By: James Smith
Here at the Daily Lounge, we have a healthy love of all movies, but we particularly like indulging our pretentious side and talking about how we’re just, like, SO over the New Wave and how the early Bulgarian directors are horribly underrated. Which is to say: we like foreign movies. Here, in no particular order, are the ones we’re most excited for this year:
Amour, English title: Love, like most of the films on this list, doesn’t yet have a distribution deal in the United States, so there’s no telling when we’ll actually be able to see it. Nonetheless, the winner of this year’s Cannes Film Festival looks to be right in a cinephile’s wheelhouse: it’s about an elderly couple who are retired music teachers, one of whom suffers a stroke. Yes, it’s likely to be deathly depressing, but given the pedigree — director Michael Haneke’s Palme D’Or was his second in three years — we’re sure it’s going to be great.
South Korean director Kim Ki-duk is best known for 2003’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, an elegiac examination of a monk’s life at a monastery in a forest. Well, guys, Pieta’ promises to be much, much weirder: it glosses highly symbolic Christian iconography onto a story about a loan shark enforcer who comes into contact with his long-lost mother. Also, there’s apparently a whole lot of sex. So, almost certainly a trip — but it’s also supposed to be very good, taking home the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
The Flowers of War
The only movie on this list to have gotten a US release, Zhang Yimou’s latest film is a strange melange, alternating between Chinese and English on a dime and making sudden transitions from war story to romantic drama. It barely registered as a blip on the pop culture radar; it's also very good. The story is about a group of prostitutes that are forced to hide in a girls’ school to avoid Japanese soldiers during the Rape of Nanking; Christian Bale plays their unlikely Western protector. It was released in US theaters in January and came out one DVD and Blu-ray over the summer.
Here are two things that we know for sure: Scandinavia has these last couple years been going through a cinematic renaissance, and Mads Mikkelsen — who you probably recognize from his role as the villain in Casino Royale — is a badass. Mikkelsen has been winning praise for his performance in Jagten, The Hunt in English, in which he plays a teacher who becomes the target of mass hysteria in a Danish town after he's accused of child abuse. Color us intrigued — though we’re hesitant about director Thomas Vinterberg, who is associated with professional Nazi Lars von Trier.
[Pic via Flickr - hobvias sudoneighm]