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TOPIC: When Foreign Films Mattered

When Foreign Films Mattered 21 Aug 2000 09:48 #634

  • Mike
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I felt squeamish reading this article in the NY Times as they talked about the golden age of foreign films 1945-65 and its current state. What I knowis there is less of the obscure fascination and cache of feeling like you're on an inside track. The hip unknowable inside has become huge and edge of Mainstream...is that why it's called edgy? The foreign films generally take the same only smaller road of going carefully for the miniblockbustiers. I remember being incredibly surprised so often when seeing a picture. Can we be surprised now? Or do we just want to be entertained? And DOES foreign film matter? (can we (gasp!) live without the French?)Merde!

Mike Hurley
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Re: When Foreign Films Mattered 22 Aug 2000 17:10 #635

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As long as most American films are made within the studio system, there will be a place for foreign films. As long as directors like Jean Luc Godard (speaking of the French) turn out undeciferable crap like "Forever Mozart", art films will have a not-too-kind stigma to live down.
Paul Turner
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Re: When Foreign Films Mattered 22 Aug 2000 18:11 #636

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Mike, I wish you had provided a link to the artical. I think foreign films are important because they provide a fresh perspective. I like reading foreign newspapers about our politics so I see how we look to other countries. I didn't fully understand English until I started to study Spanish.

As I understand it, foreign films had a different way of showing sexuality and violence than American films in the 50s through the 70s. Now American films are hip to showing more sexuality than the foreign films are. Some of the audience who went for that have ceased going. I like the fresh perspective foreign films provide. Sometimes they will take the time to fully tell a story without other stuff getting in the way. Frequently a foreign film will take the time to flesh out a charactor. I think this is because they don't spend so much money, time and effort on special effects.

Foreign films remember that sensuality and violence are more powerful in the mind than on the screen. I remember in Red Sorgum they talk about how they are going to flay a man alive. They never show it, but people came out of the theatre pale and told me they couldn't believe it that they flayed a man alive.

I belive that no matter how adventurous American filmakers get, a Foreign film will always have a different way of telling the story. Watch 3 Men and a Baby in French and the American remake and tell me which is better. Whatch La Femme Nakita and Point of No Return and tell me which is better. I always go for the first (Foreign) one.

People my father's generation and older use to swear that reading a novel in its origional language was much better than the translation. I'll have to take his word for it, I failed French twice and Spanish once. Thank God I can read subtitles.
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Re: When Foreign Films Mattered 22 Aug 2000 19:26 #637

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The article is front page of the arts and leisure ...now why do those two go together???????.... August 20th Sunday. I'd try to link it but they want 2.50 for every click.

Mike Hurley
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Re: When Foreign Films Mattered 24 Aug 2000 20:30 #638

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I finally found a definition for an art picture: one that never plays on more than 600 screens. That covers a lot of territory.

In the Gross Points column in the Aug 21-27 Variety there's good discussion with bad news. Artt films are down 14% from 98-99. Here's the problem: without those big hits of English Patient/ American beauty/ Shake In Love, etc. they spoark repeat biz for lesser known pictures. People will take more chances when they've seen a BIG art pic that pleased them. Also people get into the habit of going to the movies. And they also apparently get out of the habit.

What is the art biz like these days?



Mike Hurley
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Re: When Foreign Films Mattered 25 Aug 2000 22:39 #639

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Here in OR, the art biz is down. We seem to be making the rent, but I know a couple people who are on Visa until the rain hits and people go back inside. The problem is the product (Duh), or lack thereof. I actually told my booker there were some titles i would NOT play even if it meant i had to keep playing something that had past its peak. I see no reason to play something that will gross less than what i have now just to change the program (and pay shipping and deal with the brain chemestry of the last person who broke down the film). We milked "Colour of Paradise" for four weeks and I busted my butt contacting the Iranian population in the area and getting the word out. It worked. I even brought in a film that was on PBS in June and promoted the hell out of it with all the churches (pun intended. the film was Bonhoeffer -- about the Lutheran Minister killed in nazi germany). We sold out a lot of those shows and they were bussing them in. It was a gamble, but it paid off. Maybe the best sumary of the summer would be: The Summer I had to Call in Every Favor and Shamlessly Promote to Get The Word Out.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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