Archive for the Foreign Language Category

A Separation

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language with tags on April 13, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

“What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it’s written”

After About Elly and The Salesman I’ve decided to complete my Asghar Farhadi trilogy by ending on probably his most widely received and critically acclaimed film, A Separation. By winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2011, this is arguably the film that brought Farhadi a lot more global attention. That said, it’s not just because it won the Oscar that suggests it’s a good film, its because it’s a great film and the Academy would’ve been fools to ignore it. This film showcases Farhadi at the peak of his powers when it comes to assembling a narrative with great depth that explores numerous important moral complexities. Continue reading

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The Salesman

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery with tags on April 11, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Baba Karimi, Farid Sajjadihosseini, Mina Sadaati, Maral Bani Adam, Mehdi Kooshki, Emad Emani, Shirin Aghakashi, Mojtaba Pirzadeh, Sarah Asadollahe, Sam Valipour.

“Degenerate is the one who speaks his mind through swearing”

After About Elly, the second instalment of my Asghar Farhadi trilogy is his latest film The Salesman. Alongside it’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language film of 2016, it was also a nominee for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival with Farhadi winning Best Screenplay and Shahab Hosseini winning Best Actor. So it’s fair to say that this film hasn’t exactly went unrecognised in terms of awards. However, I’ve yet to hear much personal discussion on it from anyone other than the critics and it would seem that Farhadi has still some way to go before he gets the recognition he deserves among your average film enthusiast. Continue reading

About Elly

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery with tags on April 9, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Peyman Moadi, Taraneh Alidoosti, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zare’i, Ra’na Azadivar, Ahmad Mehranfar, Saber Abar,

“A bitter end is better than a never ending bitterness”

As he’s a director that has taken me some time to catch up with, I thought I’d just dive right in with a back-to-back trilogy of highly acclaimed, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. I’ve heard a lot about his Best Picture winning Foreign Language films, The Salesman in 2016 and 2011’s A Separation but it was actually by pure happenstance that I stumbled onto About Elly. This is a film that would normally have slipped under the radar for me – as it has for many – but it was a great introduction to Farhadi’s approach to filmmaking and his undeniable ability to maintain control and pacing throughout his films. Continue reading

The Brand New Testament

Posted in Comedy, Fantasy, Foreign Language with tags on December 1, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Jaco Van Dormael.
Screenplay: Jaco Van Dormael, Thomas Gunzig.
Starring: Benoît Poelvorde, Pili Groyne, Catherine Denueve, Yolande Moreau, François Damiens, Serge Larivière, Laura Verlinden, Didier De Neck, Marco Lorenzini, Romain Gelin, Anna Tenta, Johan Heldenbergh, David Murgia.

“Law 1522: If one day you fall in love with a woman there’s a great chance you will not spend your life with her”

Although not exactly a household name, I’ve been a huge fan of Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael for some time. Unfortunately, he has only made a handful of films, though, and there is often long periods inbetween. That said, when one arrives it’s always worth the wait and you are guaranteed something a little a different and often very imaginative and inventive. His latest in The Brand New Testament, once again, delivers on that expectation.  Continue reading

Marshland

Posted in Crime, Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery, thriller with tags on November 19, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Alberto Rodriguez.
Screenplay: Rafael Cobos, Alberto Rodriguez.
Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Alévaro, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Salva Reina, Jesús Castro, Manolo Solo.

“This place swallows you up”

In 2014, just before he won a leading Actor Oscar, Matthew McConnaughey was at the height of one of the biggest career turnarounds. It was a time that became gleefully known as the “McConnaisance” and one of the major projects that he was involved in was HBO’s television series, True Detective. It’s a surprise then that more people didn’t pay attention to Alberto Rodriguez’s Spanish thriller, Marshland. That said, it was a huge hit in its native Spain and while it made a brief arrival on the film circuit with many critics lavishing praise on it, it still seemed to disappear fairly quickly. It’s a shame as this is a dark, murder mystery that’s thoroughly deserving of a wider audience and shares many similarities with the aforementioned TV show.  Continue reading

Le Samouraï

Posted in Crime, Film-Noir, Foreign Language, thriller with tags on December 19, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Jean-Pierre Melville.
Screenplay: Jean-Pierre Melville.
Starring: Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, François Périer, Cathy Rosier, Jacques Leroy, Jean-Pierre Posier, Catherine Jourdan.

There is no greater solitude than a samurai’s, unless it is that of a tiger in the jungle…perhaps…

When a film is revered as a classic of world cinema by viewers and critics alike, it’s only so long before you have to check it out for yourself. In the case of Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Samouraï”, I did just that, and I didn’t regret it for a minute. It’s entirely understandable why this policier features on many people’s lists of favourites.

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Continue reading

Waltz With Bashir * * * * 1/2

Posted in Animation, Foreign Language, War with tags on September 8, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Ari Folman.
Screenplay: Ari Folman.
Voices: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag, Shmuel Frenkel, Zahava Solomon, Ori Sivan, Dror Harazi.

The Israel & Palestine conflict never makes an easy topic for discussion and tends to bring passionate opinions to the surface. As a result, it’s difficult for anyone approaching the subject. Here, however, we are given a film that wisely doesn’t address the politics of the conflict, choosing instead to focus more on the atrocity and brutality of war.

On realising he has no memory of serving in the Israeli Army during the First Lebanon War in 1982, Ari Folman tracks down his old buddies to hear their stories of the conflict, and try to solve the mystery of his own psychological blindspot.

Thanks in large to it’s strikingly powerful artwork, this is a documentary that’s one of the most original of it’s kind. It consists of a serious of investigative interviews with director and war veteran Folman and his comrades who served with him during the conflict. Like the stories they relate, the interviews are also included in the animation and had this been done otherwise this may not have held our interest as much as it does. It helps bind the film into a coherent and visually stunning experience. Having served as an Israeli soldier, Folman wisely doesn’t justify his actions – if anything he abhors them. As he pieces the stories together, the revelation of his deep rooted memories are harrowing and it’s no wonder he developed temporary amnesia. He psychologically blocked his memories due to the atrocities and sheer brutality of the massacre – that he was involved in – of Palestinian men, women and children. Despite, this heavy subject matter, amidst the backdrop of war and barbarism, there are still many scenes of such power and surreal beauty.

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Deservedly Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language film, this is a provocative, gruesome and visually stunning movie, that captures an eerie and haunting feel throughout. Within it’s shocking delivery, it carries a very important anti-war message while echoing the work of Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” or Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”. Absolutely superb and quite unlike anything you’ll have seen before.

Mark Walker