Archive for November 2012 | Monthly archive page

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Since my first taste of foreign cinema, I’ve been in love with the sometimes quiet, sometimes loud dynamic of film-making outside of America. I love how a story can be stripped down and told in a way that not only leaves you thinking long after it ends, but gives you a certain satisfaction even if the wrap-up lacks that feel-good closure. Take a film like China’s Da hong deng long gao gao gua (U.S titled: Raise the Red Lantern). How can you not fall in love with the vivid colors, the drama and range of emotions that are presented in such a grand, intricate, and yet tangible fashion? This epic, starring Li Gong, is a must-have for any film aficionado. The best part is that it does have a hopeful ending, one that may not be in line with the usual Western fare of happily-ever-after, but still conveys its point without resorting to what has now become the cliche, ambiguous open-end.

And then there are films like 2007’s Control. A contrast to Raise the Red Lantern, this biopic on the brief rise and tragic fall of the celebrated band Joy Division, was shot in black in white and set amongst the dreary landscape of Manchester, England; it entered through the festival circuit during a time when you’d have to drag your friends kicking and screaming to see anything short of technicolor, and it exited  indie theaters with little fanfare. Although, last year’s The Artist caused a stir—for its brave silence in a Dolby-driven era, and roaring twenties use of black and white—Control was a quieter film; one that used its desaturated lens to emphasize the starkness of its subject matter. The results being profound and highly effective.

Though these films have filled a void left by the twenty year deficit in American cinematic storytelling, they are not the only ones making the grade and exceeding it. For those of you that like your movies with a dash of the surreal, a shock of thrills and a grand helping of gore, the foreign market has you covered too. On my next installment, I’ll discuss two such films that have served to open my eyes to the vast possibilities of international cinema.

Until next time.