Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Movies You May Have Missed (part K of Several)

Here are a few cinematic gems worthy of your time. 

What mysteries lay beyond the cut?  What scandalous filth might I be suggesting? Oh crap, they're all foreign films this time!


Black Book (2006)
The Netherlands
IMDB

I've already mentioned that I am not a fan of Paul Verhoeven, so if I'm mentioning one of his films it must be pretty good.

Black Book is the story of a Jewish woman who works with the resistance in Nazi occupied Netherlands.  She is asked to seduce a Gestapo officer, and meanwhile is trying to discover who betrayed a group of escaping Jews the resistance was helping.  The movie manages to sympathize with some of the Nazi characters as much as those of the resistance, and has a few surprises. Also, it's Paul Verhoeven, so you can expect nudity and violence.


[Rec] (2007)
Spain

IMDB 

One of my favorite horror films.  A journalist follows a team of firemen into a small apartment building soon to discover that A. something has turned one of the residents into a zombie, and B. they have been sealed inside by the military.   It's claustrophobic, spooky, well paced, and legitimately scary. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a found footage film.   (Note, there was an American re-make of this movie called "Quarantine."  There is also a sequal.  Both are crap.  The original kicks ass.)


Grave of the Fireflies
Japan
IMDB

A simple, intimate, and tremendously powerful story of an orphaned brother and sister struggling to survive during the final months of World War II.  Grave of the Fireflies reveals the horror of war from the perspective of children who must face the cruel indifference of adults and madness of fascism as well as the devastation from American bombs.   Viewing this movie from an American perspective, I never felt that America was vilified.  The villain in Grave of the Fireflies is simply war.  Though simple, the story is artfully told with well crafted characters.  Though tragic, it manages to be more cathartic than depressing, and the final shot is one of the most perfect moments in all of film.

A couple notes here.  First, let me make clear that this is an animated film from Japan. It is not "Anime."  It doesn't look or feel like it.  Secondly, while the DVD has both English and Japanese language tracks, I strongly recommend watching it in Japanese with English subtitles, as the little girl's voice in English sounds like a teenage girl trying to impersonate a child, while her Japanese voice is perfect.  Third, if you're the sort of person who is embarrassed to cry in front of others, then watch this movie alone. 

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