Tag Archives: Foreign Films

The Snapper

Stephen Frears directs this dramedy about a working-class Dublin family that’s thrown into chaos when they learn that daughter Sharon (Tina Kellegher) is pregnant. But by choosing not to reveal the identity of the father, Sharon becomes the target of rampant gossip. Colm Meaney co-stars in this adaptation of the book from Irish author Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy, which also includes The Commitments and The Van.

Rating: 6 out of 10

I randomly caught this one on Showtime, and I’m glad I did. It’s a charming film, loaded with Irish wit, humor and sentimentality.

The story is about a young girl who is pregnant out of wedlock in a small, working-class Irish town. Time hasn’t been too kind to this film, though. Young, pregnant girls aren’t exactly the most controversial topic nowadays — sadly. Sharon, the girl at the center of the story, is 20. So it’s not even like she’s that young.

But what does work is the genuine chemistry of the family. They live in a tiny little house, with a whole bunch of kids packed in like sardines. They have an authentic feel about them, the way they talk to each other, the way they play. It’s never corny. And the heart of the family is the father, played with great likability by Colm Meaney. The father and daughter move the picture well, even if the topic of the film doesn’t have a lot of impact.

Casa de mi Padre

Will Ferrell stars as a Spanish-speaking cowboy in this comedy about a Mexican clan trying to rescue their ranch from greedy creditors. When his brother can’t save the day, the simple but noble ranch hand takes on a powerful drug lord.

Rating: 5 out of 10

In theory, I should love this film: Will Farrell stars in a Spanish-language film that lampoons old Mexican movies in a campy romp. In reality, it just kind of fell flat for me.

There were a couple really funny moments where I laughed hard. There’s a very amusing love scene with some uncomfortable close-ups of Farrell’s posterior. It had me cracking up. But a lot of this movie just didn’t go anywhere, or meandered. There weren’t enough jokes.

This movie does succeed in where Farrell is great as a comedic actor, and that’s character development. In Anchor Man, his character Ron Burgundy has layers of character, and the title roles in this film are given that same treatment. But in the end, the execution fell far short of the premise.

Brian’s Review – “In The Realm of the Senses” (1976)









Based on a true story set in Pre-War Japan, a man and one of his servants begin a torrid affair. Their desire becomes a sexual obsession so strong that to intensify their ardor, they forsake all, even life itself.

Brian –

Rating – 6 out of 10

“In the Realm of the Senses”

 I really had to think about this one for a few days before I wrote the review. It would have been easy to dismiss this film an an artsy hardcore pornography that explores nothing but ways to make you cringe. I think if I had gone with that original line of thought without giving my brain a few days to digest what I’d seen, I would have done the filmmakers a dis-service. There is more going on here than meets the eye even if it is both shocking and repellent along with being semi-well executed. Pornography is meant to turn on and involve the viewer for the purposes of sexual gratification.

This film pushes the viewer away and makes them feel distant and cold to their sexual experiences. The main couple here may constantly have sex but their moments in the bedroom are filled with anger, jealousy, contempt, and self-loathing. Sada (the female lead) and Kichizo (the male lead) do not enjoy one another as much as they take out their frustrations through sex. He is an experimenter that has no lines on what he will tolerate and she is a sadomasochistic and jealous lover who wants to possess him mind, body, and spirit.

The sex in the film is largely un-simulated and contains actual oral and vaginal penetration. It was banned in several countries and it wasn’t until Criterion decided to do a film restoration that it actually got its day in court with art film fans. Many will try to dissect is as if it was a loftier and more pretentious movie than it really is. This is not a complicated subject. It basically asks the question: “when can a person truly say they possess another completely?” The answer is obviously: never. So, the pain and anguish it takes in watching the vile acts performed on each other in the name of control is quite disgusting. If I’m constantly pointing out what a terrible movie this is to experience, why did I rate it a 6? Well, the performances are terrific, the pacing is perfect for the subject matter, and the direction is very brave. This is certainly a film that laid all its chips on the table for a boom or bust scenario.

Can I recommend it? I have to say no despite feeling more positive than negative because most viewers would rather not put themselves through this. It’s a harrowing experience. Also, I don’t think it’s a particularly deep film even though it is part of the Criterion Collection. But, at the end of the day, I have to rate a film by how well it executes what it set out to do and for the most part, they’ve succeeded.

Seven Days

Surgeon Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault) is living a seemingly idyllic life until his young daughter is raped and murdered. Obsessed with vengeance, Bruno concocts a plot to kidnap, torture and execute the man responsible for the crime. Once his plan comes to fruition, he’ll turn himself in. Director Daniel Grou makes his feature-film debut with this thriller based on a novel by Patrick Senécal. Rémy Girard and Fanny Mallette co-star.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Warning: some minor spoilers!

If you think, based on the description above, that this is another Hostel it most definitely isn’t. The grief of loss is presented in a very real and palpable way that drew me in. The husband and wife (played brilliantly by Claude Legault and Fanny Mallette) are real people dealing with the most horrific thing that can happen to a human being, the loss of a child. It’s that sense of reality that drew me into the story. Who wouldn’t want revenge for the rape and murder of their child? Who wouldn’t want to make their attacker suffer unimaginably? Who hasn’t questioned whether imprisonment is “enough” for a crime of this magnitude?

So, for a film raising all of these interesting questions, why is it a lowly 6? I feel the story takes a lot of turns that made it too ridiculous that it started to lose me. For one, there’s a point where the father kidnaps the mother of a previous victim of the same killer who murdered his daughter. Why? He saw her in a TV interview talking about how she has forgotten about the killer. He finds it so offensive that he chloroforms her and takes her to the hidden cottage where the killer is being tortured so she can face him. All of this is done while there’s a massive manhunt for him going on. It really never needed to get that ridiculous. The more basic the story became, the better it was. Why take the doctor away from the confrontations with the murderer as well as his own demons? That also reminds me of another weakness of the story. The writer decided to have zero dialogue interaction between the father and the killer. I can understand the idea that he wouldn’t even want to speak with him but why deprive the audience of what could have been several interesting exchanges to further flesh out the characters?

On a positive note, newcomer director Daniel Grou has a terrific sense of pacing and his use of silence in the film is excellent. I love when filmmakers take the time to show us a story visually without music or dialogue to paint a story.

I must also note that the film is horribly violent and contains scenes of extended torture. It’s certainly not for the squeamish. In fact, I would bet most of you will not like or enjoy it. I don’t think that was the ever the intention. I took from it that if you were given a chance to make the punishment fit the crime, would you lose your soul in the process?

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer

The dark princess is up to no good! She’s snatched the Spectra — the universe’s sole source of light. Without Spectra in its rightful place, all will be plunged into gloom and dreariness unless Rainbow Brite and her friends can defeat the princess. In an animated cosmos of enchanted worlds, spunky Rainbow Brite and her magical horse, Starlite, confront evil by using color, magic, cleverness and joy as ammunition.

Rating: 3 out of 10

As a lark, I put this on Netflix streaming. The next five minutes made my wife and I crack up laughing.

The first five minutes of this movie are absolutely hilarious. They are so over-the-top cheery, from the singing rainbow-colored horse , to the bubbly song, and the obsurdly happy rainbow world. They are so funny we watched them about three times. Really, it’s just priceless. It makes you wonder where Jerry Falwell was when this came out. He missed the boat with Teletubbies.

I posted the intro song in the video clip below, which is totally worth watch. It’s just absurdly happy.

The rest of the movie, however, is pure garbage. It’s got terrible voiceovers, bad animation, a thin story, and very little to offer cihldren other than an opportunity for a company to peddle Rainbow Brite toys to them. Watching this movie was an experience, I can tell you that. But as Rainbow Brite sings, every morning is a rainbow day.

The Illusionist

Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature, this wistful tale follows the fading fortunes of aging illusionist Tatischeff , who’s forced to perform in obscure venues as his act is eclipsed by the growing popularity of rock bands. He gets an emotional lift, though, from a wide-eyed girl named Alice, who thinks he possesses magic powers. But Tatischeff’s “sleight of hand” efforts to impress her with expensive gifts may lead to his financial undoing.

Rating: 4 out of 10

“L’illusionniste” is sad. That’s the way I felt the whole movie. Sure there’s a flash of the fun times the magician had when he had a successful act in Paris, but really it’s about his decline.

I spent the whole movie waiting for the change, for something good to happen. It didn’t. On his way down, the illusionist spends some time in Scotland where he befriends a young girl, Alice. I thought this was where some happiness would come in. But Alice just seems selfish and unappreciative of his generosity.

Sometimes I enjoy movies like this, a story that is linear seems more honest and life doesn’t always have a happy ending. So maybe it was my mood or maybe I was waiting for some of the silliness that was in their previous film, “The Triplets of Belleville,” but it just felt a little empty.

Dead Snow

A group of Norwegian friends get the scariest history lesson of their lives during a weekend getaway to the snowy town of Øksfjord, where the party is interrupted by throngs of Nazi zombies who once occupied the area. Armed with a machine-gun-equipped snowmobile, the gang fights for survival in director Tommy Wirkola’s quirky horror, shot on location in the mountains of Norway. The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Rating: 3 out of 10

“Dead Snow” is a Frankenstein combination of several good horror films.  It has the living dead aspect of “The Night of the Living Dead,”,has the tongue in cheek nature of “Evil Dead,” the winter background of John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” and it has the bad guys coming back to claim old treasure element of “The Fog.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything very good and comes across as a pale emulation that tried too hard but forgot to actually write a script.  It has the usual horror element: several friends go on a vacation getaway (Hostel and Final Destination 2 among others) to a cabin (Evil Dead and Cabin Fever) where they are visited by an odd man bringing foreboding news of doom and gloom (Friday the 13th) and are eventually attacked by bloodthirsty zombies (28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead) who are after their gold (The Fog) while one of the guys in the group constantly references movies (Scream).  Sound original?  Yeah, I thought the same thing.

So, without any originality whatsoever, does it at least give us some good scares?  I certainly didn’t feel fear for one second because so many of the director’s decisions are really puzzling.  For example, why Nazi zombies?   I know it’s a German film and all but is that really scary in any way?  If you were to walk outside right now and see a zombie dressed as a member of Nazi Socialist Party complete with World War II helmets, jackets, bayonets, and grenades, wouldn’t you laugh your ass off?  I know I would.  The director even tries to spice up the way they look by constantly having them drool blood.  Where does all this blood come from?  Do they have some unlimited supply in their home underneath the snow on a mountain where they’ve been dormant for 65 years that they can keep in their cheeks?  Look, I’m not trying to overanalyze this.  I mean, we can all agree it’s a really dumb idea to dress zombies up as Nazis and somehow think it will frighten an audience.  But, when I’m bored, this is what I do.  I nitpick things that shouldn’t be nitpicked because the filmmakers have given me no reason to give a shit about the plot, characters, or entertainment value.  One more observation I noticed during this turd sandwich: for half of the movie, all of the characters’ faces are absolutely covered in blood.  I’m sure it was done on purpose for effect, but c’mon, we can all deal with the blood splash on the face right after someone has killed a zombie but these people have never heard of wiping their face on their sleeve?  It’s not subtle.  Their faces are completely covered in long blood splash lines that run across their entire face.  It’s just one annoying decision in a long line of them that holds this film back from even being fun.  Avoid!

Fish Tank

The life of hot-tempered teen outcast Mia (Katie Jarvis) takes an unexpected turn when her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), brings home a handsome and mysterious boyfriend named Connor (Michael Fassbender), who pledges to bring sweeping positive changes to the household. British writer-director Andrea Arnold’s sophomore feature won Best British Film at the 2010 BAFTAs.

Rating: 8 out of 10 

Fish Tank has a wonderful correlation that runs through the entire film.  The main character, 15-year-old Mia, is troubled because her small world is changing.  She no longer has a good relationship with her mother or sister, she has no girlfriends, and anytime she leaves her home is constantly in conflict with others. 

At one point, she bumps into a rundown trailer park where she sees an old horse on its last legs.  She becomes protective of the horse and demands the owner’s take better care of the animal.  As the story progresses, the horse gets sicker and sicker and Mia’s life gets more and more complicated and confusing.  I realized that the horse was a symbol of her lost innocence.  What better way to capture the end of childhood than a sick horse ready to be put down?  All girls dream unrealistic dreams when they are young.  They want to be a princess, marry a prince, and ride away in the sunset on their pony.  So, what does a young girl do during a time when everything they knew isn’t as it seemed and the world grows darker and colder by the minute?  They hold onto a hope for something better and Mia is no different.  Her passion is for dance and the way it takes her away to a better place in her mind.  There are several wonderful scenes where she dances alone in an apartment building to her music and you can feel what it means to her.  The emotional connection I felt was largely due to the wonderful performance by Katie Jarvis in the lead.  Her scenes are never forced or overacted.  They play out eloquently and in service to the story. 

Is everything perfect here?  No.  While I really enjoyed Mia’s story, there was a sense that there could have been more character interaction.  Mia’s mother and sister are largely wasted as after thoughts when they could have been central in how Mia faces the challenges she does (I won’t spoil them here).  “Fish Tank” is wonderful at presenting confusion but does very little in resolving it.  Some viewers would call that a strength but I consider it a weakness.  Some filmmakers like to leave a lot open ended to let the viewer imagine what could or should have happened to the characters.  But, it’s not about what I think should happen to Mia.  That’s the storyteller’s job and they let me down a little near the end.  But, for those that like cerebral coming of age stories, Fish Tank is a must see.


Reclusive Londoner Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess), who bears a prominent, heart-shaped birthmark on his face yet can’t seem to find love anywhere, makes a deal with a devil-like figure to get a girl — but there’s a deadly price to pay. After his mother is murdered, the newspapers say thugs wearing devil masks committed the crime. But Jamie soon begins to suspect that they weren’t wearing masks at all.

Rating: 8 out of 10

“Love is only temporary but suffering is eternal.” -Papa B. in the film Heartless

Heartless is a very special film containing the most original visual work I have seen in a film since “Black Swan.” I love films where the camera is as much a character as the principle actors. Director Philip Ridley doesn’t just place actors on a set and have them exchange dialogue until they move onto the next scene. He paints a picture here that perfectly encapsulates the mood of each individual segment. When demons are lurking, committing atrocities, or tempting the main character, we not only feel but see the bleakness, despair, darkness, and anger. Conversely, the romantic and loving elements are obviously quite the opposite but are just as, if not more, effective. He changes the style completely to a washed out and bright world that feels like you’re touching heaven.

The story itself is a Faustian tale with its own surprises and twists along the way. I have always enjoyed when a character that has a good heart is given a chance at getting what he wants the easy way by having to commit evil deeds. Does he take the opportunity despite the steep costs? What deeds must he perform? How does it affect the other characters around him? It’s a formula that can be very good or very bad depending on the skills of the director and actors involved. Luckily, the script here works almost as well as the visual style. These characters really come alive in Ridley’s world and pulled me in. I cared what happened to them. I suppose much of the credit for that has to be given to Jim Sturgess who is brilliant in the main role. He goes through myriad changes from the beginning to the end of the film and our hearts break or are lifted up by him. Are there missteps? There’s a few. The setup is so amazing that I’m sure the final act was hard to pull off no matter what they did. I didn’t feel the same satisfaction as I did during the setup. Without giving away any spoilers, the last 10 minutes wrapped up a bit too quickly. I felt a bit more explanation was necessary considering the amount of questions that had been left open. Is it a perfect film? No, but it’s damn good and for anyone that enjoys a dark moral fable, I highly recommend it.


Dejected by the futility of his tedious life, bitter small-town resident Bill (Brendan Fletcher) takes matters into his own hands by constructing a bulletproof outfit, picking up his semi-automatic weapons and attempting the largest killing spree ever seen. Written and directed by controversial filmmaker Uwe Boll, this ultra-violent action movie features jarring handheld camerawork and original dialogue largely improvised by the cast.

Rating: 0 out of 10

Welcome to the Rampage review. I’d like to share some adjectives to describe the film and its director. Uwe Boll is a talentless, worthless, brain dead, passionless, soulless, blind, and creatively DOA director. His script is disgusting, stupid, pointless, and probably written in crayon. And the film itself is offensive, irresponsible, ugly, and flat out horrendous.

It would be impossible for me to truly clarify my hatred of this movie. You want to know the plot? A college age kid puts on a Kevlar armor body suit and murders innocent men, women, and children by the dozens. Why? It’s not really explained nor does it need to be. This film is so bad, the only thing that offended me more than the senseless violence was the senseless script or lack thereof. How in the hell does this classify as entertainment? I am not offended by violence when it is relevant to a story. ” Taxi Driver,” “Fight Club,” and “The Passion of the Christ” all had extreme violence that served a purpose. This film seems to think murder is somehow entertaining. Now, how is it different than your typical slasher films? That’s easy. There’s no suspense, no buildup, no justice, and no fighting back from any protagonist. We, as an audience, basically sit and watch the main character slaughter people. Thanks Uwe Boll. You just reminded me why you made our “top 5 worst directors working today” list. Stay the hell away from the movie business. I say with no hesitation, “Rampage” is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.