Currently browsing the "Foreign" category.

Review: Lamb

Strange doesn’t even come close to describing this folk horror flick.  Set in a remote valley somewhere in Iceland, Maria (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) go about their lives in relative silence running their sheep farm. But one day as the sheep are lambing, it all changes. Maria brings one super adorable lamb into their house and treats it as you would an infant. Soon Ingvar is moving a crib into their room and they’re both parenting the little one. And lest you think they’re total weirdos, it turns out that little Ada is in fact half-human. And suddenly their sad existence turns sunny.

Nashville Film Festival Rundown

This was my first time (virtually) attending the Nashville Film Festival.  It is close enough for me to drive over, but that was not possible this time around. They had a great slate of films spread over a week. But sadly a lot of the films I’d have loved to see were only available in person, mostly the big prestige flicks. Nevertheless, I did get to see quite a few worthy films from the comfort of my couch. Below is my rundown.

The films are: Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road; Fanny: The Right to Rock; Everybody is Looking for some Light; Poser; Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival; 7 Days; Window Boy Would Also Like To Have A Submarine; Potato Dreams; Porcupine; The Good Traitor; Huda’s Salon; Green Sea; Ayar; Luzzu.

Review: Wife of a Spy

This stylish thriller from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is set in Japan in 1940 shortly before they entered World War II. It opens with beautiful young couple making an amateur movie about betrayal. The husband Yusaku (Issey Takahashi, Kill Bill) though is in the import-export business and movie-making, just a hobby. He and his wife Satoko (Aoi Yû ) are a thoroughly cosmopolitan couple, but the prevailing winds in the country are turning anti-Western and nationalistic. Then on a business trip to Manchuria, Yusaku witnesses horrifying atrocities being committed by the Imperial Japanese Army and returns with documentary proof that he plans to share with the world. But once Satoko discovers her husband’s plan, the question becomes whether she will be loyal to him or her country.

Review: Azor

This claustrophobic drama is set in Argentina in the late 1970s, just after a military junta has taken over the country and the moneyed elite are trying to pretend that they are not scared to death. Private banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) comes to Buenos Aires from Switzerland with his wife Ines (Stéphanie Cléau) following the disappearance of his partner Keys. He’s there to shore up accounts and find out what happened. What he finds as he visits with his clients in their mansions and on their thoroughbred estates is that Keys was both loved and despised and possibly reckless. And he had a secret client that Yvan was not privvy to.

Review: Yakuza Princess

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, Yakuza Princess is an action packed martial arts thriller and story of self-discovery. A young Japanese woman with a mysterious past, an ancient and powerful Muramasa katana (sword), and an amnesiac stranger come together to right a wrong and find redemption.  Adapted from a graphic novel, the movie begins in Osaka with the massacre of an entire family, except for a little girl. Fast forward 20 years and Akemi (Japanese pop musician MASUMI) is now a grown woman, working on her martial arts skills in Brazil, unaware of her true origins. But when a disfigured stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”, Match Point) appears in her apartment just in time to save her from would-be assassins, their fates are set. What follows is a couple of hours of violence as they draw closer and closer to their truths. 

Review: Escape from Mogadishu

This based on a true story film is a nail biter. It’s the tale of North and South Korean diplomats and their  families caught in the middle of a civil war in Somalia in 1991 and their harrowing escape together. Then as now, the divided Koreans were natural enemies, but as the violence expanded and all their lives were at stake, they were able to put aside politics and work together to make their way across the war torn city to the safety of the Italian consulate and a plane home. With a stellar cast and breathtaking action, Escape from Mogadishu is a potent political thriller for foreign film aficionados.

AFIDOCS 2021: Arty Chick’s Download

This year was a distance festival. There were opportunities to be in the theaters in DC, but I chose to watch everything online from afar, on my couch. That’s a mixed blessing. No running from theater to theater. No missing something because it overlapped with another film. No frozen feet from arctic-cooled theaters. Lots of good snuggles with my dog. But also no standing in line with other festival-goers and talking about what we’ve seen and loved. No Q&A’s after the films. (There were some that were available, but it just didn’t seem the same taped from a distance.) And no watching films in some of DC’s beautiful landmarks like the National Archives. A slew of distractions that made it very different from sitting in a dark room with an audience. And for me the worst part was that I don’t have a big screen television, so some of the films were definitely shortchanged.

Nevertheless, it was a good festival and there were several films I will be thinking of for a while. The Audience Award for Best Feature went to one of my faves for sure, Storm Lake. It is a smaller film and I hope that the award will mean it gets seen by a lot more people.

The films I saw were: The First Step – Radiograph of a Family – Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer – LFG – Storm Lake –  The Neutral Ground – The One and Only Dick Gregory – Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union –  Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain – The Story Won’t Die –  Daughter of a Lost Bird –  and The Lost Leonardo.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 15

What a group of films I have for you this week! There’s an end of the world love story set in Los Angeles and a twisted sister rivalry in old Hollywood. I’ve included the quintessential DC political drama and an Italian Fascist-era classic. And there are 3 musicals: one set in Nazi-era Berlin, another about a doomed love in France, and the last, a Chinese love triangle on a film set.

 

The films are: Miracle Mile ,What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, All the President’s Men, Cabaret, The Conformist, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Perhaps Love.

Review: Les Nôtres

In the small town of Sainte-Adeline, Quebec, 13-year-old Magalie (Émilie Bierre) seems like the quintessential teenager – sullen, social media addicted, smitten with a secret boyfriend she won’t even tell her closest friends much about. But her life changes dramatically when it is discovered that she’s pregnant, and pretty far along at that. Suddenly she’s slut shamed by everyone at school, and her single mother is at wit’s end, especially because Magalie refuses to reveal the father’s name. And soon everyone is pretty certain that it’s her friend Manu (Léon Diconca Pelletier) who lives across the street with his parents,  Jean-Marc (Paul Doucet) the popular mayor of the town and his wife Chantal (Judith Baribeau). But it isn’t what it appears to be at all.

Review: Take Me Somewhere Nice

First time writer/director Ena Sendijarević is a Bosnian refugee raised in Holland and her coming-of-age road trip movie is informed by that detached perspective. It’s the story of Alma (Sara Luna Zoric), still a teen, but already grappling with womanhood. She’s a Dutch Bosnian who heads back to her homeland to see the father she never knew who’s in the hospital dying. She’s counting on her cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) to help her out, but he’s got other things to do, sort of. However, his friend Denis (Lazar Dragojevic) takes an immediate interest in her, up to a point. But when neither of them will take her to see her father she hops a bus, but gets left at a rest stop, losing her suitcase and her money. And she suddenly becomes dependent on the kindness of Bosnian strangers. And as she faces one debacle after another she moves closer and closer to finding herself.