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When We Leave-DVD Review*** 12/05/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Critics Association Awards, German language film, Ghent International Film Festival, Movies, Tribeca Film Festival, Turkish language film.
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When We Leave (German/Turkish) 2010 ***
Die Fremde

Written and directed by Feo Aladag
Starring Sibel Kekilli and Nizam Schiller

Among many wins and nominations:
NOMINATED, European Discovery of the Year (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Kekilli); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Feature Film Debut (Aladag); Best Film; Best Film Score; Best Screenplay, German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film; Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Narrative Feature (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), Tribeca Film Festival

Umay (Kekilli), a young Turkish woman, is in a loveless and physically abusive marriage. She leaves home with her young son Cem (Schiller) to return to Germany where she was raised. But Umay finds that she is not welcomed back into her family because of traditional beliefs about a woman’s role.

Highly recommended, but with the caveat that this is not a movie with a happy ending (understatement). Winner of many awards, When We Leave is the first feature film for director Feo Aladag, who is also a German actress.

119 min. Unrated. Adult themes and violence.

For more info:
When We Leave

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The Sicilian Girl-DVD Review *** 08/31/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Based on true events, Bastia Italian Film Festival, Crime, David di Donatello Awards, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Mafia, Marco Amenta, Movies.
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The Sicilian Girl (Italian) 2008 ***
La siciliana rebelle
Based on true events

Directed by Marco Amenta
Starring Veronica D’Agostino, Marcello Mazzarella, and Gerard Jugnot

WINNER, Audience Award; Youth Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize (Amenta), Bastia Italian Film Festival
NOMINATED, David Award-Best New Director; David of the Youth Award (Amenta), David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Silver Ribbon, Best New Director (Amenta), Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists

Rita Atria (D’Agostino), a tough-minded seventeen-year-old Sicilian girl, takes it upon herself to avenge her father’s and brother’s deaths at the hands of the Mafia. She has kept meticulous diaries for many years, and delivers them to the chief prosecutor (Jugnot), who has been trying to bring some of the men to justice for many years. Her information about the activities that took place in her village of Balata seem to provide the evidence he needs. Rita must eventually admit that her father, who was respected in their town but was also a Mafia don, was as guilty of killings and rapes as those she helped put on trial.

Although there is the expected Mafia violence in the film, the focus remains on the girl and her emotional, often erratic, reactions to what goes on around her. The ending is incredible, and even more so because it is true.

Some interesting trivia: Jugnot, who is French, speaks no Italian, and D’Agostino speaks no French. They acted against each other in Italian but otherwise could not communicate between scenes. The pair seemed to have an almost father-daughter type of connection.

Highly recommended.

114 min. Unrated. Adults themes and violence.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Sicilian Girl

Cell 211-DVD Review *** 06/24/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Goya Awards, Seattle International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Suspense, Toronto International Film Festival, Turia Awards, Venice Film Festival.
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Cell 211 (Spanish) 2009 ***

Directed by Daniel Monzón
Starring Alberto Ammann, Luis Tosar, Antonio Resines, Carlos Bardem, and Marta Etura

Among many other awards and nominations:
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Venice Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, CEC Award, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Film; Best Editing; Best Score; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best New Artist (Ammann); Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actors (Bardem; Resines); Best Supporting Actress (Etura), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
WINNER, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Editing; Best Film; Best New Actor (Ammann); Best Screenplay; Best sound; Best Supporting Actress (Etura); NOMINATED in several other categories, Goya Awards
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actor (Tosar), Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Spanish Film; WINNER, Turia Award-Best Spanish Film, Turia Awards

When it comes to prison movies, here is one that is definitely worth watching. Prison guard Juan (Ammann) shows up a day early for his new job and gets caught up in a prison riot. Juan, whose wife is expecting their first child, must figure out a way to survive inside the cell block, which is run by vicious inmate Malamadre (Tosar).

The number of awards the film received, especially in Spain, is not surprising. This story takes many unpredictable and well-executed twists and turns. Actor Luis Tosar has many credits to his name, but this is the first film for Alberto Ammann.

111 min. Not rated, but do expect a good deal of bloody violence (it is a prison riot, after all).

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon Cell 211

City of God-DVD Review *** 03/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Autobiographical, Based on true story, British Independent Film Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Ciinema Brazil Grand Prize, Crime, Independent Spirit Awards, Toronto International Film Festival.
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City of God (Brazilian/Portuguese) 2002 ***
Cidade de Deus

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Starring Alexandre Rodrigues and Leandro Firmino da Hora

Among many other wins and nominations :
NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Director (Meirelles); Best Film Editing; Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film-Brazil, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER and NOMINATED in many categories, Cinema Brazil Grand Prize
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Meirelles), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Visions Award-Special Citation (Meirelles), Toronto International Film Festival

The story follows a few decades of boys growing up in the drug-infested world of one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shanty towns). Most will eventually take their places as thieves and killers. L’il Dice (Firmino da Hora) gets a taste for killing early on. He earns the name L’il Z and becomes an undisputed drug lord given to unpredictable acts of violence. Rocket (Rodrigues) narrates the film. Watching the inaction and corruption of the police, he wants no part of the gang violence that surrounds him – he wants to become a photographer.

Watch the Special Features for a look at some footage that shows how true-to-life the film is. There is a followup DVD based on a television series called City of Men that I also recommend – more to follow in another post.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Rated R. Violence and drug use.

For more info:
City Of God