I enjoy making lists. And I enjoy making lists about everything, from what I need to get done on a particular day to favorite things. And because I’m nice, I want to share my lists of my favorite things with you, my faithful readers. Let’s start with foreign films, shall we?
1. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (France, 2002)
Director: Laetitia Colombani
Audrey Tautou, usually so cute and delightful, takes creepy to a whole new level in this film. Angelique, a young art student, is crazy in love with Loic, a married doctor that we presume she’s in a relationship with. It seems to be a pretty straightforward love affair with its typical ups and downs, but as we all know, there are two sides to every story, and Angelique’s side of the story is a little bit loco.
2. Waltz With Bashir (Israel, 2008)
Director: Ari Folman
This animated film (think Waking Life instead of Disney) follows Ari Folman as he tries to piece together the fuzzy fragments of memory that surround his experience fighting in the Lebanon war in 1982. Equal parts interviews with old friends who served with him and surreal visions of real trauma, this film is raw and powerful and heartbreaking, a reality check about the horrors of war and the lasting mark it leaves on those who live through it.
3. Maria Full Of Grace (Colombia, 2004)
Director: Joshua Marston
Maria, a seventeen-year-old Colombian who works for puny wages in a factory de-thorning roses, becomes pregnant and loses her job, forcing her to seek alternative way of making money. What she decides on: working as a mule, smuggling 60+ pellets of cocaine into the United States. A harrowing portrait of what a person can endure to gain a chance at a better life.
4. Amelie (France, 2001)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amelie Poulain, a waitress in Paris and a free-spirited dreamer, performs a kind deed for a stranger and decides that she wants to continue to improve the lives of the people around her, and her whimsical escapades lead to a romance conducted through a photo booth while wearing masks. The bright, vibrant cinematography is gorgeous and fun, and I’m convinced it’s near impossible to finishing watching this film without a smile your face.
5. The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmark
In East Berlin in 1984, Weisler, a secret service agent, is commissioned by the secret police to spy on a writer and his girlfriend, both suspected to be disloyal to the state. But as Weisler watches the life of this couple, he begins to care about them and decides to try to protect them. Brilliant acting and screenwriting. The Lives of Others won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2007.
6. Let The Right One In (Sweden, 2008)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Oscar is ceaselessly tormented by his classmates and has no friends, but when he meets Eli, it’s love at first sight. Minor detail: Eli is an oooooooold vampire who just happens to look like a cute 12-year-old, and who, with her father’s help, is feeding on the town’s inhabitants. This is a stunning gem in the vampire movie genre, a story that focuses less on the sensationalism of the otherworldly and more on human connection and innocent love that transcends time.
7. L’Enfant (France, 2005)
Directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Bruno and his girlfriend Sonia struggle to make ends meet on his petty thievery, and on their love and good intentions alone. That is, until one of Bruno’s hood friends tells him that he can make a nice chunk of change by selling he and Sonia’s infant son, Jimmy. He actually does it, Sonia has a conniption, and they have to figure out how to get Jimmy back. L’Enfant won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.