There are big movies and there are little movies. I mean that entirely in the sense of budget and release, promotion and theatrical scope. In the United States we talk most about our wide studio releases, then homegrown smaller independent films and the big-name foreign imports. But that leaves quality filmmaking to fall through the cracks. Movies that, for one reason or another, no one seems to be talking about. There are overlooked gems, and then there are the deep cuts. The homegrown niche dramas, the Irish horror flicks, the Latin American comedies, the Scandinavian experiments in nonfiction? This year saw some extraordinary unheralded work from abroad, alongside some excellent films that came from unexpected domestic places. Here are thirteen of them.


disc lore

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Lore WWII has come to an end, and as the Allies work their way across Germany five orphaned children are forced out on a journey of their own. Raised by Hitler-loving parents, the kids, led by the teenage Hannalore (Saskia Rosendahl), find their beliefs a detriment as they struggle to survive an inhospitable landscape. Things grow even more complicated when a young Jewish man appears to come to their rescue. This beautifully scored and shot drama was Austria’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and it’s a winner on all counts (except for the actual Oscars of course where it failed to get nominated). Rosendahl does strong work as a teen coming of age under incredible circumstances. Director Cate Shortland‘s film tells a personal story, but it also offers insight into humanity as a whole. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette]


review lore

“You must remember who you are,” a mother tells her daughter as she leaves the nest. In so many other films this would be an inspirational touchstone, the guiding light for a child thrown into the adult world all too soon. “There’s no place like home” comes to mind. Yet Lore, Australian director Cate Shortland‘s powerful sophomore feature, gives us no such comfort. The mother offering the advice is a woman on the run, her husband a high-ranking Nazi officer wanted by the Americans. It is the spring of 1945, Hitler is dead, and European identity has never been more fluid or fragile. Hannelore (Saskia Rosendahl) is the eldest of five children, now left without parents as World War Two comes to a chaotic and violent conclusion. Beside her is younger sister Liesel, twin boys Günther and Jürgen, and baby Peter. Lore’s only option is to lead them 900 kilometers north from the Black Forest to their grandmother’s home in Husum, crossing three borders that did not exist just a few months before. These children, products of the Hitler Youth and their parents’ fervently Fascist generation, step into the tumultuous partition of their country as everything they have ever known and believed in comes crashing down.

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published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.23.2015

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