The Top 5 Most Overrated Foreign Films...Ever!
By: Joe

A really easy way to try and pretend like you're sophisticated or cultured or educated smart, is to read this website, of course, but, if you can't be bothered to do that (paradoxes are hilarious), then you can watch some movies that got pissed out of another country's urethra-hole.The problem is that being an avid foreign film watcher is such an established method of being a pretentious prick at this point that a lot of these productions are unjustly raised up onto an (un)holy pedestal that they have no right to actually sit upon.

One of the biggest issues is the simple fact that American cinema is so prolific that we've effectively saturated the world market with our films so that Hollywood has largely constructed the very idea of what a film is supposed to be. As such, no matter if you're from Illinois, Italy, or Istanbul, the framework laid down by American movies is likely to color your perception of what you believe needs to be in your movie to make it a movie. Therefore, there are quite a lot of foreign films that, when you really get down to it, are American productions in foreign people's clothing. They essentially hit all the major points that all of our movies hit, plot-wise, mood-wise, and Pennywise, they just have French or Korean people saying the lines whilst wearing a beret or On top of which, just because we've been cranking out American cinema for so long, we tend to be pretty good at it. Generally speaking, even the most drecky dreck-filled piece of dreck of a film is at least put together competently enough. When the same formula is copied by other cultures, however, this is often stuff they're only just starting to try out really, so they're more likely to fuck it up and then we just get bad movies that want to be American movies and since you can tell what they're trying to do and they suck at it so bad, it makes their efforts seem all the more pathetic and lame.

This isn't on the list because I don't think it's quite overrated enough, but it's a damn fine example of the junk I just hwoarfed.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have movies that are just too, well, foreign. There are a ton of international films out there that just confuse the shit out of me. I respect the fact that they aren't simply recycling the old US-proven hit-making formula, but I still don't get what all the hubbub is about and I'm generally left wondering if I need to be from the country to actually enjoy myself (which, in my book, constitutes a failure of filmmaking).

So here's another Top 5 list I've made (because that's primarily what the Internet is for) of the most overrated foreign films ever. I cheated and threw in some runner-up movies this time round, which are ones I don't really hate all that much, but I still don't get what's so great about them and I don't imagine I'll ever make any effort to watch them again.

There are actually two (or maybe 2.5) types of films here and I'm going to explain why because otherwise you're going to be all, "What do you mean overrated, I ain't even heard o'dat silly nonsenzz?!" There's overrated stuff that wins the Best Foreign Film Oscar and is pretty current and is the sort of thing that critics and those members of the public with less developed motor skills go ape shit for. Then there are the movies that you'll hear lauded if you hang out with pretentious film pricks (PFPs) or major in Film (God help you), in which case you'll have been or soon will be educated in the fine art of how to become a PFP. As I've done the latter thing, some of these are movies that were shown to me as examples of how filmmaking is truly supposed to be done, if you're gonna buckle down and not wank around about it. However, I am here to tell you that some of these films are just as unbearable, and sometimes much more so, than the most vapid of Hollywood blockbusters. In a sort of middleground between these two categories, two of these movies are arthouse darlings that are relatively new and critics like them, but unless you consider yourself well-informed about movies normal people don't like going to see, you may not have heard of these. And, because I am one to be trusted, you now know to avoid these productions when they come for you in the night. Oh, sorry I forgot for a moment that my screenplay about bloodsucking DVDs is not an accurate representation of the real world.

Now that my requisite long-winded intro in which I make many of the points I'll probably repeat several times throughout the article is finished, let's move onto the SUPERFUN!!!


Anything By Frederico Fellini

This pretty well sums up Fellini's movies.

Frederico Fellini is an Italian director (if the name didn't give it away) who is supposed to be considered one of the auteurs of filmmaking, meaning someone who was super-good at it and stuff. I don't hate his movies per se, but I can't say I have a hugely great time watching them and I tend to always get the feeling that the only person who knows what the hell is going on in these movies is Mr. Fellini himself. I mean, seriously, is it too much to ask for just a wee bit of plot to thin out all that symbolism?

It's worth noting that I did ask a couple of people from Italy (teenagers, even) who had seen 8 1/2 if they understood it and they said they had, so maybe the crazy shit that goes on in these movies is the kind of every day stuff you see just walking the streets of Rome. While we're talking about famous European film weirdos, I'm going to venture a guess that Jean-Luc Godard would simply confuse the shit out of me too, but I don't think I've seen enough of him to decide for sure. Anyway, at least these fellows see fit to put a fair number of super-hot Italian and French broads in their movies.

Amores Perros

Featuring a weepy girl, a screamy cunt, a dog rapist with bleached hair, and a beautiful boy with too much emotion.

Unlike Godard, who I shan't pass much ignorant judgment on, I'll willfully shit upon this movie that I haven't even seen. I saw the same director's 21 Grams (but that one doesn't count as foreign) and heard that this and Babel aren't hugely different. He's big on doing ridiculous, unrealistically depressing stories about an ensemble of characters whose stories are told non-sequentially for no good reason. I do sort of want to see his other movies at some point to make sure I definitely feel this way about them, but, if they're not much different from 21 Grams I'm fairly confident in saying that this guy is a perfect example of how people can be be tricked into thinking that simply because a movie makes them feel bad, that means it's a good piece of serious filmic art. And it's not. Being unceasingly depressing is about as easy as being unceasingly happy. Both approaches are total fantasy. GRR!!! But, anyway, yeah, I'll just make it a runner-up since I ain't even seen it.

Okay, now for the movies I know I hate.

5. Spirited Away

I already saw this in The Neverending Story.

The guy who made this movie is easily the most American-accepted anime director even though Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue) is infinitely more awesome. This movie won a Best Animated Feature Oscar and people sure seem to love its whimsical whimsicality, as some girl enters a magical Japanese land where her parents turn into pigs and this stupid ghost thing keeps bothering her or being her friend, I don't remember, whatever.

Yeah, it's pretty and some of the images are certainly unique, but what else is there beyond that? The plot doesn't really make sense. This girl just messes around in magical land and we watch a lot of weird shit go down. It all looks very pretty, but there's not enough connecting the images for it to make a story I care about. The art is nice, yeah, but I came here for a narrative.

This guy also did Princess Mononoke. That one I'm okay with.

4. Blow Up

Yep. Mimes.

Here's one you've never heard of unless you think you've got taste, which you don't. This is a movie from 1966 that an Italian guy directed, but it's in English because apparently he was so damned popular people from real countries started being in his movies. I think it still counts as a foreign film. Whatever, I already decided on the list.

I saw this movie in a film class and I fucking can't stand it. It's about a photographer who accidentally photographs a murder in progress (I think...) and then gets all tangled up in the ramifications of this. Sounds like an interesting premise, right? Well, yeah, it might've been if the plot actually kept being a plot and it didn't just veer off into symbolic wankery. This film is like the poster boy for any parody you've ever seen of artsy foreign films; overly long shots of people's faces staring in what I suppose is meant to be an emotional way, minimal dialogue that rarely amounts to what we in the real world might consider conversation, and just plain weird, non-contextual shit. Additionally, holy hell is it slow. I'm not the sort that needs my movies to be constantly fast and/or furious, and even think a lot of Hollywood films are 2 fast and 2 furious, but MY GOD. This movie makes you want to shout at the characters to stop just standing there and fucking move the plot forward already.

Probably the most irritating thing about Blow Up is that it has multiple parts that make you think it's actually going to have a legitimate story, but then it just shits all over it and suddenly you're watching a gaggle of mimes miming playing a mock game of tennis. You know what's even better? What I've just described is the last scene of the film. I shit you not.

Though I think Blow Up BLOWS (who gets it?), I can't discount the fact that apparently something about it was awesome enough to inspire Francis Ford Coppola to make The Conversation, which, somewhat ironically, is one of my favorite films ever. Blow Up's way-too-respected legacy goes further as it also spawned a Brian De Palma movie starring John Travolta called Blow Out (see what he did there?), but that one's more true to its source material in that it is also crap.

3. The Eel

Okay, so you might not have heard of this one either, but it came out in 1997 and, though it didn't get anywhere near the Oscars, it won at places like the Cannes Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards so it's got more than one pretentious stamp of approval. It's a Japanese movie about a guy who finds his wife banging another dude so he murders the hell out of both of them without a second thought and then goes and turns himself in. The majority of the plot concerns itself with the guy's experiences after he's released from prison eight years later. He opens a barber shop and we get to watch his difficulties in trying to re-adjust to society and deal with this co-worker chick who wants to give him the bidnezz even though (or because) he's a murderer. His best friend is an eel whose acquaintance he made in the pokey because sure, why not? I guess eels and people go to the same jail in Japan.

It's been quite some time since I saw The Eel, but I've retained pretty well what the fundamental problem was with it. Basically, the plot more or less continues as I've just described it, but it all culminates with a scene in which a lot of people are in the barber shop and they all decide to go batshit crazy and start beating the tar out of each other and the girl I mentioned grabs a giant column of wood and starts smashing everything. Hey, you wanna know how to not end a dramatic movie? With a clusterfuck of stupid, borderline-slapsticky violence. It's so stupid it makes you feel like the time you invested in watching it was a total waste.

2. Pan's Labyrinth

If you'd like to have the honor of dubbing yourself the most boring detective ever, you can try to find every instance of me complaining about how shitty this movie is, as my hatred of it has been sprinkled liberally around this website since the movie's release in 2006. My hate stems mostly from how ridiculously overrated it is. Most of the people who watch it seem to love it like Obama and act like it's some beautiful magical fantasy that took them away to the magical beautiful fantasy land that was the Spanish Civil War. Look, I'm not one to wag fingers at a movie for being overly violent. I know horror movies are, in general, just not my cup of tea and I'm fine with that. But, I'm sorry, I don't get why this movie is so violent. Really now, how many documented instances of MURDER BY EMPTY COCA-COLA BOTTLE TO THE FACE are there on average in times of war? And I personally have trouble understanding how one can enthuse about this movie's fantastical beautiful magicality when it's broken up by things like MURDER BY EMPTY COCA-COLA BOTTLE TO THE FACE.

More importantly, however, is that the movie's writing is total shit. People with some sense have noted that it feels like two separate movies squished together sloppily. Indeed, the Civil War stuff is sloppily interrupted by the fantasy portions and the two seem to have precious little to do with each other. Other than that, there's stuff like the same plot device clumsily utilized twice (I gonna give you a piece of magic chalk again!), characters betraying their own traits (I don't care about my baby brother, I just need to escape!; later: I MUST PROTECT MY BABY BROTHER!!!), and a villain who isn't well-developed in any way but instead is just so insanely evil you can't do anything but hate him (MURDER BY EMPTY COCA-COLA BOTTLE TO THE FACE).

I've heard arguments that the movie is so violent and the fantasy parts are so sloppy because it's supposed to be from the perspective of a young girl so she overexaggerates the evil stuff and, you know, sucks at putting together a cohesive narrative, I guess. Yeah, okay, but, for one, the girl isn't even in a lot of these scenes, two, I'm sorry but you're not going to explain away bad writing with this because then I can get away with filming a shit stain on a bit of carpet and saying "YEAH BUT MY MOVIE'S FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A TODDLER!" and, three, how many little girls do you know that think of MURDER BY EMPTY COCA-COLA BOTTLE TO THE FACE??

This piece of nonsense won some Oscars, but not for anything except visual stuff. However, it still got nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay, the notion of which is pure, unbridled tomfoolery. This movie is dumb and gross.

1. Black Cat, White Cat


If you're a 'Merican, you may not have heard of this either, actually. I'm not sure it's particularly well known over in these You-Knighted States. However, in Europe, this motherfucker is considered to be trays magnificay. And guess what?




The movie is from Yugoslavia, or Serbia, or whatever I'm supposed to call it but can't really figure out due to my requisite Yankee ignorance, but I guess that's all up in Europe, so it's not even really all that foreign to Europeans (French people apparently think this film is ace, but that's because it's been scientifically proven that French people have the worst sense of humor, perhaps only being trumped by the Japanese.), but it's still damn foreign to me, so here is where it goes!!!

People think this movie is hilarious and awesome and unique, apparently. But it's not. This movie is a perfect example of the thing I rambled about so many paragraphs ago. It's a movie that wants to be an American comedy, but, because the people behind it come from a country that doesn't make a lot of movies, it's a colossal turd. There's even proof of this because one of the characters loves the ending line from Casablanca (yes, I know it's not a comedy, but still, the whole respect for and emulation of American film argument stands) and he quotes it a few times and it's the last (or one of the last lines) in the movie.

Mostly, Black Cat, White Cat is a never-ending shitfest of morons running around doing idiotic things while terrible, booming band music plays. It's full of plot points that make absolutely no fucking sense like a grandfather character who magically DECIDES TO DIE, like literally die, for a good long while, and then just as magically comes back to life at the end somehow. There are also significant chunks of film time devoted to stupid gags like when some guys rig an outhouse so that someone sits on it and falls into the shit pool below. This kind of humor is no more intelligent than garbage like American Pie or Not Another Teen Movie, but because this film came out of a culture that isn't known for films, people are like, "OH GOOD FOR YOU, ISN'T THAT SWEET?" It's like being overly congratulatory to the retarded kid because he managed not to crap himself during church. And somewhat like the pricks who think they're some kind of humanitarians for being condescending to the differently-abled, people who like this movie act like they've stumbled across some brilliant piece of cinema and are now bonafide film connoisseurs.

Note: NOT John C. Reilly.

I've seen some people claim that if you don't like this movie it's only because you're not from the country it was made in so you don't know how TROO it all is. What? Fuck off. I've never been a slum kid in Rio and I still think City of God is awesome. Living in a place should not be a requirement for enjoying a film. Hey, I actually found a a post on IMDB that sums up everything I feel about this movie, so I'm just gonna lift it from there and quote the chap, whose username is kkatalizator:

"I live less then 50 km from the place where it was shot, I know the people, but there is nothing special in this movie! It's just the fact that most of the Serbian movies are the waste of movie tape that makes it better than others."

So, see? I've got a guy from the country itself backing up everything I've said, which means I'm right. Just like having a black friend makes me not racist.

I think this is as good a place to stop as any, don't you?

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