every few weeks, Lizzie writes Frankie a make-believe letter from his father, telling of his adventures in exotic lands. As Frankie tracks the ship's progress around the globe, he discovers that it is due to dock in his hometown. With the real HMS Accra arriving in only a fortnight, Lizzie must choose between telling Frankie the truth or finding the perfect stranger to play Frankie's father for just one day...

                      Europa Europa  2003-German

This "incredible, true story" (Los Angeles Times) is at once "eye-opening, harrowing and humorous" (Leonard Maltin) as it recounts the severe actions a young boy must take in order to survive the Holocaust. Based on the autobiography of Solomon Perel, a young German Jew, the film "bounds from one jaw-dropping episode to the next" (The New Yorker) and puts you in the middle of war-torn Europe where ingenuity, timing and luck are the key to survival. Separated from his family at the age of thirteen, Solly (Marco Hofschneider) takes on various identities to hide his Jewishheritage. First passing himself off as an orphan and later as one of the "Hitler Youth," Solly carries on his charade, hoping desperately to keep his identity hidden and make it through the war alive. 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon        2000-Chinese
This was my introduction to Asian cinema. My wife dragged me to the theatre to see this film, and I’m glad she did. When we think of Asian films, we think of “Bruce Lee,” but this is film has excellent fight sequences that are reminiscent of the Matrix. “Crouching Tiger” is a masterpiece with good acting and character development.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is the story of two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically-skilled, teenage nobleman's daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life. Director Ang Lee scores on all levels with a graceful, elegant film. 

Nowhere in Africa 2003-German
Nowhere in Africa begins with a Jewish woman named Jettel Redlich fleeing Nazi Germany with her daughter Regina, to join her husband, Walter, on a farm in Kenya. At first, Jettel refuses to adjust to her new circumstances (she brought with her a set of china dishes and an evening gown), while Regina adapts readily to this new world, forming a strong bond with her father's cook, an African named Owuor. But this is only the beginning of a series of uprootings, and as the surface of their lives is torn away, Walter and Jettel find they have little in common, and must--under tumultuous circumstances--build their marriage anew. 

Nowhere in Africa brings you into every change in this family's life with skill and passion. This film has stunning cinematography. It well deserving of the Academy Award in 2002 for Best Foreign Film, and deserves to be seen by you.  

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