Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I know this is a philistine thing to say, but I've been saying it for a long time and I stand by it: I hate reading movies. Some people just don't like subtitles because they're work; while that can be true especially if you're tired, that's not my main objection. My main objection is that most non-English movies that become one of the foreign films that you're supposed to see become that way not due to their plot or characters, but because of their visuals. But instead of watching the cool-ass visuals, you have to spend half the film reading the bottom of the screen instead of looking at the cool stuff.

I bring this up because I saw a couple of foreign films when I was in L.A. I saw the apparent flavor of the moment, Pans Labyrinth, and there's no question it's a pretty film. The actors are good and it's undoubtedly beautifully filmed. I liked it OK, but I didn't love it. Part of it was the distraction of the reading. The other part was my annoyance at the general idea--it's a hyper-violent, R-rated film about war and revolution, but it's also a fairy tale. So it's a fairy tale for adults. Ridiculous concept that bothers me to no end.

The other one I saw, on DVD, was City of God. This one doesn't fit my standard objection--even though it is a visually impressive film, it's also heavily plot and character-driven and the sound and music is excellent as well. I can't add much beyond what Peter Travers said here. Along with Chungking Express, it's one of my two favorite non-English language movies, and I couldn't think of a third that's close.

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