Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Top 10 Foreign Language Films

These are my favorite non-English films. Not only is a ranked list like this far too short, but those eliminated are just as good (shown after the top 10), each a classic in its own right. This was done for the "toptenz.net" site, so I was limited to just ten selections. Click a title for the individual film's review at 1000 DVDs to See. Note: Toptenz.net will publish the full article, look for it there, this is the short version. 1. Hero (Zhang Yimou, China, 2002) - Terrific action and script, about three assassins and the King of Q'in. Top grossing film in Chinese history is the best for actor Jet Li and director Yimou, who directed the Olympic ceremonies in Beijing. Required an assistant director just for the dazzling martial arts sequences. 2. The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) - Lengthy action epic about seven dishonored samurai helping a tiny village defend themselves against a gand of bandits. This b&w classic still looks modern and inspired many other films. 3. Cinema Paradiso (Guiseppe Tornatore, Italy, 1988) - Heart-warming Italian romantic comedy, an homage to cinema. A kid in a Sicilian village grows up under the influence of the town's projectionist, then grows up to be a movie director in Rome. Oscar® for foreign film. 4. Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri, France, 1986) - Released together but in two parts, this French epic is that country's most fully realized epic film, about small farmers in Provence and the importance of water and greed on all their lives. Yves Montand's best part, at the end of his career; the first film features Gérard Depardieu in the title role. 5. City of God (Fernando Meirelles with Katia Lund, Brazil, 2002) - Terrific docudrama look and feel of street violence and gangs in Brazil's worst slum, built for the homeless and given the ironic title. Four Oscar nominations, inlcuding director for Merielles. Visually quoted by Danny Boyle in Slumdog Millionaire, a film obviously influenced by City. 6. The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1970) - Classic about the dangers of conforming for selfish reasons, in this case with the Italian fascist government of Mussolini. Jean-Luis Trintingant's best, dazzling cinematography by Vittorio Storraro, led to his being used by Coppola for the Godfather films, which this heavily influenced. 7. Kolya (Jan Sverak, Czech Republic, 1996) - Oscar-winning heart warmer about an aging cellist, played by the director's father Zdenek who also wrote the screenplay, who marries to help a Russian woman emigrate and ends up with a terrific stepson (a great child performance) as an unexpected bonus. Oscar® for foreign film. 8. Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair, India, 1988) - Nair's first feature film after making documentaries, inspired by and about Bombay's street kids, whose indominable spirit led to this film, the profits of which were used to build centers for orphaned street kids. One of the few works of art that has caused social changes. 9. Chungking Express/Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong, 1994) - Intended as one film, but cut into two due to length, this is Wong Kar-Wai's crime action classic, a dazzling and hypnotic display of cinematic innovation. Inspired Tarentino's Pulp Fiction, stylistically tame by comparison. 10. Carmen (Carlos Suara, Spain, 1983) - the flamenco dance version of Bizet's classic opera is my favorite dance film and Spanish film. It mirrors the story of Carmen in a dance troupe rehearsing to perform their flamenco version of Bizet's opera. Choreography by star Antonio Gades, who worked with Suara on three dance films. Without a limit, these would have been in there also: L'avventura (Antonioni, Italy, 1960) Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, Italy-France, 1968) L'america (Amelio, Italy, 1996) The Lives of Others (von Donnersmarck, Germany, 2007, Oscar® for foreign film.) Diva (Bieniex, France, 1982) La Grande Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937) Good Bye Lenin! (Becker, Germany, 2003) Nowhere in Africa (Caroline Link, Germany, 2001, Oscar® for foreign film, defeating Hero.) Zelary (Andres Trojan, Czech Republic, 2003) Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, Russia, 1925, silent)

1 comment:

Nicolas Prudhon said...

The 7 samurais is definitely a classic, and inspired many American remakes later.