Friday Question of the Day

Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1988), originally uploaded by Kalos2007.

Probably like many others I was pretty hit today and decided to spend the day watching movies. I still need to get on dang netflix… So I went to Blockbuster and the new releases were less than inspiring so I decided to get three foreign films. Since the FQOTD back in October asking about movies in general was so fun I thought I’d ask specifically what is your favorite foreign film. Today I watched a French Film A Tout De Suite, which was pretty meh, I watched a Korean film, Oldboy, which was one of the most disturbing (violent and psychologically brutal) films I’ve seen in a long time. I’d recommend it if you are brave enough. Finally I watched another French film, Blame it on Fidel! which was phenomenal. I highly, highly recommend it. But to answer my own question – by far my favorite foreign film is Cinema Paradiso.

So what’s your favorite foreign film?

42 Comment

  • “Burnt By The Sun”

    brilliant and devastating.

  • Ooh, this is difficult. Do you mean foreign language film, or foreign as in not made in the United States? Because that would open it up to films like “Once” (not a fave of mine, but I liked it and I have friends who looooooved it) or “Bend it Like Beckham.”

    Cinema Paradiso would definitely be up there in terms of favorite foreign language film for me. I also liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but I think it was the visuals more than the plot.

  • mtppopfan beat me to it, I came in to make my first ever comment/post here to say “Burnt by the Sun”. Amazing and heart-wrenching, every single time.

  • Oh my, there’s no way I could narrow it to just one. Can I cheat and give you a list? Indulge me. Here are some of my faves:

    The Lives of Others
    The Band’s Visit
    Ma Vie en Rose
    All About My Mother
    Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

  • Underground, by Emir Kusterica.
    The movie is pure genius – two friends in former Yugoslavia alternately become war heroes, enslave and/or try to kill one another, profit from their beloved country’s dismantling (all key themes in many of his films).
    I used to drive friends crazy by insisting that they watch it with me. Of course, this is usually at the end of a long, drunken evening and the last thing anyone wants to do is sit through a three hour film that opens with the bombing of the Belgrade zoo.

    A close second would be Lars Von Trier’s 10-part epic The Kingdom. Not exactly a film; it was a Danish mini-series from the 90s. BUT.. this is seriously the most amazing bit of scariness you’ll ever see. Haunted ambulances, scary monster babies, and a greek chorus in the form of two hospital dishwashers with Down’s Syndrome. Pure brilliance!

  • ‘Life is Beautiful’

    tragic and powerful

  • Two of my favorites are The Battle of Algiers and Europa Europa.

  • Oldboy is definitely a modern classic. Rififi is probably my favorite foreign film that I’ve ever seen followed closely by Hana-Bi (fireworks)

  • Le Placard (The Closet) is my favorite foreign comedy. It’s about a guy who pretends to be gay to keep his job. Includes a stellar performance by Gérard Depardieu.

    Kagemusha is my favorite foreign epic. One of Kurosawa’s best pictures, it’s the story of a thief that looks like the shogun and gets recruited to take his place when the shogun dies.

  • “Last Tango In Paris.”

  • I also liked Last Tango in Paris and the more recent L’auberge espagnole.

  • Like many things, this answer comes in threes.

    1. SANTA SANGRE… it’s Alejandro Jodorowsky’s emotionally wracked psychological allegorical surreal masterpiece. It will saturate your brain with vivid hallucinations and leave you weeping on the floor like a spent ferret, holding the crippled elephant’s trunk in your hands as the blood courses from it, muttering… please… don’t die…..

    2. CHILDREN OF NATURE… it’s an Icelandic film which finds its power in being very slow and quiet and sweet, but still packs magic. And the soundtrack by Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson is gorgeous.

    3. JAI SANTOSHI MAA… One of the great Bollywoods from 1975. Very low budget, with all the exaggerated cinematography of an old Batman episode. The Hindu gods are jealous of the attention of one devotee towards upstart goddess Santoshi Maa… so the gods get all playful and wreck the devotee’s life to try to break her faith. It would be worth it alone for the insane rubber-headed Ganesh, but it really is a great story and the songs are among the best in Bollywood.

    Only problem is, the first two aren’t available as NTSC DVDs. Both are PAL and would require one hell of a hunt via the web. Jai Santoshi Maa can be found on NTSC DVD at many of the Bolly shops in Langley Park.

  • “Carandirú” by Hector Babenco

    “Abre los ojos” by Alejandro Amenabar

    “Atame” by Pedro Almodovar

    “Fresa y Chocolate” by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

  • City of God
    Life is Beautiful

    I also enjoyed Pan’s Labrinth.

    Pretty safe picks, but good all the same.

  • “Sweet Sixteen” — a heartbreaking modern Scottish movie

  • Looks like I will be echoing others… I am thinking of “foreign language” vs. simly “not made in US”:

    Germany – “The Lives of Others”
    Italy: “Cinema Paradiso”
    Mexico: “Like Water for Chocolate”
    China “Raise the Red Lantern”
    France/Poland: “Blue”
    France: “Amelie”
    China” Green Tea”


  • Everyone has touched on some very good foreign movies. I saw Slumdog Millionaire last night, not exactly foreign, but very good.

    I might add:
    any Pedro Almodovar film
    any Ingmar Bergman film
    Reprise – a Norwegian film released last year that is perhaps the best film I’ve seen in a few months (and I see a lot of movies)
    8 1/2 – Frederico Fellini
    Amores Perros
    Eat Drink Man Woman
    Maria Full of Grace
    Goodbye, Lenin

    OK, I like movies, especially foreign ones.

  • Two great ones from India, one in Hindi, one in English:

    Salaam Bombay is about a young boy living on the streets in Bombay (now Mumbai) and his struggle to find his way in the world.

    Monsoon Wedding is more up beat than Salaam Bombay and is the story of two Indian families preparing for the wedding of their children. It has a beautiful soundtrack and costumes.

    My descriptions are probably not enough to entice anyone to watch them, but I highly recommend googling the titles and read a review from experts.

  • a REALLY difficult task, but i’d have to put in the running:

    1. The Tin Drum — Volker Schlondorf’s cinematic masterpiece based on Gunter Grass’ book of the same name. Oskar, a little German Boy who decides at the outset of WWII not to grow up, so he throws himself down a staircase, resulting in an injury which prevents him from growing. the film covers the span of WWII through the experiences of this child. a visual and allegorical tour de force.

    2. Anything with Werner Herzog directing and Klaus Kinski acting (Fitzcaraldo; Aquirre, Wrath of God; Nosferatu)– Herzog’s obsession with man vs. nature and Klaus Kinski’s manic psychosis combine for some of the most incredible cinema of all time.

    3. Au Revoir Les Enfants– Louis Malle’s pseudo-biographical tale of a catholic boy’s school in WWII France trying to hide a handful of Jewish boys from the Nazis. inspired by Malle’s own expriences as a child under the Nazi occupation, it is both harrowing and enlightening.

    4. The Battleship Potemkin– Eisenstein’s brilliant 1925 film about the 1905 revolt by Russian sailors that ultimately helped spark the Revolution. Both textbook example of montage editing and vivid story-telling. and there are multiple scenes that have been robbed by other great directors (ex: the baby carriage slowly rolling down a long, broad flight of stairs–see De Palma’s “the Untouchables,” for one)

    5. Smilla’s Sense of Snow– gorgeously shot (and with the equally gorgeous Julie Ormand) story of a half-Inuit woman who, as a child, was brought back to Denmark against her will by her Danish father. when an Inuit boy is found dead after falling (or being thrown) from the roof of an apartment building in Copenhagen, Smilla seeks to fidn the truth about his death.

    6. Diva–brilliant film by Jean-Jacques Beineix about a young mail carrier who illegally records a performance by an opera singer (played by the beautiful and angelic-voiced Wilhelmenia Fernandez), then gets the tape mixed up with evidence that could incriminate gangsters. Also features Dominique Pinon in one of his earliest roles (best known stateside as a regular in the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet–Amelie, City of Lost Children, Delicatessen…all of which should also be in this list of best foreign films…).

    7. Anything directed by Sergio Leone, the Italian master of the spaghetti western. in addition to his more well known Eastwood trilogy (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More), and “My Name is Nobody” with Henry Fonda, the best western (and IMHO, one of the best films of any genre) of all time, “Once Upon a Time in the West” was written and directed by this genius. i daresay the finest scene in cinema may be the opening 5 minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West.”

  • I think some obvious ones are missing here, because I’m surprised to be the first to be writing some of these:

    Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), Vittorio De Sica
    – neo-realism at its finest. this film made films like Life is Beautiful possible. simple, and beautiful but heart-wrenching all at once.

    Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly), Sergio Leone
    – what can be said? THE Spaghetti Western. Sergio Leone’s landscape in the deserts of Spain rivals anything John Ford did with the American West. Eastwood at his best. and can a SDTK be more iconic??? Morricone is the master.

    Pierrot Le Fou/A Bout De Souffle (Breathless), Jean-Luc Godard
    – JLG is my favorite director and French New Wave is my favorite film movement stylistically. These two films kind of exist parallel to each other for me, like they are related. It almost seems like Godard went two separate ways at a crossroads in one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books, yet both end just as tragically with a jab of cynicism and spite. Its remarkable to realize how the way JLG directs is just conducive to making his stars so iconic (Seberg, Karina, Belmondo, Bardot, Leaud).

    Chungking Express, Wong Kar-Wai
    – A masterpiece of cinematic storytelling, this film unfolds colorfully like a Chinese folk tell set in the fast-paced, urban lights of modern day Hong Kong. Beautiful city film.

    Il Deserto Rosso, Michelangelo Antonioni
    – Another film where splashes of color and sound, especially amongst Antonioni’s cool, dystopic backdrop, are striking. Alienating and emotionally distant, this film is somehow captivating. Maybe because Monica Vitti is stunning.

  • Volver (Almodovar)
    Dhoom 2 (cheesy but highly entertaining Bollywood film)

    other good pics:
    Monsoon Wedding (India)
    Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba)
    The Iron Ladies (Thailand)
    Water (India)
    City of God (Brazil)
    Persepolis (Iran)

  • Euro-Sluts 12

  • Lives of Others, Goya’s Ghosts

    (On a not-foreign note, I watched “Adam & Steve” last night and it was surprisingly hilarious… that’s my recommendation for a brainless rom-com when you need one.)

  • saf

    I could type all day, as I love movies and see as many as possible. So, trying to keep it short, here we go:
    The Seventh Seal –
    (ok, really, ANY Bergman)
    The Lives of Others –
    The Red Violin –
    Wings of Desire –
    Blue –
    White –
    Red –
    A Very Long Engagement –
    Fireman’s Ball –
    Year of the Devil –

    I have to stop now, or I will type all afternoon. I do so love movies.

  • Ashes of Time – Wong kar-wai

  • There are some great 1970s Australian movies – some of my favorite movies ever:

    My Brilliant Career
    Picnic at Hanging Rock

    and for a sappy romantic teenager (it came out when I was in high school), A Room With a View was the best movie ever!!

  • Smilla’s Sense of Snow is based on a novel that is also very good, if anyone is looking for a book rec.

    These are some great recommendations; I think I’m ready to revive my long-dormant Netflix membership.

  • for aussie films, i’d recommend the proposition, the last wave, momento, gallipoli, mad max (the whole trilogy, really) and breaker morant.

  • Ah! My kinda topic!

    My favorites:

    The Russian Ark … absolutely BEAUTIFUL. A walk through the Hermitage Museum and Russian history!

    Raise the Red Lantern… Beautiful cinematography. Story of betrayal and eny; set in China. S

    Warm Water Under a Red Bridge … One man’s quest to find a lost “treasure” LOL

    Tampopo… One woman’s quest for the perfect noodle soup recipe

    Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker… The forbidden fruit is always sweet. LOL

  • In the Mood for Love directed by Kar Wai Wong. The Cantonese title is Fa yeung nin wa. One of the best movies I have ever seen…Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are amazing in it as two people scorned by their spouses infidelity. Absolutely amazing.

  • The best most recent foreign film I’ve seen was City of God, but I also really enjoyed Russian Ark.

    My favorite all-time foreign films are basically anything by Trouffaut and then a tie between Wild Stawberries and Smiles of a Summer Night.

    I’m also a sucker for a Man and a Woman.

  • I have to agree, Amy. I LOVE that movie and can watch it over and over 🙂

  • “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” – based on the Allen Sillitoe short story. Brilliant British film – and yes, it requires subtitles because the cockney is so thick.

  • Amy’s got it right about Wong Kar Wai. I recommend seeing the loose trilogy: first Days of Being Wild, then In the Mood For Love, and then 2046. I can’t pick between the first two; they’re both so good. 2046 is interesting and it’s in the same vein, but it’s a slight second favorite.

    Just tonight, I watched Tampopo. SUCH a great movie. It’s about much more than noodles. It’s a love affair with food and with old movies. And so funny.

    But I have to disagree with the pick of Raise the Red Lantern. Left me cold.

  • I love films by Wong Kar Wai as well, although my favorite of his is “Chungking Express.”

    “Infernal Affairs” is awesome (it’s the ‘original’ of “The Departed” and better than the American remake).

    If you’re looking for something light, fun, yet full of substance, I recommend “L’Auberge Espanol” and its sequel “Russian Dolls.” I love both.

    If you want something that will blow your socks off, then watch “La Haine.” It leaves your heart racing.

  • “Diva” is in my mind a perfect gem of a film.

  • ‘Kitchen Stories’ from Sweden (2003)
    ‘Cache’ from France (2005)
    ‘The Eel’ from Japan (1997)
    ‘The Man Who Copied’ from Brazil (2003)
    Das Boot…!!!!

  • For all those who said City of God (Cidade de Deus), that is a magnificent movie, nevertheless, I would check Carandiru, another Brazilian flick about the Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo. I believe this is even better. Another Brazilian film I would recommend is O que e isso, companheiro? which was translated as Four Days in September in English and is about urban guerrilla in the crazy 70’s in Brazil.


  • Four Days in September is actually playing on the Indie Network (on Comcast Channel 167) and i think is one of the free On Demand movies on Comcast as well. next showings are on THursday at 10:30 am and 5:30 pm.

  • OldBoy was definately insane! Has anyone seen the other two movies in this revenge trilogy? Lady Vengeance or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance? I have not seen them yet and was wondering what you all thought about them.

    My other favorites:

    Pan’s Labyrinth / El Laberinto del Fauno El
    The Orphanage / El Orfanato

  • Canada – The Barbarian Invasions
    France – so many…recently saw “Un Conte de Noel” which was awesome
    Poland – the classic “Seks Misja” is hilarious

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