Friday, January 20, 2012

Awards-Nazi Awards nominations: Foreign Film

As it is with the documentaries, my opportunities to take in gripping world cinema are forever limitted by their timid release startegies. I consider myself lucky to be able to see the ones that I do, and even luckier if they happen to be good. So if these change at all before (or even after) I announec my winners, it's because I've been forced to play catch-up with foreign titles only just breaking into my local theatres. For the time being, are the five best Foreign Films I've seen this year:

Bullhead (Michael Roskam):
Thanks especially to a brooding lead performance from a bulked-up Matthias Schoenaerts, this starkly shot, slow-boiling crime drama keeps the viewer's attention firmly locked on its tragic central figure without allowing the numerous less robust subplots to become distracting. Tough, but elegant, film making.

Miss Bala (Gereardo Naranjo):
Naranjo perpetually keeps us as confused and uncertain as our frightened heroine is regarding the complicated politics of the drug dealers and their constantly shifting allegiances. We're never sure what chain of events will occur next. We only know that it'll be violent. He relishes in long takes that all look terrific.

Pina (Wim Wenders):
If you're a fan of dance, then you'll be excited and invigorated by Wim Wenders' unique 3D ode to the late Pina Bausch, renowned interpretive dancer and choreographer. You've never seen dance done quite like this on film. Gene Kelly himself would be impressed!

A Separation (Asghar Farhadi):
An exceptional domestic drama about the failure of human relationships, and not just marital ones as the title implies. It's more about the problems affecting all people in Iran than just the characters in the story, told with an polished aesthetic technique that captures the best of every performance, and there are a lot of them.

La Soga (Josh Crook, Manny Perez):
Originally a TIFF premiere in 2009, Josh Crook's gritty Dominican crime saga got a miniscule release in 2011 and more or less fell into obscurity. But it's a swell thriller all the same, with a caustic undertone about the ills of a society in which innocent children are schooled by a society built on crime, like piglets being raised for the slaughter.

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