In surveying some of the best foreign-language films of the year, it’s become clear that many have common themes. Some are about the primacy of family and crises in masculinity, while others center on rehabilitating the past and finding spiritual meaning in the secular world. But all of these films follow characters whose basic needs — familial and romantic stability, sexual fulfillment, and creative expression — question just how progressive modern society really is. Here are ten essential international films from the past… Read More
In the golden age of horror cinema, the scream queen was usually depicted as a shrieking damsel in distress whose life depended on the brains and brawn of her male co-stars. Her role has evolved — sometimes playing the savior (Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien, for example), other times existing as a powerful symbol of feminine complexity (read Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chain Saws for more on that), and often simply as the lone female lead in a sea of men. American movies tend to dominate our minds when we think of the classic scream queen, but foreign horror cinema’s actresses deserve equal recognition. February is Women in Horror Month, and we’re celebrating with ten stars from the ranks of international terror. … Read More
It’s that time of year when film festival announcements entice us with their competition titles and a larger spotlight on the foreign market offers a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of caped heroes and post-apocalyptic teen tales. We feature ten of those anticipated films, below. Although many of these foreign selections won’t be available on American shores immediately, there are a number of compelling works debuting at fests this year that we wanted to draw your attention to. Keep your eye on these foreign features during the 2014 film season. … Read More
Well we certainly didn’t see this coming. Late this summer, we started hearing about a proposed 20 minutes of… Read More
The Grandmaster, the new film from lyrical Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express) is his greatest financial success to date, grossing $50 million in China, where it was released back in January. But that is not the film appearing in American cinemas this Friday. It has been cut by more than 20 minutes, from its 130-minute Chinese edit to a 108-minute US version. Scenes have been reorganized and deleted; new voice-over narration was recorded. And most egregiously, extensive intertitles and documentary-style character identification captions have been added, often to “clarify” narrative turns and new characters that are already abundantly clear to anyone paying attention to the picture. The result is like trying to read a book while someone is sitting next to you reading aloud from the Cliffs Notes. Who thinks we’re this dumb? … Read More
The European Union has inched closer to America — at least regarding their stance on smoking. The European Parliament is banning menthol and other flavored cigarettes. They’re also setting their sights on “slim” cigarettes, and hoping to regulate e-cigarettes. It’s a bold move for a continent populated with the world’s biggest smokers and drinkers. We know smoking is detrimental to our health, but the movies often make it seem worldly or bohemian — especially European cinema, where characters are eternally shrouded in smoke. But a cigarette between the lips is often present for more than just show. Sometimes it’s a prop that reveals more about the personality of a character or it becomes a pivotal part of the story. Join us after the jump for ten of the greatest smoking scenes in European film. … Read More
There are many shades when it comes to fantasy films — works that cross genres effortlessly. Garden variety sword and sorcery movies don’t appear to have much in common with neo-noir fantasy tales like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, but there are shared mythical elements and phenomena that bond them.
The third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones is right around the corner (March 31), and we wanted to get in the mood for faraway lands, extraordinary creatures, and vivid storytelling by visiting 10 fantasy films you may have missed. There’s something for everyone here — from Amazon women, to trolls, and 20th-century Parisian adventures. Share your underseen favorites in the comments section. … Read More