Love Film | September 30, 2007

I used to be a big foreign movie fan, but on walking into a DVD shop on a Saturday evening, I’d always find myself being seduced by the Hollywood blockbusters. If I’m being honest, I’d give a cursory glance at the foreign language titles, but never seemed to be in the mood for something arty and challenging, preferring something mindlessly entertaining instead. I guess at the end of a hard weeks work, my brain just wanted a distraction. That and something that went well with beer and pizza.

I joined Love Film a few months ago, and since then, my viewing patterns have changed completely. Out went the Hollywood blockbusters, replaced instead by an eclectic and intelligent list of foreign titles and art house movies. Why the change, you may ask?

Well, when I’m in a video store, it seems my critical thinking abilities and reduced to the lowest common denominator of “what do I want to watch right now”. However. when looking through a list of movies from the comfort of my own home, my better judgement kicks in and I’m far more discerning. When not faced with the choice of watching something right now, I’m free to craft a list of “must see” movies that engage my brain and make me a better (or at least more well rounded) person.

So I thought I’d share some of my favourite movies from the last few months, in case you’re also a member of love film, or just happen to be in the market for a good movie recommendation. I’m not going to bother going into much detail here, so I hope a short, pithy review will suffice.


Tae Guk Gi - The Brotherhood of War

Fantastic yet traumatising story of two brothers torn apart by the Korean War. Expect to have post traumatic shock by the end of this movie.

United 93

Possibly the most realistically distressing portrayal of a hijack I’ve ever seen, made all the more terrifying by the fact that it’s based on true events.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

The brutality of Irish occupation and how the fight for independence ripped communities and families apart.

Downfall

A fascinating look at the last delusional hours of Hitler’s life, through the eyes of a naive young secretary inside his Berlin bunker.

The Last King Of Scotland

Fictional account of a young Scottish doctor seduced by the charisma of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, only to find himself plunged into a world of paranoia and chaos.

OldBoy

Kidnaped and held hostage for 15 years, when our protagonist is finally released his attempt at revenge leads him to a dark and sinister conclusion.

R-Point

A team of Korean soldiers during the Vietnam are dispatched to the mysterious R-point to locate some missing colleagues, only to meet their own grisly end. Think Platoon crossed with the Blaire Witch Project.

The Holiday

Formulaic romance that, despite all my best intentions, I couldn’t help falling for.

Thank You For Smoking

It’s amazing how you start rooting for the charismatic anti-hero in this tobacco lobbying drama.

The Host

Big budget monster movie out of Korea. Good, clean and unbelievably silly fun.

The Black Book

Engrossing story about a young Jewish girl who joins the resistance in war torn Holland.

What interesting movies have you seen lately?

Posted at September 30, 2007 5:55 PM

Comments

Kev Mears said on September 30, 2007 8:05 PM

Not obscure at all but My Life as a Dog is a heartwarming story of a young boy’s childhood in 1950s Sweden.

Rififi is a great french heist film that I’m sure has been the inspiration for loads of subsequent films. A fantastic scene of the heist is the highlight

Cennydd said on September 30, 2007 9:04 PM

I know exactly what you mean. I find the process of maintaining an ‘upcoming’ list triggers me to remember related films. Say, for instance, I put Lost In Translation on my list. This then reminds me of another recent Sofia Coppola film - Marie Antoinette, I wonder if that’s available? etc

I never get this sort of thing in a rental shop. Their classifications are far too broad (horror, romance, world cinema) and to go through this mental daisy-chaining process in the physical world would mean rooting around all over the place.

So I find having more time to browse (and a decent recommendation engine) means I cover a genre / director / whatever far more thoroughly. So, for instance, my list is currently on a bit of a political excursion (Syriana, The Lives Of Others, Good Night And Good Luck), with a few Dogma 95 films to come once I’ve got through them.

Highly recommend The Lives Of Others, for what it’s worth :)

Paul Burgess said on September 30, 2007 10:10 PM

Perfect timing Andy, as I find myself stranded in my queue with 2 discs of Series 5 of ‘Allo Allo…

+1 for Last King of Scotland, and on a mild blockbuster tip - check out Blood Diamond too

Will said on September 30, 2007 10:47 PM

I’ll second United 93, Downfall and OldBoy.

I can recommend Infernal Affairs and Infernal Affairs 2. The sequel surpasses the original.

john cooper said on October 1, 2007 12:04 AM

you might also like 9th company. I hope you googled lovefilm coupon and found the one that gives you 3 months for free :D

Rob said on October 1, 2007 9:59 AM

+1 for Old Boy, great film.
I watched Blades of glory recently and thought it was great! Although I expect it’s on a similar guilty pleasure as, “The Holiday” was for you ;)

Gicela said on October 1, 2007 10:00 AM

I’m also a fun of Love Film. I recently watched ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Catch a Fire - I truly recommend them.

By the way, we met at the Bristol Skillwap gathering last week!

Medo said on October 1, 2007 10:50 AM

Nice list. I’d second Tae Guk Gi and The Last King of Scotland as well as 9th Company.

Not sure if you’ve checked out No Mans Land (translated from Nicija Zemlja)?

Danny Hope said on October 1, 2007 12:08 PM

…and, in return, I’d recommend: Morvern Caller, Punch Drunk Love and Belle de jour

Glenn said on October 1, 2007 12:35 PM

If you liked OldBoy then you should check out Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. Less violent (but not by much) yet more disturbing.

Same director and a few of the same actors as OldBoy.

Phil Baines said on October 1, 2007 1:42 PM

The Host, yes that is a great film. I really enjoyed it. I’m a LoveFilm person too - it’s been great for watching some good old films. Last night I watched The Day The Earth Caught Fire. Good , if you like this sort of thing, as I do.

Neil said on October 1, 2007 2:21 PM

I highly recommend Irina Palm, it stars Marianne Faithful as a 50-year-old widow desperate for money who naively becomes a “wanker” at “Sexy World.”
It’s a wonderful character sketch ripe with witty dialog and an excellent original soundtrack.

Drew McLellan said on October 1, 2007 3:30 PM

This is the thing that annoys me most about LoveFilm - I’ve got masses of data in there about what films I’ve watched, how I rated them and even some reviews, and no way to publish it or share that information with my friends.

Sam Hardacre said on October 1, 2007 3:56 PM

@Drew - I’m not a member of Love Film so it’s very surprising to hear the site doesn’t have anything in place to share info, you’d think it’d be second nature to incorporate a function on a site like that.

CW Petersen said on October 2, 2007 2:42 AM

I was surprised with how much I liked Away From Her. Best film I’d seen in years. I wouldn’t have expected anything like this if I hadn’t seen and read the short story it came from, and from some of the descriptions I wouldn’t have chosen it, but “Wow”.

pauldwaite said on October 2, 2007 3:53 PM

Pi’s good. I don’t see that mentioned much.

Maaike said on October 3, 2007 11:19 AM

+1 for Downfall and The Black Book. I’d recommend Adam’s Apples and The Science of Sleep. They’re both highly original and pretty funny films.

cole said on October 3, 2007 3:21 PM

One fave that recently arrived in the Love Film envelope (one reason I like LF over rentals is the childhood joy of receiving post) was Venus.
Nothing beats the comic genius of a pair of pensioners swearing repeatedly and Peter O’Toole’s performance is his best since High Spirits Lawrence of Arabia!

Ben Spencer said on October 3, 2007 5:39 PM

An excellent list Andy - all superb films. You must also check out Amores Perros as well. It instantly became one of my favourite films of all time.

When I’m browsing titles on LOVEFiLM, I always have two other tabs open - one containing Empire Online for searching reviews, and as the ratings on LOVEFiLM should never be trusted(!), the other tab contains IMDb .

Mark Kirby said on October 4, 2007 2:25 PM

Hi - great selection, I’ll check out the ones I missed. I’m also a member of Lovefilm, but lately seem to be getting most of my movie kicks from the duke of yorks. I recently enjoyed Eagle vs Shark, a great indie comedy in the vein of You me and everyone we know (there’s another one for you) and Little Miss Sunshine. A mighty heart was not so good.
Lovefilm keep sending me Frasier these days. I like it, but not for all of the 3 discs!

Mark Kirby said on October 4, 2007 2:29 PM

Hi - great selection, I’ll check out the ones I missed. I’m also a member of Lovefilm, but lately seem to be getting most of my movie kicks from the duke of yorks. I recently enjoyed Eagle vs Shark, a great indie comedy in the vein of You me and everyone we know (there’s another one for you) and Little Miss Sunshine. A mighty heart was not so good.
Lovefilm keep sending me Frasier these days. I like it, but not for all of the 3 discs!

Avi said on October 4, 2007 7:20 PM

Lady of the Dunes (Suna no onna) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058625/)

Lift to the Scaffold
(Ascenseur pour l’échafaud)
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051378/)

Part of the effect you mention may be due to supply, rather than demand. Video stores are becoming scarce and the ones that do hang around focus on high turnover to get better mileage out of their shelfspace. LoveFilm, and anyone online, has no shelfspace limits. Maybe that’s just an example of the “long tail”.

thanks for the recos…

uzaktan egitim said on October 5, 2007 4:11 PM

+1 for Old Boy, great film.

Joel said on October 7, 2007 1:44 PM

Beijing Bicycle is a foreign film I recommend. You may find it at your local Blockbuster.

John Lampard said on October 8, 2007 6:11 AM

The last king of Scotland was great. I’m yet to see Downfall. Amazing Grace is also very good, if just a tad historically inaccurate in places though!

Andy Budd said on October 12, 2007 4:30 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions folks.

I’ve got “The Lives of Others” on my list, along with “9th Company” and “Sympathy for Mr Vengance”. I’m a big fan of “Infernal Affairs”, but have to admit that I wasn’t that keen on 2 or 3. I really enjoyed “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Little Miss Sunshine” but thought “The Science of Sleep” was just OK.

“Eagle vs Shark” looks interesting so a trip down to the Duke of Yorks may be in order. Got a few new films in, but haven’t watched them as I’m currently working my way through the most recent episode of 24 for my sins.

I agree with Drew that LoveFilm are missing a trick there.

ant said on October 18, 2007 4:25 PM

‘Children of Men’ - almost blockbustery, but some really technically brilliant shooting, allied with a harrowingly dystopian vision make a great film- kept me thinking for weeks.

Down side to love film- I play the DVDs on a PS2, ‘cos I really don’t want to fill my flat with more kit than I need, and the DVDs do, every so often refuse to play because of scratches etc. Optical is a lousy lending format. Though apparently they do now offer download rentals. Which means I have to think about DRM. Bleugh!

p.s. love the live preview.

p.p.s. isn’t ‘textarea’ two words?