Foreign Films

This is Spinal Tap - These Go to 11

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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If you live in a smaller town or city, far from any big cultural centers, the prospect of going out to the movies can often be pretty depressing. It’s likely that you’ve got at least one 30-theater multiplex nearby, which seems like it should do the trick, but when you look at their listings you find that 10 of their theaters are playing the new awful action movie, 10 are playing the new awful romantic comedy, and 10 are playing some sort of CG cartoon for kids. That’s fine if you go to the movies every once in a while, just to eat popcorn and play grabass in the dark with somebody special, but for people those of us serious about watching new movies, the multiplex can start to look like a bleak wasteland. Don’t give up though, there might be hope for us outlanders yet. Social tech start-ups have been changing the way we do everything over the past five years or so, from how we talk to our friends, to how we find someplace to eat, to how we catch a cab, to how we consume the news. And soon, thanks to a new service called Tugg, they might be changing the way we go to the movies. What this service does is let you set up an account, connect with other film fans, and start choosing what movies come to the theaters in your town. Think of it like a fundraising platform, but for movie screenings.

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A little over a year after jailing and banning their most famous filmmaker from making movies, Iran might win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It would be a first for the nation whose government seems to strongly dislike creativity and freedom of speech, but its entry this year, A Separation, almost seems like a sure thing. Come February, writer/director Asghar Farhadi and Iran might be standing on the winner’s podium. But it’s not a done deal yet. A Separation and 8 other films were announced last week as part of the Oscar shortlist – just one step away from becoming an official nominee. They include a Danish comedy set in Argentina, a masculine drama about the underground world of illegal bovine growth hormones in Belgium, and something marvelous from Wim Wenders. It’s, to say the least, a varied group. Except that almost all of them are dramas from writer/directors.  So, yeah. Subject matter-wise though, it’s a full spectrum. The final 5 will be announced tomorrow morning, but here first are the trailers from each of the 9 shortlisted movies from far off lands (like Canada):

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If you’ve seen the 2009 Greek release Dogtooth, then you know that Efthymis Filippou is a unique storyteller. That film, which details the lives of a family with an interesting take on child rearing, plays like an onion of crazy that makes your brain cry harder every layer of plot you peel away. If you haven’t seen Dogtooth, drop everything you’re doing and go watch that one before you read further here. It’s still streaming on Netflix…just prepare to be disturbed. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about this new movie, L. It’s a film about a man living in a car that’s set to debut at this year’s Sundance. Okay, to be more specific, it’s a film about a divorced man who lives in a car, whose family lives in another car, and who often has meetings with him in random parking lots. One of those meetings makes up the bulk of this trailer, which kind of plays like a weird microfilm. As you might imagine, this isn’t such a great way to live, even for a professional driver/honey delivery man, so the protagonist is also wrestling with the idea of giving up cars for motorcycles.

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When Luke Mullen said that Bullhead was “damn near a masterpiece,” he wasn’t exaggerating. It’s a stirring, heart-vicing film that explores the rotten depths of manhood in the no-frills world of the Belgium mafia that controls illegal bovine growth hormones. His full review is absolutely worth the read, but the short of it is that the movie is pure, grisly and fantastic. In fact, it’s already been chosen as Belgium’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, which is even more stunning because it’s the first film from Michael Roskam, and the country’s favorite go-to Awards contenders (the Dardenne Brothers) have a new film out this year (that won’t be going to the big dance). A newcomer has overthrown titans, and according to Badass Digest, Drafthouse Films has picked up the film for distribution. On top of that, they picked up fellow Fantastic Fest film Clown – the sex comedy from Denmark that sees men taking a young child on their “Tour de Pussy.” Adam Charles said that it displayed the awfulness of (some) male specimens with “one of the most pointed, extreme, and filthy senses of humor imaginable.” From Oscar nominees to raunchy foreign sex comedies, Drafthouse has picked up some great movies here, and hopefully they’ll be in theaters near you fairly soon. And no one will be texting or talking when you go.

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An import from Australia is hitting theaters soon, but will American audiences care about what goes on down under?

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Foreign Objects: A Look at Inside on DVD

Welcome to Foreign Objects, a new weekly review column covering the world of film outside the USA. I know what you’re thinking, ‘They make movies outside of Hollywood?’ The answer is yes.

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