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BEST FOREIGN LANUAGE FILM:
From Denmark, comes this gripping post war movie.
After the defeat of the Nazi Party, a young groups German POWs are made enemies of the state in Denmark. Though it violates the Geneva Convention, these boys are forced to remove 45,000 mines German Land mines form the West Coast with their bare hands. Under the strict rule of Danish Sgt. Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller), these kids must complete this dangerous task so they can go home.
This raises a lot of moral questions. On one hand, these prisoners were members of the Nazi Party. But then again, most of them aren’t even past their twenties. Plus, it’s a good chance they were forced to enlist. These are kids who are trapped in a country that despises him, who long to return to their mothers. You can’t help but feel a little bad for their circumstances.
Watching them defuse bombs puts you on the edge of your seat. One wrong misstep and Kaboom!
I didn’t get to see it, though it does sound like a gripping war movie.
From Sweden, we meet one of the grumpiest men of all time.
As self-appointed neighbourhood watch, the reclusive grouch Ove Lindahl (Rolf Lassgard) is determined to maintain the rules of the block. When he’s around, no bikes will be allowed on the premises and no dog will pee on the sidewalk. But now he’s fed up with the world. He’s just lost his job at a train factory, with a shovel as his parting gift. He can’t shop for flowers without arguing over contradictory prices on a coupon. And that damn cat won’t leave him alone. So, he’s putting on his best suit and hanging himself.
That is, until a moving truck backs into his mail box. Enter Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and Patrick (Tobias Almborg), a young couple moving in next door with their little girls. They start off as annoyances, often ruining his suicide attempts and his solitude. In time, he comes to bond with these people. In time, he will also bond with a kid whose bike he’s confiscated and rekindle his friendship with Rune (Borje Lundberg). It all cultivates in Ove’s battle with the “white shirts”, smug bureaucrats who seem out to ruin his life.
Ove is one of those grumps you can’t help but love, especially thanks to Lassgard’s performance. The frustrations he deals with are hilarious, especially in his failed suicide attempts. Just as hilarious are his unusual habits, like placing newspapers over the seats of his vehicles whenever Parvaneh and the girls need transportation. You also wish you could be as unfiltered as he is. He isn’t afraid to get in a clown’s face when she doesn’t give him his coin back. He also comes up with some creative insults, mocking Patrick bad trailer reversal; “you shouldn’t even be allowed to reverse a decision.”
But he wasn’t always like this. During each suicide attempt, we flashback to Ove’s past, where we see his relationship with his emotionally distant father (Stefan Godicke), his friendship with Rune and his courtship and marriage with Sonja (Ida Engvoll). Seeing a young Ove bond with his father through the Saab car is touching. Just as touching is seeing the warm and loving relationship he had with Sonja. We come to see another side to Ove. There are also some funny flashbacks, especially when Ove severs ties with Rune just because of the car he drives (Ove adores the Saab)
A Man Called Ove is a hilarious comedy with a lot of heart under its grouchy exterior.
All the way from Iran, we see this categories’ return of Oscar Winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation).
The Salesman hits the ground running with the Etesami family fleeing from their collapsing apartment. Due to the wreckage, Emad Etesami (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) move their family into a nearby seedy flat. Which proves a bit of trouble since the original tenant’s stuff is cluttering the outside. The only thing going right for them is their upcoming production of Death of a Salesman.
Then one night, Rana makes the mistake of leaving the door open and ends up beaten by a mysterious stranger. This sets of some strange tension between Emad and Rana. For some reason, Rana doesn’t want the cops involved. So, Emad decides to play detective. Soon, their lives start to connect with their characters in the play.
I cannot go any further with the plot without giving too much away. The way the mystery unfolds is patient yet intense. What makes this film stand out is how Farhadi uses this mystery to examine the relationship between the couple. You are especially engaged to the mystery thanks to the stunning performances. Hosseini won the Best Actor Cannes award portraying a loving husband obsessed with seeking justice for his wife. Alidoosti keeps you guessing why this broken woman seems to be withholding the truth of her attacker. The script also sneaks in come criticism of Iran’s culture. Again, can’t say too much without giving the plot away.
With gripping plot revelations, stunning performances and excellent direction, The Salesman is at once an engaging mystery, a social commentary and a domestic drama.
Distributed by Australia but filmed in Vanuatu, Tanna retells a real-life tale of forbidden love in the Yakel tribe.
On the remote South Pacific Island of Tanna lives two warring tribes. After one too many deaths, the tribes decide to form a truce by marrying off the shaman’s daughter Wawa (Marie Wawa) to the other’s tribe’s warrior. The problem is Wawa is in love with the Chieftain’s Grandson Dain (Mungau Dain). So, their parents forbid them to see each other.
Now this creates a complicated problem. These two feel a genuine love for each other, and Wawa should be forced to marry someone she doesn’t love. But if she doesn’t go through with this, the tribes will go back to war, causing more deaths. It’s a question of the needs of the many vs. the needs of the view.
Though the tale may seem familiar, what makes this film special is the way it was made. Directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean cast actual members of the remote Yakel tribe as the characters. They manage to get some good performances out of this tribe. Both Wawa and Dain convey a genuine, if naïve love. But one performance that shouldn’t be overlooked is Marceline Rofit as Wawa’s sister, who finds herself torn between her loyalty to her tribe and her loyalty to her sister.
The island presents a lot of stunning beauty in every scene, from the sandy beaches to the erupting volcano. We also get to see the everyday routines of this tribe, from the tribal dances to their daily hunts.
Tanna presents a true story like a mythological folk tale you hear from tribal elders. With authentic performances and a beautiful location, you’re taken in.
From Germany comes the most talked about film from Cannes.
Former piano teacher and current prankster Winifried (Peter Simonischek) hasn’t been in touch with his daughter Ines (Sandra Huller), a high-ranking management consultant. The orderly and rigid wants nothing to do with her mischievous father. He doesn’t help matters by constantly mocking her lifestyle.
Too bad he pays her a surprise visit at work. To make matters worse, he’s assumed the identity of Toni Erdmann, her CEO’s life coach. With a bad wig and fake teeth, Winfried is forcing himself back into his daughter’s life.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to see this one, though I’ve heard lots of positive things about it.
Who Will Win?
This one is a battle between Toni Erdmann and the Salesman. At first, it seems like the German comedy was at the top of the list, but Trump’s Muslim Ban has drawn attention to the Iranian film. With more curiosity from audiences, The Salesman takes the lead.