70 Favorite Films Part VI: Non-English Language Films
35. Rocco and His Brothers (1960)
Director: Luchino Visconti
Starring: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot
Plot: A melodramatic story of the lives of brothers struggling to maintain their relationship in the midst of poverty, death, love and loss.
The main reason why this film is on the list is because I can watch Alain Delon in it all day. Too bad I don’t have a copy of it yet so I limit myself to replaying what little I can remember over and over inside my head. And yes, most of them are the part where Alain Delon’s shirtless. Forgive me, he’s really, really, i-get-so-weak-in-the-knees hot. Aside from that, it’s a really depressing take on life, where the dreamers are punished for dreaming and they dicover that conformity is the only way to survive in the world. Oh, and also, there’s that beautiful Nino Rota score.
34. L’Appartement (1996)
Director: Gilles Mimouni
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Monica Belucci, Romane Bohringer
Plot: Love, obsession and possession.
This is one of the most gorgeous films I’ve ever seen, and yes, of course I’m talking about Monica Belucci and Vincent Cassel (a real life couple!) And unlike the Hollywood-ized version Wicker Park with Josh Hartnett, Diane Kruger and Rose Byrne (watch it and you’ll know what I mean when I say Hollywood-ized), this shows the mystery and confusion of love in all its dark, twisted glory.
33. Battle Royale (2000)
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Chiaki Kuriyama
Plot: Kill or be killed.
I don’t usually like blood and gore (in fact, I usually stay clear of action or horror flicks) but this film has blood, gore and then some but doesn’t distract from the overall theme of survival. For that, I’ll be waiting for the day Survivor turns into an a la Battle Royale reality show. Let’s see who can really outwit, outplay and outlast.
32. Day for Night (1973)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Starring: Francois Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jacqueline Bisset
Plot: A harassed director is trying to finish his film, except all his actors are crazy and production is becoming a nightmare.
Awards: 1 Oscar – Best Foreign Film
I love Francois Truffaut. And this is as close to Truffaut-the-director as you can get. Truffaut is, after all, known to be a bit autobiographical in his work and some of the scenes in this film are taken from other Truffaut films (i.e. the multiple takes of the cat drinking milk from a discarded room tray is inspired by a scene in La Peau Douce.) As his character says in the film “Making a film is like a stagecoach ride in the old west. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasant trip. By the halfway point, you just hope to survive.“
31. The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Director: Vittorio de Sica
Starring: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola
Plot: A poor man’s bike is stolen and it’s his only source of income and so together with his young son, he goes in search for the bike.
Awards: 1 Oscar – honorary award for most outstanding foreign language film
I recently watched The Pursuit of Happyness which is a lot like this film except it’s very American, with capitalist dreams and subsequent happy endings. It leaves an aftertaste for a moment and then disappears. I think it’s because Will Smith stars in it so after you suspend your disbelief for the length of the film and believe that he’s a poor father trying to support his family. Not that he’s a bad actor but when the film ends, you’re reminded that it’s just a film and he’s just a celebrity. What’s wonderful about Italian Neorealist films is the actors are real people so the pain and the reality of their situation is felt for a long, long time.
30. Tuhog (2001)
Director: Jeffrey Jeturian
Starring: Ina Raymundo, Jacklyn Jose, Dante Rivero
Plot: Behind the scenes of a sexploitation film
Awards: 4 Gawad Urian Awards – Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Screenplay, Best Picture
Jeffrey Jeturian is probably my favorite contemporary Filipino director. Well, he’s probably my favorite Filipino director since I haven’t really watched many Brocka or Bernal films (I know, I know, I’ll get to it someday.) And Tuhog has everything a great film has: great story, great performances (especially by Jacklyn Jose as an actress who can’t act. or better yet, an actress who overacts) and of course, great irony.
29. The 400 Blows (1959)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Starring: Jean-Pierre Leaud
Plot: Adolescent alienation in the city.
Awards: Best Director, Cannes Film Festival
Have I told you how much I love Francois Truffaut? Oh, of course I have but I just can’t say it enough. I LOVE FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT! And even though this is maybe not his most well-written film or his best-shot film. But it is his most charming and touching film. And for me that makes it his best. Plus Jean-Pierre Leaud is absolutely fabulous.
Next: Once Upon a Time there were 28 More Films…