Official Nominations: Black And White In Colour. Cousin Cousine. Jacob The Liar. Nights And Days. Seven Beauties.
In honour of me being in Menorca at the time of posting, drunk on cocktails and looking at bikinis through the perverted safety of my tinted sunglasses, here is my Foreign Film post for 1976. I wrote the actual post below, probably around this time last year, but thought I’d add this troubling introduction as a ‘ha ha, I’m getting nice weather for a change’ for anyone reading who isn’t getting nice weather. Of course most of my readers are in the US, so your weather is probably great now too, so the joke’s probably on me. Still… Pina Coladas. Maybe I’ll post some pics.
After last year’s mostly morose and dark selection, this year features some lighter films and comedies. Having said that, Jacob The Liar features a group of Polish Jews in a ghetto in World War II. One of them, Jacob, is always getting into trouble but one day overhears on radio that The Russians will arrive shortly and overthrow the Nazis. This leads to hope and his friends and neighbours ask him for updates which he fabricates entirely. Focusing on World War I is Nights And Days – a film which literally takes that long to watch. It’s a sprawling epic following various generations of the same family, and well worth a watch if you can find and stomach the running time. Seven Beauties is notable for earning Lina Wertmuller the first ever Best Director nomination for a woman. It’s also a superb film, but very dark, following one Italian guy’s journey over a few years, from a bit of a lad, to protector and murderer, to inmate at an asylum, to soldier, to a concentration camp and back home. It has some great performances too, but isn’t the most pleasant watch.
Our official winner – Black And White In Colour – is again a war based movie (WWI this time) but takes a lighter approach. Well, a satirical approach at least. It earned the Ivory Coast their only win but I think there are stronger films in the category. Cousin, Cousine finally is a romantic comedy which sounds seedy but is actually genuine, witty, and weirdly charming. It follows two cousins who meet for the first time and due to their spouses having multiple affairs they spark up a relationship of their own which slowly blossoms. I’m not generally a fan of the comedies which get Oscar nominations, but this one works.
My Winner: Seven Beauties
My Nominations: Jacob The Liar. Cousin Cousine. 1900. Fellini’s Cassanova. Kings Of The Road. The Man On The Roof. The Man Who Fell To Earth. Small Change.
Two make it over from the official list – I drop Seven Beauties due to it being a 1975 film and appearing on my list last year. 1900 is a film which so far has avoided reevaluation by critics, likely due to its Communist leanings. However, any film starring Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland, Dominique Sanda, and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci deserves another look. It’s an epic movie charting the lives of De Niro and Depardieu who come from different cultural and ideological backgrounds but stay friends. They grow, take over from their fathers or go off to war, get married etc, and eventually their two backgrounds collide. It’s a long watch, but worth it.
Cassanova sees Fellini take the famous figure and transform him from the traditional womanising icon into something more akin to a barren and soulless figure, with Donald Sutherland the unusual choice for the role. Kings Of The Road is one of the better non-US road movies and while overlong it looks wonderful and is a cult film waiting to be seen by people who love cult films. Sweden’s The Man On The Roof is a tightly wound thriller about the investigation into the murder of a high ranking cop – as the investigation continues we learn that the cop was a pretty shitty guy, leaving a trail of ruined lives and bodies in his wake. The killer is revealed fairly early and we follow his motivations and actions too. The Man Who Fell To Earth is of course now remembered for being a Nic Roeg and David Bowie vehicle, and it’s as bewildering as it is enticing while Small Change is Truffaut at his playful, vignette based best.
My Winner: 1900
Let us know your winner in the comments!