Vol. 5, No. 1
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.
(In Danish, with English subtitles)
Lars hasn’t been very successful in the army, being accused of making passes at other soldiers. So he turns to another buddy group, a band of brother Nazis. These guys really like to go after homosexuals and immigrants, especially darker-skinned ones, like Pakistanis. They also enjoy dressing up in little Nazi outfits and marching around as they sing the praises of Adolf Hitler. While it isn’t clear why Lars embraces the Nazi philosopy, what is clear is that he enjoys the comradeship. You can see where this is going – Lars finds a special friend in the most Nazi-ish Nazi of them all, Jimmy, a Mr. Tough Guy, who underneath it all is just a misunderstood gay guy. We might feel some sympathy for Lars, if we knew why he takes this turn in his life, but motivation, outside of the guys in their uniforms and tough talk, is unclear. Still, we do catch a glimpse at the difficulty in being true to oneself in a world where that true self is despised and ridiculed.
(In Hebrew, with English subtitles)
A stranger comes to town. Or rather, a young, forlorn man comes into Aaron’s butcher shop in the midst of a downpour, seeking a job, a place to stay, and a new life. Ezri, though, has an air of the unknown about him, something not mentioned but hinted at. Something has happened in his previous residence, something that could be very disruptive to this ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, something that gradually comes out in dangerous ways. Aaron lives a quiet life, meeting his obligations of work, worship, and family with a kind of melancholy but with a calm acceptance. He also seems to be missing something in his life. When he and Ezri discover an attraction, it leads them farther from the norms of their society than Aaron may want. But the truth is Aaron comes alive when he realizes he is in love with Ezri, and there may be no happy resolution to this truth.
House, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
(In Japanese, with English subtitles)
This might come off as just another kill-the-teenagers movie, but with a Japanese touch. Gorgeous is a young student, who travels with her girlfriends to her aunt’s house during a school break. Gorgeous has some issues to work out – her father is about to remarry after a proper period of widowerhood, and Gorgeous isn’t so certain she approves. Maybe a visit to her maternal aunt’s house will help. But her aunt may not be who she is supposed to be. What if she is a demon who wants the death and destruction of the seven girls (and their teacher, who comes a little later to the house)? The story isn’t that different from other movies in the genre, and the effects are sometimes a little hokey, but all in all, the movie stretches to a new edginess when it comes to doing in those girls who insist on staying in odd places for a vacation.
I Do…Knot , directed by Rene Bueno
(In Spanish, with English subtitles)
Sebastian is a successful oenologist, whose work at the winery is frequently interrupted by raving women, who adore him. Yes, Sebastian has one flaw or strength, depending on how you look at it: he’s incredibly attractive to women. This makes the life of this bachelor a particulary happy one. So when he wakes up one morning after a night of heavy drinking, he is suprised to find Alexa in his bed. She’s his wife! Somehow, in his drunken state, he married Alexa the night before, and she has the marriage certificate to prove it. While they decide to stay together for a few weeks, just to be certain she isn’t pregnant, they use the time to bicker and snipe but also to soften to each other. Filled with absurdist comic moments, this movie is a romantic comedy full of silliness and basic light-hearted goodness.
Liverpool , directed by Lisandro Alonso
(In Spanish, with English subtitles)
Farrel, a merchant marine by occupation, suffers a self-imposed isolation, devoid of any connection to those around him. Even in a group, he’s the one sitting in the background or alone at a table in a restaurant. It’s up to others to draw him into a conversation or pull him towards them. So it is a bit surprising that he asks for leave to visit his mother after a decade or two of separation. Here also he remains in isolation, as the town where his mother lives is about as far removed from the civilized world as can be, a little settlement outside of Ushuaia, in Terra del Fuego. There he does sit with his ailing mother for only a few moments. He also sees Analia, his teenaged daughter, long estranged from him and seemingly headed in a similar direction as her father in her loneliness in a desolate world. Her guardian, Trujillo, very much wants to protect her from the frosty Farrel. He has been the father to her that Farrel will never be. Yet it is Farrel’s gift to Analia that may signify the clearest connection she’ll ever have from him.
(In Swedish, with English subtitles)
Sven and Göran are a happily married gay couple, who move from the city to a small town to raise a family. After their adoption application is approved for a baby boy, age 1.5, they find out that Patrik is really a surly 15-year-old juvenile delinquent. Sven is appalled and even leaves the marriage, while Göran, the more tender-hearted of the two, is willing to give Patrik a chance, at least until a new family can be found for the boy. But as time passes, Göran finds out that Patrik has some sterling qualities that have been underappreciated and that he is still a child in need of a loving family. Maybe they can form a family and start some healing not only for Patrik but for Sven, who has his own troubled issues to resolve.
(In Italian, with English subtitles)
Based on a true person in the midst of a true nightmarish story, this film depicts the evil engendered by a mafia-controlled society. Rita Atria is the daughter of a mafia boss in Sicily, but she thinks of him as a noble protector of the people. When he refuses to dip into the drug trade, a rival boss has him killed. Rita’s life is so entwined with the society created by mafia control that she is easily convinced she will be protected by the very people who have killed her father. Then her older brother is murdered as well. Rita strikes out for justice, keeping detailed diaries of the criminal goings-on around her town. She is patient and waits for years to act. When she approaches Paolo Borsellino, the investigator of Sicilian criminal activities, the mob needs to pull out all its resources to get to her and make her recant.
Vincere, directed by Marco Bellocchio
(In Italian, with English subtitles)
Bellocchio also directed the brilliant Fists in the Pocket as well as the less sinister The Wedding Director, both owned by HCPL. What a contrast. Vincere is a historical drama focusing on Mussolini’s lover, whom he may or may not have married. In any case, in real life Ida Dalser bore the rising meglomanic a son, but lived the rest of her life trying to convince all of Italy that indeed Mussolini had a son deserving of recognition. More than that, this film depicts the rise of a ruthless dictator, who manipulates a crowd, whipping the masses into a frenzy of action. Even as a little-known leader in the Italian socialist movement, even as he embraces the woman who has such faith in him, he looks beyond her, over her shoulder, to a future unencumbered by anyone who will hold him back.