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in this issue ASA BUTTERFIELD BY MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK

DVD: Best Foreign Movies

VOICES OF A DISTANT LAND. The following lineup celebrates films nominated a the 87th Academy Awards that have transcended distance and language.

LEVIATHAN

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Stars Aleksei Serebryakov, Elena lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov
Director Andrey Zvyagintsev

Some movies offer us an escape from the drudgery of daily life; some movies shake us by featuring conflicts that hit close to home. The struggle of the protagonist in “Leviathan” as he deals with an uncaring bureaucracy is something that audiences can easily relate to. Still, what this movie lacks in
optimism, it more than makes up for in superb acting and directing. While it did lose to “Ida” at the Oscars, “Leviathan” is still a giant in its own right.

KAGUYA-HIME NO MONOGATARI

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Stars Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora
Director Isao Takahata

Distributed internationally as “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” this movie is an adaptation of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” one of Japan’s most celebrated folktales. Quite appropriately, many celebrated names are involved in the creation of this epic. With an animation style reminiscent of traditional Japanese hand paintings, this animated fairy tale is a definite visual delight.

TIMBUKTU

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Stars Ibrahim Ahmed, Abel Jafri,Toulou Kiki
Director Abderrahmane Sissako

Since time immemorial, the name “Timbuktu” has evoked images of exotic beauty. The eponymous
French-Mauritanian film also feels exotic, albeit more along the lines of “strange and foreign.” Viewers are taken to Timbuktu during its brief occupation by a militant Islamist group. The movie shows us how people from different walks of life deal with the harsh realities of conflict with gentle humor. While it deals with a rather serious issue, “Timbuktu” is definitely a charming movie.

IDA

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Stars Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik

Director Paweł Pawlikowski

“Ida” was deliberately shot in black and white to evoke the style of Polish films from the ’60s—the era that the movie was set in. However, this rather dated visual approach pairs beautifully with the movie’s austere scenes, creating an eerily beautiful journey across haunting vistas and dark memories. And apparently, the world has fallen in love with “Ida,” as evident in the list of awards and accolades the film has garnered since its release, including five wins at the 27th European Film Awards and Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

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