Friday, January 06, 2006
Of the six contenders for the ANDROID for best foreign movie of 2005, four were from Asia, which backs up the past few years for me in saying the best foreign films are coming from that region. Some of these may have been 2004 releases but didn’t come to Oklahoma until 2005.
6. Paradise Now (Israel). Hany Abu-Assad’s gripping story about two young men who decide to become martyrs and blow themselves up in the name of Jihad and Allah. Paradise Now is a gritty, very timely film that almost feels like a documentary at times, as it uses no music, great locations, a terrific cast with non-pro actors and a semi-open ending. Gripping story that tells a viewpoint you don’t get from the national media about the Palestinian cause.
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan). Japanese master of animation Hayao Miyazoki’s latest is a breathtaking meditation war, romance and magical spells. I’m not a huge animation fan but this film is so completely transporting to another world it’s hard not to embrace. I wish all my American friends with kids would introduce their children to Miyazoki as he destroys the bulk of the mainstream animated releases.
4. I’m Not Scared (Italy). This thriller/coming of age film from director Gabriele Salvatores caught me completely off guard when I saw it. At first it’s this dark mystery that turns into a dark coming of age thriller. I was especially impressed with Salvatores ability to capture a particular tone and pace the entire film. Plus, unreal shots of wheat and everyone should know I love wheat in movies!
3. Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong). People think that all foreign films are super serious or dour—think again. Stephen Chow makes some of the most fun films on the planet and he’s done it again with this tale set in 1940s Shanghai about the vicious “Axe Gang” who battle a group of apartment dwellers who have special fighting powers. Chow crafts bits of business almost as if he’s a clone of Chaplin or Keaton the way he constructs his fight scenes with comedy. Fun!
2. Oldboy (South Korea). Chan-wook Park has crafted THE best Hitchcock ode of the past few years with Oldboy, giving it violent bursts and creepy plot twists that would make Hitch proud. Story is about a man who was locked in a building for 15 years who gets out and tries to figure out the whos and the whys of being locked up. Already being remade by the idea challenged Hollywood movie system but it will be a pale imitation of this as the remakes always are.
AND THE ANDROID GOES TO…
3-IRON (South Korea). Ki-duk Kim’s 3-Iron is by far my favorite foreign film of the year. It’s one of these films I can’t stop thinking about as I was completely captivated by it. It’s in the Ming-liang Tsai/Last Life In the Universe mode with very little dialogue and slow pacing. But it’s riveting and romantic as hell as we see the two leads break into houses together without ever speaking to one another. The first hour of this is the best hour I’ve seen in film ALL year—it’s that good. Enigmatic ending too that I loved. I’d like to see Hollywood try and remake this! But how could they--there’s no dialogue for them to hash over. Ki-duk Kim also made the lyrical Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…And Spring which is worth seeing.
Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 8:45 AM