Archive for September, 2014

The Foreign Films New to View Oct 14

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
 

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/.


Bullett Raja, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia

(In Hindi, with English subtitles)

With a running time of well over two hours, one should expect a lot of action in this buddy film about gangsters and corruption in India.  Raja is our very cool eponymous hero, who befriends Rudra at a wedding during a shootout, yes, a shootout.  From there, the two take off, blasting guns and fighting corruption or engaging in corruption, whichever  – I must admit that I lost track during the movie.  Then along comes Mitaali, beautiful and flirty, who falls for our hero.  Does he have room in his heart for a woman, with all that buddy loyalty thing going on?  I'm not sure, although does it really matter?  Great fun and, yes, lots of action.  Dhulia also directed Paan Singh Tomar, a Bollywood drama owned by HCPL.

 

The Damned, directed by René Clément

(In French, with English subtitles)

If you like war movies, this older film is a gem.  Just as Berlin is falling in 1945, only days before Hitler will commit suicide, several Nazi officials and collaborators flee in a submarine from Oslo, headed for South America, where they will set up an on-going front to the war.  A quirk of fate thrusts an innocent French physician on board as well, who is there just to care for the ill and then to be disposed of when this gang of thugs reaches its destination.  The movie was filmed almost entirely in the sub, and not surprisingly the form of the movie enhances the content, as tensions mount, submerged hatreds boil to the surface, and the pressures of the cramped quarters along with pent up rage and bitterness exlode.  The film includes historical footage from the war, which adds to the grim story, and its gritty black-and-white cinematography reflects the darkness of the characters.  HCPL has a number of DVDs directed by René Clément, including Forbidden Games, Gervaise, and Purple Noon.

 

 

The French Minister, directed by Bertrand Tavernier

(In French, with English subtitles)

Pity poor Arthur Vlaminck, the new speech writer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working directly under the Foreign Minister himself, the stately, imposing Alexandre Taillard de Worms.  Alexandre is given to abstractions when he articulates his thoughts but would prefer that his speech writer capture his ideas and make them concrete, no small task considering that his ideas can be summed up in language such as, "Legitimacy!  Unity! Efficacy!"  Huh?  On the Foreign Minister's commando team of writers, researchers, and attachés, Arthur has an ally in the person of  calm and collected Claude Maupas, a kind of spin doctor/permanent secretary.  One gets the sense that Claude has seen it all and been through it all before.   He can offer Arthur some advice and even consoling words, but it is Arthur who must wade through Alexandre's abstractions to more concrete substance.  If you favor subtlety and wit in your comedies, this is for you.  Tavernier also directed The Clockmaker and The Princess of Montpensier, owned by HCPL.

 

Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez

(In Nepalese, with English subtitles)

One of the most fascinating documentaries I've seen this year, Manakamana is a film for those with discerning tastes.  The premise is simple:  film subjects on their ride in a gondola lift up and down a mountain in Nepal as they visit a temple to the goddess Bhagwati.  They are confined passengers for about eight or nine minutes on this breathtaking journey over ravines and forests and up the steep slopes, as a stationary camera films them during the ride.  Sometimes the people talk; sometimes they are silent; sometimes they remark on the view or the shortness now of this once-long journey, sometimes they eat ice cream.  They laugh, they talk, they look in wonder at the sights below.  We the viewers are granted the privilege of riding with them, observing their expressions, listening to their comments or their silence, hearing the whisper of the mountain wind, seeing with the passengers the changes in the landscape below as the modern world encroaches on what used to be their known world.  The slow pace may not be for everyone, but for those of us who long for a few moments of quiet thought, this is a movie for us.

 

The Missing Picture, directed by Rithy Panh

(In French, with English subtitles)

This is a most unusual and striking documentary, not just because of the compelling story it depicts but also because of the format.  Rithy Panh created clay figures, not animated as in claymation but used in a stationary setting to create dioramas to tell the story, set by set, scene by scene, of his family's sufferings under the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970's.  Almost childlike in form, the figures nevertheless draw our sympathy and prick our conscience that the world did not do more to end this brutal reign of terror sooner.  The director intersperses his dioramas with propaganda footage from the Cambodian archives, allowing us to see the real-life faces of the people of a sad nation during that nightmare of Cambodian history.

  

The Rocket, directed by Kim Mordaunt

(In Thai, with English subtitles)

Ahlo, a Laotian boy, from his inauspicious birth through his first ten years, seems to be trailed by bad luck.  His very birth as a twin is itself a sign of bad luck, as even his twin brother is born dead.  His mother defies tradition and keeps the remaining live infant, despite strong, persuasive arguments from his grandmother.  As Ahlo grows, he does indeed seem to bring bad luck to his family and community.  Or maybe he just happens to be in the wrong village, designated for destruction when a new dam is built, at the wrong time.  Once his family makes the mandatory move to a dismal camp for all the displaced citizens, the struggles begin anew.  But Rocket is a hopeful movie, even funny at times, as Ahlo grows into a lively and creative child, bent on misadventure and occasional rebellion, but ultimately a good kid.  His challenge is to find a way to get enough money for his family to buy some farmland and start afresh.  One way is to enter the annual rocket contest in a nearby village to see if he can win the grand prize.  With the help of a former collaborator with the U. S. Army, and with lots of daring-do, he risks all to produce a frighteningly effective rocket, all for the love of his family.

 

 

Sister, directed by Ursula Meier

(In French, with English subtitles)

We have to keep in mind that 12-year-old Simon and his older sister Louise are just two kids, alone in the world, trying to survive.  Then we can sympathize with Simon, the little thief, who spends his days stealing expensive ski equipment from the prosperous tourists on the slopes of the western Alps.  Sometimes Louise works; more often than not she quits her jobs in anger over some slight or other, so Simon's job as a thief is what really keeps them alive. He steals food from backpacks, skis from unsuspecting tourists, and just about anything else he can lift.  Occasionally he is caught and suffers a beating or a severe scolding.  Occasionally Louise leaves him to spend time with one boyfriend or another.  But always the two of them are in great need, barely knowing how to take care of themselves or each other.  As despairing as all of this sounds – a movie about the invisible poor – it does contain a ray of hope that the two will survive to adulthood and live a better life than what is there for them now. Ursula Meier also directed Home, owned by HCPL

 

 Two Lives, directed by George Maas and Judith Kaufmann

(In Norwegian and German, with English subtitles)

Katrine is a woman living in Norway in the early 1990's, happily married to the handsome Bjarte, an intrigal part of an intergenerational family, with daughter, grandchild, and mother.  Although her origins are full of sorrow, she is brimming with joy now.  Her mother was part of the Nazi Lebensborn program in the 1930's that focused on producing children with Germans in an effort to create a master race.  Katrine's mother's relationship with a German officer was a love match, but Katrine was still taken away as a baby by the Nazis and raised in Germany.  Well after the war, she escaped from East Germany and made her way back to Norway, found her mother, and started her life.  But something is amiss and always has been.  Katrine may not be who she appears to be after all. She travels periodically to East Germany, disguises herself with a wig and sunglasses, and checks files in dark government basements.  She meets unsavory Stasi types, and she flashes back to a chase in the Norwegian woods years ago that seems to be a key to a dark past.  A story of spies and identity theft, Two Lives holds mystery and intrigue for viewers.  Co-director Judith Kaufmann also directed Vivere, owned by HCPL.

 

When I Saw You, directed by Annemarie Jacir

(In Arabic, with English subtitles)

After the Six-Day War in Palestine, thousands of Palestinians found themselves in Jordanian refugee camps, separated from family, community,  and land.  The young Tarek and his mother Ghaydaa are two of those many faces.  Tarek's father departed in another convoy and is now hopelessly lost to them.  His mother is willing to wait for her husband, searching every newly arrived truck of refugees, but Tarek is determined to make his way back to his home. This is the story of his journey.  He sets off on his own, with his mother not far behind, frantically searching for him.  The story may be soft on the Palestinian militias, whom Tarek meets on his journey, but I think we are seeing them more through Tarek's childish eyes.  When his mother catches up with him, she also finds refuge in the mountain militia camp, but their stay there is only temporary, as Tarek heads for the border, Ghaydaa right behind him, the view of their homeland within grasp.

 
To view past editions of the newsletter, see Foreign Films Archives.        



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Friday, September 26th, 2014

Are You Here?

Leprechaun: Origins

Mentalist Season 6

Mike and Molly Season 4

R.L. Stine’s Mostly Ghostly

Sniper Legacy

Space Station 76

Third Person

Transformers

24: live another day

Wild Life

New Release Tuesday – September 23

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Firestorm

Scandal Season 3

Very Good Girls

New Release Tuesday – September 16

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Alpha House Season 1

Arrow Season 2

Big Bang Theory Season 7

Bones Season 9

Castle Season 6

CSI Season 14

DCI Banks Season 2

Fault In Our Stars

Friend 2 – the legacy

German Doctor
Godzilla

Grimm Season 3

Hawaii Five-O Season 4

Ilo Ilo

Petals on the Wind

Prisoners of War Season 2

Roosevelets

Scott  & Bailey Season 2

Sleepy Hollow Season 1

Think Like a Man Too

New Release Tuesday – September 9

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Bee People

Brick Mansions

Captain America: the winter soldier

Doc McStuffins – School of Medicine

Fed Up

God’s Pocket

Goldbergs Season 1

Haunted House 2

Homeland Season 3

Hornet’s Nest
Long Way Down

Louder Than Words

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Operation Maneater

Regular Show – Rigby Pack

Sex in the Wild

Supernatural Season 9

Vampire Diaries Season 5

Words and Pictures