3 items from 2007
The animated film "Persepolis", from France, Denys Arcand's "Days of Darkness" from Canada, Johnnie To's "Exiled" from Hong Kong and Cristian Mungiu's Palm d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" are among the 63 films that have qualified for Oscar consideration in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' foreign language film category.
Nominations for the 80th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22, and the Oscars will be handed out Feb. 24.
The complete list follows:
Argentina, "XXY", Lucia Puenzo, director; Australia, "The Home Song Stories", Tony Ayres; Austria, "The Counterfeiters", Stefan Ruzowitzky; Azerbaijan, "Caucasia", Farid Gumbatov; Bangladesh, "On the Wings of Dreams", Golam Rabbany, Biplob; Belgium, "Ben X", Nic Balthazar; Bosnia and Herzegovina, "It's Hard to Be Nice", Srdan Vuletic; Brazil, "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation," Cao Hamburger; and Bulgaria, "Warden of the Dead", Ilian Simeonov.
Canada, "Days of Darkness", Denys Arcand; Chile, "Padre Nuestro", Rodrigo Sepulveda; China, "The Knot", Yin Li; Colombia, "Satanas", Andi Baiz; Croatia, "Armin", Ognjen Svilicic; Cuba, "The Silly Age", Pavel Giroud; Czech Republic, "I Served the King of England", Jiri Menzel, director; Denmark, "The Art of Crying", Peter Schonau Fog; Egypt, "In the Heliopolis Flat", Mohamed Khan; and Estonia, "The Class", Ilmar Raag. »
COLOGNE, Germany -- Cristian Mungiu's Palme d'Or-winning abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Paul Verhoeven's WWII thriller Black Book and Sam Garbarski's dark comedy Irina Palm are among the titles the European Film Academy has selected in its initial list of nominees for this year's European Film Prize.
The 1,800 members of the EFA will use the list of 42 films to select the official nominees in seven main categories. The nominations will be announced Nov. 3 at the Sevilla Film Festival.
The 2007 EFA long list is a typical catch-all of the critically acclaimed and/or financially successful European productions of the past year.
Opulent big-budget productions including Olivier Dahan's Edith Piaf biography La Vie en Rose and Tom Tykwer's literary adaptation Perfume: The Story of a Murderer butt up against art house fare exemplified by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl's Import/Export or The Banishment from Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev.
And in another departure, no one European country dominates the nominations. No nation, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. -- which produce the bulk of films in Europe -- has more than three films in the nominations list.
Another interesting development is the rise of Central and Eastern Europe. Some of the most talked-about films come from the EU's newest members, including Mungiu's 4 Months, Serbian thriller The Trap by director Srdan Golubovic and Jiri Menzel's Czech-language drama I Served the King of England.
The winners of the 20th annual European Film Awards will be announced Dec. 1 in Berlin.
BERLIN -- Forty years after their "Closely Watched Trains" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film, director Jiri Menzel has adapted another novel by the late Bohumil Hrabal, and history could well repeat itself when Academy members get to see "I Served the King of England", which screened here In Competition.
Sharing a similar sensibility, the new picture is the picaresque tale of an ambitious but naive Czechoslovakian waiter whose gumption, opportunism and blinkered awareness of events see him thrive amid political and social upheaval. It is a sumptuously told tale of childlike wonder in the face of darkest corruption and war, mixing high comedy, surreal sequences and genuine drama viewed from a wise, jaundiced perspective.
Given time to finds its audience, which is anyone who likes the Coen brothers, "Served" could do well across all territories as its visual humor and topical significance give it mainstream grown-up appeal.
The film begins with a grizzled, aging Jan Dite (Oldrich Kaiser) being released after 15 years in a Czech prison and assigned to a job as a roadman near the German border. He's given a wrecked building to live in, and as he works cheerfully to rebuild it, flashbacks tell how the fates have conspired to bring him to this pretty pass.
As a young man, Jan (Ivan Barnev) is short, observant and quick-witted, selling frankfurters to passengers on briefly stopped trains. In the first comic sequence -- which is shot like a silent film and will be echoed throughout "Serve" -- he hangs on to a large amount of change until the train pulls out, taking the buyer with it. His innate innocence surfaces too late, and he chases the train with arm outstretched to return the cash, but to no avail.
The film switches back and forth from Jan's adventures as a young man to his later life, where his remote existence is brightened by the appearance of a lethargic but attractive young woman, Marcela (Zuzana Fialova), accompanied by a professor (Milan Lasica) seeking wood to make violins and cellos.
Young Jan makes his way from one waiting job to a better one, and these hotel and restaurant scenes are wonderfully contrived with visual comedy matched by undercurrents of shrewd political comment. In one of the cleverest, the film's title is explained. Hrabal and Menzel employ satire with the sharpest scalpel exercised within comic episodes of high wit and slapstick.
Jan's young life is full of delectably willing young women, though they are usually at the beck and call of salacious capitalists. When he falls in love, it's with a young German woman, Liza (Julia Jentsch), who believes in all things Aryan and supports the Nazi invasion.
The story then follows their passage through World War II and later the Soviet communist occupation and how Jan gets everything he wishes for and then loses it all. Barnev is sublime as the young man, gifted with the physical grace of great comedians and with expressive features that encourage sympathy despite some of the unsympathetic things he does. Kaiser is equally good as the wiser, sadder older man.
The acting throughout is of the highest order, and other standout credits include the colorful production design by Milan Bycek and Ales Brezina's jaunty piano score.
I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND
Bioscop and AQS in co-production with TV Nova, Magic Box Slovakia, Barrandov Studios, Universal Production Partners
Director-screenwriter: Jiri Menzel
Based on the novel by: Bohumil Hrabal
Producers: Robert Schaffer, Andrea Metcalfe
Director of photgraphy: Jaromir Sofr
Editor: Jiri Brozek
Production designer: Milan Bycek
Music: Ales Brezina
Costume designer: Milan Corba
Jan Dite (young): Ivan Barnev
Jan Dite (old): Oldrich Kaiser
Liza: Julia Jentsch
Skrivanek: Martin Huba
Walden: Marian Labuda
Professor: Milan Lasica
Brandejs: Josef Abrham
Hotel Chief: Jiri Labus
Karel: Jaromir Dulava
Marcela: Zuzana Fialova
General: Pavel Novy
Running time -- 120 minutes
No MPAA rating
3 items from 2007
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