Sunday, December 28, 2014

Foreign Film Favorites 2014

The following list of films will stand comparison with any other list of top films for 2014.

Tia Morice and Paul Mercurio in Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom:  This film from Australia by famed director Baz Lurhmann is a charming romantic comedy about a championship ballroom dancer and his ugly duckling partner. The film stars Paul Mercurio and Tia Morice with a great supporting cast. Here's a link to a brief video clip, or see video box below.

Les Comperes: Renowned French stars Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu play two confirmed bachelors in search of a runaway teenager that they both believe to be their son by a youthful liason. The result is mayhem with a very touching ending.

Incantato: Director Pupi Avati won the Italian best director award for this  Poignant comedy set in the Rome and Bologna in the 1920s. Neri Marcore plays a shy and clumsy man devoted to the academic world. His lack of interest in women has become an increasing source of anxiety to his womanizing father (Giancarlo Giannini), a tailor for the Pope. He sends his son to teach in a high school in Bologna with the hopes that he will find a wife.

A Foreign Field: Two British war vets meet an American vet when all three return to Normandy on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. This disparate band of survivors eventually finds common ground in the memory of what they lost on that fateful day in 1944. This British film has an acclaimed international cast including Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, Jeanne Moreau, Loren Bacall, John Randolph, and Geraldine Chaplin.

The Captain’s Paradise: This delightful British comedy stars Alec Guinness in one of his great comedy roles as a sea captain who finds the key to perfect happiness with a woman in each port. The film also stars Celia Johnson, a fine British actress best known for her role in “Brief Encounter,” and Yvonne De Carlo before she gained fame as Mrs. Herman Munster.

Dersu Uzala: An eccentric Mongolian frontiersman  is taken on as a guide by a Russian surveying crew in the early twentieth century. While the soldiers at first perceive Dersu as a na├»ve and comical relic of an uncivilized age, he quickly proves himself otherwise with displays of ingenuity and bravery. This Russian film made by acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was the result of an arduous two year film making expedition into the far reaches of Siberia. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 1975.

The Twilight Samurai: Renowned Japanese film director Yoji Yamada’s film is set in a changing Japan of the late nineteenth century. It takes a modern look at the traditional Japanese Samurai story. Hiroyuki Sanada, one of Japan’s leading film stars, plays a low ranking, poverty stricken samurai trying to support his family. However, he is caught in the shifting turmoil of the times and ordered to confront and kill a renowned renegade warrior. Made in 2002, “The Twilight Samurai” won twelve Japanese Film Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

Shall We Dance: A middle-aged workaholic’s dull life takes a funny turn when he signs up for a ballroom dance class just to meet the beautiful dance teacher. Bur when he finally muscles up the nerve for lessons, he winds up with a different instructor and her colorfully eccentric class of beginners. Now he’ll have to step lightly if he expects to keep his dancing  (considered socially improper for a Japanese man) from his family and friends. This film should not be confused with the Hollywood remake starring Richard Gere and Jenifer Lopez. ###

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