One of my favorite pastimes as a BYU student was going to BYU International Cinema. Sometimes I’d have the good fortune of going with friends, but like most things I enjoy in life for the most part I went by myself. The humanities department would release the semester’s film schedule and I’d eagerly devour the film synopses, but as life intervened I could only make it to so many of the films I actually wanted to see. And I didn’t enjoy all of the films I actually got to see. As it turns out, I don’t like Kung Fu movies: Hero and Jade Warrior were both weird and maybe my tolerance for action films only goes so far. The only Kurosawa film I was able to see was Kagemusha and I didn’t like it that much. In Hindi Bollywood musicals everybody cries too much. But here’s a list of a few--just a few--of the International movies I saw that I liked.
The Orphanage (El Orfanato)--Ok, this one is rated R in the states, but since it’s BYU they edited the one graphic scene (that’s the nice thing about BYU IC, since they edit the questionable stuff) so other than that it could pass for PG-13. Yes it is supposed to be a scary ghost story, and the ending is really sad. But the story is very well-written and centers around the mom trying to figure out the disappearance of her son and why the place is haunted, and it is very cool to watch how she solves it.
This was the one Spanish film that I reported on for my Spanish classes that I actually enjoyed--the other two were boring documentaries. And then I went to see Death of a Cyclist my last term just for kicks and it was downright disturbing.
Howl’s Moving Castle--Bear with me, I am not a Studio Ghibli fan. I saw parts of Spirited Away at a family reunion and I was totally weirded out. But Howl’s Moving Castle is Steampunk and had fantasy elements I was a little more comfortable with. Sophie learns to stand up for herself and Howl gets his...issues sorted out. Plus the supporting characters are fantastic.
On the way out of the showing, I ran into a friend of mine who explained that in the English dubbing Calcifer’s line about the bacon burning is different. So last summer when I saw someone wearing this shirt I understood the reference:
|Calcifer for President: May All Your Bacon Burn In 2016|
The Hedgehog--I didn’t get to see nearly enough French films. This one was a gem. It is based on a book called The Elegance of the Hedgehog that my mom actually read once and I saw lying around the house, so I actually read the jacket summary. The story is about a girl who wants to commit suicide, but then befriends a Japanese gentleman who moves into her apartment building and then the grumpy concierge downstairs. Their friendships change all of them for the better.
Jodha Akbar--This is officially my favorite Bollywood movie. For a Hindi musical, this one didn’t have a lot of crying. What it does have is spectacular musical numbers, beautiful costumes, a great story rooted in India’s history, and spectacular action sequences. Princess Jodha is the strong female heroine that everyone deserves. Emperor Akbar is hot stuff but he is also a courageous, tolerant, forward-thinking monarch who takes zero crap from courtiers who plot against him. My favorite part? When they FINALLY fall in love and consummate the marriage (nothing shown but you get the idea).
New York Doll--The thing about BYU International Cinema is that sometimes they show American films that students might otherwise dismiss. This documentary from the Sundance Film Festival was a surprise favorite. It follows the conversion story of Arthur “Killer” Kane from the New York Dolls. Kane had a hard time dealing with the breakup of his band. After joining the Church, he asked Heavenly Father for the chance to make amends with his former band mates. Now I’d thought after joining the Church Kane would put his old life behind him forever, but that wasn’t what the band reunion was about for him: it was about forgiveness. I learned that if something matters to us, then it matters enough to our Father in Heaven for Him to help us obtain it. All we need to do is ask.
Bliss (Mutluluk)--A girl from a small village in Turkey is raped. Local custom dictates that she must die to uphold family honor. She declines to hang herself so she is sent to Istanbul with a guy from her village who is supposed to shoot her. He chickens out. They go hide on a fish farm and then go on a cruise with a retired professor. Predictably the victim falls in love with the guy sent to kill her. The guy figures out who the real rapist is and justice is served. I love justice.
12--This was the only Russian film I had the chance to see. It was three hours long and it was worth every minute. A Chechen boy is accused of murdering his Russian foster father. The jury is locked up in a high school gym overnight to decide his fate. They go through the evidence and, one by one, they puzzle out the truth and their minds are changed. The story is incredible to watch unfold, and the twelve jurors each have different backstories and personalities and it’s fun to watch them interact. I would watch it again without hesitation.
|New York Times|