I am trying to get my parents into foreign films. They (especially my dad) have the opinion that all foreign films are bad. I subscribe to netflix and I was thinking of putting some foreign films on there for them. They are use to mostly mainstream American films so they won’t be into the artsy experimental stuff. I was thinking a film like Seven Samurai might be good. Any other suggestions ?
by coincidence, i submitted a list yesterday elsewhere:
Largely setting aside personal taste, here’s a little list of films by year order as a basic introduction to world cinema. I’ve picked just one per director- M, La Grande Illusion, Rashomon, Ugetsu, Fanny and Alexander are among the top alternatives. A mix of established classics, critics’ arthouse favourites and some popular hits. Lots of other goodies, important or interesting directors and countries to discover, of course..!
Nosferatu (Murnau) Germany
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein) Soviet Union
Metropolis (Lang) Germany
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer) France
Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov) Soviet Union
L’Atalante (Vigo) France
Rules of the Game (Renoir) France
Children of Paradise (Carné) France
Bicycle Thieves (De Sica) Italy
Tokyo Story (Ozu) Japan
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa) Japan
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi) Japan
Pather Panchali (Ray) India
A Man Escaped (Bresson) France
The Seventh Seal (Bergman) Sweden
The 400 Blows (Truffaut) France
Breathless (Godard) France
L’Avventura (Antonioni) Italy
8 1/2 (Fellini) Italy
The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo) Italy/Algeria
Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky) Russia
Belle de Jour (Bunuel) France
Aguirre Wrath of God (Herzog) Germany
Spirit of the Beehive (Erice) Spain
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Fassbinder) Germany
Jean de Florette/Manon Des Sources (Berri) France
My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki) Japan
Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore) Italy
Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou) China
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee) China/Taiwan
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai) China
Amélie (Jeunet) France
City of God (Meirelles) Brazil
Talk to Her (Almodovar) Spain
Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro) Spain
well, i don’t know their taste, but there should be some to suit them here. I suppose Grand Illusion, Children of Paradise, Seven Samurai, the 400 Blows are among the safer classic bets. The first 5 on my list are silents, L’Avventura and Andrei Rublev may be too slow and arty, Battle of Algiers is politically risky (certainly if they’re on the Right), My Neighbour Totoro is a popular animation.
a few, in slow progression starting in a lighter vein into some heavy weights…Sanjuro
A Bande Apart
Day For Night
The 400 Blows
and then you get into more Fellini, Antonioni, Melville, Bergman,Godrad, Malle, Truffaut an Tarkovsky etc,
Stuff like Antoinoni or Wong Kar-Wei is surely not your parent’s cup of tea if they think that all foreign movies ar bad. Something more easily digestible (because of a real storyline) can be Rosselinis Rome, Open City (fight against Nazis, produced very shortly after WW2). 7 Samurai I’d say is far too long for beginners and from a culture too far from their own (they may always like The Magnificent Seven better). Anyway, foreign film does not neccessarily mean Arthouse, and especially not Arthouse from decades ago. The French do some decent Action Cinema (Les Rivières pourpres, L’Empire des Loups) and some comedy. There are breathtaking thrillers from Hongkong (Infernal Affairs I-III).
You also can check out Almodovars latest Volver, I’d say it is his most mainstream (but still Almodovar!). From Germany I’d recommend The Tin Drum and Life of Others (Oscar Winners!); Run, Lola Run; and maybe some Fassbinder. Go for Lola for starters.
Well, most people (public and critics) liked The Lives of Others- and rather more than i did, so i agree with Thorsten that may be worth trying on them, and yes Rome Open City is pretty accessible. I’m not sure Lola is quite up to Fassbinder’s best, i think general opinion (not just my own) would have The Marriage of Maria Braun as a more likely bet. A fair point about Seven Samurai’s length, its one obvious drawback, unless they don’t like violence or that type of subject. If they’d want something gentler, then perhaps Tokyo Story (or Late Spring). Of course i’d want to show them Sansho the Bailiff- but would it be best to start them at the peak?
most definitely Amelie, any Jeunet for that matter may work well.
My parents’ biggest qualm with foreign films is having to read subtitles, but if the content interests them then I don’t think they mind. My dad’s really into heist-y detective movies and I recently recommended he see Rififi and Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge and Un Flic. They’re apparently filming a Red Circle remake starring Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloom right now. My mom’s into horror and Hellboy and she loved Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone and The Orphanage when I made her watch them with me. Neither of my parents had seen any foreign films before these.
I’ll second Children of Paradise (“France’s answer to Gone with the Wind” but better, imo) and Grand Illusion. I dunno about Jeunet though. Might be a bit visually overwhelming at first. If you think your parents would like Terry Gilliam’s work, then go ahead with Jeunet.
the thing about subtitles is interesting. my parents are both from korea and having immigrated to the states, basically everything we watched as a family that wasn’t korean, was watched with captions. i actually got so used to it that even now when watching films in english, ill turn the captions/subs on even though it isnt really necessary.
Seven Samurai, or Children of Paradise might be too long. Years ago I’ve had the same experiences with friends who are used to mainly mainstream American films, so I started them on mainstream foreign ones. At first, it’s a matter of getting used to reading subtitles. Films that have more conventional plot are always safe bet. It wouldn’t hurt if it’s a good mix of old and recent, action, drama, comedy or thrillers. I got ’em started with Cinema Paradiso, Purple Noon, The Ring, Europa Europa, Yojimbo, The Ceremony, Hard Boiled, Amelie, City of God, Wages of Fear, The Vanishing, Tampopo, Swept Away, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Bicycle Thieves. It worked
Good luck and have fun with your folks!
Show them Nightwatch and Daywatch if they’re in to action at all. They’re both directed by the guy who did Wanted and are pretty kick-ass.
>>My dad’s really into heist-y detective movies <<
Try TOPKAPI. It has the advantage of having been filmed in English, too.
>>My mom’s into horror and Hellboy and she loved Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone and The Orphanage when I made her watch them with me<<
Ah, you’ve already got her on a foreign kick. Let’s see: BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, LES YEUX SANS VISAGE, BLACK SUNDAY, possibly … maybe even LA BELLE ET LA BETE.
CITY OF LOST CHILDREN has some cross-over possibilites for both the ’rents. And if they like that, spring A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT on them.
And if either like animated films, try some Miyazaki.
I always felt you can’t go wrong starting out with Sergio Leone’s Westerns. They feel contemporary, they’re dubbed into English and the have Clint Eastwood. From there it’s an easy transition into Yojimbo (the basis for A Fistful of Dollars), Once Upon a Time in America, or the other spaghetti Westerns. I find Claude Chabrol a good jumping off point for French fim, as he’s fairly mainstream. La Cérémonie is a recent film and it’s based on on English crime novel.
Herzog’s Stroszek is about a German immigrant’s experiences in the US—very relatable to novices.
The Wind Will Carry Us
Fabián Bielinsky’s Nine Queens is a pretty straight forward crime film from Argentina.
something by John Woo or Johnnie To for Hong Kong
Edward Yang’s Yi Yi from Taiwan
Almodovar’s Volver from Spain - very Hitchcock-like
I’d go with Le Cercle Rouge. No one ever has anything bad to say about that movie.
When I get non-foreign film people to watch some I always pick shorter films. People who don’t like reading subtitles tend to get sort of impatient at around the hour to hour and a half mark so I try to keep them short. In my experience it isn’t about the accessibility but the length. I showed my friend Rashomon and Persona both unconventional but due to their lengths he sat through them and liked both.
Depending on their tastes I would suggest Bergman films. Most of his great films are around 90 minutes (except Fanny and Alexander of course). Or try something recent because people who don’t like foreign films tend not to like old films. I suggest The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, or City of God (especially if they are with the rest of the country in love with Slumdog Millionaire this will show them how a similar story should be done). Just don’t show them Andrei Rublev (even though it is amazing)!
Nights of Cabiria
The Hidden Fortress
Sansho the Bailiff
The Virgin Spring
Smiles of a Summer Night
Raise the Red Lantern
I would refrain from showing the french and german movies.
I wouldn’t show any silent films, because #1 thats a whole other ballgame, and #2, silent films on dvd have the english intertitles, so they wouldn’t necessarily feel as though they are watching a foreign movie, because with english intertitles, a foreign silent and an american or british silent all look the same to the lay-person.
i agree that amelie is the perfect place to start. very accessible. and great
amelie is great, though I think it may give a false impression of what better known french cinema is like.
Amelie, City of God, and Pan’s Labyrinth are great starts because they’re in color, they’re quite stylistic and pretty, and they’re genre films, thus easier digested than the likes of really in-depth dramas from Antonioni and Ozu (I love both dearly, and I’d never recommend either of them for people looking for mainstream titles).
Sometimes, though… not to scare them away, or anything… but I find Takashi Miike movies are quite delightful to surprise people who think that all foreign films are boring over-Romantic “but I’m le tired!” dramas. Throw ‘em a bit o’ Ichi the Killer and then immediately follow it up with Zebraman, and they won’t know what to think.
It’s not a big recommendation; actually, it’s a dangerous move—but sometimes works. If you try to be all classy with foreign films all the time, you run the risk of reinforcing the idea that foreign films are merely for pretentious people.
OH! Luc Besson. Great start, they’ve probably already seen the likes of Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, etc., just tell ‘em La Femme Nikita and Angel-A is from the same director and they’ll probably be much more interested in sitting down and paying attention. And if they haven’t seen those two movies, have’m watch those titles first.
And, if you feel like being a cheeky bastard, point out to them that 28 Days Later… is a foreign film. Whether they like horror films or not, at least that’ll put into perspective that it’s not all about non-English languages and cheap lesser-than-Hollywood production design.
Word to the wise: I’m that frustrated video clerk who tries to slip people copies of “Tetsuo: the Iron Man” when they ask for a “good horror movie” (translated in customer-speak to: most recent Hollywood slasher out). I’m not always the best guy to take advice from when trying to expand people’s minds, ’cause I try to do that by battering them mercilessly. Mmmmm, cinematic assault… delicious!
I will say that my mother and stepfather watched The Red Circle with me but did say that they found it somewhat unnecessarily slow for a film of that genre. I disagree and happen to love Le Cercle Rouge, but to each their own. By the way, my mother enjoys foreign films but needs of mix of both Anglophone and foreign films. My stepfather can tolerate them once in a while but he’s not too fond of foreign cinema in general.
Also, I was wondering if later Bunuel, such as Belle de Jour and Discreet Charm would be okay for beginners, though some may not understand the deeper underlying motifs of the films.
Start with the 60’s!
The fact that some people think all foreign movies are bad is nothing compared to this. I’ve met people who don’t think foreign films exist! I kid you not, they believed Hollywood is the only place in the world that produces movies. I say believed, because, well…I kinda yelled at them.
I find Takashi Miike movies are quite delightful to surprise people who think that all foreign films are boring over-Romantic “but I’m le tired!” dramas.
There’s a good reason why people tend to think of foreign movies that way… it’s because those are the only foreign movies marketed in the US. Foreign movies only generally appeal to a certain segent of film-goers, which means a certain genre of film as well. In reality, the German/ French/ English/ Japanese/ Chinese &c. film industries all produce a wide range of films every year. Most of them are, obviously, not released outside of the domestic market.
…personally, I don’t ever see “foreign” films. I only see films. A movie is a movie, and everything not produced in the US isn’t necessarily “boring, over-romantic ‘but I’m tired!’ drama.”
Chineses 5th generation, Takeshi Kitano, German New Wave, Fellini, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Haneke, Luchino Visconti and Almodóvar are some good calls too.
My dad can confess to liking Das Boot and my mom loved Amelie for whatever that’s worth. Honestly I wouldn’t impose an epic family drama like Yi Yi unless they have the patience for it. Pan’s Labyrinth and City of God as polaris said are both really safe too though my dad just thought City of God was just okay because he didn’t believe the main character at all and can’t appreciate film making for one second. Story is BIG with parents. Also they are suckers for Foreign Film Oscar Winners that are overrated.
I really think that I nailed it with my recommendations a year ago.
How can somebody, i.e. this Patrick person, come and make a thread like this, and then never respond back in it?
…it’s been a year already? Nah, I’ve only been on this forum for a month or two… and what a month, ’twas.
I always thought THE RED BALLOON was said to be everyone’s entree into foreign film…
I’d seen hundreds of foreign films before I had even heard of the Red Ballon.
My first film was Knife in the Water, but after that I quickly dove into Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa.