Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Year-end film picks 2015

Alain Delon in
Le Samourai
The following is my list of top foreign films viewed this past year. The list will rival any top film list of 2015. Personally, they are all favorites of mine. The short video below shows Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel at the top of their reviewing form. They are discussing the German film classic, "M", that starred a young Peter Lorre, and Jean Pierre Melville's masterpiece, Le Samouri, which they call one of the greatest and most influential films of all time.

The Band's Visit: A fading Egyptian police band arrives in Israel to play at the Arab Cultural Center. When they take the wrong bus, the band members find themselves in a desolate Israeli village. With no other option than to spend the night with the local townspeople, the two distinctly different cultures realize the universal bonds of love, music, and life. (Israel)

Enchanted April: Stifled British wives Lottie (Josie Lawrence) and Rose (Miranda Richardson) rent an Italian villa for a husbandless vacation. Sharing the retreat are acerbic widow Mrs. Fisher (Oscar nominee Joan Plowright) and socialite Caroline d’Este (Polly Walker). The four spend a month savoring newfound freedom and the opportunity for self-discovery. This film also featured Michael Kitchen, Alfred Molina, and Jim Broadbent at the outset of their notable film careers. (England)

“12”: This powerful Russian film directed by famed director Nikita Mikhalkov is the story of a room full of jurors from all different levels of Russian society who are thrown together to determine the fate of a young man accused of murdering his stepfather. Each juror powerfully reveals his own story as they seek to discover the truth about the murder and themselves. (Russia)

The Lunch Box: In the bustling Indian metropolis of Mumbai, housewives still prepare hot lunches for their office- working husbands. A dedicated courier service delivers the lunch box right to the desk each day. The lives of two people are forever changed when one lunch box is delivered to the wrong desk. (India)

Mid-August Lunch ( Pranzo di Ferragosto): Gianni Di Gregorio stars in and directs this charming tale from Italy of great food, feisty ladies, and unlikely friendships. The setting is a weekend in a deserted Rome during the dog days of summer. (Italy)

Le Samourai: Alain Delon, who looks and acts a lot like the young Clint Eastwood, plays a contract killer with samurai instincts in this film by renowned French director, Jean-Pierre Melville. The film is a mixture of 1940s American gangster movies, 1960s French pop culture, and Japanese lone-warrior mythology. Shot is subdued color, Melville’s masterpiece defines cool. (France)

Of Gods and Men: This French film is based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibeherine in Algeria from 1993 to 1996. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear passes through the region. The army offers the monks protection, but they refuse. Should they leave? Or should they stay and continue to minister to the local Moslem community despite the growing menace in their midst? (France)

Not One Less: In the crushing poverty of rural China, a young woman is ordered to a remote village to be a substitute teacher. Barely older than her students, the shy girl is charged with keeping the class intact for a month or she won’t be paid. Faced with overwhelming family debt, her biggest little troublemaker disappears into the city to find work. The stubborn teacher, however, is determined to follow the boy and bring him back to school. The film, directed by famed Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou, is based on a true story. (China)

Note: Click here for the Siskel and Ebert video or view it below.


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