Top 5 Thanksgiving films – The holidays are upon us and for many of you, visiting with your loved ones may be a bit taxing on the nerves at times. Luckily, I have selected 5 awesome foreign films about families that I have seen over the last few years and picked out my top 5- films I think that you will enjoy and hopefully offer you a different perspective on family and food. In no particular order–I present to you my list of 5-foreign films I recommend and will be watching this Thanksgiving!
I. Soul Kitchen (2009)
Soul Kitchen, directed by Fatih Akin and jointly written by Akin and Adam Bousdoukos, stars Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Beleibtreu, and Birol Ünel. Zinos (Bousdoukas) is a restaurateur on the brink of losing everything: his girl, his hole in the wall restaurant, and quite possibly his mind. Fortunately for him, at a dinner with his wealthy girlfriend’s family–a prestigious chef loses his job at a 5 star restaurant. Seizing the opportunity, he hires Shayn Weiss (Ürel) in a last ditch effort to bring his business around. Things start to go pretty well. Almost too well. Soon, an old friend–a crooked real estate agent–eyes the “Soul Kitchen” and wants in; the tax collectors start rearing their ugly heads; and his brother Illias Kazantsakis (Bleibtreu) brings to the mix a little trouble of his own. I guarantee you will laugh, maybe cry even, but you will have a good time watching this film.
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
II. Eat Drink Man Woman – Yin shi nan nu (1994)
Eat Drink Man Woman is a film directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), and jointly written by Hui-Ling Wang and James Schamus. The film stars Sihung Lung, Yu-Wen Wang, and Chien-lien Wu. What is life like for an esteemed chef that lives with his three daughters? Chu (Lung) has about all he can handle. Every Sunday, he cooks a massive meal for his family, and dinner usually involves the updates on the lives of his three unmarried daughters, as it seems that he has lost touch with them. The central theme of this film is that their relationships, and food is a necessary function and gives life meaning. A great film about family and how tedious these relationships can be.
“A comedy to arouse your appetite.”
III. The Wedding Banquet – Xi yan (1993)
The Wedding Banquet is a film directed by Ang Lee, written by Lee, Neil Peng, and James Schamus. The film stars Winston Chao, May Chin, and Ya-lei Kuei. I just couldn’t pass up recommending another comedy by director Ang Lee that is also a joy to watch and great for a few laughs. Wei-Tun’s (Chao) parents are trying to marry him off. He is in his mid to late twenties and are looking forward to him and his wife having their first grandchild. But there’s a problem–Wei-Tun is gay. He lives with his life partner Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein), who insists that Wei-Tun just marry one of this female tenants. Just so happens that Wei-Wei (May Chin), a starving artist from China–who is in the United States illegally and in need of a green-card is the perfect bride for Wei-Tun. When Wei-Tun’s parents come to town, everyone is avoiding the “truth” about their situation. The film is truly entertaining and engaging. It takes a light approach to a truly controversial topic: gay marriage. All in all, the film is about family and the importance of bonding and relationships.
“You are cordially invited to a wedding where everybody wants to kiss the bride…except the groom”
IV. Still Walking- Aruitemo aruitemo (2008)
Still Walking a film written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, and stars Hiroshi Abe, Yui Natsukawa, and You. The film is about a family that meets every year to honor the death of a son, who drowned in an accident 15-years prior. There is much bitterness among them. The parents believed that the wrong son died. So when their only son arrives with his family to visit, he is reminded that he isn’t the favorite child of his elderly parents every year he visits. They don’t approve of his wife or her son–whom they treat formally, as if they were strangers. The film is subtle in its poignancy, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll miss the underlying sadness that plagues this family. Koreeda at his absolute best.
V. Nobody Knows – Dare mo shiranai (2004)
Nobody Knows is another film written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. The film stars Yûya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, and Hiei Kimura in a film about a twelve year old boy that has to take care of his brothers and sisters after their mother abandons them in a small apartment in Japan. The film is based on a true story out of Japan in the late 80’s. The affair of the four abandoned children of Sugamo. The true story the film is based on delivers grim details. The film by Kor-eda does paint a grim picture and offers viewers a small glimpse of hope and tragedy.