What I’m listing below may not show-up on the AFI 100, but believe you me, they’re good in my book, which may not be saying much, but it’s a list to at least peruse. These are films to enjoy after the kids are down and you’ve opened a nice Australian Shiraz. So, here goes, some foreign films to get you in the mood for some globe trotting:
Enchanted April – Let’s start off in the UK/Italy. This newly released DVD is worth its weight in gold. LOADED with British talent, from Judy Densch to Jim Broadbent, Alfred Molina to Michael Kitchen, it is a travelogue befitting those with a wanderlust for Italian destinations and UK sensibilities that we Anglophiles enjoy (Honorable mentions: Hope and Glory, Croupier, Sexy Beast, and Possession for the UK. For Italy, Cinema Paradiso, and Room with a View even though half is set in London, the best bits are in Italy).
La Femme Nikita – Tripping into France now, for those who simply must have their summer action flick, there’s enough explosions, shootings, and assassinations to sate those with even the most insatiable Quentin Tarantino chicks-with-guns-n-sword appetites. Plus, or as they say in French, plus, there are hotties toting big guns speaking saucy French words that drip from beglossed lips. (Honorable mentions: Red (from the trilogy “Blue,” “White” and “Red” from Polish director Kieslowski) – Each of these films can stand and be viewed alone, but Red is my fave, and Irene Jacob just breaks your heart (so does her dog). Other HM's Jean de Florette, Amelie, and My Father’s Glory.
Eat Drink, Man Woman – Ang Lee’s big breakout film. This Taiwan (if memory serves right) film is about a world-renown chef and father of several daughters, each unique in their own way (and each unique in their own way of torturing dad) and finding themselves at crossroads of a modern Asia set against traditional cultural demands. This film was remade into Tortilla Soup, which, as is the case with all U.S. remakes, was not quite up to snuff. Oh, do not watch this film hungry. (Honorable mentions: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Raise the Red Lantern, and House of Flying Daggers)
My Life as a Dog – Now in Scandinavia, in spite of the title, this Llasse Hallstrom-directed quirky coming-of-age film is actually worth your time. The Swedes are quite good at restrained design (whether architecture or furniture) and their directors are very good at delivering reeled-in performances by their actors. (Honorable mentions: In honor of Llasse, we’ll throw in his other films Chocolat, Shipping News, and Something to Talk About)
The Sweet Hereafter – Our brothers in Canada have an amazing filmmaker in Atom Egoyan. If a film can be sweet and gut-wrenching at the same time, this is it. The performance by Ian Holm is spectacular; if you haven’t seen this one yet, pull your legs up underneath you,let the day come to a close, and watch this one with a loved one. (Honorable mention: Jesus de Montreal, The Score, and Some Girls)So, there you have a few offerings from around the globe. We could have also mentioned Like Water for Chocolate, Y Tu Mama Tambien (Mexico), Pan's Labyrinth, Barcelona (Spain), The Big Blue (Greece), Il Postino, Death and the Maiden (Chile), but I guess we just did.