Sunday, 21 March 2010

Watching the world

I just watched a really good film, Caramel, set in Beirut, filmed in French and Arabic, meaning I was really glad there were subtitles! It's set in a beauty salon staffed by 4 very different women, telling the stories of their lives and friendship. It's a sweet little film, better than some of the chick flicks around today.
I've got quite into foreign language films recently, two of my favourite films are Amelie and Paris Je'taime, both in French, which is a language I want to learn. Mostly I'm dependent on subtitles, which is annoying, or in the case of my Studio Ghibli films, dubbed versions. In my 'to watch' pile there is Coco Avant Chanel, Pan's Labyrinth, Persepolis and The Castle of Castaglio, so that means a lot more subtitles for me!
At the cinema I quite want to see Mic Macs, by Amelie's director, but it's not on at my local multiplex, I'll have to find a cinema further afield that's showing it. There's a lot of cinema that's not in the Hollywood mould, and it's a shame a lot of it is hard to find at the big cinemas, we're missing out.
When talking about foreign language films (or more accurately films not in English) a lot of people point to last year's triumphant Slumdog Millionaire, which whil filmed in Mumbai and partly in Hindi, is not exactly one of these films. The main actor, Dev Patel, grew up in my home town, and most of the film is in English. It's director and much of the crew are Brits too. Yes, some of the actors were Bollywood stars and local children, and it was based on a novel by and Indian writer, it's a bilingual collaberation at most.
It's a shame that there aren't more films, shot in other languages doing as well as Slumdog did, and getting the audience figures too. I liked Slumdog, it was a happy-go-lucky, fairytale with a dark side, with a great closing musical number that puts a smile on people's faces. But so are a lot of other films, and where are they? Relegated to small, independent cinemas mostly, and not seen by nearly enough people to make a difference. So let's hear it for world cinema, and opening it up to more people.

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