The Attack

Best Foreign Films of 2013

Cinema is a worldwide artform, and as such many of the year’s best and most exciting films often come from overseas. Quality is no guarantee of visibility though as subtitled films rarely get a wide reception in American theaters, and worse, many don’t even make it to our shores until a year or more after opening in their own country. That’s the kind of factor that makes ranking foreign language films a difficult and inconsistent process. I try and go by actual year of release when possible, but for obvious reasons I’m not adverse to including entries that made their U.S. debut this year, too. But these are details… let’s get to the movies! Genre films rarely make “best of” lists like this , but I make no apologies for their inclusion here. Best is best, and if my best happens to include a character named The Queen of Saliva so be it..

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discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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The Attack

When I spoke recently with Ziad Doueiri, writer and director of The Attack, I couldn’t help but ask him a bit about his biography, which is now inextricably tied with his film’s content. The Lebanese director’s latest film was just banned by the Arab League, prohibiting anyone in its 22 member nations from screening it without risking arrest. Doueiri, who cut his teeth as a regular of Quentin Tarantino’s camera crew, moved back to his native Lebanon after the events of 9/11. Now because of the ban, he can’t even hold a screening in his own home. Because his move away from the U.S. came right after the events of 9/11, it was easy to assume that it was based in part on politics: “9/11 had nothing to do with it,” he told me. “There was a girl there.” This exchange mirrors the experience of watching The Attack, which opens in New York and DC on Friday. All of the press surrounding the film, as well as the opening scenes, prepare you for a deeply political film, but in the end it has more in common with Before Midnight than any heavy-handed geopolitical drama. Yet despite his efforts to make a personal film, politics – in the form of the Arab League – found a way to intervene.

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