Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Film’

WINTER IN WARTIME, review by John Delia

April 28th, 2011 No comments






Cast: Martijn Lakemeier, Jessie van Driel, Raymond Thiry, Yorick van Wageningen, Melody Klaver and Jamie Campbell Bower

Director: Martin Koolhoven

MPAA Rating: R for some language.

Genre: War, Drama, Foreign (In Dutch with subtitles)

Running time: 1 hr. 43 min.

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics



By John Delia

The Dutch drama Winter In Wartime is a gripping story that depicts a challenging time during World War II when the Germans occupied Holland.  Extremely well acted, brilliant cinematography and a suspenseful storyline make this film a must see.  The compelling film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Dutch author JAN TERLOUW who experienced five years under German occupation.

Martijn Lakemeier as Michiel in WINTER IN WAR

The film centers on Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) a young teenager growing up in a time were the world has lost touch with brotherhood and moved on to an evil time of occupation and hostility.  World War II has entered a tailspin, but for small towns in Holland the resistance still lives on trying to hold out until an end to the German atrocities.  With most of his village on edge, Michiel tries to keep out of danger.  But with his discovery a downed British flyer (Jamie Campbell Bower) and his Uncle (Yorick van Wageningen) a member of the resistance moving into his home, it isn’t very easy not to get involved.  When the Germans arrest his father (Raymond Thiry) after finding a dead soldier, Michiel has to make some challenging decisions that could put his family in jeopardy.

Michiel being restrained by Germans

I enjoyed the story for its shocking elements involving the youngster who has to come of age during an appalling time in history.  Well acted by Lakemeier as the boy who looses a chance to grow up in a normal society and face the atrocities of a cruel occupation by the Nazis filled with greed and a lust for power. Lakemeier makes his character strong and willing to sacrifice all for his country even if it may affect his own future.


The keen direction by Martin Koolhoven shows the suspenseful and distasteful time with which his characters have to deal.  He weaves the story around young Michiel making him the thread that ties the script together.  His strict control of the brilliant camera crew to get his movie gives the viewer an opportunity to feel the effects of the damning war.


Winter In Wartime is rated R for some language.  It also contains war related violence and a scene of sexuality.  The film is acted out in the Dutch language with English subtitles.


FINAL ANALYSIS:  A powerful drama that changes innocence into manhood. (B+)


ANOTHER YEAR review by John Delia

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

Starring: Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman, Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis and David Bradley

Directed by: Mike Leigh

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language

Genre: Foreign, Comedy/Drama

Running Time: 2 hrs 10min

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

By John Delia

The film Another Year rolls out like a theatrical play or good book that’s a swift page-turner.  From the opening character introductions throughout writer/director Mike Leigh’s ‘seasons’, we are treated to blossoming relationships, seeds of life, uncertainty, and a dieing effort.  Amazing acting, direction and fascinating storyline make Another Year a great choice for the mature adult.

Lesley Menville plays Mary in Another Year

Tom (Broadbent) and Geri (Ruth Sheen) make a lovely couple bordering on their golden years living the happy middleclass life with their thirty-year-old unmarried son Joe (Oliver Maltman).  Geri’s co-worker and office friend Mary (Manville), a recent divorcee, have a drink or two after work once a week.  On one occasion Geri invites Mary to her home for a Bar-B-Q in an attempt to set her up with Tom’s best friend Ken (Peter Wight).  Totally caught off guard, Mary rebukes Ken’s approach.  Geri, not wanting to make Mary feel that she wronged her with the introduction, inadvertently forms a closer bond of friendship. With this an unwitting year of ups and downs begins.

The character Mary, portrayed with an astonishing performance by Lesley Manville, is the main reason for seeing Another Year.  Her role, a bothersome chatty woman torn by her past and grasping at straws to avoid a future of loneliness provides the crux of the film and she nails it.  During the course of the year we see her change with each humiliating attempt to grasp friendship and love using booze as strength to fulfill her fantasies.

Mary (Manville) and Geri (Sheen) in a scene from Another Year

Another Year has a terrific support cast in Broadbent, Sheen and Oliver Maltman who work together interacting their characters with Mary as she moves deeper into the abyss of her decaying life.  Meaning well, but unable to save Mary from uncertainty, the strong impassable characters portrayed are really the reason for her downward spiral.

The film is rated PG-13 for some language.  It contains some adult humor and a lot of alcohol use.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A very good story with magnetic performances. (B+)

BIUTIFUL review by John Delia

January 27th, 2011 No comments


Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Eduardo Fernández (II), Diaryatou Daff, and Blanca Portillo

Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez

MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use

Genre: Drama, Foreign

Running Time: 2hrs 28min

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

By John Delia

Javier Bardem gives a gutsy performance in the gritty drama Biutiful.  I liked this film from the incisive beginning to the heartfelt ending.  Acting, directing and especially the cinematography are the building blocks for this story of a man struggling to keep his children.

Javier Bardem as Uxbal

The movie centers on Uxbal (Bardem), a beleaguered man living and existing in a world of danger.  His only means of survival in the Barcelona ghetto depends on the contacts he makes and the devious deals he has to abide by.  His drug-addicted wife Marambra (Maricel Alvarez) can’t take care of herself much less her children, but still she takes turns watching the kids so Uxbal can make his crooked deals.  When his illness starts to get the better of him, he has to make some uncompromising decisions.

Bardem puts all of his strength into the character overshadowing everything he has done previously in films.  With the help of director

Maricel Alvarez gives a cringing performance as Marambra

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros) he pulls off an amazing performance that startles and finally endears. Inarritu’s choice of locations shows a very graphic lifestyle that helps show his main character as a desperate man in a dangerous situation.

But, even with the excellent acting and direction, the film would not have been as prolific had it not been for Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto (Lust Caution, State of Play). Prieto tells the ruthless story using the worn ghetto

Director Inarritu on the set of Biutiful

as his canvas showing the uncompromising danger, sadness and realistic violence.

Biutiful is rated R for disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use so only mature adults should go to see the film.  The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A must see film for those who crave realistic life dramas. (B)

MADE IN DAGENHAM review by John Delia

January 12th, 2011 No comments


Starring: Sally Hawkins, Andrea Riseborough, Bob Hoskins, Geraldine James, Jaime Winstone, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike

Directed by: Nigel Cole

MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexuality

Genre: Foreign, Drama

Running Time: 1 hr 53 min

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

By John Delia

Here’s a lesson in history that set the standard for equal pay for women.  Made in Dagenham takes this subject and presents it in storybook fashion adding a lot of ‘Hollywood’ stuffing and pretty faces.  I like the film, but subtitles would have had me liking it even better.

Miranda Richardson and Sally Hawkins

The dramatization takes place in 1968 England showing the lives of some of the Ford Motor Company factory women who make up the upholstery department where the seats and doors were covered.  The film depicts the uncomfortable conditions that the women had to work under including no air conditioning.  One day the announcement comes that the women in the upholstery division of the factory have been granted a vote in union activities.  When they are invited to attend a meeting of the heads of the union, Rita O’Grady speaks up about equal pay for both men and women.  Thus starts a battle of wits and strikes that even today may not have been equaled in women rights.

Bob Hoskins as Albert Passingham

The acting here is incredibly good giving the feel of the era and the way women were being treated.  Much like another period movie Calendar Girls where women protested by getting naked for a cause, the stage here is a factory and a call for equal rights. The film also reminded me somewhat of Norma Rae and the textile mills in North Carolina with Sally Field standing up on a table holding a sign that says STRIKE. Hats off in acting to Sally Hawkins as Rita O’Grady the insistent factory worker and Bob Hoskins as the cunning union worker representative Albert Passingham who guides Rita without regard to damaging his own future with the company.

I know I am being a bit cheeky, but here Nigel Cole takes liberties focusing on women disrobing in order to cope with the heat in the factory and using it to provide a comical tone that in reality was probably an  incidental happening that was reported during the times.  He also insists on dialog in the shanty dialect for the era, that in most cases made it difficult to understand.  If he was looking for flavor he got it, but at what cost?  I guess I will have to wait for the DVD to come out so I can put on the

Nigel Cole on the set

subtitles to find out what I missed.

As for the movie as a whole, I liked it.  Even the problems cited about are not enough to take away from the event itself and the challenges the women went through in order to bring attention to the unfairness that had been bestowed upon them.  Cole tries to stuff a lot into his film showing many scenes where men treated women as rag dolls insisting that they have no say in business.

Hats off to the women who were insistent enough to hold strong in their amazing battle for right and freedom.  This film is surly one that they can glean on as future reference to any further segregation of the sexes.

Made In Dagenham is rated R for language and brief sexuality.  The language part is circumspect since due to their cockney I could hardly understand when they were swearing.

FINAL ANALYSIS: An above average film with historical significance. (3.5 of 5)

RED Review In French

October 15th, 2010 No comments

Red Review in Italian

October 15th, 2010 No comments

BRAN NUE DAE written review

September 23rd, 2010 No comments


Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Rocky McKenzie, Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins and Jessica Mauboy

Directed by: Rachel Perkins

MPAA Rating: Unrated

Genre: Musical Comedy, Foreign (Australian)

Running time: 1hr 30min

By John Delia

The quirky musical comedy Bran Nue Dae hits the screen spreading laughter, light hearted tunes and a down under tale about love and religion.  Well not so much religion, but a rebellion of sorts that has a priest on the chase.  It’s a fun look at a lot of nonsense with a bevy of songs that entertain.

Geoffrey Rush and cast of Bran Nue Dae

Geoffrey Rush and cast of Bran Nue Dae

One late 1960’s summer in Broome, Australia, Willie (Rocky McKenzie) a young man who is coming of age is about to drop the L word on his girlfriend Rosie (Jessica Mauboy).  But, as things would have it, Willie gets sidetracked and before he knows it, gets shipped off to boarding school in Perth.  Here he faces the tutelage of Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush) a hard nose teacher who keeps his students serious about their schooling.   Willie yearns to return to his village to continue his life of fishing and the lovely Rosie. One day Willie causes a disturbance and gets punished by Father Benedictus and runs away from the school headed for his home. When Benedictus decides to chase after Willie, a comedy of ‘heirs’ comes to light.

Geoffrey Rush as Father Benedictus

Geoffrey Rush as Father Benedictus

Rush does a great job of creating Father Benedictus, the inflexible teacher that finds himself in a pickle when his past starts to pop up.  I loved the way he uses serious as a tool to being funny.  In the lead role newcomer Rocky McKenzie gives Willie a chaste look with a little devil hidden inside.  When he meets up with his Tadpole (Ernie Dingo) and Annie (Missy Higgins) on the road home, McKenzie plays a new Willie who’s coming of age.

Director Rachel Perkins controls the action and wacky comedy extremely well tying the

Ernid Dingo as Tadpole and Missy Higgins as Annie

Ernid Dingo as Tadpole and Missy Higgins as Annie

film together with some excellent toe tapping music. Her characters are lively and fun to watch.  Although Geoffrey Rush is the best known in the cast, Perkins does keep him from dominating the show.  But I will say this about Rush in Bran Nue Dae; he’s a real hoot and an able singer as well.

Bran Nue Dae is Unrated but does contain some violence, adult situations, sexual references, language, drug use and a condom tree.  The film is intended for mature persons who can recognize that it’s all in fun.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A fun filled musical with enjoyable characters. (3.5 of 5)

LA SOGA written review

August 19th, 2010 No comments


lasoga_smallposterStarring: Manny Perez and Denise Quinones Paul Calderon and Juan Fernandez

Directed by: Josh Crook

MPAA Rating: Unrated

Genre: Drama, Foreign, in Spanish with English Subs

Running time: 1hr 40min

By John Delia

Foreign films have taken hold of America with genre’s that feed the action generation more so than romance lovers.  Fitting that category comes La Soga an action thriller from the Dominican Republic.  Although not the best acting and direction I’ve seen in a crime film, the storyline does provide, if reasonably based on true incidents, an interesting look at a third world government gone awry.

Luisito (Perez) takes down a killer

Luisito (Perez) takes down a killer

The strong drama starts with Luisito a young boy of ten witnessing his father being gunned down by Rafa (Paul Calderon) a drug lord backed by the government. Raised by the despicable General Colon (Juan Fernandez) Luisito takes on the job of one of his henchmen.  Teeming with hatred and wanting retribution Luisito, using his position of undercover cop, sets out to find and kill Rafa.  When he gets wind that Rafa has been deported from the United States back to Dominican Republic, Luisito takes charge of his own destiny.

La Soga’s plot is a good one with a lot of action, edgy characters and a stirring storyline.  But, I was not very pleased with the acting.  The actors could not bring

Juan Fernandez as General Colon

Juan Fernandez as General Colon

enough feeling to their persons of whom I found cold and disoriented.  This may be due to the low budget for the film and poor casting.  It doesn’t show that director Josh Crook made any attempt to correct the problem, so it is hard to say where the problem lies.  In a number of cases the scenes look very contrived, quickly shot and therefore lost their credibility.

The film is unrated but does contain violence, brutality, language and adult situations.

FINAL ANALYSIS: An amateurish try for a possible winner. (2 of 5)

Conversation with Manny Perez star of LA SOGA

August 19th, 2010 No comments

WILD GRASS written review

August 12th, 2010 No comments

“Les herbes folles”

wildgrass_smallposterStarring: Sabine Azema, Andre Dussollier, Emmanuelle Devos, Anne Consigny, and Mathieu Amalric

Directed by: Alain Resnais

MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic material, language and brief smoking.

Genre: Art/Foreign, Drama,  French with English Subs

Running time: 1 hr. 53 min.

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

By John Delia

This is a quirky tale of stalking and romance that to me really didn’t come off the screen that well.  It’s called Wild Grass and the film may become my choice for the dullest foreign film of the year.  Droll acting, lackluster direction and a limp camera turn what could have been a good script into French onion soup without the cheese.

André Dussollier as Georges Palet and Mathieu Amalric as Policeman Bernard de Bordeaux

André Dussollier as Georges Palet and Mathieu Amalric as Policeman Bernard de Bordeaux

The story starts out on the right track with a thief stealing Marguerite’s (Sabine Azema) purse taking the money and discarding the wallet in a parking garage by Georges (Andre Dussollier) car.  Georges finds the wallet and turns it into the police.  Tormented by not knowing what Marguerite is like he starts stalking her.  When she starts to become afraid things take an unromantic nosedive.

The acting here is really not very good at all and with the subtitles flying by the film becomes even more unbearable.  There is not one iota of chemistry between the characters and director Alain Resnais fails to provide his audience with any ‘realistic’

Director Alain Resnais going over a scene with Mathieu Amalric

Director Alain Resnais going over a scene with Mathieu Amalric

story at all.  I’m sure there is some sort of French characterization that I am not able to grasp as Resnais has directed twenty-five films since his first in 1953 leading me to believe that this must be experimental.

There isn’t much more I can say about Wild Grass other than see it at your own risk.  The film is rated PG for some thematic material, language and brief smoking.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Only see it if you want to waste some time: (1 of 5)