July 29, 2008

Around the World in 12 Movies

Unbeknownst to me while I was gone last weekend, I got nailed twice for a 12 Movie Meme making its way around the interwebs, originating from Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre. I don't even know what a meme is, but Scott at He Shot Cyrus and Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob (both fellow LAMBs), "tagged" me. From what I understand this is basically the blogging version of chain mail. If you don't do it you're going to hit by a virus or something worse. I don't want to find out, so let's do this.

You choose 12 movies, either randomly or based on a theme of your choice. Pair them up to present them as a mini film festival, two movies per day. Then choose five other bloggers to do the same, and links go around like a crazy game of online Twister.

On a whim, I've decided to take a "contemporary" movie trip to six different countries (some may only be set in that country, and they're by no means definitive). These are the countries and "contemporary" movies that popped up in my head right away for no apparent reason (it's actually an interesting exercise - pick a country and try it for yourself):

Germany - The Edukators and Run Lola Run

Two films exploring the modern ideals and dreams of young Germans in Berlin. The Edukators was one of my favorite movies of 2005, and Lola Rennt was one of the first movies that made foreign films "cool" for my generation. This would be an outstanding double bill to open the festival.

Mexico - Y Tu Mamá También and Amores Perros

Take your pick: Admire the beauty and innocence of young Mexicans on a fateful road trip, or recoil at the gritty underworld of Mexico City. In addition to giving us glimpses into vastly different segments of Mexican society, these two films also kickstarted the careers of three members of the new Mexican A-list: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros), Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También), and Gael García Bernal (both films).

England - Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Notting Hill

More than anything else, screening these would give me the chance to see them in a theater for the first time. The styles of these movies couldn't be more different, but they're linked in that their characters are presumably crossing paths on the same London streets. Might make for a funny mashup movie. Note that 10 years later, Jason Statham is still playing the same charming criminal (The Bank Job) and Hugh Grant is still playing the same dopey dude (Music and Lyrics).

South Africa - The Gods Must Be Crazy and Tsotsi

What would Coca-Cola be without The Gods Must Be Crazy - a tiny little soft drink company? Maybe not, but the exposure they received from the infamous glass bottle is legendary. While The Gods Must Be Crazy is quite ridiculous and ripe for misinterpretation (it was banned as racist material in at least one country), at the very least it brought attention to one of the countless cultures inhabiting our globe. In one way, Tsotsi accomplished the same goal, showing us that a contemporary African story (in an urban setting no less) can contain as much drama and symbolism as any cookie cutter American version. I'll add to this list whatever Nick Plowman does in the future.

India - Vanaja and Water

Two young girls from two very different times and two very different parts of India have two very similar experiences. Although Vanaja features beautiful colors and traditional dancing, the unfortunate treatment of a young girl can't be ignored. Water - well, it's about an even younger girl forced to live in an ashram after her husband dies. These two films might not be the most uplifting of this bunch, but they may be the most educational. Also, Water isn't actually contemporary, but I chose it over something like Bride & Prejudice. Actually, Hava Aney Dey might have been a good choice as well.

France - Ratatouille and 2 Days in Paris

In 2007, we saw two versions of Paris (plus Paris je t'aime) - the bright, romantic city on display in Ratatouille, and the somewhat more bleak urban setting where romance just about died in 2 Days in Paris. You can imagine which one will be the crowd-pleaser, but I don't think enough people gave 2 Days in Paris credit for being a truly funny capture of a relationship on the rocks.

To continue the madness I'll choose five blogs - this is not a popularity contest - who I don't think I've seen "tagged" and who I think might carry it on:

Miranda @ Cinematic Passions
Hedwig@ As Cool As a Fruitstand
Christian @ Oh My Blog (This meme originated from this post, and I believe Christian frequents the New Beverly Cinema in L.A.)
Alexander @ Coleman's Corner in Cinema
Evan/Luke @ MovieZeal


  1. Oohh...fun concept!

    I'd be there, as I need to see:

    The Edukators
    Both Mexico flicks (I've seen parts of Mama; also, don't forget Cuaron in the group of A-listers...)
    Both India movies

    By the way, Daniel, I would have tagged you, but I'd never seen you post anything like this (lists, etc.). Judging by your response, I wasn't out in left field. ;)

  2. Great list Daniel ... unlike me, you seem to have taken it seriously. I especially like the pairing of "Run Lola Run" with "The Edukators," both of which I like very much.

  3. All wonderful choices except for the two from the UK (perhaps ATONEMENT and IN BRUGES?) which I am not a fan of. But so what? We won't agree on every single choice--point is your pairings there are largely inspired as is this most excellent cultural journey.

  4. Actually, let me nuance that last statement ... I took the meme seriously, but populated it rather frivolously. I'd certainly never pair Armageddon and Apocalypse Now ... Apocalypse Now goes much better with The Rock

  5. Thanks, Fletch - and great call on Cuaron. Maybe he should have been there, since nobody really refers to him as the director of Great Expectations. And no worries about the tagging. You're right that this isn't my typical M.O., but that's more out of laziness than anything else. I'd like to do more of these.

    Speaking of which, there are others who I didn't outright "tag", but I'd be curious about what Craig at Living in Cinema, Rick at Rick's DVD Picks, k at Inside the Gold, Chuck at Bowen's Cinematic and KB at Anti-D would screen in their respective festivals.

    Glad you've seen and enjoyed The Edukators, Rick. And taking it "seriously" - haha, well I think any list with Notting Hill in it would disqualify that statement...

    True, Sam, and interesting that you match In Bruges with the U.K. That was one of the odd things about this - I chose film setting or location and not the country that produced it, if that makes sense. So In Bruges would have actually been a Belgian movie here. But I can't think of many other movies that take place in Belgium off the top of my head. Also, Atonement is just a tad too "period-ish" to bump out newer British selections from this list, as silly as those two are!

  6. Ohhhhhhh, Danny...

    I came over to GETAFILM to see what was up and my name is the first one out of the hat.

    Holy burning guacamole...

    I don't think I can do this again. I all ready came up with a film fest and I posted it over at NICKY'S FATACULTURE.

    My serious creativity well has run dry this particular hour. Plus I don't think I could come up with a better combination than what I had.

    I didn't do pairings. So people have the option. We could do a marathon or everyone could come back on twelve consecutive evenings.

    I guess I could introduce them all if I were pressed.

    Normally speaking in front of large groups of people gives me the shakes. If I'm NOT acting or performing YOU COULDN'T PAY ME TO DO IT.

    When I was at school a few years ago (taking something that was NOT artistically related) I had to do some of that. I JUST HATED IT. I was going to cut class on those dates but the instructors made it clear that if you didn't do it you failed automatically.

    SO EVIL.

    So my entire class is chicks. We only have guy that we're attending with - Kevin. So they call my name and my knees are KNOCKING. As soon as I got up there was a GREAT ROAR from the crowd. So I buckled down and I aced it.

    Massive applause. Then my instructor goes, "You're such a ham, Miranda."

    Thank you very much, YOU COW.

    But Kevin was down the hall when the whole room exploded for me. He said, "Were THE BACK STREET BOYS in there?" Hah hah.

    So I suppose I'm passionate enough about these flicks that I could wax poetic about them for a bit. Just as long as people weren't too tough on me.

    Incidentally, they were (in this exact order):













    It waa all in the spirit of feminism/self expression. Some of the female characters are EXACTLY like me. Some bear a striking resemblance to me. Some are nothing like me AT ALL.

    But I could relate to all of it. I've been down some similar roads in real life - in some of the circumstances shown.

    LAWRENCE got picked simply because PETER O'TOOLE is the perfect man. Even though I'm a feminist, I do think that men are absolutely lovely. Had to have something like that in there.

    Danny, maybe you could link to Nicky's 12 MEME thread at FATACULTURE? I would. Except that I heard that links don't always work properly on Blogger. I went into more detail about my choices over there.

    As for your fest, young man...

    I guess it would be an educational series for moi. I have seen portions of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. But the only film that I have actually viewed on your list (which I also own, of course) is our personal favourite, NOTTING HILL.

    But cheers to you for your very original and inspired choices, honey.


    I am VERY flattered that you tagged me. But I've all ready done it.

    I don't think lightning could strike twice. But I do appreciate the sentiment...

  7. But Daniel ... I LOVE Notting Hill

  8. You make a good point there Dan. IN BRUGES would indeed fall under Belgium and ATONEMENT is a period pix that doesn't really match here. I admit I rather botched my answer there, my apologies; I really like the idea, but failed to realize you were really matching setting and location. Today has been one of those days for me, if you know what I mean. LOL!
    As far as Belgium cinema, well of course we have the Dardenne brothers' ROSETTA, LA PROMESSE, and L'ENFANT, all documentary-like films you would probably love (or do love) and there's MAN BITES DOG, which many (but not me) adore, and the distinguished BEN X. But I admit that Belgium cinema is mostly considered as a sub-grouping of French cinema, and often considered French.
    I don;t care for NOTTING HILL myself, but I respect that some of the other posters do. Fair enough. A new British release called BOY A would fall perfectly under your setting and cultural specs.
    And I love Miranda's post.

  9. Thanks for tagging me, Daniel. So those tagged offer a twelve-movie film festival? Where shall we post it? :)

  10. A cool idea, I'm working on it right now at CCC...

    Not sure who I can tag who hasn't been tagged yet, though.

  11. "Thanks, Sam..."

    Miranda, that's the shortest statement I've ever seen you make.

  12. Ha ha.

    I guess you've never been to my site, Fletch...

  13. Impossible, Miranda - Fletch is the shepherd. He has been in all places and seen all things...

    Glad to, Alexander. I'm sure not everybody is up for doing it, but hey, you might come up with a great list that you didn't even realize you had in you. I look forward to checking them out after I study your last two reviews.

    Sam, no "botching" - a good comment that helped me clarify that list. Anyway, if I know anything about documentaries (and I don't know that much), then you know EVERYTHING about foreign films. It seems you can list off several for any country! Pretty impressive. I'm sitting on your review of Boy A until I can see it at the end of the August, but I did catch that it was way high on the star rating.

    Glad to hear it, Rick! As much as I criticize Hugh Grant for always playing the same guy, I gotta admit he can do it like few others acting today.

    As requested, Miranda. I figured you might just copy and paste, but this works, too. You've got some classics in there for sure.

  14. I don't know a whole hell of a lot about copying and pasting, Danny.

    It's supposedly so simple but sometimes it just doesn't follow to a logical conclusion. Then there was that whole thing with the statistical system with all the bells and whistles that you told me about when I first started blogging.

    Oh Christ that was a mess.

    It wouldn't allow to me cut and paste so that the process could be implemented and then I found out that the Wordpress platform does not allow for that particular system to be installed.

    That's only part of it. But I'd best not expand on this in public.

    Anyway, this is EXACTLY why I adore you, Danny.

    You tagged me and now I've got a link. PERFECT. You know how to get the job done.

    You're such a wonderful friend. No one could be more thoughtful than you.

    Thanks, honey...

  15. You are way too kind Dan, but this is all part of your wonderful personality. Thanks for all you said.

    Miranda is a wonderful person.

  16. Haha, not to worry, Miranda - you definitely seem to have things nailed down over at CP. I'm no expert, but let me know if you ever do have a techie question.

    You and Sam make a guy feel awful special for just blabbering about movies...

  17. Great concept Daniel - I like the global angle and most of the movies that you have chosen. A really fun post and I love reading all the comments by the excellent bloggers here.

    A long aside here about the UK section -- Personally, I would take exception with 1998's Lock, Stock ... I just think that Snatch (2000) is a far superior Guy Ritchie film in that vein. But that's just me.

    Notting Hill was not a movie that I thought much of when it came out, but I saw a documentary last spring that really put that movie into a more interesting perspective for me, called 100 Films & A Funeral. A fascinating film about an independent, European-based collection of production companies that really thrived, for a while, completely outside of the Hollywood studio system. It all came crashing down in the end, but the people interviewed and the journey they took was riveting for me as fan of films and filmmaking.

    Permit a long quote here -- from the official website.

    "Directed by Michael McNamara (Radio Revolution, Flatly Stacked, Wrinkle), 100 Films & A Funeral captures a seminal period in modern independent filmmaking as it chronicles the rise and fall of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (PFE), the company that made and distributed over 100 feature films that collected 14 Academy Awards. Some of these hits include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Dead Man Walking, The Usual Suspects, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Elizabeth, Trainspotting and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

  18. Thanks, Josh. That's a pretty impressive list - all great movies from the 90's, and funny that both of those UK ones were from PolyGram.

    I haven't seen either Lock, Stock or Snatch in years, but Snatch seemed too stylish or in-your-face brash compared to Lock, Stock. Too many characters and witty lines, not enough meaty story. Maybe it was the inclusion of Pitt or something. Not that I didn't like it, just that it didn't resonate as a great story compared to Lock, Stock. I know I'm in the minority that opinion, though.

  19. I like the concept, too - and I like you gave some love to "2 Days in Paris." That's a deceptively goofy movie that actually gets at some deeper truths about relationships, and I really liked it.

  20. Yeah, great list man! I hope whatever I do in the future is worthy of a such a festival as yours ;)

  21. Well said, Pat, well said. I REALLY hope people discover it as the years go on.

    You'll definitely bump something out of the SA slot, Nick - for sure.

  22. good call on Amores Perros and Run Lola Run.

  23. Ooh, just saw this! Thanks for tagging me, I need subjects for the big bloggy rebirth I'm undertaking, and ideas are starting to come already.

    Incidentally, I love the combination of Lock, Stock and Notting Hill. Both are films I like but don't love, but somehow I think they might complement each other beautifully, and make each other more enjoyable, too.

    Coincidentally enough, I was in Paris in the summer of 07. I went to the cinema planning to see Ratatouille...and picking 2 Days in Paris instead. I've now see Ratatouille too (twice), and while they give very different ideas of Paris, both somehow ring true. Ratatouille has much more of a tourist's view, but since in the summer, so many people in Paris are tourists, that's hardly inauthentic. And 2 Days in Paris is dead-on about undercutting exactly that idealized view.

  24. Glad I could be of help, Hedwig. Look forward to your renewed blogging energy now that school is done. Thanks for your thoughts on these fluffy selections!

    "2 Days in Paris is dead-on about undercutting exactly that idealized view."

    Wow, is that well said. That's really why I enjoyed it. Admittedly, I've never experienced the romance of Paris in person, but I thought it was really funny to see it shown in a way so different from the popular illustrations of it. Besides that, it was just really funny anyway.


Related Posts with Thumbnails