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The awards continue marching on, and the latest development comes straight from The Academy. They have announced (via Variety) the nine official films shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film. That means these nine make the cut, and will proceed forward into the next round of voting before being eliminated again down to five films for the official nominations annoncement on January 15th. On one hand, one of my favorite films of the year, Force Majeure, made the cut along with Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida. However, my other favorites, Xavier Dolan's Mommy and the Dardennes‘ Two Days, One Night, did not make the cut - quite surprisingly since they're both such great films that deserve to be considered. See the full list below.
"No one under 100 will be admitted!" Dang this looks crazy. Drafthouse Films has debuted their official US trailer for Hitoshi Matsumoto's R100, a funky, wacky Japanese thriller about a man (Nao Ohmori of Ichi the Killer) who joins an S&M club and gets into some crazy shit when dominatrices appear and kick his ass anytime of the day. The title R100 is a riff on the Japanese movie rating system, whose equivalent to NC-17 is R18, and this is playing on the idea that it's not okay for anyone under 100. Ha. The new poster is a bit too much, aiming to sell it purely on the sex/S&M angle, but the trailer hints at the absurdity of the film in so many other ways. This definitely isn't for everyone, but it's not just for S&M fans either, I think. Have fun.
If for some reason The Adventures of Tintin just didn't tickle your fancy, perhaps another animated, European adaptation will do the trick. The Little Prince comes from France, and it's an animated fantasy that meshes the computer animated style of Pixar with the world of stop-motion animation. The story, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famed novella, is framed by an old man telling a little girl the story of "le petit prince," and that's where traditional computer animation comes into play. But then, the actual story of the prince is told in stop-motion, taking cues from the gorgeous illustrations of the book. Watch below!
By now, we've pretty much heard about all the potential Oscar contenders as the year winds down, but unless you're an uber cinephile, it's not easy to stay on top of the foreign film contenders. But one of them could very well be White God, a film from Hungary that won the Prize Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes. The film was recently named as one of the films in the Spotlight section of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and now the first trailer has arrived for the film's debut in the United States. Though it won't hit theaters here until spring, it's Hungary's entry into the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards, using a tale of animal abuse as a metaphor to illustrate political and culture issues in Europe. Watch below!
Earlier this fall, we got a good look at John Woo's two-part romantic epic The Crossing starring Zhang Ziyi, Song Hye-kyo and more. We're still waiting to hear when the films will arrive in the United States, but the first part of this sprawling love story arrives on December 2nd in China, so one more international trailer has just surfaced. This looks like a truly massive undertaking for Woo, like a mix of Atonement and Titanic with some Saving Private Ryan thrown in there too. Is there a chance we'll see the first part of this film as one of the nominees for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars next year? It certainly looks like it. Watch!
If you are a hammer - strike. How's that for a tagline? Today's trailer is for a film called Traitors made by American actor-turned-filmmaker Sean Gullette, who played mathematician Maximillian Cohen in Darren Aronofsky's Pi back in 1998. Gullette writes, produces and directs this film about an all-girl punk rock band from Morocco. Newcomer Chaimae Ben Acha stars as Malika in the film, who befriends Amal played by Soufia Issami as they take on a smuggling job to make some money to keep the band together. The film premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, also playing at the Tribeca, Marrakesh, Dubai, Stockholm and Denver Film Festivals. It actually looks pretty good, there's a lot of heart and soul captured in this. Check it.
Just watch this film! If you love cinema, if you love filmmaking, if you love wacky Japanese cinema, if you love Tarantino, if you love supporting foreign films, if you love wacky, fun coming-of-age stories, if you love Japanese culture - don't walk, run to see this film (even if that means just running to your living room). Our latest Monthly Must See feature is one titled Why Don't You Play in Hell?, one of the recent films from Japanese auteur Sion Sono (he also recently made Tokyo Tribe which we flipped over at Fantastic Fest). The concept for this movie is basically: a young, renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud. Or: a bunch of wannabe filmmakers end up filming an actual yakuza war. It's crazy, but so much fun.
"A suspense in line with Roman Polanski and Alfred Hitchcock." With the American Film Market underway in Santa Monica, some deals and projects are coming together, or getting additional announcements. IFC Films recently picked up US distribution rights to this one, an eerie New York-set domestic drama called Hungry Hearts from Italian director Saverio Costanzo (of In Memory of Me, The Solitude of Prime Numbers) starring Adam Driver, last seen in What If and While We're Young, and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher, sister of filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher. The two won the Best Actor & Actress Awards at the Venice Film Festival this year, where this film first premiered. This is a very odd trailer but it's worth a look.
Oh boy, what will Lars von Trier say about this? A promotional poster has debuted online for a project in the works by controversial Argentinian director Gaspar Noé, who last challenged audiences with the ambitious film Enter the Void. This time he's going all out sex, in a film called Love that seems to be inspired by Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac meets Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Color. Described as a "sexual melodrama" about a boy, and two girls, the film "celebrates sex in a joyous way." But of course, it shouldn't be celebrated any other way! It's a very enticing, raunchy design, I wouldn't expect anything less from Noé.
"I wanted to make the ski trip to hell!" That's exactly what he has made. I really, really love Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, it's one of my favorite films this year and if you're looking for something fun and original to watch give this one a look. I've been pushing this film and highlighting it as much as possible because it's not easy to get Marvel audiences interested in Swedish films about a family on a "ski trip to hell". But this is one of those great films that stands out in a crowd, and you will probably want to visit the Alps after. While traveling to promote the release, I met up with Swedish writer and director Ruben Östlund (of the films Play, Involuntary and Gitarrmongot previously) to talk about Force Majeure. Watch the full video below.
You might not expect a vampire western to come out of a country like Iran, but here we are with the first trailer for an indie called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, one of the official selections of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival from earlier this year. This is a genre film through and through to the point that the trailer almost feels like it was directed by a young, foreign Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. The press release cites influences from spaghetti westerns, horror and Iranian New Wave, and that's all perfectly on display here. This looks like a foreign film to go out of your way to see whenever possible. Watch now!
The Trolls are back! Call the Trollhunter! Last week at New York Comic-Con I met one of the guys behind FAMP Art, the new creative collective focused on creating great art for "foreign films, classics and more" branching out from Mondo. We chatted about some upcoming releases following their debut for City of God, and here's the next one. This artwork is for that awesome Norwegian faux-documentary Trollhunter, or Trolljegeren, which first hit theaters back in 2011 from director André Øvredal, who has yet to make his next feature though a few are in the works. The art is by Chris Weston and will be printed as a full 24"x36" print being sold by FAMP Art next week. Check out the Trollhunter print and another variant version below.
This looks like one of the craziest movies ever. Sion Sono is a Japanese filmmaker who has decided to give the familiar yakuza crime thrillers a new spin. Why Don't You Play inn Hell looks like a wild, meta, action bonanza following a young, inexperienced film crew who call themselves The Fuck Bombers who are hired to film two rival gangs battle to the death. It's the final plan of don Muto, who wants to take down his enemy, film it all, and give his daughter the starring role, all before his wife is released from prison. Wacky, funny, bloody, insane and other similar adjectives don't begin to describe this flick. Just see for yourself.
An oblivious, big-city lawyer gets in over his head in No Man's Land, a neo-western thriller directed by Ning Hao. The film, shot in 2009, sat on a shelf of censorship as the Chinese government deemed it too "nihilistic." To this, the Fantastic Fest crowd, who got their first look at No Man's Land, said, "Yeah, what's the big deal?" What ends up being the big deal is that the film is as smart as it is cool, a deliberately paced trek into the Gobi Desert with a handful of badass trimmings and a nice, rustic fringe. It's the kind of quirky actioner with even quirkier characters that's getting comparisons to the Coen Brothers, and for good reason.