History is rich with people whose lives contain enough drama and significant events to still fascinate today. In recent years, TV & Film focused particularly on female rulers who acted as heads of state in times where women were considered inferior and subservient to men. These women proved the lie of such notions by being crafty, intelligent and strong leaders. Catherine the Great of Russia is one such woman who stands out in history. Several films and television series featured her rise to power and her subsequent reign during a period when Russia was a powerful player in international affairs. However, Ekaterina is one of the few if not only onscreen productions which is not only filmed in Russia but produced exclusively by Russians for Russian television.
Catherine is a German-born princess whose parents have little financial means but important connections. She is chosen as a potential bride for the Grand Duke of Russia as a pawn in a game of international intrigue. She is naïve enough to believe that she and Peter can develop a marriage based on love and respect. But Peter, whose life has been controlled by his aunt, the Empress Elizabeth, refuses her overtures as a means of rebellion against the arranged marriage.
From her arrival at the Russian court of St. Petersburg, Catherine’s life is manipulated and controlled by those with greater power and influence. She learns to keep her mouth shut and her ears open as she maneuvers through the treacherous waters of the royal court. Over the course of fifteen years, and through her many losses, Ekaterina has her innocence and illusion shattered while she learns the art of diplomacy and the cost of being the wife to the heir apparent of the Russian throne.
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Come What May takes place during the early years of World War II. In 1939 a German father and son escape to a little village in Northern France. The father warns his young boy to speak only in French and never in their native tongue as they hide openly in the small village of Pas-de-Calais. Unfortunately, Hans is soon arrested and his son Max is left in the care of the town’s school teacher Suzanne.
Months pass and Paul, the village mayor, receives distressing news about the German army’s advance into France. Gathering up the people of Pas-de-Calais, he convinces them to follow the French government’s earlier recommendation of voluntary evacuation to southern France. Young Max is devastated to leave the last place his father and he were together. Remembering his father’s promise to come back for him, Max leaves a message for his father on the school house chalkboard, telling him where he plans to go.
Meanwhile, the Germans attack the nearby city where Hans has been imprisoned. The jailers release all of the incarcerated and evacuate the city. During his escape, Hans meets Percy, a Scottish army captain who has recently seen his entire company slaughtered. The two men decide to travel together while they seek out Hans’ son.
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Ji Hae-Soo is a compassionate and nurturing psychiatrist who genuinely cares for her patients. But this side of her nature is not nearly as obvious in her personal life. When she meets popular author and DJ Jang Jae-Yeol she takes an immediate dislike to the handsome tease.
When Jae-Yeol temporarily moves in with Hae-Soo and her other housemates, sparks fly between these two opposites. Jae-Yeol is more willing to accept his attraction to the combative Hae-Soo, but she fights it. As they come to know each other better Hae-Soo begins to realize that there is more to Jae-Yeol than meets the eye. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014)”
As young teenagers, reckless behavior on his part brings Hyun-soo and Eun Dong together. After Eun-dong’s lie spares him a criminal sentence, Hyun-soo determines to repay his debt by looking out for her. His debt of gratitude quickly turns into one of friendship, and Eun-dong challenges him to live a better life. Their strong connection is shattered when they are unexpectedly separated and lose touch for a decade.
Neither Eun-dong nor Hyun-soo forget each other and eventually another random meeting brings them back together. This time their friendship deepens into something much more. After falling in love they are once more accidentally separated. But Hyun-soo holds fast to his promise to wait for Eun-dong and never gives up hope they will be reunited.
Another ten years passes and Hyun-soo is now known as the famous actor Eun-ho. He decides to use his fame to search for his lost love by publishing their love story. His manager hires young wife and mother Jung-eun to ghost-write the book. Jung-eun finds herself utterly charmed and moved by Eun-ho’s memories of Eun-dong, but also finds them strangely familiar.
Meanwhile, Eun-ho is being stalked by a powerful, beautiful woman who wants him for herself and will use any means to achieve her goal. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -My Love Eun-dong (2015)”
Small time thief Simon has recently been released from jail when a friend introduces him to a group of criminals who request his help to steal the legendary Florentin diamond. Simon is reluctant to join up with people he knows nothing about, but the temptation is too much, so he agrees to be their front man.
Julia’s mother is a well-respected auctioneer who was supposed to have been in charge of the diamond sale but her unexpected and mysterious death has left Julia with the responsibility. The stakes are high for Julia to host a successful auction with her own job and reputation on the line.
Simon introduces himself to Julia as her mother’s private security consultant, slowly winning her trust and the inside information his gang of thieves need. But when they start Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -The Last Diamond (2014)”
Çalikuşu is a historical romantic drama based on a novel of the same name set in Istanbul at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the more accurate translation for Çalikuşu is wren, its’ English title is Lovebird which is a nickname for Feride, the main female character.
SET UP FOR LOVEBIRD
As a young child, Feride is orphaned and sent to live with her maternal aunt’s family. Her arrival upsets the delicate emotional balance of the household, particularly with her female cousin Necmiye, who resents the attention her mother devotes to the new member of their household. Feride also has a combative relationship with her older male cousin Kamran which originates from a mutual attraction and distrust between them.
Thanks to her father’s wishes for her to receive an education, Feride is enrolled at a local French convent boarding school, where she lives when not staying with her aunt and uncle. Her biggest wish is to fulfill her promise to her dead father to finish school and to become a teacher. But as she comes close to the end of her schooling her relationship with Kamran begins to change and pose a threat to her goal and her heart.
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Kaira is a talented, young cinematographer who is waiting for her big break. Luckily she has a good friend in Raghu, a fellow co-worker, who encourages her and looks out for her at work.
She also has a successful, loving boyfriend and a close-knit group of loyal friends. However, in spite of all of this, Kaira is a self-absorbed, emotionally distant woman who sabotages her relationships.
After dumping her boyfriend with the news that she slept with Raghu, she is given the opportunity to travel with Raghu to New York to work on a major film. But once again, her inability to trust and commit interferes with her life.
On a trip home, to visit her estranged parents in Goa, she overhears a speech by an unconventional therapist which prompts her to seek out help to deal with a past which has emotionally crippled her.
If you are under the mistaken impression that Indian films are all Bollywood musicals and women draped in saris, then Dear Zindagi will prove you wrong.
I watched this film with my sister and we both commented on how much it felt like an American film. Although it portrays the generational clash between the young, ambitious and modern Kaira and her more traditional parents, the viewer will be hard pressed to find any other traditional Indian stereotypes. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -Dear Zindagi (2016)”
A Tale of Love and Darkness is a film based on the book of the same name written by Jewish author Amos Oz. It is an autobiographical story of the author’s younger years growing up in Jerusalem in the years prior to and directly after the formation of the state of Israel.
Young Amos lives with his parents in Jerusalem during a tumultuous time. WWII had ended recently. Many Jews moved to the British occupied area of Palestine which is tenuously shared with Arab residents. His mother, in particular, seems haunted by her past memories of the destruction of her privileged life in Poland. Amos’ mother Fania does her best to show her love to her son and husband, but those memories make it difficult for her to connect with them. While reconciling herself to her new and challenging present in Jerusalem, Fania shares stories, both fact and fiction, to help distract herself and her son from the struggle of their daily lives.
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Although I admit my exposure to foreign films is miniscule, it is pretty much a guarantee that any film set in France, in particular Paris, is going to pique my interest.
Italian Paolo is content with his life. He lives with his German girlfriend Greta in Paris, has a steady job as a tour bus driver and a dependable if not so good advisor in English friend Derek. After finally proposing to Greta, he finds himself continually crossing paths with the lovely Cecile. Although he is in love with Greta, Paolo cannot helped but be intrigued by the girl riding the bicycle. One day, while in pursuit of her, he accidentally hits her with his bus, which throws his life completely off course.
At the hospital, he informs the nurse that Cecile is his wife so that he can get information on her condition, (a la While You Were Sleeping). When the nurse escorts him into Cecile’s room, her young children immediately greet him with hugs and cries of “Papa!” You see, Cecile has always told her children that their father is off fighting dragons, but when he returns they will know him because he speaks English. Upon her release from the hospital, Paolo takes Cecile and the children to their home and finds himself in the predicament of caring for her and the children secretly while also trying to maintain his relationship with Greta, who begins to suspect that Paolo is hiding something important from her. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -Girl on a Bicycle (2013)”
I am passionate about classic film and introducing it to a new generation of viewers. Many people are under the mistaken impression that classic films are boring or dated. That may be true for some films, as culture and mores change and grow. But there are still many classics which are enjoyable and still relevant. This may be why Hollywood occasionally dips into its’ archives to retell a story that has already been told.
In order to pique your curiosity and interest, I am sharing this list of enjoyable classic films and their more modern counterparts…
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