As the fall 2011 movie season approaches, I wanted to look back to five independent and foreign (international) films that were among my favorites in the previous decade (2000-2010).
Caché (Hidden) 2005
Starring Daniel Auteuil and Juliet Binoche Directed by Michael Haneke
A successful Parisian couple start receiving anonymous surveillance videotapes of their home. As the unexplained tapes start arriving with strange drawings and references to Georges (Auteuil) past and a man named Majid, the marriage and family start unraveling. An interesting psychological thriller.
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou Directed by Stephen Frears.
The film follows the lives of several illegal immigrants in London. Ejiofor plays Okwe a Nigerian doctor who now works as a cab driver by day and in the front desk of a hotel at night. He shares an apartment with a maid at the hotel, Senay, played by Tautou, an immigrant from Turkey. Okwe tries to help other poor illegal immigrants by illegally giving them medical treatment. One night at the hotel he discovers an illegal black market operation involving other illegal immigrants, including Senay. A unique film that is part thriller, part social commentary, part love story.
Far North (2007)
Starring Sean Bean, Michelle Yeoh, and Michelle Krusiec Directed by Asif Kapadia
One of Sean Bean's best films, it was written by Asif Kapadia and Tim Miller, and based on a story by Sara Maitland. The film was unfortunately marketed as a horror film because of its strong dramatic ending, but it is primarily a study of human emotions and the complicated relationship of three people isolated in a frozen and striking landscape. Two women live alone in an undetermined time far from civilization. Yeoh is the older woman and Krusiec her grown adopted daughter. The full relationship of the women is never clear. In their remote world comes a man, Sean Bean as Loki, who is inexplicably rescued from certain death by Yeoh's character. His very masculine presence disrupts the women's insular world. The film has very little dialog, but wonderful performances especially from Bean and Yeoh.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Starring Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, directed by Zhang Yimou
One of the most visually beautiful films I've ever seen. The colors in this film are amazing in their beauty and intensity. One of those epic Chinese martial arts films, but so much more. A poetic love story and love triangle with echoes of Romeo and Juliet. Wonderful and intense performances by the three stars.
Starring Guy Pearce Directed by Christopher Nolan
A film you have to watch from the beginning and demanding of your full attention. Guy Pearce plays Leonard, a man afflicted with a strange case of amnesia. Leonard's amnesia forms a key part of how the story is told, through flashbacks and flash forwards and what seems like two separate stories . Leonard is seeking revenge, and the film follows his journey to discover why through people he meets, photos, and etc. and to say more would spoil the film. It's not until the very end of the film that you know what has happened and why, or do you?
Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? What are some of your favorite independent or foreign (non-English) films of the previous decade?