Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Don't Watch A Lot Of Television

Actually, the above is a bit of lie, what I mean to say is I don't watch any soaps, and in all honesty, I find a lot of television shows to be a little, well, blah. Don't get me wrong, Sherlock, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are all amazing to watch, but these are the exception to the general rule of what graces our screens every evening.

Now without getting side-tracked here, the point of my post is that as a result of said exceptions, I watch a lot of movies, and I mean a lot. I enjoy a bit of everything from foreign films to romantic comedies to animated, almost childlike creations which require very little thought in order to enjoy them.

Several years ago, I remember going to the cinema with Ad to watch something called Let the Right One in a Swedish vampire movie with a twist. I'd done my research so I wasn't the least bit surprised when the subtitles popped up along the bottom of the screen. However, the couple in front of us exclaimed (quite loudly I might add) "Oh, it's subtitled." Now, my thoughts were as follows 1) Does one have a problem with reading? and 2) Didn't you read the reviews?
This has got me thinking, so many foreign films seem to attract this kind of attitude and it really is a shame, it's almost spiralling out of control. The above film was met with rave reviews and has already achieved a cult like status despite still being fairly young. Irrespective of this, within about 6 months of its release, Hollywood had announced it was remaking the movie. Obviously the prospect of reading was just too much for some. I'll save you some time though, the remake, 'Let Me In' was dreadful. It made very little sense and the characters weren't developed at all, not to mention key plots points were missed which makes for one confusing movie!

I can honestly assure you, foreign film really is worth your time. I can appreciate the thought of reading while watching can be a little daunting, but after a short while you barely notice it. If you are keen to dive into the foreign movie sector, then I have a few recommendations for you which will ease you in nicely, plus there are some familiar faces to boot.

Obviously the above is a great place to start if a) you like quirky love stories b) you like vampire movies and c) you loved the lost boys. I only mention c) as having attended a Film 4 Summer Screening a few years ago, the combination of the two went down a storm with the viewers.

My second recommendation would be the Japanese animation Spirited Away by the lovely people at Studio Ghibli.
This is another great place to start. It's a very easy going movie about a young girls’ battle to save her parents who have been turned into pigs by an evil witch. On the way she meets all sorts of spirits from Japan's mythology including dragons, gods and there's even a “stink-spirit” thrown in there for good measure. Don't think because it's animated it's only for children; the keen-eyed will notice there are a lot of messages within this movie such as the dangers of greed, however you don't need to pick up on these to be able to enjoy the movie.

One of the advantages of the Studio Ghibli films is that if you are feeling especially lazy, there is an English-dubbed version of the movie to enjoy as well. You might even recognize some of the voices.

Now, for my final recommendation, I'm sure a lot of readers will be expecting me to say Pan's Labyrinth. Whilst this movie is amazing, that's far too easy. Instead I'll recommend the French modern classic Amelie starring the naturally beautiful Audrey Tatou.
For want of sounding clich├ęd, this is a heart-warming story which is intertwined with a very odd love story. Amelie seeks about changing the lives of those around her for the better, all the while missing the fact that someone is trying to catch her attention.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is give foreign films a chance, don't just skip to the English remake because the thought of reading subtitles is too much of a chore. Things often get lost in translation and the film really loses what made it so great in the first place.  Let's not forget that foreign movies will often tackle issues that Hollywood is too cautious to tackle, 'Let Me In' is a prime example with the relationship between the characters Eli and Hakan becoming blurred as a result.  Their relationship is explored much more in the original, and it's very much implied that this is a rather inappropriate one given Eli's age, however this means that you feel much more of an affinity with the characters as you are better placed to understand their motivations.

What foreign films do you think are a great starting point for those looking to explore the genre?

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