Foreign Films New to View Vol. 4, No. 4
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. Use the sign-up box above to have this newsletter sent directly to your e-mail every month, with new, recommended movies for you to view. See Foreign Films Archive.
The Beaches of Agnes, directed by Agnes Varda
(In French, with English subtitles)
Sometimes called the godmother of the French New Wave cinema, Agnes Varda has led a life rich in art and accomplishment. This documentary, self-reflective and autobiographical, allows viewers to glimpse something of Varda’s skill as a filmmaker and photographer. It sweeps us through the politics and passions of the times, touching on everything from the feminist movement and the Black Panthers to the films of Varda’s late husband, Jacques Demy, and the birth of the French New Wave. HCPL owns other films by Varda, including Vagabond and another documentary The Gleaners and I.
Bliss, directed by Abdullah Oguz
(In Turkish, with English subtitles)
What happens when stern and unmoveable tradition clashes with modern, contemporary ways? Meryem finds out when she is raped and then condemned to die by the people in her Anatolian village in order to rid her family of her shame. When the task of the honor killing is left to her cousin, however, he feels more sympathy for the innocent young woman than shame. Rather than murder her, he instead runs away with her to a more modern, if more complicated and subtle, world.
Flame and Citron, directed by Ole Christian Madsen
(In Danish and German, with English subtitles)
In Copenhagen, 1944, the Holger Danske was one of Denmark’s leading resistance forces in the fight against the Nazis. Two of those resistance fighters are Flame, young and idealistic, and Citron, a bit more realistic and down to earth. Together, they become the underground’s most proficient killers of collaborators and sympathizers. With the Nazi SS hunting them, they can trust only each other. Then a new agent appears for yet another assignment, one perhaps most dangerous of all: to assassinate the head of the Gestapo.
Import Export, directed by Urich Seidl
(In German, Russian, and Slovak, with English subtitles)
Not everyone gained when Eastern Europe emerged from behind the Iron Curtain. Import Export reveals the lives of two desperate people in a changed world. Olga, a nurse from Ukraine who knows only poverty, searches for a better life in the West, as Paul, an unemployed security guard from Austria, travels to the East in search of the something similar. Seidl, a documentary filmmaker, uses some of his film techniques, so effective in making a work of nonfiction, to reveal how it is for the downtrodden left-behinds.
Touch of Spice, directed by Tassos Boulmetis
(In Greek, with English subtitles)
An accomplished professor of astrophysics journeys back to his childhood home, a journey that conjures memories both joyful and sorrowful. In warm-hearted and softly glowing scenes, the film portrays Fanis’ relationship with his beloved grandfather, the sorrow and loss he felt from being thrown out of Turkey when a child, and the difficulties his family faced as they adjusted to life in Greece. The film may be a bit cloying, saccharin, and occasionally cliché-ridden, including scenes with the ubiquitous happy hooker (yawn), but it was a hit in Greece, where its natural audience resides.
You the Living, directed by Roy Andersson
(In Swedish, with English subtitles)
Darkly humorous, this film presents a Scandinavian take on the absurdities of life. Andersson uses a mostly stationary camera to create tableaux of life in Scandinavia, with the subjects artfully positioned in the midst of muted pale greens and light greys that carry over and link into subsequent scenes. Expertly shot, with dialogue both subtle and witty, You the Living traces a series of absurd vignettes that address the meaning of life or more accurately, the lack of meaning. Some characters reappear in further scenes, such as the biker woman, who laments that no one understands her, even her mother, or the young woman in the bar who pines for a musician from a minor rock band. Dreamy, absurd, sometimes achingly sad, and hilarious, the stories, if they can be called that, are carefully linked by color or weather or character or music. The cheerful New Orleans jazz melodies, played by the film’s odd collection of musicians, counterbalance the near despair that falls on the subjects as they face their dreary but nevertheless comic lives and situations.