Saturday, December 30, 2023

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

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