We Have a Pope

The Best Foreign Films of 2012

The title of this list is slightly misleading in that not all of the films were released this year. The sad fact is that the vast majority of foreign language films never reach our shores, and the ones that do often appear a year or two (or more) later. So while all of the films below played in the US in 2012 (in some capacity) they may have premiered elsewhere in 2011 or earlier. Three of the titles below are also featured in my list of the 12 Best Movies of 2012. And because I know you’re curious, no, Holy Motors didn’t make the cut. (It is included in the Honorable Mentions list at the bottom of the page though!) I know every other critic loved the merde out of it, but I found it to be an occasionally engaging series of sketches highlighted by a love for cinema. Now read on for what I think are twelve better films (in alphabetical order).

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Probably the most controversial film screening at the festival, thanks to the usually virulent reaction that anything that is even remotely anti-religion tends to get these days, Habemus Papam is director Nanni Moretti‘s latest irony-laced film, which takes a firm stab at the institution of the Vatican (and unsurprisingly has already inspired notable calls to boycott it). This isn’t new territory for Moretti, who follows up 1984’s religious satire The Mass is Ended, with this look at the Vatican’s attempt to elect a new Pope, which remarkably is also the Italian director’s sixth film in Competition at Cannes over the years. In Habemus Papam, otherwise known as We have a Pope, we are introduced to the conclave of Vatican Cardinals as they meet to elect the new pontiff  from their ranks (a process which hilariously is presented like a group of school children unwillingly sitting for an exam). Panic ensues when the eventually-chosen candidate played by Michel Piccoli (who I swear is Carl Reiner’s long-lost twin), has a major anxiety attack at the responsibility and refuses to present himself to the crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square. In desperation the Vatican turn to a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti himself) to try and help the Pope deal with his issues, only for him to go on the run in Rome, posing as a normal civilian to hide from his Godly duty. Hang on, a major world leader with a psychological crisis? A therapist brought in to help him? So really, it’s sort of like a comic The King’s Speech, only with more full frontal […]

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Holy Hollywood, the selections for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (both confirmed and mostly-confirmed) are a star-studded bunch so far, if the rumormongers are to be believed, anyway. The news is coming pretty quick-fire at the minute, so I’ll run down the latest… First off, yesterday French site Le Figaro announced that Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides will play on the Croisette out of competition on Saturday May 14th, before it opens to French cinemas on May 18th and in the US on the 20th. This is one I was half-expecting, given the coincidental release dates, and the fact that there are traditionally a couple of mainstream releases showing out of competition at the fest. The third out of competition (joining Pirates and Terrence Malick’s already announced Tree of Life) looks likely to be Kung Fu Panda 2, according to Thompson on Hollywood, who say the 3D Dreamworks sequel starring Jack Black will follow Jeff Katzenberg’s tradition of bringing a DreamWorks project to Cannes to take advantage of a “worldwide marketing blitz.”

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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