Thursday Movie Picks: Non-English Language Movies

Shame on me, it’s been forever since I took part in Wandering Through the Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks. I got into the swing of it, came across a week where I had nothing to contribute, and then fell off the wagon, hard. Typically now I’m back off holiday this week’s theme is a real struggle for me, but I do (just about) have 3 movies to bring to the table this week.

The theme, of course, is Non-English Language Movies. I’ve largely avoided these movies for the majority of my life because…well. I’m from England where we rarely learn any other language at a high level, and the thought of reading a movie was offputting. I’ve widened my horizons in recent years though, and I’ll happily watch any movie that other bloggers are raving about, no matter the language!

Here are my 3 favourites that I’ve seen so far…

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Incendies (2010)

If you’ve seen any of Denis Villenueve’s other movies (Prisoners, Sicario, Enemy, to name a few) then you know you’re in for a wild, often brutal ride. There are no happy endings here. Incendies is the story of a set of twins traveling to the Middle East to discover their family history, and it was one of those endings that has haunted me ever since. 100% a must watch!

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Memories of Murder (2003)

Speaking of no happy endings…Joon-ho Bong’s Memories of Murder was an exhausting (but worth it!) watch. It deals with three detectives desperately trying to solve the case of multiple murders. If you’ve watched Wind River (2017) and found it a good watch, then this should definitely be next on your list.

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Roma (2018)

A weird choice, considering I wasn’t exactly singing it’s praises when I reviewed it last year, but despite Roma not being the most exciting movie I’ve ever seen, it’s stuck with me ever since. On the surface, it’s a quiet story of a housemaid and the life she leads, but there are some really powerful moments in there.

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Roma (2018)

roma-movie-review-poster-2018Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García, Jorge Antonio Guerrero

Plot: Roma is the story of a young maid working for a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

My Thoughts: Until the night of the BAFTAs I’d kind of ignored Roma completely. I didn’t know anything about it other than it was black and white, on Netflix, not in the English language and had a lot of award nominations. Naively I had no idea it stood a chance of taking home Best Picture that night, and yet now I know that it’ll most likely be taking the Oscar as well. I always try and watch at least all Best Picture nominees anyway, so I finally relented and gave Roma a go.

I didn’t expect to like it, but I feel very conflicted about it now. On one hand, it felt about 3 hours long and was dull. On the other, it had some stand out emotionally charged moments that will stay with me for years. It’s a difficult one to judge! Although the movie’s focus is on the maid, Cleo, there’s also a lot of limelight for the woman of the household and the struggles that she goes through.

My biggest problem is that I’m a bit of a child sometimes. The first half of Roma is quite boring, and so I started focusing on things that probably shouldn’t matter. Like I’m sorry – you’re great and all Cleo, but clean up that dog poo! Crickey – you can’t have that much work to do, there are 2 maids for this household. On that thought – why does this family even have a dog? I don’t think he’s ever let inside. I also wanted to know more about that kid who seems to remember his past life – can we have a movie about him instead?

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It got better though, and although it’s a movie I doubt I’ll ever feel inclined to watch again – I did enjoy it. I still don’t think it’s Best Picture material, but I’ve definitely watched worse movies in that category before.

Best Bit: I’d seen snippets of it already during the BAFTAs, but the beach scene is by far the best. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was ugly crying during Cleo’s admission. The hospital scene was really difficult to watch.

Worst Bit: Fermin’s…military…dance…thing. I did not sign up for any of this. Fermin – you’re gross in every sense of the word!

Fun Trivia: As of 2018, the real Cleo, Liboria Rodríguez (Libo), is still alive and still part of Alfonso Cuarón’s family, or Alfonso Cuarón’s family is still part of Libo’s life. She has made cameos or brief appearances in several of his previous films, including Y Tu Mamá También (2001) in a scene where she brings Diego Luna a sandwich.

My Rating: 3 and a half wing mirrors – I think that family could do with keeping a few spare!

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