Beyond Words - Language Blog

Now Playing: Foreign Language Films at the Theater, September 2010

A monthly feature by Beyond Words, Now Playing highlights some of the best foreign films currently playing at the theater. American attendance at foreign language films dropped exponentially during the last decade, with foreign film ticket sales accounting for less than 1 percent of business at the US box office. We don’t want foreign films to disappear from the American movie landscape – they remain a great way to expose American moviegoers to new languages and cultures. So, we’re providing you with a few plot synopses and trailers.

This month we’re showcasing a gangster epic from France, a noir remake from China, and a Sicilian Mafia drama. All you need to do is make your way to a local art house and enjoy these films on the big screen.

Mesrine: Parts 1 & 2

Director: Jean-Francois Richet, Language: French

Pt. 1: Killer Instinct

Mesrine: Killer Instinct introduces us to Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), a loyal son and dedicated soldier back home and living with his parents after serving in the Algerian War. Soon he is seduced by the neon glamour of sixties Paris and the easy money it presents. Mentored by Guido (Gerald Depardieu) Mesrine turns his back on middle class law-abiding life and soon moves swiftly up the criminal ladder. After pulling off an audacious heist he and his lover Jeanne (Cecile de France) flee to Canada where the opportunity of one big payout lures him out of hiding and propels him towards international notoriety. — Music Box Films

Pt. 2: Public Enemy #1

In Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, the follow-up to Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) is now back in France, finally in police custody and facing justice for his crimes. After escaping a courtroom and kidnapping the judge at gunpoint, Mesrine is declared Public Enemy #1 and is eventually condemned to a maximum-security prison where he writes his memoirs, establishing himself as a household name and the anti-hero across France. Mesrine stages another daring escape and disappears into the lawless underworld, taunting the police and reinventing himself as a celebrity criminal through his savvy manipulation of the media. After such a monumental rise, comes the inevitable fall as the police close in, bringing the life of Jacques Mesrine to full bloody circle. — Music Box Films

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Director: Zhang Yimou , Language: Mandarin

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop is a remake of the 1985 directorial debut of Joel and Ethan Coen, Blood Simple. Transposing the Coen Brother’s celebrated mix of dark humor and riveting suspense to China, the film is helmed by Zhang Yimou (director of THE RED SORGHUM, TO LIVE, HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS and other masterpieces), one of the most eminent directors of the Fifth Generation. This black comedy thriller is an expose of how intense desires can consume humanity, and the irony that life never submits to our calculations.

Wang is a miserable yet cunning noodle shop owner in a desert town in China. Feeling neglected, Wang’s wife secretly goes out with Li, one of his employees. A timid man, Li reluctantly keeps the gun the landlady bought for killing her husband later. However, not a single move they make escapes the boss’s notice, and he decides to bribe patrol officer Zhang to kill the illicit couple. It looks like a perfect plan: the affair will come to a cruel but satisfying end – or so he thinks, but the equally wicked Zhang has an agenda of his own that will lead to even more violence. — Sony Pictures Classics

The Sicilian Girl

Director: Marco Amenta , Language: Italian

The true story of 17-year-old Sicilian Rita Atria (Veronica D’ Agostino) who broke the Sicilian Mafia’s code of silence and testified against the family business after both her father and then her brother are both murdered is brought to vivid life in Marco Amenta’s hard-hitting and wonderfully acted drama. — Music Box Films


Original source photo provided by The Powerhouse Museum Collection

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