Every now and again I like to do a little cheerleading for films that I think are flying too low under the radar. Last year I made the early prediction that No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood would be Winter's biggest contenders for Oscar glory; needless to say, these precognitive movie powers of mine have since been proven.
My predictions this time around are a little less grand in scope: I have two international films that I'm offering up for your movie-going considerations, simply because I think you'll enjoy them. (And satisfying movies with subtitles are hard to come by.)
The two films in question are the Jean Claude Van Damme meta-movie, JCVD, and a chilling tale of vampires and friendship, Let The Right One In.
In the late 80's, God blessed the silver screen with an indisputable example of pure badass known as Jean Claude Van Damme. From 1988 until about 1995, (maybe 1996?) Van Damme was THE white guy you went to, if you wanted to make an action flick where the main character knew the martial arts style of "kick ass now, take names later." (Bloodsport, Cyborg, Kickboxer, Universal Soldier--need I say more???)
However, by the late 90's Van Damme's career had stalled. His kicks lost their kick, his punches their punch, and the flops started rolling out, one after another. (Street Fighter, Lionheart, Legionnaire, Universal Soldier: the Return--need I say more???) By the time The Matrix hit in 1999, ushering in the era of "any actor can learn martial arts," Van Damme was an action star for the history books--or at the very least, the straight-to-DVD bin at Walmart.
Imagine my surprise then, to see ol' Jean Claude pop up in French filmmaker Mabrouk El Mechri's latest project from the Toronto International Film Festival, JCVD. The movie stars Van Damme as... Jean Claude Van Damme. It opens with the less-than-wealthy actor trying to scrounge up some cash at a bank that is subsequently robbed. After Van Damme teaches the bank robbers the art of "kick ass now, take names later," (in what is apparently a great action sequence,) the the movie goes meta, trailing the fallen star through his troubled personal life, including a bitter divorce and a custody battle for his daughter.
Check out the trailer for JCVD. (Be prepared to LYAO.) If you'd like to know more about it, Alex Billington did a great review for the film over at First Showing.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
There's been so much good buzz about this Swedish film, which tells the story of a lonely,12 year-old boy named Oskar, who befriends Eli, the 12 year-old girl who moves in next door. Eli quickly teaches Oskar how to stand up to the kids in his school who constantly bully him, even as mysterious disappearances and grisly murders begin to occur around their town. A fan of the supernatural, Oskar soon realizes that Eli, his best friend, is a vampire. Basically, it's a coming of age tale with a little more... bite to it. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Let The Right One In is based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The guys over at /Film have been ranting about how good this movie is for weeks now, and were kind enough to compile the following facts about the movie:
- Let The Right One In will be released stateside in New York and Los Angeles on October 24, 2008. No word yet on if it will get a wider release after that.
- The DVD is scheduled for release on March 10, 2009.
- The movie has already been fast-tracked for an English remake, which will be helmed by Cloverfield director, Matt Reeves.
- The English remake is currently slated for a 2010 release.
- The director of the original film, Tomas Alfredson, is pissed that his movie is getting the do-over treatment from Hollywood before it's even had a chance at wide release:
“Remakes should be made of movies that aren’t very good, that gives you the chance to fix whatever has gone wrong,” Alfredson tells Moviezine. “I’m very proud of my movie and think it’s great, but the Americans might be of an other opinion. The saddest thing for me would be to see that beautiful story made into something mainstream.” … “I don’t like to whine, but of course – if you’d spent years on painting a picture, you’d hate to hear buzz about a copy even before your vernissage!”
Man might have a point. Check out the Trailer for Let The Right One In and judge for yourself:
So, that about wraps up this installment of "Mr. Outlaw's hot international picks of 2008." Let me know if you've seen either film, and what your impressions are of both.