Saturday, December 30, 2023

Books Read in 2023

 Reading is one of the joys of life and it helps to better understand a confusing world.  Fiction books help tell the truth by by lies.  Fiction books are said to develop empathy.

 Fiction

  "Finding Edward" (2022 by Sheila Murray was concerned with immigrants from Jamaica.  The author used parallel stories about 70 years apart.   When a draft was written there was a lot of discrimination against blacks which the author felt had not changed, but when the book was published she felt there was hope that things were changing.

 "Melting Pots and Tribal Enclaves" (2022) by Terry Morgan           check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/melting-pots-and-tribal-enclaves.html     





"The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida" (2022) by Shehan Karunatilaka.  Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize.  Set in war torn Sri Lanka.  Ghosts are the main characters with much meditations on life, war.

 "Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted" (2021) by Gary Barwin  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/hamilton-reads-selection-nothing-same.html

"Recessional" (1994) a rare second reading.  Perhaps looking at the natural progression of retirement.

"Do whatever they say or else" (1977) by Nobel literature winner.  Stream of consciousness by a teenage girl.

"The Oppenheimer Alternative" (2020) is listed under fiction, but has an amazing amount of actual history while using science fiction as a tool to make us THINK.  First read on new Kobo.  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/07/the-oppenheimer-alternative.html




 

 "State of Terror" (2021) Joint effort from Louise Penney and Hilary Clinton.  A political thriller with rich characterizations of Donald Trump  In my mind he was pictured as an egotistical maniac--in other words pretty close to reality. 

"Us Against You" (2017) by Fredrik Backman was the sequel to "Beartown" (2015) and the prequel to "Winners" (2022).  A very good read with the setting in a rural town in northern Sweden.   Check:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/us-against-you.html


 


 

 

 

 

 

"Remember Me"  (2022) Charity Norman.  A sort of mystery from New Zealand.

 "A New Season" (2023) Terry Fallis.  An interesting romance starting with a grieving widower. Read more:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/a-new-season.html

"The Outsider" (1942).  Albert Camus A man condemned because he didn't show remorse when it was expected

"Blood Lines" (2023) Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille.  A spy story with jurisdiction issues.  Hard to put down.  Reminded that Nelson DeMille auctions off character names for charities.



 

 

 

NON FICTION

"Slouching Towards Utopia"  (2022) Until 1870 innovations raised global wealth, but not for individuals.  After 1870 we had a long growth period for more people until about 2010.   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/slouching-towards-utopia.html







 "The Next Civil War" (2022)  by Stephen Marche is a depressing read.  With the world beset by global problems, climate change, illegal invasions, pandemics, etc. America is split into antagonistic factions with little hope of resolving. 

"Homecoming" (2022) by Rana Foroohar outlines the global economy after the pandemic.  Some encouraging trends but also problems that need solving.  She offers lots of good ideas.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/homecoming-by-rana-foroohar.html

"While Time Remains" (2023) by Yeonmi Park.  Survived North Korea and sex slave in China.  Now in America she seems to favor right wing thinking. 

"The Road to Keringet" (2012)  Loaned to me by my sister Rebecca.  It hit home because a good part of that took place in my adopted home town including our local library.  A lot of psycho analysis.  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/the-road-to-keringet-different-kind-of.html

"The Shortest History of War" (2022) by Gwynne Dyer.  An important book that needs a bigger audience.  Our history has evolved to our current point when we have the ability to crash civilization.  If we can better understand our rational self interest there is hope, but it is likely to be a slow process, but we have taken some positive steps.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/the-shortest-history-of-war.html






"Shopomania" (2022) Seemed to be set up in a whimsical pattern, but well thought out.  A lot of anecdotes about shopping.  At the end it is clear there must be a better way. Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/shopomania.html

"The Persuaders" (2022) by Anand Giridharadas.  More effective ways of dealing with the right wing supporters.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/the-persuaders.html
   

 

 

 

 

"The Ransomeware Hunting Team" (2022) explains the Ransomware phenomena 

"Untouchable  How Powerful People Get Away With It" (2023) by Elie Honig.  A former prosecutor explains how some people get away with crime.A big focus on Donald Trump and concern that the Department of Justice has delayed too long.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/untouchable-how-they-get-away-with-it.html  

"Biased" (2019) by Jennifer L. Eberhardt.  Lots of personal stories and scientific surveys to help better understand bias.  Done well.    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/biased.htmlphoto

 "The Edge of the Plain" (2022) It is all about borders something that is ingrained in us and then moves onto our future and how we need to change our thinking.     http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/09/how-borders-make-and-break-our-world.html








"Symphony for City of the Dead"  About the famous composer Shostakovich focusing on the Leningrad Seige.  (2015) by M. T. Anderson.  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/09/shostakovich-and-siege-of-leningrad.html 

"Her Name is Margaret" (2023) by Denise Davy.  Denise is a reporter with the Hamilton Spectator who was able to interview dozens of relatives, helpers and friends of a homeless independent woman.  We are surrounded by the homeless.  check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/her-name-is-margaret.html photo and link

"Range Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" (2019) by David Epstein.  There has been a trend to specialize too often prompted by concerned parents.   We need specialists but we also need generalists who can connect a broad range of ideas.

"Peace by Chocolate" (2020) Immigrant from Syria comes to Antigonish, Nova Scotia and carries on the family tradition of chocolate.  Great Canadian success story.  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/peace-by-chocolate.html

"The Hidden Wealth of Nations" (2015).  Points out how wealthy individuals and corporations are able to avoid taxes.  I believe the problem is still there, but progress has been made.

"Thinking in Bets" (2018) by Annie Duke.  All decisions are bets and you never have all the facts.  There is a trade off between skills and luck.  Luck is what you can't control.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/all-your-decisions-are-really-bets.html

"The Bill of Obligations"  (2023) by Richard Haass does not deny rights, but maintains they would be more effective if coupled with more conscious attention to obligations.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/the-bill-of-obligations.html





"Black Wave" (2020) by Kim Ghattas.  A good attempt to unravel the Mid-east history with a focus based after 1979.  An excellent quote explains the historian dilemma regarding what is the point.  From Soren Kierkegaard, "It is perfectly true...that life must be understood backwards.  But they forget the other proposition that it must be lived forward"

Films 2023 English

These are most of the English speaking films seen in 2023.  They have comments which might hint at an interest, others have links that you can investigate.  They are not necessarily recommended.   There are a lot of enjoyable films with some of my favorites with photos or links.



 

 

 Features

 "The Duke"(2020) is a relatively low budget film, but with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren about an actual theft of a Goya portrait of the Duke of Wellington.  Apparently the actual painting was missing in 1961 and not returned until 1965.  The producers of Dr. No saw an opportunity and made a copy of  the missing painting and put it in the film implying that Dr. No had stolen the portrait. 

 "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" (2022)   A middle aged cleaning lady is infatuated with Dior and decides to go after one in Paris.

  "Whitney Houston:  I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (2022) Perhaps the best popular voice.

 "A Man Called Otto" (2022) A very good make of a Swedish film"A man called Ove", but not quite as good.

 "The Forgiven" (2022) Contrast between arrogant decadent westerners.  Ralph Finnes character accidentally kills a Moroccan boy and for awhile feels no guilt.  He is confronted by the father.  He  develops respect and guilt.  Deserved a higher rating.

"Till" (2022) Partly co commemorate the very recent passage of an anti-lynch law based on the incidents in this film reconstructing events of 1955.

"Celeste and Jesse forever"(2012) A couple filed for divorce, but feel each is their best friend

"Tar" (2022)   About a temperamental composer orchestra leader in Germany.

"Banshees of Intersherin" (2022) possible Oscar winner   

"She Said" (2022)  New York Times investigation on Harvey Weinstein's sexual assaults.    

 


 

 

 

 "Three Thousand Years of Longing" (2022)  A fantasy that is amusing and thought provoking.  Learned from special features that although the film showed no adoption for COVID (and that is not what we always want to see), the crew in the background did adopt some COVID precautions. 

"Top Gun Maverick" (2022)  Tom Cruise demonstrates that he still has the "stuff." Lots of very impressive aerial combat.  And macho posturing.

"Empire of Light" (2022),  Olivia Colman plays a woman with mental issues struggling.  Set in a movie theater.

 "Ticket to Paradise" (2022) Romance comedy with George Clooney and Julia Roberts a divorced couple who rush to Bali to stop their daughter from repeating their mistake.  Filmed in Australia.

"The Way Back" (2020)  A former player returns to his high school to coach the basketball team and battles with alcoholism.

"The Whale" (2022) Won two Oscars, about a man who had abandoned his wife and daughter for a gay love affair.  His gay lover died and many years later he tries to help his daughter, but she is very resistant.

"The Woman King" (2022) With a lot of emphasis on action, it was more interesting than supposed.  Viola Davis.

"Babylon" (2022) Decadence of Hollywood.  Good music.

"Women Talking" (2023) Mennonite women talking to decide how to deal with a massive rape attack.  Some good dialogue and good actresses.

"Bullet Train" (2022) is really an action film that offers some comedy.

"Air" (2023).  Admittedly this is about  a favorite athlete of mine, although he is not directly part of the script (except for the end credits when you see the real Michael).  It is about the marketing, focusing on the shoe endorsement which looking back looks like one of the smartest deals of all time, however seemed very unlikely in the beginning.  Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman and Viola Davis.  After fame is achieved it is said "everyone knew" when in fact they didn't'.  The protagonist annoyed his superiors and risked his job because he believed the entire budget should be devoted to Michael Jordan even though he didn't want to talk to Nike.  check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/air-jordan.html

"The Good House" (2022) a romantic drama with Sijourney Weaver and Kevin Kline.

"Bergman Island" (2021)  Ingmar Bergman loved Faro Island, just off Sweden in the Baltic Sea.  A director looking for inspiration.

"Spoiler Alert: (2022) a Gay love story with as the original book title points out "...the hero dies."

"The Fabelmans" (2022) reminesces of Steven Spielberg.

"Doctor Sleep" (2023) horror fantasy well done.

"Avatar:  The Way of Water" (2022).  Amazing visuals.

"Jerry and Marge Go Large" (2022) true story of a man who beat the lottery and helped his town.  Well told

"Champions" (2023)  An unusual movie filmed in Winnipeg.  A basketball coach under a court order coaches a group of mentally challenged people. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/07/champions-is-gem.html  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Georgetown" (2019)  Power struggles in Washington.

"Rogue Agent" (2022) A conman leads to misfortunes of others.

"Triangle of Sadness" (2022)  Rich people on cruise.

"Blackberry" (2023).  Of interest as a Canadian story that impacted almost all businesses including ones close to me.  Jim Bassilie was portrayed as a very obnoxious bullying business man.  At one time he did in fact try to relocate an NHL team to Hamilton.  Before the I phone the talk was about the Blackberry, but it got out manoeuvered.

"Love Again" (2023) A light romance based on misunderstanding.  Is there any other kind?

"Tully" (2018) A touching story about a mother getting help from a night nanny.   

"Reptile" (2023) A detective story with Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Silverstone.

"You Hurt My feelings" (2023) simple drama about how spouses often say things to encourage or appease each other with no intention to hurt.

"The Burial" (2023) is a legal drama with a racial under story.

"To Catch a Killer" (2023)  A mass killer search.  Politics a factor.

"Frybread Face and Me" (2023) A city boy visits his cousin in Navajo territory.  One Navajo custom was to celebrate the first laugh from a new baby.

"The Lost King" (2023)   An amateur, housewife finding King Richard III's grave and restoring his reputation. 

"Oppenheimer" (2023) The organizer for the atomic bomb.  There was a Communist witch hunt afterwards.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series

"The Undoing" (2020) Directed by Dane, Susanne Bier and starring Nicole Kidman and an uncharacteristic Hugh Grant in a psychological drama.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/the-undoing.html

"Too Close" (2021) Psychological crime story.

"Band of Brothers" (2001) An excellent comprehensive war series. Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/band-of-brothers.html






"Dear Edward" (2023) One young boy survives a plane crash.  We follow him and a group of victim relatives and friends.

"From Scratch" (2022) Black American woman meets Italian chef in Florence.   A very touching story based on real experience.

"The Diplomat" (2023) Diplomatic maneuverings in Europe.

"Seven Seconds" (2019)  Racial tension between African Americans in the New Jersey area with white police force.

"This is Going to Hurt" (2022) A frightening look at the public health system in Britain,years ago  



  

 

 

"Marriage" (2023) Family life with Sean Bean and Nicola Walker.   

"The Angel" (2018)  Based on true espionage relations involving Egypt and Israel through the son in law of Nasser. 

"Greenleaf" (2016-2016)  The shenanigans of southern religious church leaders, mostly of African Americans, but a white group plans to intervene.

"Bodies" *(2023)  Time travel murder mysteries.  Time travel is an interesting tool, but don't it too seriously.  Just an interesting story.

"Lessons in Chemistry" (2023) Female chemist is discriminated meets an open minded chemist.




 

 

 "The First Lady" (2022)  All star cast and crew delving into the lives of presidential wives.  Also a good picture of the difficulties of pushing worthy legislature and getting elected.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/the-first-lady.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Older Films (2012 and before)_

 "City Slickers" (1991) A comedy with Billy Crystal visiting a cowboy resort.

"Brief Encounter" (1945) Noel Coward film touching on possible infidelity.

"Chinatown" (1974) An excellent Jack Nicholson film with politics and crime.




 

 

 "Thirteen Days" (2001) The Cuban Missile Crisis revealed some tension we didn't realize at the time.  Struck by conflict between military and politicians, but also within each group.2022

"Top Gun" (1986) A young Tom Cruise struts his style.

 "Taxi Driver" (1976) Vigilante violence

"A Countess from Hong Kong" (1967) The only historically redeeming factor is Charlie Chaplin who wrote, directed, wrote the music and had a small role.  Sophia Loren was glamorous as usual and I understand she married Carlo Ponti during the filming.

"The Appaloosa"  (1966) Marlon Brando in a western.  Done well.

"The Night of the Following Day" (1969) a kidnapping drama with Marlon Brando and Richard Boone. 

 "Mississippi Masala" (1991) A collaborative effort between Bollywood and Hollywood.  Works good.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/when-hollywood-meets-bollywood.html

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939) Charles Laughton.  Maureen O'Hara in first American film.  Class conflicts.






 "Fort Apache" (1948) John Ford directed western.  John Wayne and Henry Fonda at loggerheads with John Wayne more sympathetic to indigenous.  Shirley Temple in her first adult film appears cloying.

"A Bridge Too Far" (1977) An impressive film which illustrates the largest armed attack in WW II  Paratroopers, planes, gliders, tanks

"Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World" (2003) was more interesting than previously thought.  Lots of action, done realistically, but also filmed partly in the Galapagos demonstrating wildlife before Darwin.  Also scenes shown of two playing classical music.   

 "The Great Waldo Pepper" (1975) takes place after WWI with barnstorming pilots trying to make a living and eventually end up in Hollywood.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005)  Life of a geisha just before WWII.  Beautiful music by John Williams and performances by Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.

"Days of Heaven" (1978)  A sort of love triangle with Richard Gere steering his partner to marry a wealthy landowner.

"The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" (2002) About a coerced confession from a 12 year old.  Depicts how police can encourage false confessions.  

"The Squid and the Whale" (2005).  The divorce of two writers affects their two sons.  The father is a once successful writer always putting down other people.

"Algiers" (1938) Charles Boyer, a charming gangster and Hedy Lamarr.

"It Could Happen to You" (1994) A charming romance.  Nicolas Cage before playing obnoxious roles.  Wendell Pierce before "Suits".

"Charlotte's Web" (2006) Giving human voices to animals.  Story about the circle of life.

"Braveheart" (1995) winner of 5 Oscars.  A good film, but very violent.

"The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006) Revisited, after seeing in theater when it came out.  Inspiring.

"Elizabeth" (1999).  An impressive film concerning an important time in English history.

"Gifted Hands:  The Ben Carson story" (2009)  Had been turned off by his political career, but realize he has had a very commendable medical career and overcome obstacles.

"A Time to Kill" (1996) From a John Grisham novel, done well.  Great cast.  Part filmed in London, Ontario, Canada.

"Cry Freedom" (1987) Apartheid South Africa with Liberal white newspaper editor and black activist working together.

"Marnie" (1964) A good Alfred Hitchcock production with Sean Connery and Tippi Hedron.

"Schindler's List" (1994) Oscar winner.  Oscar Schindler bamboozled Nazis to save the lives of Jews.  Oscar best picture 1994, best director,best writing based on material previously produced or published,best cinematography, best art direction/Set Decoration, best sound,best film editing,best original music score,
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (1988) Romantic (really sexual) drama played out in Czechoslovakia including the Soviet invasion.

"Definitely, Maybe" (2008)  Interesting romance comedy with a twist.

"Washington Square" (1997)  Based on a Henry James book.  It is very well done.  Different from "The Heiress" which I also enjoyed.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel (1935).  Had thought of a very foppish character, but in fact that is the image used to fool those who would do harm.  Leslie Howard turns a serious side.

"The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965) story of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel that I had recently visited.

"After Hours" (1985) Directed by Martin Scorsese.  Madcap humor.  Cult classic.

"The Servant" (1964) Harold Pinter script.  Things are not what they seem.

"Se7vn" (1955) a murder mystery.  Has a pretty gory ending.

"One False Move (1992) Killers on the way to a town.  Violence.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986)  Some irresponsible people sure know how to enjoy life.  A classic.

"Colors" (1988) Cops vs. gangs from perspective of gung ho young guy (Sean Penn) and older veteran (Robert Duval).  Lots of action.

"Into the Wild"  () Based on a true story about a anti materialistic graduate who goes into the wild.  He encounters a wide range.  He encounters nature up close.  Screenplay and directing from Sean Penn.

Animated

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" (2022)  A mollusc has adventures and makes philosophical observations.  Integrates a 60 minutes segment. 

"Shrek"(2001) Enjoyable.  Knocked a lot of fairy tale cliches.   see http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/movie-odds-and-end.html


 


 

 

 

 

 

 Documentary

"Cow" (2022) depicts the suffering undergone by dairy cows from birth to death.  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/cow.html
 


 

 

 

 "The Beatles and India (2021)  enjoyed musical differences and meditation, but became disillusioned by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who they felt tried to use them for his own publicity.  Ravi Shankar had a lot of influence.

 "MH370;  The Plane that Disappeared" (2023) A series with discussion of what happened to the disappeared plane.  A lot of conspiracy theories, most of them discarded.

"Oyate" (2022) Indigenous in the United States, culminating at Standing Rock.

"New Eye on the Universe The James Webb Space Telescope" (2023), an episode on Nova.  The new telescope allows closer observations.  For me learning about spectroscope images was enlightening-- a method to try to detect life on other planets

"Filmmakers for the Prosecution" (2023).  Probably had seen some of the film depicting the horrors of Nazis death camps, not realizing they were part of the Nuremberg trials.  Until they were shown, the Nazis accused were nonchalant, but the horrors added to the impact of the gross crimes.  Shown a Russian version

 "The Hummingbird Effect" (2023) The hummingbird and plants have co evolved in Costa Rica and had a positive effect on other animals.

"Colosseum" (2022) is a docudrama, with actors and scholars commenting.  Romans are depicted as connoisseurs of violence.  Some interesting history.

"The Romantics" (2023) A series on Bollywood based on Yash Chopra and two of his sons.  Lots of interviews of stars including Shah Rukh Khan.  Lots of clips showing many films being put together.  Nepotism is discussed as family connections have been critical.  The U.S. is interested, but fear they want to take over.

"Your Brain:  Perception Deception  : Who's in Control" (2023) Not what I expected.  A few points included more brain connections than stars in the galaxy, reality is in the brain and all thoughts come from the brain.

"The American Buffalo" (2023)  Interesting themes.  One is how Americans destroyed the buffalo while the indigenous were respectful for nature.  There was a racial undertone that some Americans thought that if they killed off the buffalo the Indians would disappear.  At one point the conservationist movement started, but as some noted it was to keep enough buffalo alive to provide for the masculine ritual of killing them.

"Woodpeckers:  The Hole Story" (2022)The role of woodpeckers.  Their favorite target is carpet ants and find them in old trees.  Create holes as nests and do it each year while many other birds use the old nests.  Sapsuckers, a type of woodpeckers seek birch sap drilling holes that are also used by hummingbirds.   The camera work includes from inside the nesting holes.

"A Brief History of Time" (1991) Intended as a way to simplify science theory including some biography of Stephen Hawking.  Hawking his life and his theories had been discussed in a language practice session with an immigrant who was fascinated with Hawking and his theories.  Some of that enthusiasm rubbed off on me. His life and theories are worth the effort.







"Yes I AM-the Ric Weiland Story" (2023) started with a surprising interview with Bill Gates.  Ric was a homosexual who had been deeply involved with Microsoft.  He was open.  The title Yes I AM refers to a car licence plate where he was admitting that he was gay.  The Aids crisis causes a lot of stress. Ric made speeches and donated lots of money for Aids research.  Depression overtook him. 

To check out the best foreign films click here:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/2023-foreign-films.html


2023 Foreign Films

These are most of the foreign films I watched during 2023.  They were either subtitled or dubbed.  There is a brief description of each with some having more comments and a few with links to blogs with more information.  They are not all recommendations, but hopefully you would be able to investigate further before a decision to watch (or not).



 

 

Arabic

 from Jordan

 "Alleyways" (2022) More liberal than anticipated.  An interesting story of blackmail and murder. 

"200 Meters" (2022) border crossing from Palestine to Israel.2023.  International award winner.

from Kuwait

 "The Exchange" (2023).  Refers to the Kuwait Stock Exchange with two women making headway, but soon to be disrupted by Saddam Hussain's invasion.

from Morocco

"The Blue Caftan" (2023) An award winner at Cannes.  A tender story about the relationship between three people.



 

 

 

from Oman

 "The  Falconer" (2022).  Two employees at a zoo, but one has a different motive.

From Syria

"The Day I Lost My Shadow" (2018) This film is about Syria, has a Syrian writer/director/editor, a Syrian cast, but was filmed in Lebanon.  It concerns the war in Syria and uses the concept of no shadows to symbolize Syrian lives.

from Tunisia

"Zizou and the Arab Spring" (2016) is really a comedy with some reference to political issues.  I was surprised to see a nude scene.

Bollywood

"Freddy" (2022) is like a film noir with a somewhat familiar plot.  A loser falls for a beautiful woman who is being abused by her husband.  He becomes obsessed with her and she reciprocates.  He is outraged at the abuse and after telling her he kills the husband.  One more twist to tell is that she had set up our loser hero to get rid of her husband so she could take over the business and live with her boyfriend.  Sound familiar?  There are a few more twists you may find entertaining.

"Trial by Fire" (2023).  This series recounts how it took over 20 years years for any justice after a fire in Delhi.  An irony, Anupam Kher is seen going to a theatre to watch one of his movies.

"Vadh" (2022) has a decent middle age couple who have gotten in debt supporting their youngsters overseas run up against loan sharks and corrupt police.  

"Drishyam 2" is a sequel with many twists.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/drishyam-2-signifies-new-global-movie.html

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 "Farzi " (2023) An exciting crime series. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/farzi-or-fakes.html

"Pathaan" (2023) Disappointed that Shah Rukh Khan opted for an action hot with so many special effects.  Hd is better than that.  Lots of hard to believe action.

"Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga" (2023)  A great twist movie with Yami Gautam.    check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/chor-nikal-ke-bhaga.html


 

 

 

 

 "Kathal-A Jackfuit Mystery" (2023) a satire criticizing caste and gender stereotypes.  Starring Sanya Molhatra who is proving herself to be a very versatile actress.

"Bheed" (2023) A perspective on the Covid 19 pandemic.  Black and White.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/bheed-covid-drama-from-india.html

"Scoop" (2023) Journalists being killed. 

"Afwaah" (2023)  Social media rumors cause havoc.

"Lust Stories 2" (2023)   Four shot stories by top directors/writers regarding sex and relationships.

"Jaane Jaan" (2023)   A film version of one of my favorite boosk, "The Devotion of Suspect X". link photo? 

"OMG 2" (2023) The focus is on masturbation with a plea for sex education.  Lots of religious satire.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/omg-2.html




 

 

 

 

 

 

 "Kaala Paani" (2023)  Seen only a few days after OMG 2.  Also an excellent film. Deals with with pandemic on remote island also involving indigenous people.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/kaali-paani.html



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Jawan" (2023) Ridiculous amount of action.  Shah Rukh Khan. 

"Railway Men" (2023) A four part series about the Bhopal Disaster.  Government and corporation tried to cover it up while railway men went against orders to help.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/the-railway-men.html

"Mission Raniganj" (2023)  A sincere engineer specializing in rescue operations runs into corrupt mining supervisor.  Good underground action.

"Friday Night Plan" (2023) A lot more enjoyable than I thought after watching promotion.  Babil Khan, stands on his own and is very good.  Juhi Chawla adds a little class.

"Umrika" (2015) A small town Indian leaves for America and the family loses track.  A young son makes an effort.

Cantonese

"Dim Sum  A Little Bit of Heart" (1985) Chinese American set in San Francisco.  Mother and daughter.

Danish

"A Fortunate Man" (2018).  A man from a preacher home breaks away to be an engineer, but is poorly regarded.  Uses people.

 French

"Lost Illusions" (2022) is a modern style film based on a French classic from about the 1820's.  A naive young poet makes a trip to Paris thinking he will easily be published.  Finds that his lower class origins are a major barrier.   <journalism--bribes, threats surprised  to see Xavier Dolan, Gerard Depardieu? 

"Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles" (1976) experimental film with filming very mundane household chores for over 3 hours with minimal dialogue.  Woman is also a prostitute which appears to help maintain her lifestyle which is middle class.

"Niagara" (2022) A Quebec movie filmed in Quebec (Montmorency Falls?), Montreal and in Ontario including the Big Apple, Oshawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls.  

"Petite Maman" (2022) Two young girls befriend one another for a brief time.

"Respire" (2022) set in Quebec.  Tension between Moroccan immigrant and francophone.

"Marseille" (2016) a political series set in Marseille which is much more scenic than I assumed.  Gerard Depardieu leads the cast which is very good.  A lot of gratuitous nudity.

"The Man in the Basement" (2023) A Holocaust denier moves into a basement apartment and despite his offensive views cannot be dislodged.  Lots of family tension.  Francois Cluzet does well in this non comedic role.

German

"All Quiet on The Western Front" (2022)   check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/all-quiet-on-western-front-german-remake.html photo

"Faraway" (2023) This is really a truly multi lingual film about a middle age German/Turkish woman finding happiness in Croatia.  A lot of fun.

"Sleeping Dog" (2023) A series remake from Israeli original.  German policeman becomes homeless and learns about a man he helped convict committing suicide.  Lots of twists.

"The Last Word" (2020)  Series.  After her husband dies the widow decides to become an eulogizer for a funeral home.  Odd situations, family relations.

Hebrew

"All I Can Do" (2023) Sexual assault on victim charged ten years later.

Indonesian

"Question Mark "/ "Tanda Tanya" (2011)with a religious toleration theme

"Cigarette Girl" (2023 tells a story of the Indonesian tobacco industry with romance and mystery making it well worth a view.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/cigarette-girl.html

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Inukitut

"Maliglutit" (2016) Based on western movie, "Searchers", but is all Inukitut.  

Italian

"Still Time" (2023) 

"Mixed by Erry" (2023) From Naples a protagonist sets up copying music and selling to millions.  Eventually caught.

"Il Buco"/"The Hole" (2021)  Sort of a documentary.  Subtitles are only used in the introduction.  The bulk of the film there is almost no dialogue and no subtitles.  Subtitles are used at the end credits.  A group of northern spedlunkers came to Calabria to explore what turned out to be the third deepest cave in the world.

"The Law According to Lidia Poet" (2023) Series set 19th entury Turin with woman trying to practice as a lawyer despite opposition.

"Medea" (1970).  Italian master Pier Paolo Pasolini takes on Greek tragedy.  Starring Maria Callas

"Accattone" (1968) An early film by Paolo Pasolini telling story of a Pimp and their prostitutes.

 Japanese

"Dearest" (Saiai) (2021) Murder mystery Romance very well combined. photo    Crime story.

"Decision to Leave" (2022)   A murder mystery  directed by Cannes awarding winning director, Park Chan-wook.  .http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/decision-to-leave.html



 

 

 

 

 

 

"Sanctuary" (2023) series focusing on Sumo Wrestling.  Very gross in first episode, but learn more about the traditions, strategies and personalities. 

"Cure" (1997) A murder mystery involving amnesia.  Well done.

"Burn the House Down" (2023) series trying to uncover mystery.  Done well. 

"Whisper of the Heart" (2022) Remake.  Romance.

"Rashomon" (1950)  Considered a masterpiece.  The plot was such that the viewer would question reality as several contrasting perspective were shown.  The cinematography was very innovative.  Much copied.




 

 

 

 

"Ishiko and Haneo" (2022) A series about a lawyer and a para legal taking on unusual legal cases that have interesting repercussions.  Enjoyable.

Kannada

"Kabzaa" (2023) mammoth multi lingual violent movie redeemed with the inclusion of Shriya Saran. 

"Aachur & Co" (2023)  A family story--ten children over about a ten year period.  Jobs,  patriarchal arranged weddings, babies, divorce and funerals. A lot of adjustments as the younger ones take on responsibility.  Beautiful.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/aachar-co.html  



 

 

 

 "Kantara:  A Legend" (2022) A Very popular film dubbed in several languages.  Amazon Prime bought rights to the original Kannada version which can be viewed with English subtitles.  Netflix opted for a Hindi version which could viewed with English dubbing.  Indigenous rights and respecting nature.

"U Turn" (2016) has been remade at least twice.  The apparent initial factor is when motorcyclist stops going one way, moving stones aside so can change lanes to go to the other way.  Those noted to journalists die.  .

Korean

  "Because This is My First Life" (2017) A sort of a comedy romance between two troubled people.       some philosophy 

"Black Dog Being a Teacher" (2019)  A different perspective on education.  In Korea parents take education very seriously.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/black-dog.html  

"The Glory" (20222) series about revenge.

"Trolley" (2022) check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/the-trolley.html

"Diary of a Prosecutor" (2019)  Office politics among prosecutors in southern Korean town

"Divorce Attorney Shin" (2023) A good balance of comedy and drama.  After going to law school at age 35 and graduating two years later, ShinSeong-han chose divorce as he said it was where he could do the most good.  The divorce cases we are shown are not the sort we hear about in the news with fights for large amounts of money.  One revolves around child custody.  Another deals with a woman upset about her mother in law.  Another is concerned with a life giving liver transplant.  Personal relations among the staff and especially with a nephew draw our attention.  





 

 

 "D.P." (2021) Stands for Deserter  Pursuit"  Series focusing on the military police.    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/dp-stands-for-deserter-pursuit.html    

"Under the Queen's Umbrella"(2022)  Royal clashes in Joseon era.    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/under-queens-umbrella.html

"Misty" (2018) Another Korean series

"Queenmaker" (2023) Political machinations well done.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/queenmaker.html

"Doctor Cha" (2023)  Family drama set in a hospital.  One woman starts her medical career twenty years after graduation.  

"The Good Bad Mother" (2023)  An excellent series. One of the best.  Different parenting style to deal with unexpected circumstances. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/the-good-bad-mother.html



 

 

 

 

 

 

"Rebound" (2023) based on a true story of a high school team that competed for championship with only six players.   Surprisingly some beautiful music. 

"Broker" (2022)      http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/07/broker-japanese-korean-collaboration.html


 

 

 

 

 "King The Land" (2023) An enjoyable rom-com, but received a lot of organized opposition because of some ethnic stereotypical scenes against Arabs.  

 "See You in my 19th Life" (2023) An interesting relationship saga using the tool of reincarnation.  Well done. see http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/see-you-in-my-19th-life.html

"Mask Girl" (2023)  A short series with episodes told from different perspectives.  Well done. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/mask-girl.html

"The Devil Judge" (20210) A series that fantasizes about the justice system that always caters to the powerful.  Realistically the only way to counter that is manipulative (as indeed a lot of the current system already is).  

"Past Lives" (2023) is almost as much English as Korean, but has a Korean theme.  Boy and girl friends separated when the girl's parents immigrant to the United States.  The boy fantasizes and many years later meets up with her.  She is married and eventually they realize they have gone separate ways.  The girl who became a writer who thought that we all had past lives and had contacts with our current thoughts.

"The Wind Blows" (2019)  Quite the tear jerker revolving around Alzheimer's.  Also a love story.

"Castaway Diva" (2023) starring last year's big star, Park Eunbin, this time as singer who was stranded on an island for 15 years.   Link  Photo

Malayalam

"Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey" (2022)  After getting married a wife copes with her in laws want her to work instead of furthering her education.

"Palthu Janwar" (2022) A comedy about a man coerced into being a veterinarian inspector.

"Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam" (2023)  An unusual plot headed by Mammootty who was also the producer.  Requires the lead actor to speak both Malayalam and Tamil which suits Mammootty perfectly.  He plays a man on a religious pilgrimage who falls asleep and wakes up taking over the personality of a man who had disappeared years before. 

"Rebka" (2023) Unexpectedly violent movie.

"Padmini" (2023) Hurt feelings and vanity.

"Iratta" (2023) deceptive plot well put together.  Twin characters at center.

"Sesham Mikeil Fathima " (2023) A woman who wants to be a soccer commentator encounters gender bias.

"Jana Gana Mana" (2022) Shown on Netflix as "Jana 2022 Telegu), but in reality Malayalam.  Excellent crime and court room drama with political consequences.




 

 

 

 

Mandarin

from Taiwan 

"The Post-Truth World" (2022) A murder mystery with some unique elements.

"Dear Ex" (2019) A film with a gay theme from a unique perspective.  A husband and father has died and left his insurance money to a gay lover.  The wife is very resentful land with her son attempt to shame the lover to giving the money to the son.  Lots of yelling, but somehow the son decides to stay with the lover who thinks of him as a son.   The wife meets the lovers mother. 

"A Thousand Goodnights" (2019) The main plot is of secrets.  Very simple, but the secrets are many.  The cinematography highlights the country.

"Light the Night" (2021) a 24 episode series based on a nightclub after one of its members is found dead.  There are a lot of relationships explored with great use of flashbacks to explain.  The mystery takes two and half seasons to be revealed and there are a few developments afterwards.  Well done.

"Marry My Dead Body" (2021).  A fantasy comedy about a cop teaming up with a dead gay man to solve a mystery.  Action is part of the movie. 

Maya

"Apocalypto" (2006) A mammoth film with lots of action and violence.  In ancient Maya there was a time when the elite lived in very sophisticated cities, but surrounded by forest people.  At the end we get a glimpse of imposing Spanish ships.  Will Durant quote "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."    



 

Norwegian

"Christmas As Usual" (2023) Accused by many viewers of being racist I believe it redeems itself on that score.  Hindu and Norwegian get engaged in California after short acquaintance and he flies to celebrate Christmas in Norway, but it caught off guard, but in the end he wins them over.

"Narvik" (2023)  Hitler's first defeat, but the Germans overcame quickly.

Nyanja

"Can you see Us? (2022) first film from Zambia to be featured on Netflix.  In reality is mostly in English.  Based on true story of John Chiti, born an albino and after years of rejection and discrimination became a successful musician.

Polish

"Johnny" (2023) a touching story.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/johnny-touching-story-from-poland.html photo   

"Forgotten Love" (2023)  A surgeon loses his family and gets amnesia and goes to a humble life where he serves.  Very touching. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/forgotten-love-polish-gem.html




 

 

 

 

Romanian

"The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo" (2022) is a short documentary about a young Chinese man who traveled to Romania having leaned the language and made friends.  He died in a freak accident after about 80 days.

Shona

"Shaina" (2020) This is more English than Shona, but it is set in Zimbabwe.  A likeable young girl is discouraged, but friends and relatives recognize her talent and encourage her.  In the meantime other friends encounter problems with pregnancy, rape and HIV and health authorities give guidance.

Sotho 

"This is not a burial.  It's a Resurrection" (2021).  An 80 year old widow leads resistance to a resettlement project in Lesotho.

Spanish

From Argentina

"The Substitute" (2022)   A substitute teacher gets involved with drug war.

from Colombia:  

"The Kings of the World" (2022)  About five poor young men coping with their future.

from Mexico

"Noise" (1923) A woman searches for her missing daughter.  Learns it is a too common problem in Mexico., but also that women are joining together to combat the injustices.

"I am No Longer Here" (2023) A poor cumbia dancer forced to leave Mexico by a gang.  Has problems in America. 

"Where the Tracks End" (2023) A simple film about offering education to poor children. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/where-tracks-end.html

"The Great Seduction" (2023)  A remake of "The Grand Seduction" (2013) and "Seducing Dr. Lewis" (2003).              

From Spain

 "Money Heist:  The Phenomenon" (2020) A documentary about the popular series I had seen earlier.

"On the Fringe" (2022) a social drama focused on evictions and actions against them.  Starring Penelope Cruz who also produced.  

Swahili

"Nairobi Half Life" (2012)) also used Kikyu language reflecting Kenya  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/nairobi-half-life-deserves-longer-life.html



 

"Tunu:  The Gift" (2017) set in Tunisia.  A young adult comes home for his mother's funeral.  Meets and falls in love with single mother.   Ends up working for an albino farmer.

 Tagalog

"Kalel" (2019) A fictional story to illustrate a growing HIV epidemic among Filipino youth. 

"Lingua Fraca" (2020) A Transgender woman is living illegally in Brooklyn carring for an older woman and iniates a sexual relationshp.

"Four Sisters and a Wedding" (2013)  Family squabbles as four sisters try to avert their younger brother's wedding.

"An Inconvenient Love" (2022)  The title roughly translate to "involuntary euthanasia" photo--young love

"Keys to the Heart"  (2023)  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/keys-to-heart-filipino-remake-of-korean.html

Tamil

"Thaikoothanal" (2023)   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/thalaikoothal-or-involuntary-euthanasia.html

 

"Vaathi" (2023) recounts how private schools tried to squeeze out government schools. 

"Ponniyin Selvan Part 1" (2022) Early military and political moves.  Music, sets.

"Ponniin Selvan Part 2" (2023) Continuing monarch changes.  In reality multi lingual

 " Maamannan" (2023)  Caste plays a role in this power play film.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/maamannan.html

"Roja" 1992) Terrorists in Kashmir and naive newly wed.  A.R. Rahman's first movie score.

"Irugapatru" (2022) this film is available on Netflix for several languages, Tamil, Malayalam, Telegu and Kannada.  Focuses on three marriages including the marriage counselor who is having the most problem as her very likable husband feels he is being manipulated.  Lots of good marital advice.

 Telegu

"Oohalu Gusagusalade" (2014)  A light romance.

"Fidaa" (2017)  A marital relationship story well done.

"18 Pages" (2022) A very touching romance as one disheartened man stumbles on a diary that perks him and causes him to investigate.

"Buttu Booma" (2023) has a twist that emphasizes it is not safe to trust people you met over social media.

"Amigos" (2023) A man searches the internet and finds a doppelganger and then a third.  Excited he meets the other two, but it turns out that one of them plans to take advanrage of the others to expand his illegal gun supply empire.  The idea lends itself to all sorts of plots, but too much action for my taste.

"Bro" (2023) is one of those films that gives an ungenerous man a second chance to correct some of his mistakes, not so much to get back his old life, but to have a better place in heaven. 

"Ustaad" (2023) Coming of age.  Aimless man afraid of heights falls in love with a motorcycle, girl and becomes a pilot.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/09/ustaad.html

 "Miss Shetty Mr. Polishetty" (2023) An unusual romance.  A woman wants to get pregnant to have a mother child relationship, but not get married.  A standup comedian is selected and he in fact falls for her, but is upset that she doesn't want to get married. 

Thai

"Hunger" (2023) A food using high end food culture to make a social statement.  Stars Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/hunger-interesting-movie-from-thailand.html



 

 

 "Delete" (2023)  Uses Science fiction tool (deleting people by taking their photo).  Love triangle. 

"Once Upon a Star" (2023) shows what movie presentations were like with live dubbing.  In the 60's talkie films were available, but very expensive.  Traveling groups would provide dialogue and sound effects.  The focus was on a group of just men with one of them imitating female voices.  They decided to hire a female which introduced a new dynamic.  Times were changing as Thailand modernized.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/once-upon-star.html

"You & Me & Me" (2023) Twins deal with a boy who is confused. 

"Congrats My Ex" (2023) A little too silly acting for my tastes, but an interesting plot.  Vachirawit Chivaaree better known as Bright.  The leading lady from "One Upon a Star" in a supporting role.  A lot of English dialogue because it is supposed to be arranging an Indian wedding and the common language is English. 

"Analog Squad" (2023) A pretend family is assembled to show a dying man.  After a surprise, the lies keep compounding while we discover secrets each of the pretend family have hidden.  Lots of twists, but we see how relationships can grow.



 

 

 

 

 

Turkish

" 10 Days of a Good Man" (2023) Interesting framing of crime. 

"My Father's Violin" (2022) Family drama with some enjoyable music. 

"The Miracle" (2015)  A teacher accepts a job in a very remote area.  He plays a role in educating not only the children, including girls, but also a particular handicapped man who goes on to be "The Miracle".  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/the-miracle.html





Yoruba

"Ololade" (2023)         One cultural uniqueness in Nigeria is that large women are considered sexy.

For the best English language films check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/films-2023-english.html