Cinema Clash podcast: Radioactive; Yes, God, Yes; The Rental

Currently browsing the "Foreign" category.

Review: The Painted Bird

Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s novel, The Painted Bird is a brutal tale of a young nameless boy’s fight to survive on his own during World War II in the wilds of Eastern Europe. He’s beaten and abused wherever he turns, and all he wants to do is find home, though he doesn’t really know where that is. And as he makes his way towards that imagined home, he grows more and more hardened and more like the people he meets, scared and mistrustful of the world at large. Though it takes place during the war, the conflict is distant even if the effects are all around The Boy. While it’s beautifully shot in black and white, it’s also 169 minutes long and essentially a litany of horrors. It’s not a film for the masses.

Quickie review: The Tobacconist

In this coming-of-age story, set mostly in Vienna just as the Nazis are rising, 17-year-old Franz (Simon Morzé) arrives from the countryside to work at a tobacco shop owned by his mother’s old flame Otto Trsnjek (Johannes Krisch). He’s a kind man and takes to Franz immediately, teaching him the ropes of the place. And who should walk through the doors but one of his regular customers, Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz, Wings of Desire, Downfall) who also takes to Franz and gives him advice on finding love.

Review: The Truth (La Vérité)

Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s follow-up to his award winning Shoplifters could not be more different. No longer set in his home country Japan, The Truth is a mother-daughter drama set in a lovely Paris house where an aging actress and her grown daughter come together for the launch of the mother’s memoirs. That the mother is played by the inestimable Catherine Deneuve and the daughter by the equally talented Juliette Binoche makes it a pleasure to watch, despite its fairly well-trodden storyline.

Review: Babyteeth

In this wonderfully dark dramedy from down under, Milla (Eliza Scanlen – Little Women) is a cancer stricken 16-year-old who falls for free spirited drug dealer Moses (Toby Wallace) much to the horror of her parents who only want to shield her from everything bad for whatever time she has left. But it is that relationship that keeps her going and ultimately brings them all to a place of acceptance. It’s a funny and touching and surprising film full of great performances.

Review: Lucky Grandma

This dark comedy set mainly in New York’s Chinatown begins with curmudgeonly chain-smoker Grandma (Tsai Chin – Joy Luck Club, Casino Royale) visiting LeiLei the Fortune Teller (Wai Ching Ho – Hustlers). Her reading predicts a most auspicious day. So Grandma immediately empties her bank account and heads to a nearby casino. But it’s on the ride home to New York where things takes a truly fortuitous turn when a bag full of money literally drops in her lap, kicking the film into action, as Grandma becomes the target of one of Chinatown’s dangerous triads who want it back. Fortunately for Grandma, she’s a no-nonsense widow who knows just what to do. She hires a bodyguard from the rival gang. What could possibly go wrong?

Review: Deerskin (Le daim)

This has to be one of the oddest movies I’ve seen in a long while! It’s from Quentin Dupieux the writer/director who brought us Rubber. In case you missed that one, it was about a tire named Robert that terrorizes a desert community. This time it all starts with the purchase of a deerskin fringe jacket. And it’s an equally absurd premise that somehow sustains itself for just over an hour, thanks in large part to the central character Georges being played by the marvelous Jean Dujardin (The Artist.)

Review: The Whistlers (La Gomera)

A beautiful woman. 30 million euros. A detective who’s tired of his job. All the elements of a classic thriller are present in this Romanian film noir. Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a cop in Bucharest. Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) is the femme fatale whose boyfriend Zsolt (Sabin Tambrea) is behind bars and knows where the money is hidden.  To that end she enlists the not so honest cop in a scheme that involves traveling to the Canary Islands to learn a whistling language called El Silbo Gomero that was invented by the locals and is used by the mobsters to communicate without the cops being able to understand. The plan is to use it to get the boyfriend out and make off with the dough. But of course, Cristi falls for the dame, and things don’t go exactly as planned.

Review: Bacurau (Nighthawk)

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Brazil is a village called Bacurau. It’s cut off from the world. They have to truck in water and supplies. But the people live their everyday lives pretty normally. Then strange things start to happen. The town disappears from maps. Their cell signal is gone. Their water supply truck arrives with bullet holes in it. And then a couple on motorcycles appear. Turns out they’re part of a gang of blood-thirsty tourists who aim to use the town for target practice. They chose the wrong town.

Review: Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo)

Based on a true story, Corpus Christi is the tale of 20-year-old Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) who, just sprung from a violent juvenile detention center and heading for a new job, decides to visit the local church and stumbles into becoming the new priest for the small Polish town. It’s the story of his redemption, but also that of his new flock, a community healing from a tragedy that has divided them against themselves. Once he’s committed to the ruse as the impostor Father Tomasz, Daniel slips into the cassock and wings it well enough to fool the whole town. It’s not a con, so much as a calling. And you’re just wondering how long he can get away with it.

Review: Incitement

Talk about a film that is hard to watch! In this political thriller, you’re watching the evolution of assassin Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi), a law student who decides that it is religiously justified to murder Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because he is signing a peace treaty with the Palestinians. It was in September 1993 that Rabin sat down with PLO Chairman Arafat and President Clinton and hammered out the Oslo Accords, sending the Orthodox Israelis into the streets to protest the agreement because it was giving up territories they believed were theirs by God-given right. Incitement is a film that takes you inside the ultra-Orthodox community where all question of right and wrong are vetted by rabbis, and their view is that Rabin is a traitor to the Jewish people and murder is justified. And while it may take place a couple of decades ago, it doesn’t seem like much has changed in Israel or many other places around the world where extremist ideology can subvert democracy. It’s a scary movie.