22 January 2008

Film Étranger

You know that we love foreign films. I cannot explain their appeal, other than to say that most films made in other countries focus more on the people and the motives, and less on the explosions and the gun play. That's oversimplifying it, though not by much.

In just the past five days we have seen films from Korea, Japan and Spain (and two from America). In any given year we probably see about forty films made in a country other than America. We are very lucky to have Netflix around, so we can rent them whenever they are available. So few show here in cinemas that Netflix is our only option.

With that said, I want to direct your attention to an article in today's Washington Post about the outcry over the current crop of Oscar nominated foreign films; and the nominating system that has been broken for some time and is in desperate need of a fix.

I haven't seen any of the movies on the short list, or those nominated -- they are not out on DVD yet, and certainly not in any theater near me; but at least one is already in my Netflix queue -- so I cannot say whether I agree with the conclusions presented. However, it is pretty clear there is a problem when celebrated films are overlooked -- like "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes; or the animated "Persepolis" which many critics counted among the ten best films of 2007 (it was, however, nominated as best Animated Film).

What is even more odd is that the Oscar -- which used to signify a major achievement -- is being sidestepped by other (dare I say, "lesser") awards that seem better able to spot quality. For some reason the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which awards the Oscars) is losing touch with quality in favor of simple, safe and popular. This is sad.

You may read the article here.

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