Feature Blogs

10 Great Foreign Language Films

Created on Tuesday, 16 May 2006 21:00
Written by Matthew Toomey

 

Two weeks ago, I gave the new French film Hidden my highest grading, an A+. Plus, the Cannes Film Festival kicks off this week (which I previewed a few weeks ago). So I thought the best subject to talk about this week is foreign language films. I’ve seen so many in the past five years and I thought I’d share my top 10.

 

Yeah, I know it’s another one of my “lists” but I can’t think of a better way of doing it. So I’ll be a little different this time and not put them in any particular order. They are all awesome, fairly recent and should be seen.

 

Hidden (French – 2005)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

A married couple are terrorized by a series of videotapes planted on their front porch.”

 

From my review:

With five minutes, this film had grabbed me by the back of the neck and wasn’t letting go. Hidden is two hours of increasing, unrelenting suspense. Director Michael Haneke’s ability to create tension is what separates the film from your usual thriller.”

 

Turtles Can Fly (Kurdish – 2004)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“Near the Iraqi-Turkish border on the eve of an American invasion, refugee children like 13-year-old Kak, gauge and await their fate.”

 

From my review:

“I am told it is the first major film to be filmed in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. This is great to see but it doesn’t impact my review in anyway. Regardless of the circumstances of how it came to be, this a superb film with a big heart.”

 

The Motorcycle Diaries (Spanish – 2004)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life's calling.”

 

From my review:

It’s a magnificently uplifting film and I can remember walking away from the theatre with a real sense of pleasure.

 

Spirited Away (Japanese – 2001)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.”

 

From my review:

Watching this film reminded me of when I was a kid. A time when both before and after school, I religiously watched my beloved cartoons. Spirited Away certainly isn’t a leader in animation technology, but it set a new benchmark in animation storytelling.

 

Y Tu Mama Tambien (Spanish – 2001)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.”

 

From my review:

Cuaron’s style is quite special. The narrator plays a key role in the film and is used to explain each character’s past as a guide to assessing their motives.”

 

The Spanish Apartment (French, Spanish, Danish, German, Italian – 2002)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“A straight laced French student moves into an apartment in Barcelona with a cast of six other characters from all over Europe. Together, they speak the international language of love and friendship.”

 

From my review:

The Spanish Apartment is a film which captures and enthuses on the screen all those emotions that cannot be put into words. The trepidation of leaving home, the intrigue of other cultures, the complications of love, the importance of friendships and the invaluable qualities of true life experiences. Writer/director Cedric Klapisch tells an honest story perfectly balanced against light hearted comedy and scene stealing one-liners.”

 

Talk To Her (Spanish – 2003)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“Two men share an odd friendship while they care for their girlfriends who are both in deep comas.”

 

From my review:

“I’m not divulging any more regarding the conclusion but Pedro Almodovar has made another superb film. He writes rich, intricate stories that are a cut above most others. Stunning cinematography and a stirring film score add to this wonderful example of storytelling. It’s a moving drama with an ending to die for.”

 

City Of God (Portugese – 2002)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

“Two boys growing up in a violent neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.”

 

From my review:

Over 100 children were used in feature roles and they all became close friends thanks to the numerous acting workshops that were held to help them prepare. Their closeness to the story, and the fact the film is shot in the actual town, heightens the realism.”

 

Downfall (German – 2004)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.”

 

From my review:

“It gives different interesting insight into a man who history has labelled a monster. The highlight is the performance of Bruno Ganz in the leading role.”

 

No Man’s Land (French, German, Serbo-Croatian – 2001)

 

Plot description from the Internet Movie Database:

Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1993 at the time of the heaviest fighting between the two warring sides. The two Bosnian soldiers, Nino and Ciki, wander into the no man's land and become the victims of bombing.”

 

From my review:

I didn’t write one. I don’t know why. But it’s damn good nevertheless!