Continuing my round up of films that I love from various non-English speaking countries as well as my small experience of what each country has to offer.
I was obsessed with Spain when I was a teenager. I am not sure why but I do remember hearing Spanish on the AM radio and thinking it was beautiful. Only beaten by French. Mention of the AM radio makes me sound like I grew up in the 1940s, I know but before the internet and decent cable TV, radio figured much more. Also Spanish students would come to our small town in the summer. I think for me it was like a view to another world far from where I was. I started learning Spanish and naturally sought out Spanish films. Most of the ones I saw were mostly Latin American ones shown late at night on TV. I do remember Jamón Jamón from this time but that’s about it.
When I was in university in England in 2004, I sat down one gloomy winter night to watch Open Your Eyes. A 1997 film by Alejandro Amenábar. I can still clearly remember how I felt when it ended. I was totally blown away by it. It quickly became my favourite foreign language film ever. Maybe the elements of dream and of unrequited love resonated with me. The emotion of the final scene stayed with me for days. I highly recommend this and do yourself a favour. Don’t watch the American remake Vanilla Sky.
During the time I was exploring European horror, I came upon REC and The Orphanage. Two very different films but both excellent. REC (2007) is the best non-American found footage film I have seen. (The Blair Witch Project has the edge on it). There have been a plethora of dire found footage horrors and it is rare to find one of real quality. This is intense, claustrophobic gem with a realism to it that is very convincing. Google will tell you it is a zombie film but don’t be put off by that. Normally I would be myself. I love horror but more into ghosts, demons and witches. There is an American remake of this too called Quarantine. Best avoided.
During my first year living in Prague in 2011, I watched Almodóvar’s Talk to Her. I was again really effected by this. I remember a Greek girl who I was once very close to counted this amoung her favourite films. Again I can remember the moments after the film ended. I stood staring out the window of my room feeling like something profound had happened. When I moved to Barcelona to live for a few months in 2016, I watched a few of Almodóvar’s films. The standout one for me is The Skin I Live In. That’s a great film. Very human although kind of twisted and amusing in its touch of melodrama and family. It has Almodóvar all over it and in a good way.
We’re heading up north for the next post. Sweden is on the menu.