So I am having real trouble thinking of foreign (non-English) comedies, preferably ones from the last 30-40 years. The only ones I can think of are Tati, some Jeunet films, and Divorce, Italian Style. Are there a lot of quality foreign comedies out there? I was at the library today, and saw a few comedies in the foreign section, but most seemed to be rom-coms. Not that a rom-com is doomed to be bad, and I hate to judge a film by its cover, but they looked like the type of rom-com I would not be interested in. And I know that there are a # of films that have comedic elements, but I am looking for more or less just pure comedy.
Is comedy more tied up in dialogue than drama, and thus does not translate as well? Is there a cultural divide? If there is a cultural divide, do certain cultures’ comedic sensibilities more closely resemble ours? Do I just not know where to look/WTF I am doing?
Many of you are probably already familiar with a lot of the English comedies, but here’s a short list of my favorites (from the last 40 years or so):
Coen Bros (pretty much everything except Ladykillers)
Withnail and I
Hal Ashby (The Last Detail, Being There)
Tim Burton (Ed Wood, Pee-Wee, Beetlejuice)
In The Loop
A Room With a View
and many others…
Also have been known to like the Farrelly Bros/Judd Apatow/Jack Black/Kevin Smith/Ben Stiller type films (not really a guilty pleasure unless I am admitting to it on MUBI ;) and would be interested in a foreign equivalent.
If you want French comedy there’s always Fernandel flicks, but they’re are more of an acquired taste.
These ones are good-
Big Deal on Madonna Street
That Man From Rio
I will keep an eye out for those, though neither Netflix streaming or my library has any of them. Just sort of glancing at Fernandel, not sure it will be my thing, but I’ll give anything a shot :)
I really am looking for more contemporary type comedies though, in the last 30 years preferably, though the 70’s too if there are some good recommendations. Though it looks a little darker than I really want, I would like to check out The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Hopefully it will find its way back to Netflix Instant.
Do you like black humor? i can recommend some Spanish bullshit.
From what I remember The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is not a comedy.
I thought Rashomon was pretty funny.
The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel – 1962)Songs From The Second Floor (Roy Andersson – 2000)You, The Living (Roy Andersson – 2007)The Devil’s Eye (Ingmar Bergman – 1960)Le Cop (Claude Zidi – 1984)Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Aki Kaurismaki – 1994)La visita (Antonio Pietrangeli – 1963)Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano – 1999)The Northerners (Alex van Warmerdam – 1992)The Bothersome Man (Jens Lien – 2006)Machan (Uberto Pasolini – 2008)The Green Butchers (Anders Thomas Jensen – 2003)Flickering Lights (Anders Thomas Jensen – 2000)
I am looking for more or less just pure comedy.
Not sure what pure comedy is, but this is funny:
Aki Kaurismäki – The Match Factory Girl
1. I Served the King of England (2006). My favorite non-English comedy of all time. Directed by famous Jiri Menzel.
2. The Band’s Visit (2007). Winner of Cannes Un Certain Regard. Great and charming comedy about cultural differences between Egypt and Israel.
3. I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster (2007).
4. Films by Emir Kusturica. Black Cat, White Cat (1998), Life is a Miracle (2004), Promise Me This (2007)
5. Films by Francis Veber. The Toy (1976), Fugitives (1986), The Dinner Game (1998), Ruby & Quentin (2003), The Valet (2006).
6. Mission: London (2010)
7. Machan (2008). And you can watch it here on MUBI.
8. Vodka Lemon (2003).
9. Flims by Dominique Abel & Fiona Gordon. The Iceberg (2005), Rumba (2008), The Fairy (2011).
10. Mid-August Lunch (2008).
My Best Friend (Patrice Leconte)
I can second recommendations of Kusturica films and Roy Andersson’s Songs from the Second Floor.
I guess there are quite a lot of Soviet-era comedies that are hugely famous in that part of the world but not so well known elsewhere. I just watched Leonid Gaidai’s The Diamond Arm (1968), which is one of the better known ones. I’d describe it as a low-budget Pink Panther type film, but way way zanier. Some of it was really funny, and I’m guessing if you understood a lot of the cultural references it would be completely hilarious – I probably missed 90% of the humour but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.
we recently watched the shoe (1998) from latvia in the world cup and it is a delight
Oh, and Petr Zelenka’s Buttoners (1997) is a sometimes hilariously funny black comedy, or at least I thought so ten years ago when I saw it. Haven’t had a chance to see it since.
I also found Otar Ioseliani’s Monday Morning (2002) quite funny in a wry kind of way, and I really enjoyed the surreal Monty Python-esque comedy in Bakhtiar Khoudoynazarov’s Luna Papa (1999).
Ones you might like, if you like black comedies-
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Almodovar) (‘88)
Grosse Fatigue/DeadTired (’94)-
The Taste of Tea (‘04)
Window To Paris (’94)- in drab St. Petersburg, down-and-out folks discover a gateway to Paris… through an apartment closet.
Director/Actor combo who both won a few awards earlier this year for “The Artist” had recently collaborated on James Bond spoofs. Check out the “OSS 117” films. They’re available on Region 1 DVD’s.
also the corporal and the others (1968) hungary
i do think it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate comedy by reading subtitles.
depends on the film but u can miss a lot
funniest film i’ve seen recently was jancso’s lord’s lantern in budapest.
i greatly enjoyed 4 ADVENTURES OF REINETTE AND MIRABELLE by eric rohmer
PERHAPS YOU WILL TOO
I’m partial to HK comedy.
I laughed a lot watching ‘Going Places’ by Bertrand Blier. But it is a fearlessly vulgar film and perhaps not really a comedy for everyone.
Also will agree Roy Andersson’s ‘Songs from the Second Floor’ is absurdly funny – but also not for everyone.
^Yey, I second 4 ADVENTURES OF REINETTE AND MIRABELLE-
Rohmer isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but yeah this film is a gem. The hilarious exchanges between the characters kinda remind me of the normal routine among members here at Mubi.
Schtonk! & Rossini are two very fine German comedies.
Thank you for all the recommendations (though by all means, keep em coming if you have em)
Out of the ones mentioned, The Bothersome Man, Vodka Lemon, L’Iceberg and My Best Friend are on Netflix Instant (I will get back on that disc plan one of these days). My library might have one or two more, but their website is bein weird.
@ Jonas (or anybody really): Netflix does not have any of the Francis Veber films you mentioned, but does have La Chevre and Pain in the Ass. Worth a watch?
@ Flip: You had me at “Python-esque” :)
“Kusturica” I just checked out Underground from the library the other day. Maybe not a strictly a comedy, but looking forward to it.
I haven’t seen La Chevre or Pain in the Ass, but I think you should check it. Just to get a clue what Francis Veber films are like.
“Lammbock” (2001) is a cool German stoner comedy. It’s quite similar to Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow films.
Supercop is the only Hong Kong movie of Jackie Chan’s that I’ve seen, but if the rest are anything like that you might look there. That shit was hilarious
Also if you’re gonna go back to the 1960s… why hasn’t Jacques Tati been mentioned yet?
Comedy notoriously doesn’t travel! And what ‘pure comedy’ is is hard to fathom but …
French comedy is notoriously verbal and hard to translate/export, but it accounts for the vast majority of French box-office sales in France. Bienvenue chez les ch’tis’ the year before last was the biggest-grossing French film ever. It’s partly based on language – the premise is a guy from the cool sunny south who has to move to the North region (reputation: once there were mines, now there are ruins, drunks and cold, and the accent is incomprehensible). In my experience despite the linguistic jokes it works quite well with English audiences, everyone knows about regional stereotyping and there are a lot of sight gags and funny faces.
The film it dethroned as highest-grossing ever was a sixtes riff on the war film called La Grande Vadrouille., which is also very much a comedy and I have a feeling still works quite well. The French sixties comic star, as in Grande Vadrouille, was Louis de Funès – tiny, ugly and constantly furious, he’s clever and can be pretty funny. Les Aventures du Rabbi Jacob is another good de Funès vehicle.
And then you can always try Buñuel :)
Commedia all’italiana was never really pure comedy. My favourite Italian comedy (favourite Italian film? favourite film?) is even less pure comedy. The most successful recent Italian comedian (umm, in the sphere of intentional comedy, that is) is, of course, Roberto Benigni. But the best Italian comedies were made by serious people: unfortunately, serious things get left to the clowns … Sorry, temporary temper …
THE SAVAGE -- Montand/Deneuve….hilarious
A couple people have been confused by what I meant by “pure comedy”. All I meant was that I was looking for films that were most definitely comedies, not dramas or adventure films or whatever that had comedic elements to them. For example, something like Cool Hand Luke, Pulp Fiction, The Third Man, Do The Right Thing, or The Long Goodbye. All of those films have moments, whether just a few or a bunch, that are funny, often hilarious. But I wouldn’t consider any of them comedies. But something like Beetlejuice, O Brother Where Art Thou, Monty Python, Slap Shot, MASH, or even Dr Strangelove, I consider those to be comedies through and through, and the sort of thing I am looking for. I listed a few examples that were somewhat borderline, such as a “dramedy” like Sideways or a comedy of manners like A Room With a View. I love those films, but that’s roughly the cutoff point where I stop considering something a comedy. In Bruges is another good example of my cutoff point. I am really up for trying anything though, black comedies included, though I prefer more lighthearted comedy to black comedy. Hope that wasn’t too confusing :)
Ruby said: “i do think it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate comedy by reading subtitles. depends on the film but u can miss a lot”
Ali said: “Comedy notoriously doesn’t travel!”
Yeah, this was what I was kind of guessing. Not that I won’t give it a shot!!!
@ Andrew: I mentioned Tati in my original post as some of the little foreign comedy I have seen
As far as Bunuel, I have seen Discreet Charm. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t really my thing. Are some of his other films (Exterminating Angel was mentioned"), are they “funnier”, or just a similar sort of surrealist satire?
Discreet Charm is definitely Buñuel at his most comic, so if that’s not your bag I’d go for the more mainstream stuff – Ch’tis, the Asterix films – also pretty verbal, but there has to be some fun to be had from the characters – …. Have you come across Etienne Chatiliez (‘Life is a Long Quiet River’, ‘Tatie Danielle’, ‘Tanguy’)? His films are funny and just a little bit edgy: Tanguy became a name for a social phenomenon (30-year-olds who still live with mum and dad) and just mentioning the film still makes French people laugh.