Archive for November, 2013

The Foreign Films New to View Dec 13

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

December 2013

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Foreign Films
New to View

Vol. 7, 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. 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 the Foreign Films New to View Archive for selections from back issues: http://blogs.hcplonline.org/avblog/index.php/category/foreign-films/.

All About My Mother, directed by Pedro Almodóvar

(In Spanish, with English subtitles)

Pedro Almodóvar does it again, with a complex plot involving numerous female characters, all with their own issues and problems, displayed with both a touch of humor and the serious. Manuela is a nurse who works in an organ transplant department in a medical facility in Madrid. She is a single mother, raising her splendid son, Esteban, who wants two things in life: to be a writer and to find his father, long missing from Manuela’s life. When tragedy strikes, Manuela goes on a journey to Barcelona to find answers to puzzles in her own life. Here we meet that cast of eccentric women and female wannabes, from an aging actress, to a social worker nun, to a transsexual, and so on. This film feels epic in its scope but on a domestic level, raising the question: are our ordinary lives in and of themselves epic? Maybe so…If you like Almadovar, try some other DVDs of his films owned by HCPL, including Volver and Talk to Her.

The Big City, directed by Satyajit Ray

(In Bengali, with English subtitles)

How does Satyajit Ray do it? How does he take ordinary people and make their little lives so compelling? Arati is a young housewife, trying to make ends meet on her husband’s small salary, while caring for her little son, her young sister-in-law, and her husband’s elderly parents. When it becomes clear that Subrata’s salary will no longer be enough, Arati gets a job. Although she has little confidence in herself, before long her self-esteem grows, as does her salary. But tensions rise in the little household, and conflicts edge into the open. When Arati is faced with a moral injustice at work, she has to make a decision, one that may involve a level of courage she is not certain she has. Considering that this movie was made in 1963, it is unusually enlightened and progressive in its message, but then again, it’s a movie by Satyajit Ray. If you like this film, consider watching some other Ray films on DVD owned by HCPL, including the renowned Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu), The Chess Players, and The Lonely Wife.

Gippi, directed by Sonam Nair

(In Hindi, with English subtitles)

Fourteen-year-old Gippi is a typical teenager, maybe just a tad overweight and definitely not very sure of herself. She sulks and complains, but basically, she’s a good kid, cheering up her divorced mother and keeping her pesty little brother in line. When the school mean girl goes after her, while flaunting a new, good-looking boyfriend, Gippi maneuvers her way into the life of an older high school student, who is very, very hot. Mean Girl can see through that one, and a big public humiliation for Gippi leads to some soul-searching and turnarounds in her life.

In the Fog, directed by Sergi Loznitsa

(In Russian, with English subtitles)

The fog of this film is both the real fog that drifts in and out of the dense woods of war-torn 1942 Belarus, as well as the fog of war. The confusion and mistakes in understanding when in the midst of battle congeal in the story of Sushenya, a simple railroad worker, who is mistaken for a collaborator with the German occupying forces. Actually, he is innocent, but that is not the impression the members of the resistance have, or even of his own community and family. For his supposed betrayal, he is to be executed for seeming to be something he is not. But at the moment of execution, a firefight erupts, with one resistance fighter disappearing into the woods and another severely wounded. Now it is Sushenya who must consider his moral position here – to carry the wounded fighter to possible safety or to flee into the forest as well. The meanness of war and the darkness that it evokes swirl around the men, like the ever-present fog drifting through the trees in a haunted world.

In the House, directed by Francois Ozon

(In French, with English subtitles)

Germain is a literature teacher at a high school of rather typical students: no one in particular stands out in terms of talent; no one holds much interest for him. Then one student, Claude, turns in his composition assignment, and Germain’s attention perks up. Claude, it seems, is a bit of a voyeur. While he himself lives a sad life in a broken home with an ailing father who needs his care, Claude has been observing from afar the loving, stable family of his classmate Rapha. He has since insinuated himself into the family and then has written about his escapades, drawing closer and closer to Rapha and his mother in particular. Germain must consider the moral aspects of this continuing writing assignment: does he continue to encourage an obviously talented young man to write (perhaps in the style of Flaubert or Dostoevsky!), or does he stop this nonsence that could easily lead into dangerous territory? His debates with his wife about this lead nowhere, as Germain is his own man, bound and determined to find that one potentially great writer, no matter what the outcome. Ozon also directed Hideaway and Potiche, also owned by HCPL.

War of the Buttons, directed by Christophe Barratier

(In French, with English subtitles)

Please note that HCPL owns an Australian production of this same story, bearing the same name, but of course with different young actors and so on. Try this one, if you would prefer to see a French story in, well, French. We find ourselves in occupied France during World War II, and although this country village lends a certain degree of protection to its occupants, the war is very much present in the form of collaborators, willing community supporters of the Nazis, and those fighting them or hiding from them. Children in two neighboring villages engage in their own war of sorts, with slingshots and cudgels. It’s something closer to play or childish rivalry, with some bruises and bruised egos, but nothing serious. It’s a matter of collecting buttons from the losers in each engagement, with some embarrassing consequences, as kids make their ways home sans culottes. But war is war, and a young Jewish girl needs to keep her identity hidden in the midst of the children’s frivolity – not easily done in a small village. The children just may be able to help her, though, despite the evil around them.

The Young Montalbano, directed by Gianlucca Tavarelli

(In Italian, with English subtitles)

If you like the Detective Montalbano series, of which HCPL owns many episodes, you may want to meet the same characters in their younger manifestations – Salvo Montalbano, Catarella, Augello, and even the young Fazio. Besides giving viewers some details on the background of these police detectives, the mysteries are solid and usually devoid of the typical grizzly and gruesome images that some TV detective series have. Episode One focuses on a peace-loving shepherd accused of killing a local bully. Episode Two takes a look at the murder of a man in a hotel room on New Year’s Eve. Episode Three involves a kidnapping, from which the young victim is released, but why was she kidnapped in the first place? As is typical of these stories, not just one, but a few plots are deftly interwoven to add levels of complexity to the stories.

New Release Tuesday – November 26

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

A Football Life: Ray Lewis

Bill Cosby: far from finished

Breaking Bad Final Season (also known as Season 5 part 2)

Getaway

Murdoch Mysteries Season 6

Poirot Series 10

Red Obsession

Red 2

R.I.P.D.

Secret Life of Predators

Watsons Go to Birmingham

New Release Tuesday – November 19

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Jake and the Never Land Pirates

Little Mermaid II Ariel’s Beginning

Lost Girl Season 3

Paranoia

Passione

Planes

To Do List

Treme Season 3

Violet and Daisy

We’re the Millers

Foreign Films Nov 13

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Amour, directed by Michael Haneke

(In French, with English subtitles)

Georges and Anne have been married for many years; they are growing old together in a quiet, gracious world of their making.  They go to concerts; they spend afternoons with Anne’s former music students; they have conversations that one might think impossible for people who have been together for so long.  (What more can there be to say?  Plenty.)  Their love for each other generates more connections even as time passes.  Then it all comes to a screeching halt.  Anne’s health falters because of a blocked carotid artery, and suddenly the world changes for them.  What follows is a realistic view of aging and ailing.  We will find no stereotypic old folks here, cute and grumpy and full of laughs for us, but rather two human beings who suffer, endure, and keep going.  One is reminded of Beckett’s closing lines from The Unnamable, “I can’t go on, you must go on, I’ll go on.”  And so they do, adjusting and not adjusting to a new reality of living and of life.  No pretty picture is presented here, but we are permitted to witness quite possibly the best acting in years of anyone on the screen, so powerful and intense in a deep quiet, provided by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both themselves now older and capable of giving us the gift of realism in a sad and doomed existence, one that is our world as well.

  

The Deep, directed by Baltasar Kormakur

(In Icelandic, with English subtitles)

Gulli is a fisherman, living on one of the islands off the coast of Iceland.  The 1973 eruption of lava from a fissure that nearly destroyed his town was his defining childhood experience.  Now, he is an adult, just an ordinary guy, living with his parents, taking life for granted.  He goes out on a fishing boat, just another job to do, and his life turns topsy turvey.  The boat capsizes, and the crew is lost. Gulli manages to hang on in the frigid waters, about 40° F.  It is night and he is a few miles from shore, but he needs to make it back to land before he succumbs to the elements.  He will do what he has to do to get to safety, to hang onto life.  Based on a true story, this remarkable tale shows how the ordinary person can be extraordinary in the midst of adversity so intense that even a nightmarish, destructive volcanic eruption from childhood will not compare.

 

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Secdirected by Luc Besson

 (In French, with English subtitles)

Adele Blanc-Sec is a young woman of courage and wit, who finds herself immersed in adventure wherever she happens to be.  Now she’s off to Egypt, in this early 20th century tale, to retrieve an ancient artifact that may just hold the key to curing her comatose sister, made so through a tennis accident years earlier.  But through a series of unfortunate occurrences, a pterodactyl is set free above the streets of Paris – yes, a pterodactyl, and now Adele has more than her poor sister to worry about.  Her wit alone should draw laughs from the audience, but her audacity and sly humor move this heroine towards a hard-fought triumph.  Now, if only those police detectives and various bad guys would get out of her way!

  

Future to Bright Hai Ji, directed by Sanjay Amar

(In Hindi, with English subtitles)

Ajay and Sonia want to make it big in Bollywood, so they move to Mumbai to try their luck in the thick of it. Ajay is a scriptwriter, and Sonia is an actress.  While their talents are many and their willingness to work hard is evident, these attributes don’t seem to get them anywhere.  In time, they feel discouraged and beaten down.  Then an astrologer tells them some good news:  the future will be bright shortly.  But will it?  Along with a catchy theme song,  lots of Bollywood drama and comedy keep the film moving through music, dance, tears, and laughter.

 

The Glove, directed by Woo-Suk Kang

(In Korean, with English subtitles)

Kim Sang-nam may think of himself as a baseball hero for his superb pitching skills, but his career is teetering on the edge of oblivion due to his bad behavior.  To redeem his public image, his agent shifts him from the pitcher’s mound in the professional playing fields to a small high school for the deaf, to coach a not very good but very determined team.  His cynicism gradually melts as he begins to understand that he still means something to the world, even if it’s in the eyes of a dozen or so high school boys, all struggling to overcome the obstacles that life has tossed them.

 

 

Hecho en Mexico, directed by Duncan Bridgeman

(In Spanish, with English subtitles)

This foreign documentary explores just what it is to be Mexican in our modern world.  The film uses music throughout to shift from scene to scene, with a blend of modern and ancient images of Mexico.  Whether a study of the beautiful and varied music of this land or a close look at a complicated and equally varied people, this lively, warm film is full of energy. The music propels the narrative forward as the audience immerses itself in all things Mexican.

 

 

Kon Tiki, directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning

(In Norwegian, with English subtitles, or in English alone)

I read Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki more years ago than I care to admit, but while the book dates me, the narrative itself will never age.  The daring of the young Norwegian explorer is breathtaking, as he and five other men sailed off into the Pacific from South America on a balsa-wood raft, to prove that Polynesians may have originated from that continent, rather than Asia.  Although Heyerdahl’s theory is probably wrong, his adventure lives on.  Now there is a new movie, filmed twice, done once in Norwegian and then each scene redone in English, and it is full of that same adventure, with storms, sharks, and men facing possible death on a vast ocean.  They traveled well over 4,000 miles, alone, with little radio contact and certainly no help from the world of ships and solid land, a world too far away to help out if help would have ever been needed.  Be sure to watch the Norwegian version for its own nuanced take on matters, but enjoy the English version as well if you wish.

 

A Man Vanishes, directed by Shohei Imamura

(In Japanese, with English subtitles)

Shohei Imamura sought to discover what it is that connects people, in this documentary about a man who disappeared, who disconnected himself from the world he knew.  Tadashi Oshima vanished in 1965, leaving behind friends, relatives, and co-workers, all equally baffled.  Imamura wonders how it is that a man could disappear in a land so small and so full of others, yet Oshima was never seen again.  This documentary explores his disappearance, but more than that, it takes a look at the people previously connected to him, who seem at once a part of his life and not a part of it.  Yoshie Hayakawa, for example, dated him, and then we are surprised to find out that she is in fact his fiancée, a much deeper relationship.  Others knew him for various lengths of time, but not one friend or co-worker seems to have known what motivated him. Some speculate that he embezzled funds from his company. Did he?  And was Hayakawa truly his fiancée?  The more extensive the interviews develop, the fuzzier the portrait of a man vanished becomes.  What we see and hear serves to further the mystery rather than to clarify it.

New Release Tuesday – November 12

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Angelina Ballerina Twirling Tales

Barbara

Barney Perfectly Purple

Blackfish

Chuggington – Chief Wilson

Dexter Final Season

IP Man: the final fight

Last Days of Man – Top 10 Doomsday Scenarios

Man of Steel

Paradise

Paradise Season 1

Silk Season 1

The Attack

The Citizen

Turbo

Newly Requestable DVDs – November 5

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Adult DVDs

12 rounds 2 reloaded

42 : The Jackie Robinson Story

6 souls

Dead Man Down

Erased

Evil Dead

Filly Brown

G.I. Joe. Retaliation

Ginger & Rosa

Identity Thief

Love and Honor

Solomon Kane

Spring Breakers

Temptation : Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

The Girl

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Marine 3 Homefront

Trance

Twixt

Welcome to the Punch

 

Juvenile DVDs

An American girl: Saige Paints the Sky

Angelina Ballerina: Mousical Medleys

Arthur Stands Up to Bullying

Barney:  Imagine with Barney

The Cat In the Hat Knows a lot About That : Show & Tell Sure is Swell!

The Smurfs:  Smurfs to the Rescue!

Veggie tales.: MacLarry & the Stinky Cheese Battle

Wiener Dog Nationals

Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Best of Daizy

New Release Tuesday – November 5

Monday, November 4th, 2013

New Release Tuesday, November 5:

As I Lay Dying

Bratz Babyz Save Christmas

Care Bears the Great Giving Holiday

Clear History

Girl Most Likely

Grown Ups 2

Lovelace

Mad Men Season 6

Magic City Season 2

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Nazi Megaweapons

Parkland

Passion

Renoir

Smurfs: A Magical Smurf Adventure

The Purge

Under the Dome

White House Down

Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year