Notable Foreign Film Directors
August 27, 2005 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Having exhausted the English-language scene, I'm wondering what foreign directors have catalogs worth going through. I've already taken a look at the works of Pedro Almodovar and Wong Kar Wai, and would love to know who else has earned the respect of Mefi cinephiles. Limit your answer to directors whose catalog is in bulk created after 1970, please.
posted by boombot to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This was on AskMe a couple days ago, and is focused towards Indian cinema.
posted by wackybrit at 6:23 PM on August 27, 2005

Abbas Kiarostami.
posted by Wolof at 6:33 PM on August 27, 2005

Claude Lelouch : I'm not a big fan, but definitely worth checking.
Patrice Leconte : try the latter work.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet : particularly Delicatessen.
posted by McSly at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2005

Krzysztof Kieslowski, particularly the Decalogue.

My Wong Kar Wai picks would be Days of Being Wild, Fallen Angels, and 2046.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:49 PM on August 27, 2005

Also, see here for other Asian film recommendations. Kurosawa seems like a pretty obvious place to start.
posted by leecifer at 6:52 PM on August 27, 2005

I really like Fassbinder, but I recognize that he's something of a peculiar taste. His films are brittle, brainy, and alienated.

I also am a great fan of Eric Rohmer, who is a charming anthropologist of courtship and love.

Also, leecifer is absolutely right: Kurosawa is a director that has the absolute love and affection of the great contemporary American directors. His best work was before your 1970 cutoff, though.
posted by curtm at 7:06 PM on August 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers thus far, keep them coming. Kurosawa is absolutely a great choice, one whose catalog I've happily run through. To amplify my original question, I'm looking for 'deeper cuts', directors whose rep in the US isn't huge and who are (ideally) still working.
posted by boombot at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2005

If Kurosawa isn't too dated, then I gotta follow by recommending Ingmar Bergman. Of course among film people his reputation is huge, but with Saraband out in theaters I guess you could say he's still working and, as much as any director, his catalog is worth going through, though i'd probably start at 1957.
posted by flavor at 7:25 PM on August 27, 2005

Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire is his best, I think.)
Werner Herzog (after hearing him on NPR I've started renting his stuff. I was just this weekend blown away by Fitzcarraldo.)
Fellini (I've only seen La Dolci Vita, but he's on my list.)
I'm a fan of Iranian film. My favorite director from there in Jafar Panahi. Check out The White Balloon and The Mirror.
posted by booth at 7:31 PM on August 27, 2005

Oops. Fellini's a little early for you. But add Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, Winter Sleepers) to the list.
posted by booth at 7:35 PM on August 27, 2005

I'll second

Fassbinder (Veronika Voss)
Kieslowski (Dekalog)
Leconte (Hairdresser's Husband, Monsieur Hire)

And I'll add

Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Piano Teacher) (My favorite director)
Tom Tykwer (Heaven)
Lars von Trier (Europa, Breaking the Waves, Dogville, The Kingdom)
Takeshi Kitano (Boiling Point, Hana-bi)
John Cassavetes (Killing of a Chinese Bookie) (works in English)
Francois Truffaut (400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player) (post 60s)
Ingmar Bergman (Scenes from a Marriage)
Werner Herzog (Aguirre, Wrath of God)
Roman Polanski (Knife in the Water) - mostly works in English, but KitW is Polish
Chan-wook Park (Oldboy)
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta)
Denis Villeneuve (Maelstrom)
Thomas Vinterberg (Celebration)
Michelangelo Antonioni (L'Avventura) - may be a bit early but worked into 90s
Robert Altman (3 Women) - works in English
Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker)
Gillo Pontecorvo (Battle of Algiers)
Agnes Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond)
Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun)

(titles in brackets are my faves or recommended films to watch first)
posted by dobbs at 7:41 PM on August 27, 2005

Wim Wenders, his older stuff, like The Sky Over Berlin.
posted by signal at 7:47 PM on August 27, 2005

Oh, and even though you said you exhausted the English-language scene I'm going to add the little known American director Lodge Kerrigan. He's only made 3 films but 2 of them are masterpieces (Clean, Shaven and the stunning Keane) and the third one's pretty good too and I doubt you've seen 'em all. ;)
posted by dobbs at 7:49 PM on August 27, 2005

Dobbs made good suggestions -

Herzog's just released a new film, 'Grizzly Man' about a man and a grizzly bear... rather grisly but pure Herzog.

Ingmar Bergman followed up his 'Scenes from a Marriage' with 'Saraband' which is now playing in select US theatres. The same actors, 30 years later.

May I also suggest Denys Arcand from Quebec. His 'Decline and Fall of the North American Empire' casts a critical look at North-American intellectuals (all about a half-dozen university profs gathering for a weekend in a friend's cottage) and the follow-up film 'Liaisons Barbares' reunites the same cast as one of them is dying. Arcand's other works include 'Jesus de Montreal' which is also very powerful.
posted by seawallrunner at 7:50 PM on August 27, 2005

oops, 'Invasions Barbares' by Arcand... shoulda peeked at imdb /before/ clicking Post ;)
posted by seawallrunner at 7:51 PM on August 27, 2005

Damn, and how could I forget Emir Kusturica (Underground, When Father Was Away on Business) and Milos Forman (Fireman's Ball).

Thanks, seawallrunner
posted by dobbs at 7:55 PM on August 27, 2005

Yuri Mamin (Window to Paris and Sideburns)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:02 PM on August 27, 2005

Louis Malle (Au revoir les enfants). I also second Arcand and Kusturica.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:05 PM on August 27, 2005

I second Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Lars von Trier.
Also, speaking of Lars von Trier, you might be interested in anything from the Dogme95 Collective. Start with Festen and Italian for Beginners (Italiensk For Begyndere)
posted by easternblot at 8:09 PM on August 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Lukas Moodysson (Show Me Love, Lilja 4-ever) should also have been on my list.

Also, Festen, which easternblot mentions is the same film as Celebration (Vinterberg) that I mentioned, so consider that two votes for that one.
posted by dobbs at 8:21 PM on August 27, 2005

I second Krzysztof Kieslowski and his Red, White, and Blue (3 separate movies) series.
posted by edjusted at 11:27 PM on August 27, 2005

Zhang Yimou, especially Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern. I'll go ahead and second Eric Rohmer. Ang Lee's non-English works are also excellent.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 12:36 AM on August 28, 2005

If you like Spanish Cinema, you will love Julio Medem. Just look him up on imdb. Especially Sex and Lucia or really any of his movies, like the Red Squirrel. Guaranteed to blow your mind.
posted by keijo at 12:37 AM on August 28, 2005

Luis Buñuel

I especially like this one
posted by joseppi7 at 1:46 AM on August 28, 2005

Vittorio de Sica (A Brief Vacation)
Lina Wertmuller (7 Beauties, Swept Away)
Pierre Schoendorffer (Le Crabe Tambour)
posted by madstop1 at 3:00 AM on August 28, 2005

I'll Second Medem, in addition to the titles Keijo suggested, check out Vacas and also Tierra. The only complaint I've hear of him is that his movies are too similar. Personally I think that they share common threads but that they are different enough to warrant viewing them all.
posted by sic at 3:12 AM on August 28, 2005

Aki Kaurismäki, especially The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä), Drifting Clouds (Kauas pilvet karkaavat) and The Match Factory Girl (Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö).
posted by severiina at 3:17 AM on August 28, 2005

If you find that you like Iranian film, look into the work of Moshen Makhmalbaf. "A Moment of Innocence" is one of the best films I've ever seen, but it might be tough to find. "Kandahar" is very topical. They're all good, though.

Hayao Miyazaki makes animated films; do not let that fact dissuade you from watching his work. His films are unique; no one else does anything even close. You could maybe compare them to Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bête"; it's the same sense of disorienting magic. But moreso. His last three movies--"Princess Mononoke", "Spirited Away", and "Howl's Moving Castle"--have been perfect.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:19 AM on August 28, 2005

I fell in love with Lasse Holstrom's 1985 "Mitt liv som hund" --'My Life as a Dog'--although his later catalogue is perhaps more mainstream (Ciderhouse Rules, Chocolat, The Shipping News).

But "My Life.." is such a wonderful film* (get it in the original Swedish is by far better) that it alone justifies investigating Holstrom's lesser known works. (*11 out of 10 by my marking)

[No directorial list would be complete without inclusion of Satyajit Ray]
dobbs covers the rest (and more) that would occur to me.
posted by peacay at 3:28 AM on August 28, 2005

I don't think any history of cinema after 1960 would be complete without Stan Brakhage. These are the most beautiful films I have ever seen. If you live in a metropolitan area, keep an eye out--the films are especially amazing when projected. (Not to mention that there are over 400 films, the vast majority not available on DVD.)

Also, check out Maya Deren and Jonas Mekas. And Peter Greenaway.
posted by josh at 4:52 AM on August 28, 2005

Cassavetes is American, and Maya Deren worked in the 1940s, by the way, so I'm not sure if they fit your criterion.

I second Fassbinder for The Marriage of Maria Braun, and Buñuel. The former is influenced by Brecht and the latter is surrealist, in case you are interested in any of those philosophies.
posted by scazza at 6:41 AM on August 28, 2005

Cassavetes is American, and Maya Deren worked in the 1940s, by the way, so I'm not sure if they fit your criterion.

Yeah, I realized after posting that none of my suggestions fit the criteria! Oops.
posted by josh at 7:06 AM on August 28, 2005

I'll second Jean-Pierre Jeunet and add Belgian director Jaco van Dormael. I'd start with Toto le Héros and Le Huitième jour.

I'm also keeping an eye on the career of writer/director/actor Laetitia Colombani who wrote and directed À la folie... pas du tout.

And not to ignore the Brits - Mike Leigh (particularly when working with actor Timothy Spall) has created some superb films such as Secrets and Lies.
posted by ceri richard at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2005

You probably know Walter Salles, at the least because Motorcycle Diaries became very popular. He's worth exploring in more depth, though: I really liked Central do Brasil in particular.

dobbs makes very good suggestions. What happened to your plan for a movie night, dobbs? Was that my imagination?</small?
posted by louigi at 9:00 AM on August 28, 2005

If you're into shorts I'll add Zbignew Rybczynski, especially Tango. If you're into surreal or animation, I'll add Jan Svankmajer.

I also highly recommend Mike Leigh, who ceri mentioned. He works in english but is indeed a master. Naked, his best film in my opinion, and one of the best of the last 25 years, comes on DVD in Sept, I believe.

Louigi, that got put on hold indefinitely while I try and get my life in order. Sorry.

Where the hell is Matteo? Love to see his answer to this question.
posted by dobbs at 9:41 AM on August 28, 2005

François Ozon is a contemporary French filmmaker with a number of beautiful movies to his credit. He's best known outside of France for Swimming Pool, but his earlier films such as 8 Women (2002) and Under the Sand (2000) are also excellent.
posted by soiled cowboy at 10:35 AM on August 28, 2005

While she may appeal more to the ladies, Mira Nair has made some truly beautiful films. Monsoon Wedding is lovely, and her Kama Sutra is very nice erotica.
posted by slimslowslider at 10:46 PM on August 29, 2005

Try Yasmin Ahmad and Amir Muhammad for Malaysian cinema.
posted by divabat at 8:44 PM on May 25, 2006

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