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Archives for : Foreign Language Film

Movie Review: “The Past” Is A Storytelling Masterpiece

Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi once again showcases his unpredictable and enticing storytelling skills in his latest drama thriller.

Four years ago Ahmed (Ali Mosaffa) left his French wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), and her two daughters from a previous marriage, to return to his homeland, Iran.   Now he has come back to France to finalize his divorce so his wife can remarry.  Upon his arrival, he comes to find out that Marie’s oldest daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet), can not stand the future husband to be, who also has his own son.  As Ahmed begins to discover the reasoning behind Lucie’s hate, secrets of how Marie and her fiancée got together start to unfold; leading to one shocking truth after another.

I think it’s best to not go into too much detail of the events that occur in this film.  The beauty and brilliance of the bilingual movie, spoken in both French and Persian, is how you are not able to figure out what will happen next.  In fact, you will probably assume that you have the entire story pegged out already.  It is definitely laid out that way in the beginning.  But like his format in A Separation, Farhadi makes the audience suspect multiple scenarios while keeping them on the edge of their seats.

The Past features spellbinding performances by the entire cast, with a stand-out performance by Bérénice Bejo.  Famously known for her role in The Artist, Academy Award nominee Bejo is even more captivating with sound.  Alongside her remarkable acting is the exceptional direction.  Farhadi not only writes a scintillating, detailed script without heavy dialogue, he also shoots his scenes in the most creative, yet subtle technique.

For anyone who enjoyed A Separation, I guarantee you will not be disappointed with The Past.  Following the same style and tone, this film draws you in and keeps you guessing till the very end.  The magnificent final shot will leave audiences experiencing various emotions when the last character that you would expect, sheds a tear.

Rated PG-13 for mature, thematic material and brief strong language.

The Past hits theaters on January 17.

The Past Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “The Future” is Anything but Exciting

The most important thing that I learned from this film is don’t trust two random Italian guys.  Especially, when they say they only want to stay over for one night.  They will overstay their welcome and you will hate them.

Growing up is hard to do, and for Bianca (Manuela Martelli) it is something she forced to do once her parents die in a car accident.  Now her and her younger brother, Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), must take care of themselves.  Bianca must take full responsibility of Tomas, otherwise they will be separated and placed in an orphanage.  In the beginning, it seems hopeless.  Bianca gets a job as hair washer at a salon, and Tomas keeps skipping school.  On top of that their apartment continues to pile up with a mess.  However, things change once Tomas allows his two new sleazy gym friends to stay over.  Though they can cook and clean, they have made themselves annoyingly comfortable in Bianca and Tomas’ home.  To make matters worse, the two have come up with a plan to get a huge sum of cash by having Bianca engage in a sexual relationship with a once famous actor (Rutger Hauer) who is now blind.  Hoping that while she is in his home she can find his safe and rob him blind… I’m sorry that was too easy.  But things get complicated when Bianca starts to care for the actor who was once known as the incredible “Maciste.”

The film was not horrible; it was just not that great.  Nothing “big” ever happened.  It is like the film maintained a steady pace the entire time.  While you are watching you keep expecting some twists or even some scare, but that never occurs.

I can not knock the acting, it was solid and Manuela Martelli is not only beautiful, but she is a joy to watch.  She has an effortless about her when she is on screen.  Literally, she could be doing nothing and yet she is still so enchanting.  This is probably why the relationship she has with Maciste is so believable.

This is a great self discovery story.  More about finding a normalcy within yourself to get your life back on track, and maybe start over with the new found you.  The Future has an interesting plot and great acting, but sadly the execution dragged and lacked anticipation.


The Future (2013) Trailer HD

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Movie Review: Instructions Not Included

At first glance this film might seem like a predicable slap stick comedy;  but after a deeper look, you will see there is much more to this movie than meets the eye.

Eugenio Derbez and Loreto Peralta star in “Instructions Not Included”

Eugenio Derbez makes his directorial debut in the family comedy, Instructions Not Included.  Derbez stars in the film as Valentin, the resident playboy in Acapulco.  His life gets completely turned around when one of his ex-flings, Julie (Jessica Lindsey), drops off his unknown baby on his door steps and takes off with out a trace.  In hopes to find Julie and return the baby, Valentin leaves Mexico and heads to Los Angeles.  He ends up finding a job and a home in LA for him and his new found daughter, Maggie (Loreto Peralta).  Not knowing a thing about how to raise a child, Valentin is forced to grow up, and finally make a commitment to one girl.  After six years of raising Maggie, he has established  a comfy life as Hollywood’s top stuntman with Maggie as his on-set coach.  Their lives are turned upside down when Julie returns out of nowhere and Valentin is in danger of losing his daughter.

Even with the cast being mostly new to the big screen, they don’t show any signs of amateur acting.  Eugenio Derbez is one of the biggest actors in Mexico, if not the biggest.  Having already made a few small appearances in American films like Jack and Jill and Girl in Progress, he makes a giant leap as the star, director, and co-writer of Instructions Not Included.  He is a natural comedian and is hilarious in either language.  From his dumb-founded facial expressions to his genuine caring father moments, you’re immediately connected to this character.  Throw in newcomer, Loreto Peralta, as the adorable smart-aleck daughter and you have a dynamic duo.  These two have such great chemistry and a heartwarming father/daughter relationship.  Of course watching Valentin figure out how to take care of baby Maggie using whatever he has around him, including a clever backpack with holes for legs as a baby carrier strap on is priceless.  Maggie’s mother Julie plays a less lovable character.  Jessica Lindsey, does a fantastic job as a selfish and confused baby mama who can’t quite make up her mind on whether or not she’s capable of motherhood.

Instructions Not Included may seem similar to other films where the main character living the single life gets thrown into parenthood.  But this movie isn’t as predicable as Jersey Girl or Raising Helen.  There are moments in this film where you might think you have it figured out, but chances are, you don’t.  The film is in both Spanish and English, but which ever language, the story is clear.  All through the movie Valentin is extremely scared of almost everything, heights, bugs, wolves, commitment.  Once thrown into fatherhood, he naturally starts to conquer all his fears because of the love he has for his daughter.

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language, Instructions Not Included is film the whole family can see.  There’s laughter, there’s tears and most importantly there’s heart.

Instructions Not Included hits theaters today!

Instructions Not Included Official Trailer HD


Interview with Writer/Director/Actor Eugenio Derbez

Eugenio Derbez