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Foreign Summer Movie Preview

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 4, 2006 at 3:20AM

Foreign Summer Movie Preview
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Time Out New York recently ran its Summer Movie Preview, where I interviewed up-and-coming Georgian filmmaker Gela Babluani, whose "13 Tzameti" may be one of the season's best un-Hollywood summer flicks -- a black-and-white foreign art film that has all the chills of a big-budget popcorn movie (at least in its harrowing middle section). Here, for the curious, are my picks for this summer's must-see counter-programming from abroad -- and with distributors fleeing world cinema in droves, it's a very short list:

June
Lower City (Sérgio Machado) -- I keep missing this Latin American flick -- and there's probably a reason for that -- but there's enough things going for it (such as ravishing newcomer Alice Braga) that I think it's worth checking out.
Changing Times (Andre Techine) -- It may not be the French master's best film, but Francophiles will rejoice at the chance to see Deneuve and Depardieu together onscreen.
The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom) -- Okay, so most of it's in English, but it's got an international sensibility and something important to say about the state of American injustice -- and you don't get much of either in U.S. productions.

July
Heading South (Laurent Cantet) -- From the director of masterworks Human Remains and Time Out comes this awkward and fascinating feature about white women (Charlotte Rampling, in top-form) in love with young Haitian boys. The last shot makes it all worthwhile.
Time to Leave (Francois Ozon) -- Another French maverick presents his latest. I cooled on Ozon after 5 x 2; let's hope this Sirkian melodrama is a comeback.
House of Sand (Andrucha Waddington) -- The Brazilian director paints beautiful, breathtaking images of the sandswept North Brazilian plains for this epic story of a mother and daughter.
UPDATE: IFC Films' Ryan Werner reminds me that Patrice Chereau's Gabrielle, a Wellspring orphan that could have gone straight to DVD via Weinstein/Genius, is getting released theatrically through IFC's First Take series in July (confirming what many believed, but no one confirmed at the time, that IFC will handle the Weinsteins' smaller foreign films.) Pascal Greggory and Isabelle Huppert star in this Bergmanesque look at a marriage falling apart.

August
The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry) -- Okay, so this one is mostly in English, too, but it's got some French, and it's definitely foreign, as in strange. Gondry's latest is an extremely revealing and ultimately disturbing look at the man-boy director's dream-life.
Lunacy (Jan Svankmajer) -- Fans of animation and weirdo Eastern European culture should check out the animaestro's newest, an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe stories.