July 1, 2011
At this point in my life I haven’t been able to travel as much I would have liked to. As a matter of fact I’ve only left the country one time and that was a brief trip across the Mexican border when I was 9-years-old. So I try to compensate this by asking the well-traveled people I know a whole lot of questions and watching a whole lot of foreign films. Well actually I don’t watch a multitude of foreign films but the ones that I like I watch repeatedly. Like Biutiful starring Javier Bardem.
I paid to see this Academy Award nominated Spanish movie in the theater twice—despite the recession. The story is compelling, the acting is great, and the cinematography is astounding but what I really like about this movie are the subscripts. Subscripts add an extra dimension to a film. I even love when the translations disappear too quickly from the bottom of the screen and I am forced to rely on the tone of the characters voices and the expressions on their faces to determine the nature of the dialogue.
It is through a foreign film that I first became enraptured by the Portuguese language. I swear to you that I have watched City of God at least 75 times. I think it may be the best gangster story ever told. What I find most fascinating about films from outside of the United States is they tend to do a much better job of telling a story from multiple perspectives.
City of God is told from every imaginable angle and we get an accurate and realistic sense of every character’s voice. This is similar to another one of my favorite films called Amelie which is from France. In this movie there is a scene when the audience is even given insight into the thoughts of a cat.
Sooner or later I’m going to pack my bags and leave Oakland for Rio de Janeiro or Paris or Madrid or Mumbai but until then I’ll have to depend on my beloved movie collection and experience those exotic places by watching my favorite foreign movies over and over again.