Nightman’s Introduction To Foreign Cinema

Greetings, Glancers! A question I am often asked is ‘What the hell is wrong with your hair?’, quickly followed by ‘and what’s up with your face?’. Another more pertinent question, though asked with an equal amount of disdain and mewling voice is ‘why do you watch all those weird foreign films? Aren’t they all full of kinky sex, boring talking, and subtitles? Why can’t you just watch Fifty Shades Of Gray like the rest of us? And while I’m at it, seriously, what is up with your face? Cut your hair and get a job, you weirdo’.

You see, all of you big city fat cats who live in a more multicultural society probably have had greater access to more diverse areas of culture – cinema, music, art, and generally meet more interesting people. I, on the other hand, live here:

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It’s your typical 90% white, 90% Christian, 90% every other majority you can think of. Diversity – cultural or otherwise – isn’t exactly its strong suit. I’m being a little unfair though, as my town is one of the most absurdly friendly places you could dream of. Everyone says hello to me – for someone who could happily go for weeks without speaking to another soul, it’s quite a surreal ‘burb. Getting closer to some sort of point – for most of my life I have always been interested in stuff outside of the mainstream. I’m not saying that in some hipster way, and the movies and music I prefer are not really that far from centre because almost all of them have popular followings – it’s just that the stuff I like isn’t spoken of in my immediate social circles.

It all started, as most things do, with Bruce Lee. I’ve mentioned it before, but I have always loved martial arts movies, and when I grew up in the 80s the best movies of the genre did not come from Hollywood. I was therefore exposed to Asian cinema – Hong Kong, China, Japan, Thailand and more – at an early age. As time went on I branched out with different countries and genres. I’ve always loved Hollywood movies, but crucially I haven’t been afraid of looking beyond. And there is so much more. 

It’s frustrating to me that I follow multiple blogs by otherwise knowledgeable film fans who outright ignore movies outside of the US. Sure, every so often a big film will get a widespread US release and then everyone jumps on it. But then they move on to the next slice of Superhero skyscraper destructo-porn. I get that we all have limited time to watch movies and you want to spend that time either on movies you think you’ll already like or, if you’re one of these bloggers in it for the Likes and Followers, then you only watch whatever crap is in the charts – in which case I pity you. But every so often you have a blogger, or a Youtuber, or someone in a Facebook group who clearly and dearly loves Cinema and knows their John Ford from their John Hughes, yet when the subject of Foreign Film comes up they dismiss it entirely. Subtitles? Pah, if I wanted to read I’d go buy a book. You may as well say ‘if I wanted to learn I’d glue myself to the windows of the local Convent’.

I’m not saying Foreign movies are better and I don’t mean to sound condescending or superior, believe me I’m just as crap a person as you, I’m simply making a genuine plea for those people (bloggers or otherwise) who claim to love movies to widen their horizons. Don’t put yourself in a box, never limit your own experiences, and experiment as much as you possibly can to enrich your own life. Some of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, funniest, terrifying, evocative, influential, skillful, breathtaking movies ever made come from outside the US. If you love movies, why would you deprive yourself of those?

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Basically, to get into foreign cinema you need to find your own personal niche – one movie, one performer, one genre that you can get into which acts as a gateway drug to a large and crazy cache of fantasy and wonder. Like West Coast Cooler leads to a pint of Absinthe, like a puff of pot leads to naked desert meth production, like masturbating leads to grand larceny or something, you can’t dive into the hard stuff without first wetting your beak with a treat you already enjoy, albeit with a slight twist. So for anyone asking those questions at the top of the post, or for anyone curious about foreign films, feel free to have a gander at my posts. Today I’ll give you some basic pointers, and later I’ll expand with some examples.

Lesson 1: Don’t Start With The Award Winners

An easy place to get stuck and disheartened is by Googling for Best Foreign movies and working through the list. Almost every such list will be filled with great movies, but they will likely be on the more dramatic or critically acclaimed side – not necessarily the sort of things someone new to Foreign Film will want. Better lists will give a blurb on each movie and if it sounds like you’ll like it, by all means give it a go. Another mistake people make is by checking the Best Foreign Film winners at the Oscars. Again, if you’re the sort of person who hasn’t watched Foreign Films before then there’s a chance you’re not the sort of person who even watches the Best Picture winners at the Oscars. That’s fine – I’d much rather watch a bunch of zombies get shot up than watch Emma Stone sing and dance. Oh yeah, that didn’t win. Looking at the Best Foreign Language winners of the last twenty years, there aren’t many which jump out as something which would suck in the average mainstream movie goer (and you’d be better served by looking at my Oscar Post nominations for Best Foreign Film anyway – ha).

Lesson 2: Don’t Listen To Assumptions

Boring. Slow. Cheap. Weird. Subtitles. Bad acting. A bunch of nobodies. Confusing. Artistic. Porn. These are all things I’ve heard people say, both to my face and in my years of reviewing, blogging, posting, and reading. The simple answer is both yes, no, and so what? Any movie from any country can be boring, slow, ‘weird’, and have bad acting. The assumption that this is somehow widespread throughout foreign movies is nonsense. Movies are subjective, so find what you like – see Lesson 1 and Lesson 4. Personally, I like ‘weird’ movies. If something doesn’t sound like it will be to your tastes, don’t watch it but don’t make the assumption that every other movie will be the same. Foreign films, depending on the Country, have just as many big name actors and directors as Hollywood – you just don’t know them yet. Subtitles are the best way for me to watch a non-English language movie, but if you really are that dim that you can’t read at a faster rate than 1 word every few seconds, then you probably don’t have mental capacity to watch any movie. I don’t like dubbing because I find it a more jarring experience than subtitles – taking away from the performance of the cast. Sometimes dubbing makes the movie better, though this is typically from the viewpoint of unintentional hilarity.

You will find films from a Country other than your own, on average, more confusing than films from your own Country – there’s no escaping that fact. This doesn’t mean you will be utterly dumbfounded or lost. There are just as many ‘easy’ films and mainstream films as in Hollywood – just different. Sure there will be films that you just won’t get, but again you could say the same for Hollywood. You think foreign films are more artistic – I would say that’s not a bad thing. It’s another misconception too. Foreign films make less money – less people see them, and perhaps that means there is less of a sense of Business surrounding them meaning that ‘anything goes’. Everything considered, it sounds like only toffs, hipsters, smart-asses, and weirdos watch foreign junk. You don’t have to be smart, or weird, or sophisticated, or false, or anything to enjoy a foreign movie – you just have to find the one that’s right for you. Foreign movies have sex. Non-foreign movies have sex. If you think sex is evil, don’t watch.

Lesson 3: Understand What ‘Foreign Film’ Means

For the purposes of my posts, I am calling out Foreign movies as anything not made in Britain or the US. I could even limit it to anything outside of US, but that would be weird given that I’m not American. There are a tonne of other movie markets around the world, some English speaking, some not. For any Americans looking to branch out but keeping to English Language – try UK Cinema, try Australian cinema. Foreign cinema as a whole deals with the same issues and genres as American mainstream and indie cinema. You want car chases, slasher movies, slapstick comedies, tragedies, romance, war epics, these are all things which exist around the world. You don’t need to know much, or anything, about the country of origin, but any knowledge might help your appreciation or increase enjoyment. Each country does have their quirks and very loose, very high level style based on decades of movie making and centuries of culture, and the more you watch the more you will catch these. If such things exist, a ‘generic’ French drama has inherent differences from a ‘generic’ Spanish drama, a Japanese action movie will have different trademarks than a Hong Kong one. I’ll focus more on these in my next posts.

Lesson 4: Think About What You Already Like

As alluded to above, Foreign Cinema is essentially the same as Hollywood Cinema – it just comes from a different place and culture. If you’re strictly a horror fan, then the world is your oyster. If you only like bloody and gruesome horror movies, then head straight for France, Italy, or Spain. If you like action movies, get over to Hong Kong. If you like musicals, Bollywood is waiting. You may already like a film by an actor or director who is primarily or partially known for Foreign movies – if you like their Hollywood work, chances are you’ll like their other stuff too. By far the best way to get into Foreign Cinema is by branching out from your existing preferences. All it takes is one movie, or even one moment, to make it all click. You don’t have to worry about being a connoisseur, you don’t have to worry about sounding smart or cool in a crowd, although you can do those things. Watching movies should be primarily a selfish experience – ask yourself what you want from a film and what you’ll get from it. As a secondary item, you will want to share your experience with like-minded people, and eventually even try to convert others, but that all starts with you and that first step of finding something you like.

Lesson 5: Behold Now Is The Accepted Time

It has never been easier to get into foreign movies, or movies in general. Since the mid nineties, foreign cinema saw a boom in the UK and US with a number of high profile films from around the world making a tonne of money outside of their own markets. A tonne of DVD companies popped up specifically to bring you the best in World Cinema, anime became a global monster; nerds and things nerds like became cool, encouraging others to come out of the woodwork. Streaming happened -all you have to do is stick in Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or some of the less legal alternatives, and find the foreign section. Everything is available at the touch of a button, a far cry from asking your local video store owner if he’s getting in any more Dario Argento movies and waiting 6 weeks for an answer. Scroll through a few Streaming Services after reading my posts, and you should find something to try. Just don’t come moaning to me that you lost 90 minutes of your life – what else were you going to do with that time – larceny? Masturbate? Yeah, I know all your dirty secrets.

In my next series of posts I’m going to cover some of my favourite movie making countries and why I love them, and I’m going to give some examples of gateway movies for specific genres. Maybe it will take the format of ‘If you like Hollywood’s then you’ll like Russia’s Y’. I’ll talk a little bit about the biggest stars and directors past and present from a variety of countries, and hopefully a few of you will take the plunge or use these examples and on-the-spur advice to win your own friends and detractors over. It’s a big world out there, people, and it’s all there to be enjoyed!

Let us know in the comments your struggles with watching foreign films or converting others to watching them, and point out some of your favourites!

Walk Of Fame Inductees – 5th June 2015

To check the dubious reasoning behind these posts, check the original here:

https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/walk-of-fame-a-celebration-of-heroism/

In this new series of posts I’ll be selecting a Star at random from every decade (who was born in that decade) starting from the 1880s up until the 1990s to be interred in this land of magic and wonder, who will for ever more see their name set in stone far beyond the places where Gods dare to tread. Each name will have a unique star placed and statue built-in their honour. Often accompanying these additions will be news of a new store or museum to go alongside those stars whose work is of particular genius, and you too can visit and see the place of your dreams, simply by closing your eyes….

1880s: Jean Cocteau. For contributions to Cinema and Literature. With a long and successful career as a poet and novelist, Cocteau embarked on a film career creating such early classics as La Belle at La Bete, Orphee, and Les Parents terribles.

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1890s: Ernst Lubitsch. For contributions to Cinema. With some success as an actor and Silent film director, Lubitsch is famed for his talkies where he had the term ‘Lubitsch touch’ applied to works such as Ninotchka, The Love Parade, and Heaven Can Wait. 

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1900s: Helen Chandler. For contributions to Cinema. Starting out as a child actor and graduating to Broadway, she continued an international career in Silent films and Talkies including Dracula, Daybreak, and The Last Flight.

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1910s: Jeff Chandler. For contributions to Cinema. Chiseled Chandler saw his theatre and movie career bridged by a four-year stint in the US Army during WWII. Coming back to Hollywood post-war, he would star in films such as Sword In The Desert, Broken Arrow, and Merrill’s Marauders.

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1920s: George Plimpton. For contributions to Cinema and Literature. Primarily a writer, critic, journalist, Plimpton is also remembered for appearing in works such as The Simpsons, Reds, and Good Will Hunting.

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1930s: Louis Gossett Jr. For contributions to Cinema. After appearing as a teen on Broadway with no formal training, Emmy winning and Academy Award nominated Gossett Jr is famed for such works as Roots, Stargate SG-1, and An Officer And A Gentleman.

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1940s: Terry Funk. For contributions to TV. Wrestling God Terry Funk is one of the most famous and respected names in the business with matches spanning 6 decades. Outside of the ring, he has appeared in works such as Over The Top, Roadhouse, and Quantum Leap.

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1950s: Bill Nunn. For contributions to Cinema and Television. Starting out in a series of famed Spike Lee films, Nunn has since branched into Television and Blockbusters, with works such as Spider-Man Trilogy, New Jack City, and Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.

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1960s: Johnny Depp. For contributions to Cinema and TV. For many, the best actor of the late 20th Century, Depp has carved a niche by playing eccentric, childlike figures, but it would be more appropriate to see he selected the roles no-one else dared touch – and perfected his performance -in works such as Edward Scissorhands, The Pirates of The Carribean Series, and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

1970s: Nanako Matsushima. For contributions to Cinema and Television. Famous to Western audiences in her horror film roles, Nanako Matsushima is also well-known as Television actress. her works include The Ringu Series, Konna Koi no Hanashi, and Shield Of Straw.

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1980s: Ben Barnes. For contributions to Cinema. After some flirtations with theatre and boy bands, Barnes found his home on the big screen and looks set to becoming a star after performances in films such as Stardust, Prince Caspian, and Dorian Gray.

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1990s: Chloe Grace Moretz. For contributions to Cinema and Television. At time of writing, 18-year-old Moretz has already starred in over 40 productions and is one of the industry’s most sought after actresses, with works including Let Me In, Kick-Ass, and Carrie.

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In addition to our performers getting stars and status on our walk of fame, this week sees the creation of:

In honour of Johnny Depp – The Pirates Of The Carribean Experience – an off shore island complete with lagoon, fortress, caves, rum bars, hotels, and daily sword fights, all surrounded by crystal clear waters filled with wooden juggernauts. Spend a day or a fortnight living the Pirate life as you set sail in your own ship in search for treasure, or laze on the beach with a keg of ill-gained liquor!

In honour of Terry Funk – a stadium dedicated to Sports Entertainment has been built, comprised of multiple fully functional rings – spend some time at our Wrestling academy, learning the ropes of the business, and reliving some of the greatest matches in Wrestling history. Choose your own name, moves, entrance music, and costume, and walk out to the ring in front of a large virtual audience to take on a foe of your choice!

Which icons of screen would you like to see inducted, and what sort of imaginative creation based on TV or movies would you like to visit or create? Let us know in the comments!

Walk Of Fame – A Celebration Of Heroism

If any of you currently reading this are alive, then you’ll be familiar with a place in the US called Hollywood. You should also know that it’s where a lot of movies are made, and where a lot of stars hang out. You may even be aware that they have a ‘Walk Of Fame’ – stretches of footpaths, pavements, sidewalks which are adorned with brass  ‘Stars’ listing the names and achievements of hundreds of personalities who have entertained us over the last hundred years or so. What you may not be aware of though is the selection process, which simply involves having been involved in a particular field of entertainment for a particular amount of time, to be nominated (by anyone), to agree to be involved, and, oh yes, a hefty sum or donation.

Thanks to the Universe shattering, awful power of The Spac Hole, we have decided to create our own version of The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and dedicate our own little corner of creation to the people who have given us so much more than we could ever give in return. If any of you have ever played Sim City, or Cities: Skyline or any other decent City Building game, imagine creating a city, not unlike Hollywood, but entirely dedicated to the stars of today and previous days. See now as the gold-paved streets are laid with care, gasp as monuments are raised, watch as galleries and restaurants and gift shops are erected filled with memorabilia to your favourite actor, actress, director, show, or movie. Look! Over there, a group of fanboys are massing as they approach the newly opened Star Trek Museum which features full-scale a SS Enterprise and more, and over there a young lad wielding a plastic lightsaber is charging around a kilometer wide recreation of the Endor set. Yes, this truly is the greatest tourist destination unknown to man, and a galactic cry of thanks to all the men, women, and miscellaneous who have kept us from doing anything else with our lives since we dropped from the womb.

In this new series of posts I’ll be selecting a Star at random from every decade (who was born in that decade) starting from the 1880s up until the 1990s to be interred in this land of magic and wonder, who will for ever more see their name set in stone far beyond the places where Gods dare to tread. Each name will have a unique star placed and statue built-in their honour. Often accompanying these additions will be news of a new store or museum to go alongside those stars whose work is of particular genius, and you too can visit and see the place of your dreams, simply by closing your eyes….

Inductees 14th May 2015:

1880s: Raoul Walsh. Awarded for contributions to Cinema. Actor, director, founding member of AMPLAS, discoverer of John Wayne, his works include The Birth Of A Nation, Regeneration, The Big Trail, The Roaring Twenties, They Drive By Night, and White Heat.

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1890s: Edward G Robinson. Awarded for contributions to Cinema. Famous for his tough guy gangster and fast-talking roles, Robinson was one of the first true superstars of Hollywood who embraced the villainous roles and made the bad guy more interesting than the good guy. Robinson starred in classics such as Little Caesar, Double Indemnity, Key Largo, and The Cincinnati Kid.

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1900s: Lon Chaney Jr. Awarded for contributions to Cinema, TV, and Radio. Like his father before, Chaney’s film career is mostly remembered for his work in the horror genre, he was also known for playing henchmen and other villains thanks to his physical presence. Works include The Wolf Man, The Mummy’s Tomb, High Noon, The Defiant Ones

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1910s: Lloyd Bridges. Awarded for contributions to Cinema and TV. Aside from a distinguished Lifeguard careers, Bridges film,stage, and Television work spanned six decades, showing a versatility between mediums and genres. Works include Sea Hunt, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Roots, Airplane!, and A Walk In The Sun.

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1920s: Peter Sallis. Awarded for contributions to Cinema and TV. One of the members of oldies favourite Last Of The Summer Wine, Sallis also gained recognition later in his career for his voice work in the Wallace and Gromit series. Other works include Doctor Who and Scream And Scream Again.

1930s: Rip Torn. Awarded for contributions to Cinema. Oscar nominated and Emmy award-winning actor, Torn has had a long and varied stage, Television, and cinema career appearing in works such as Cross Creek, Men In Black, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Larry Sanders Show.

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1940s: Martin Jarvis. Awarded for contributions to Cinema, TV, and Radio. A global theatre actor, a famed voice actor for many radio plays, audiobooks, and videogames, Jarvis has appeared in works such as Doctor Who, The Forsythe Saga, The Queen’s Nose, and Titanic. 

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1950s: Beverly D’Angelo. Awarded for contributions to Cinema, TV, and Music. As well as a string of TV movies and Broadway productions, the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated D’Angelo has appeared in works such as Entourage, National Lampoon’s Series, American History X, and The Coal Miner’s Daughter.

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1960s: Shinya Tsukamoto. Awarded for contributions to Cinema. Japan’s original cult director and occasional actor, his works include Tetsuo series, Tokyo Fist, and A Snake Of June. 

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1970s: Andy Samberg. Awarded for contributions to Cinema, music, and TV. One of a never-ending string of SNL hit performers, Samberg has branched out with such works as Brooklyn 9-9, Hot Rod, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

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1980s: Harry Treadaway. Awarded for contributions to Cinema and TV. With a career gradually gaining momentum, Treadaway already has contributed to works such as The Disappeared, City Of Ember, Cockneys Vs Zombies, and Penny Dreadful.

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1990s: Saoirse Ronan. Awarded for contributions to Cinema. One of cinema’s biggest, most promising youngsters, Ronan has already been nominated for a Bafta, Golden Globe, and Academy Award and has appeared in a host of films such as Atonement, Byzantium, City Of Ember, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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In addition to the Star Wars and Star Trek museums featuring full size sets and spacecraft which you can walk through and interact with, this week sees the creation of:

A museum dedicated to Universal’ s Monster movies, featuring haunted house attractions, ghost trains, and other rides based on classic monster movies like The Wolf Man, in honour of Lon Chaney Jr’s induction.

In honour of Lloyd Bridges’s induction, a nightclub based on the disco from Airplane! – come and enjoy Jive-talking bar staff, authentic Disco music, and swing your partner by the foot and you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable night!

Let us know what museums, stores, attractions, clubs etc you think should be part of our Walk Of Fame, and what features there should be in each!