1. GRAZELI NATELI DGEEBI - In Bloom - 2013 by Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Gross- Georgian
Other than loving movies, why I look so much for watching movies from all around the world, is for the chance to peek into a different culture. Most nations make indigenous movies and when told well, they are such a good documentation of their culture. Many countries may not be able to match the sheer number of movies made by Hollywood and India. But they do make it up with the sheer quality of their cinema, very genuine. They wont have characters imitating Hollywood, or those who want to behave as if they are modernised western version of the local country, they simply stick to their own culture.
In Bloom, is one such gem from Georgia. Its the 90's. 2 teenage girls, friends, have lots of problems in their families and their neighborhood. And it is so nice to watch, when movies depict life so realistically, without artistic pretensions, but still keep it more than engaging.
The toughest job, I think, for a film maker should be to shoot natural life, realistically, in a family or in the neighbourhood and to make it engaging for the viewer, (something which Mike Leigh specialise).
2. A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT by Ana Lily Amirpour - 2008 - Persian from USA
For me, this is a masterpiece of a cinema. It takes advantage of all aspects of the medium and is presented by an intelligent director. If you want to watch a typical Iranian movie, you will be in for a shock as this movie about a young vampire in the Iranian bad city, is comic, horror, romantic and suspense all in one, very original, very cinematic movie!
3. BLIND by Eskil Vogt - 2014 - Norwegian
A wife who have just lost her eyesight is killing her time and what else can she do than imagining. And her imagination goes quite wild. It is stunning that even the imagined characters are as powerful as the real. What a creation this movie was? The lines between reality and fiction is sooo blurred, but so cleverly done.
4. KRAFTIDIOTEN - In order of disappearance by Hans Petter Moland - Norwegian - 2014
One more reason for me to substantiate my thinking point, that the Nordic and the French are way ahead of others, in cinema. This is a simple story of a father revenging the murder of his son. But how it is told make it such a wonderful cinematic experience.
5. SILS MARIA - Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas - 2014 - French film in English, French & German
What a movie this is. A famous actress had rose to fame at 18, playing a younger character in a cult play (about a complicated relationship between a young employee and her 40 something boss). Now at her 40's she is asked to reverse the role for a new adaptation of the same play. She now has an young assistant, and she starts rehearsing the play with her. At times it become impossible to distinguish between the real cinema and the rehearsal. There is friction because of the characters in the rehearsal, there is friction between the actress and her assistant too, a generation gap evident.
Assayas was the director who gave Juliette Binochet a big break in the mid 80's, and now he is making this movie with her when she is 51. So many things we cant ignore.
Another interesting matter is the levels to which European cinema can elevate a Hollywood actress. I would never dare say Kirsten Stewart as just another Hollywood star, hereafter. She goes toe to toe with Juliette Binochet.
There is a scene during which Juliette Binochet and Kirsten Stewart enjoy a swim in a lake. The uninhibited French she is, Binochet gets nude and jumps into water whereas the cautious Stewart keeps her underwear. That scene, for me, is quite symbolic of some of the differences between Europe and America.
6. SAMBA by Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano - 2014 - French
Another movie about the European attitude to immigrants, but told in a Romantic comedy style. Samba is told with lots of fun, so its quite entertainment, but it is touching too, will feel like laughing and crying with Samba. What an excellent actor Omay Sy is. And Gainsbourg, I think, its the first time I see a movie in which she has good and funny moments.
7. EN GANSKE SNILL MANN - A somewhat Gentleman by Hans Moland - 2010 - Norwegian
A man who is out of jail after a long time, doesnt have any aspirations with his life. He doesn't mind doing anything, in exchange for some food and shelter.
I have never seen Stellan Starsgard doing funny things. He really comes out of his typical mould. What an actor. The movie also have couple of the funniest sex scenes in cinema, for me.
Finally, there is a distant similarity with the recent Malayalam movie, Munnariyippu.
8. MANDARIINES - Tangerines by Saza Urushadze -2013 - Georgian
Set in the 90's when Georgia is under war. Georgians, Estonians and the separatists feature as the characters in a border village. An Estonian farmer saves two soldiers from opposite sides. Its an excellent watch, once again looking at how war is pointless over humanity.
It is impossible to not think about No Man's land, watching this one, though.
9. PRIDE by Mathew Warchus - 2014 - English/British
Based on true events. The Coal mine workers are on strike. A small group of Lesbian and Gay friends start the LGSM group (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) to support their strike, unwelcome though. Later, when the LGBT community goes on for a huge protest in London, the miners revert back their support.
So simple, but so well told, with so much to laugh together with the amazing characters. Beautifully performed by each and every one, this is one of the most simplest feel good movies, for me. Just that, as a cinema, it falls short of reaching the level of Ken Loach movies
The only strange fact would be not to mention at all about the communist background of Mark Ashton, the leader of the LG group. This was, possibly, done to avoid any controversy or negative reactions with the American viewership.
10. NARAYAMA BUSHIKO - Ballard of Narayama - by Shohei Imamura - 1983 - Japaneese
There are few movies about this famous ballad from Japan, about old people being carried to the top of a mountain, as its difficult for the families to feed them, where the old wait for death. Beautiful story and cinema. It would be impossible to not cry at the end of this one.