WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

User avatar
ChiO
Posts: 3924
Joined: January 2nd, 2008, 1:26 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by ChiO »

Bummer, Man....

Finished teaching my class last week and was looking forward to going to a six week class, starting tonight, on Claire Denis. Cancelled -- insufficient enrollment.

So...is there anyone out there who can learn me some Denis?
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
kingrat
Posts: 2207
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by kingrat »

I enjoyed Jacques Feyder’s CARNIVAL IN FLANDERS (LA KERMESSE HEROIQUE). The only other Feyder film I’ve seen is KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOR, which TCM has shown more than once in the last year, and which several of us liked. The Flemish town of Boom is about to be invaded by the Spaniards. The men fear the worst, so the mayor pretends to be dead and the most prominent men hide. The women, led by the mayor’s wife (Francoise Rosay), are made of sterner stuff. Rosay gives a speech to the assembled women which shows that she’s a natural leader. (Hey, we should all have voted for her for President!) The women’s policy of accommodation works very well. However . . . .

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD:

The foreigners find the women very appealing, and the feelings are returned. It’s like THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY on a grand scale, only funny. The Duke himself falls for Rosay. Louis Jouvet is the chaplain, a former inquisitor, who has a pocket full of indulgences, a taste for drink, and quite a story about a virgin who was covered in honey and then . . . no, I couldn’t possibly tell you what he says next. Because Jouvet is totally believable as an inquisitor, the comedy becomes even more droll. Add a little person with two pet monkeys; a soldier who does needlework and finds another gentleman of the same persuasion; an innkeeper’s wife who’s very amiable, shall we say; and a romantic subplot involving the mayor’s daughter and Jan Breughel the Younger.

Several scenes are inspired by Flemish and Dutch paintings of the time, and the costumes are splendid, as is the gleaming armor. You may wonder why the balloon-like trousers for men ever got to be fashionable. I’m not sure if all the filming was done on a set; if so, it’s pretty marvelous. Feyder seems to have all the tools a good director needs.

If you’re interested in exploring Feyder’s work, Sunday night late will offer a triple bill of his work: the German version of ANNA CHRISTIE (1930), also starring Greta Garbo; and DAYBREAK and SON OF INDIA (both 1931), both starring Ramon Novarro.
kingrat
Posts: 2207
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by kingrat »

Perhaps the best way to talk about Robert Bresson’s PICKPOCKET (1959) is to define what it is not. That’s how the film starts, with a written prologue which says that the film is about a pickpocket but is not “un policier” (a thriller). That is indeed true. Although it is about two souls coming together—again this is from the written prologue—do not expect a conventional love story. We see someone writing and hear voiceover of the writing, which tells us what is to happen next. Certain kinds of suspense are being eliminated from the film. The protagonist speaks of the right of a superior being to transcend the usual moral laws, but do not expect a story fleshed out like CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. Nor is this, in any way, a thesis film about the effects of society on an individual. The protagonist feels misunderstood, but the director has little interest in revealing his psychology or encouraging us to feel with him; this is an anti-REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and, in a serious way, anti-psychological and anti-sociological. If the film shows two friends in a love triangle with the same girl, this is an anti-EAST OF EDEN as well, except that (of course) the girl prefers the bad boy. The film makes as little as possible of this, too.

Michel, the main character, is played by Martin LaSalle, who sometimes looks like the young Henry Fonda. Fortunately, as far as I’m concerned, this film was made when Bresson still allowed the viewer some interest in actors and thus some interest in human beings. The actors are non-professionals but they are actors. In comparison with the other Bresson films I’ve seen, there are a surprising number of extras in some scenes.

What does Bresson supply in place of these familiar structures? We see what Martin does. In the early parts of the film, this is usually in fairly tight shots. Low budgets will do that to you, and it’s a good way to show the confines that the main character has placed on his life. We often do not see a completed theft from start to finish; this is perhaps another expectation Bresson wants to flout. Although Michel meets up with two professional thieves and learns from them, Bresson deliberately does not give us a complete “learning the trade” scene as in OLIVER TWIST or HARRY IN YOUR POCKET. If there are a couple of scenes with bravura editing, one in a train station and one on a train about to depart, Bresson is careful to omit some of the links between what is happening with the thefts. We see bits of the process, but can’t follow it completely. Michel has some “good angels” (my term, not Bresson’s) who truly want what is best for him. These include his friend Jacques, his dying mother, and the young woman, Jeanne, who is kind to his mother. This list perhaps also includes the middle-aged man whom we later realize is a police inspector. (If this point is established earlier, I missed it and it is not in the subtitles.) He pulls away from all of them, as is usually the case.

The soundtrack makes much use of the sound of footsteps, along with selective use of the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, including an important use of music at the end of the film. The opening and closing of doors is an important visual motif. I hope this gives some sense of the texture of the film and what the experience of watching it is like. Perhaps because the scene where Michel recognizes that another young man is a pickpocket is filmed not unlike a sexual pickup, it occurred to me that if you changed the motif of theft for random sexual encounters, you would get something like John Rechy’s novels City of Night and Numbers.

Obviously PICKPOCKET is not a film for everyone, but I stayed up to watch it all the way through in one sitting. I liked it very much.
feaito

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by feaito »

Thanks for that post on Feyder Kingrat, "La Kermesse Heroique" is a film on the top of my list of "must-see movies". The German version of "Anna Christie" (1930) and "Daybreak" (1931) are especially recommendable.
Sweeney Todd
Posts: 13
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 4:54 am

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by Sweeney Todd »

I'm still trying to find the German-language version of "La kermesse héroïque", shot simultaneously by Jacques Feyder. Françoise Rosay plays the same role as in the French version, but the other actors (Paul Hartmann, Charlotte Daudert, Albert Lieven) are different. The title is "Die klugen Frauen".

Similarly, Feyder also made "Les gens du voyage" (1937) in French and German, with Françoise Rosay in both. The German version is called "Fahrendes Volk". André Brulé, Fabien Loris, Guillaume de Sax, Marie Glory, Sylvia Bataille are in the French version, Hans Albers, Camilla Horn, Hannes Stelzer in the German one. I'm also trying to get this one...
feaito

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by feaito »

How interesting Sweeney.
User avatar
Ann Harding
Posts: 1271
Joined: January 11th, 2008, 11:03 am
Location: Paris
Contact:

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by Ann Harding »

Sweeney Todd wrote:I'm still trying to find the German-language version of "La kermesse héroïque", shot simultaneously by Jacques Feyder. Françoise Rosay plays the same role as in the French version, but the other actors (Paul Hartmann, Charlotte Daudert, Albert Lieven) are different. The title is "Die klugen Frauen".

Similarly, Feyder also made "Les gens du voyage" (1937) in French and German, with Françoise Rosay in both. The German version is called "Fahrendes Volk". André Brulé, Fabien Loris, Guillaume de Sax, Marie Glory, Sylvia Bataille are in the French version, Hans Albers, Camilla Horn, Hannes Stelzer in the German one. I'm also trying to get this one...
The Cinémathèque was planning last year a Feyder retrospective that disappeared completely. If there are still prints of the German versions of the Feyder films, they are in Germany somewhere...Nobody has seen the German versions since their original release.
Sweeney Todd
Posts: 13
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 4:54 am

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by Sweeney Todd »

Apparently a friend of mine just got "Fahrendes Volk" and is sending me a copy. It was quite unexpected and his mail arrived maybe one hour after I wrote the previous post!
You can be interested to know that in 1963, a friend of mine found at the "Flea Market" in Saint-Ouen (just where I live now...) the 9.5mm complete prints of L'OR, the French-language version of "Gold", and IF1 NE REPOND PLUS, the French-language version of "FP1 antwortet nicht". So I watched them maybe three of four times each, and by now, both are "lost" films as well.
And recently I got the German-language version of Julien Duvivier's "Les 5 gentlemen maudits", called "Die funf verfluchten Gentlemen"...
feaito

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by feaito »

How Lucky Sweeney! I bet you speak German fluently, because I imagine that those films don't carry any subtitles.
Sweeney Todd
Posts: 13
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 4:54 am

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by Sweeney Todd »

No, I don't speak a word of German, but in most of the cases I have seen the French versions, so it's not difficult to follow the German ones. French TV also programmed some of these German-language versions, like "Marianne" (Duvivier), "Amphytrion", "Gold", "FP1 antwortet nicht", and others, and in this case they are of course subtitled in French. Similarly, several English-language versions were shown, like "Big House", "Caravan", "Koenigsmark", etc.
I even have Dutch, Romanian, Czech versions of English-language movies like "The Ghost Train", and I don't speak these languages neither. But in fact, a great percentage of my videos are in foreign languages of all kinds and without subs. Sometimes, I find the subs years later... and I just add them! :wink:
feaito

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by feaito »

WOW :shock:
User avatar
JackFavell
Posts: 11946
Joined: April 20th, 2009, 9:56 am

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by JackFavell »

French tv sounds so much better than ours....

But of course they also have a better theatre than we have (The Cinematheque).
kingrat
Posts: 2207
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by kingrat »

I really liked Luis Bunuel’s SIMON OF THE DESERT, right up until the ending, which doesn’t work for me. Apparently the production ran out of money. That’s too bad, because the rest of this short film is so good. Like the original St. Simeon Stylites, who lived atop a column in Syria, this Simon (Claudio Brook, very good) lives atop a column in the desert. Those in religious orders and the common people come to see him, to bring him food, and to ask for miracles. Although there are some nifty surrealist effects, like the coffin that scoots its way across the desert, the realism of the film impresses me even more than the surrealism. These actors seem like people who live in a desert community nearby. Bunuel captures the way various kinds of people react to the holy man, and every response exposes another familiar aspect of human nature. I particularly like what happens to the man who asks to have his hands miraculously restored. Simon seems sincere in his intentions, and has the doubts that any honest man in his situation would feel.

Famously, the original saint was tempted by the devil, who also appears here, played by the seductive Silvia Pinal. Joan Crawford as QUEEN BEE could have kicked her booty, but I guess there are different kinds of devils. Do you suppose that Simon’s hairdo influenced Mel Gibson in BRAVEHEART? Just a thought.

I’ve only seen eight Bunuel films, but the four I like best (VIRIDIANA, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, SIMON OF THE DESERT, and BELLE DE JOUR) all come from the 1960s. The endings of VIRIDIANA and SIMON seem to be exact opposites. When Viridiana asks to join the card game with the servants, she’s giving up her attempt to lead a life of Christian charity, which has been disastrous, to accept the ordinary life other people lead, and the film endorses her choice. On the other hand, the day-to-day world Simon finds at the end is trivial and boring. His real life has been on the column.
kingrat
Posts: 2207
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by kingrat »

Although I saw L’ATALANTE (1932, dir. Jean Vigo) in college, after seeing it on TCM I felt it was a different film. TCM showed a beautiful print which had been lovingly restored. I remembered it as mostly being dark—no, that was the inferior film society print. Lovely use of light—one of the cinematographers was Boris Kaufman, who would go on to have a big career in Hollywood with films like ON THE WATERFRONT. The storyline of L’ATALANTE is basic—newlyweds begin married life on a barge; clueless about each other and about life, they quarrel and separate, and only the wise old skipper Pere Jules (Michel Simon, born to play this kind of role) can put things right. This is director’s (and next in importance, cinematographer’s) cinema. Noticing where Vigo puts the camera and what he does with it is at the heart of experiencing this film. No wonder the budding directors of the New Wave liked this film so much.

Fortunately, given that the director’s choices are so prominent, Vigo has a great eye. If he doesn’t delve much at all into the husband’s character—a hot-tempered guy who becomes insanely jealous, slaps his wife, and leaves her on the dock in Paris, not to mention his trashing of Pere Jules’ cabin, which doesn’t make him too sympathetic—he gives us memorable images. The barge drifts away from the shore, drifts in the fog, gives us interesting perspectives of the industrial landscapes they pass. The wedding procession at the beginning of the film seems a bit odd and totally right at the same time. What could be better?

Perhaps the scene with the most emotional power is the one where Pere Jules shows the young bride some of his mementos and tells her a little about his life. In general, Vigo seems to give Michel Simon free rein as an actor, but doesn’t give him many close shots.

Several sources currently have the Criterion Collection of Vigo’s work at twenty dollars or so, so if you’re tempted . . . .
User avatar
charliechaplinfan
Posts: 9087
Joined: January 15th, 2008, 9:49 am

Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I first watched a grainy print of L'Atalante, I was really moved by it, you don't get any pre story, you don't know how long or where they met although it feels that they don't know each toher very well. Most of all I was absorbed in the way Vigo told his story, I was incredibly moved, especially by Dita Parlo and it seemed to convey the stark reality of the times. One watch of a grainy print convinced me to buy a better version.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
Post Reply