DVDs – Foreign edition

For whatever reason, I’ve watched more DVDs in the last couple weeks than in the last several months. Not up to full reviews of them but thought it worth posting a couple comments. Here’s a few of the foreign films consumed recently, rated on a 5 star scale and listed in alphabetically.

Coup de Torchon (Blank Slate) (1981) ***

An interesting but ultimately not all that satisfying story of an inept police chief in a small village in Senegal prior to its independence from France. The police chief takes control of his life and surroundings by becoming a murderer. A 1983 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film.

Downfall (2004) ****

An absorbing look at life inside Hitler’s bunker and Berlin in the closing days of World War II. Bruno Ganz is spectacular in the role of Hitler. The film is made all the more remarkable by the fact it is a German one. A 2005 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film.

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979) ****1/2

An excellent film about the lives of three women in Moscow. The story begins with their hopes and dreams in the 1950s and then jumps 20 years ahead to look at how their lives turned out. Well deserving of the Oscar in won in 1980 for Best Foreign Film. Given its relatively unsparing look at life, it is hard to believe it was made in the Soviet Union prior to its collapse.

The 400 Blows (1959) **

Somewhat disappointed by this film given the fact it on most foreign and top film “must see” lists. It is the story of a young boy in Paris whose relatively minor antics in school and a petty crime combine with an uncaring family to land him in reform school. The film earned director Francois Truffaut the best director award at Cannes in 1959 and earned him Oscar nominations in 1960 for best writing, story and screenplay. Yet it and Cleo from 5 to 7 make me think I will not become a fan of French New Wave film.

Time Out (2001) *** 1/2

A French look at a man whose life has gone astray and whose inability to cope becomes endemic. Having been fired from his job, Vincent not only leads his family to believe he is still working but that he has accepted an even better job with the UN in Geneva. An intriguing look at one man’s struggle with mid-life crises.

If they wanted someone brave, honest, and hard-working, they wouldn’t have hired me.

Police chief Lucien Cordier, Coup de Torchon

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