My Top 10 Foreign Movies

If you know me well, then i'll probably have blabbered to you already about how much I love this film. Victoria is set in the urban streets of Berlin, directed by Sebastian Schipper - all shot in one continuous take (just watch it if you don't believe me). Though the majority of the movie is spoken in English, there is of course dialogue in German (subtitled) giving it a more authentic and realist feel. The lead character, Victoria comes from Madrid therefore English is not her first language, likewise to the German guys she meets and interacts with - the imperfect and spontaneous dialogue between the characters makes you really feel like this is all happening in real time, right in front of you and that you are there with them experiencing it too.

Ah what a great movie this is. I've watched it numerous times now and enjoy it equally, if not more, every single time. Amélie, shot by Jean-Pierre Jeunet -  tells the story of a young woman who subtly orchestrates the lives of those around her, creating a world of her own. We get to see Paris in several different locations through the eyes and ears of Amélie. The film is fun, thoughtful and has so much going on which eventually falls into place and makes sense by the end of the film. If you love your French movies, you will adore this!

City of God
City of God was shot by both, Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund on the poverty stricken favelas of Rio de Janeiro. This doesn't really feel like a movie, more like a real life documentary of the lives of the residents of Rio. All locations used in this film are 100% authentic and some of the characters were in fact residents of the favelas including the Cidade de Deus itself. There weren't any characters I recognised watching this film, nor was there anything that felt constructed or fake about it - and I think the use of these young and unknown actors and the authentic locations make this a superb realist film. City of God conveys the atmosphere of the shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro to the audience so convincingly, the film is beautifully shot and is overall a masterpiece.

Cinema Paradiso
The first time I saw this film was on a dvd my dad got for free with a newspaper and I completely fell in love with it straightaway. The movie is shot in 1988, Italy, by Giuseppe Tornatore and tells the story of Salvatore, a filmmaker who recalls his childhood and how he fell in love with cinema at his local village's theatre. We go back to when he formed a close friendship with the theatre's projectionist and how Salvatore discovered his love for movies. Similarly to previous films mentioned, there are no Hollywood actors, no crazy special effects - just pure emotions, nostalgia of youth and childhood and a lovely story. A deeply moving and sweet movie that must be watched!

La Haine
One of my favourite French films. Shot contrastingly in black and white in 1995 by Mathieu Kassovitz - La Haine is quite truthfully a cinematic masterpiece. I have seen this a handful of times, and there SO many things to see in this film. We studied this last year on my French Cinema module and I picked up on so many parts of the film i'd never noticed before. There are so many things placed in the movie for you to spot and interpret your own meaning behind it - the use of music, cinematography and how Paris is conveyed to us through the eyes of the three lead characters lets you see the darker, urban side to Paris from the perspective of the group. Again (yes...), there aren't many actors you will be quite familiar with, except Vincent Cassel, giving the movie this more lifelike, documentary feel.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour
I only watched this very recently after hearing about it for so long, I decided to dedicate just over 3 hours - yes three hours - to finally watching this movie. Though it may seem like forever, I felt like it didn't last as long as it actually was. All french spoken (subtitled ovbs), we follow the life of Adèle - who is so naturally beautiful, it kinna makes me wanna cry - who is discovering her sexuality in her teen years and realises she is dissatisfied with the relationship she's having with a boy at school and calls it off. One evening she goes to a gay bar and meets Emma (Lea Seydoux), the blue haired art student who she instantly falls for. The film explores the difficulties Adèle faces coming to terms with her love for this woman at such a young age and finding out what she wants to be and who she wants to be with.

The 400 Blows
Another French film I studied at university and shot by François Truffaut - Les 400 coups - is about a young Parisian boy - the confused, troubled and unloved - Antoine. His life is filled with complications where he is surrounded by adults that don't fully listen to or understand him - including his inconsiderate parents and teachers that constantly punish him for being a troublemaker. He spends his days with his best friend, Rene to escape his reality for a better life. However, one of Antoine and Rene's pranks goes too far and get's them in trouble - I really enjoy how the movie explores Antoine's difficult childhood and how the actor's every movement, thought, expression all come across as completely natural - it's really impressive 'acting' from such a young boy.

I can only imagine how challenging it must be to perform in an biographical film, pretending to be someone so iconic and trying to make it feel as authentic and close to the real thing as possible. However, in Frida, Salma Hayek's performance as Frida Kahlo was so convincing and genuine. You learn everything about Frida including her many entangled romantic relationships with men and women, how she overcame her painful injuries and how it opened her up to creativity and painting and a whole lot more. If you've ever wanted to know more about the famous painter herself then this film will tell you it all through beautiful visuals, emotion and dialogue.

The Kite Runner
I've seen this movie only once, maybe twice - so I think I need a refresher but for me, also after reading the book as well, this story really stood out to me. The Kite Runner is about Amir and Hassan - who are inseparable best friends both growing up in Kabul. Reflecting back on his life as an adult living in California, Amir is still haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed Hassan's trust. He later discovers that the Taliban has murdered both his best friend and his wife which leads him to return to Kabul to discover the fate of the couple's son. The Kite Runner is a rollercoaster of emotions and you can really connect with these two characters and their friendship.

Lastly, another French new wave movie! This time by Jean-Luc Godard, and written by François Truffaut - A bout de souffle - is about Michel, who has stolen a car and murdered a motorcycle policemen. To escape from the authorities, he reunites with old flame, Patricia, an American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy. There are both things I love and dislike in this movie - I love the cinematography and stylistic use of jump cuts and use of hand-held cameras but then there is the contrary relationship between Patricia and Michel who go in and out of fancying each other, never really giving the audience the full story and changing their mind every two seconds. However, this movie is a classic of its time and a revolutionary piece by Jean-Luc Godard that is a must watch for film students and film lovers.
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