Foreign Films New to View – December 2009

December 2009 – Vol. 3, No. 12

The Foreign Films New to View newsletter is a monthly publication designed to keep you up to date on some of HCPL’s latest foreign films on DVD. The selections in this newsletter are just a sample of the rich variety of films available to you through your library.


directed by Yoji Yamada

(In Japanese, with English subtitles)

Were all Japanese citizens in favor of war in the 1930’s and 40’s? Yoji Yamada shows that the answer is no. While Shigeru remains in jail for subversive and less than enthusiastic thoughts over Japan’s aggression towards China, his wife Kayo remains at home to raise their young children on her own. She faces the difficulties of being alone within her family and within the larger society around her, since her own enthusiasm for the war is less than her countrymen’s.


directed by Bent Hamer

(In Norwegian, with English subtitles)

Hamer, who directed the somewhat off-kilter Kitchen Stories, presents to us a story of a man who faces his retirement with his idiosyncrasies in tow. Forced to leave his job as a train engineer due to age, he now finds himself shifting his routines to suit his new life. Compared by more than one critic to Jacque Tati’s M. Hulot (Mon Oncle, Trafic, and Playtime), Odd Horten (for that is the O of O’Horten) goes about the routine of his humdrum life, all the while infusing subtle comedy into his actions and predicaments. In time, he comes to see what he has missed in life and what yet remains to be gained.

Stranded: The Andes Crash Survivors in Their Own Words

directed by Gonzalo Arijón

(In Spanish, with English subtitles)

In 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes, leaving several survivors stranded for 72 days. Their ordeal has been documented in both books and movies. Many of us remember well the shock of discovery that these young men had to resort to cannabalism of the dead in order to survive. This documentary looks at the events from the perspective of the survivors today, more than thirty years later. Arijón allows the men, now grey-haired and wiser for the ordeal, to speak of their experiences with candor and an almost transcendent respect for those who died and then became the means through which these sixteen men survived. Arijón uses some re-enactments, but allows the survivors themselves to address us with a poignancy and immediacy about the events so long in the past, but still so vivid to those who stand before the camera today.

Three Monkeys

directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

(In Turkish, with English subtitles)

The director of Distant and Climates now brings us Three Monkeys. When a prominent politician kills a pedestrian, he knows his career may be over. He asks his driver to assume blame, for a reward, of course. At first, this deal looks pretty good. Eyüp, the driver, knows his family will be cared for while he serves his prison time, but he does not realize how thoroughly a family can fall apart even with financial support. His son begins to neglect his studies and falls in with a bad crowd. His wife may be having an affair with the politician. The story is full of uncertainties of plot and character, and behind it all brew numerous storms – rain storms that may be the cause of the initial accident and thunderstorms that become almost a metaphor for the disharmony engendered by the characters’ thoughts and actions.

Treeless Mountain

directed by So Yong Kim

(In Korean, with English subtitles)

When the mother of two young girls must leave them with their aunt as she searches for their missing father, the young girls learn the importance of prevailing in the face of adversity and abandonment. While the adults seem unthinkingly neglectful of the two children, the older child, Jin, only six years of age, becomes in a way even more responsible than any grown-up could be. Director Kim, Korean by birth but American-raised, brings to the film a poetic sensitivity and delicacy of style.


Comments are closed.