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Tuesday 30 April 2013, 13:35

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Pedro Almodovar has a new movie out this week called I'm So Excited. It's a comedy that is rooted in Spanish politics and society - but how much do we miss out on when watching films from other cultures?

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    Comment number 17.

    I found myself last year in the Windsor, Ontario which borders the United States at the opening evening of The Dictator. The screen was full and the film went down very well with the audience until the end when the speech degrading American politics and the American Dream is made. The screen fell deadly silent apart from the sound of my outrageous laughter as - being a British outsider - I could identify that Baron Cohen had correctly identified the many flaws of Americanisation, whereas the mixed Canadian/US audience I was watching with either found themselves unable to identify with the humour or just out-rightly offended.

    Needless to say, as I left the screening I had swathes of people give me unnerving looks but for me that sequence was the comedic highlight of the film.

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    Comment number 9.

    I'm British but my parents are South African. I moved over to the UK when I was 7 and so I did not learn Afrikaans which is what a lot of my family speaks, as well as English. When I went to see District 9 with my mum and dad, I found it slightly embarrassing to watch because my parents were the only ones in the cinema howling with laughter at the Afrikaans. Apparently the swearing in it was extremely creative and full of double meanings, in a way that Malcom Tucker would blush, but the subtitles were translated simply to phrases such as "go away!"

    I thought it was a fantastic science-fiction film with great special effects, over the top violence, and the gritty aesthetics complemented the allegory well, but according to my South African family, there was a lot of comedy that was lost in translation.

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    Comment number 41.

    The central conceit of "Shaun of the Dead" - it's the end of the world, so best get down the pub - probably only works for British viewers.

    And much as I enjoyed "Moneyball" it left me none the wiser about America's love of baseball.

    The films of Japanese director Yashiro Ozu probably leave casual Western viewers scratching their heads and toying with the fast-forward button, as the significance of a father's slowly lowered gaze is lost or misinterpreted.

    (And as for the lamentably little seen delirious Japanese epic "Love Exposure"...culture shock at it's finest!)

    I also think that the passage of time can be an alienating factor, so that old British classics become hard to relate to by modern British audiences. For example, "Brief Encounter" might seem utterly ludicrous (possibly hilariously so) to audiences brought up watching "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging".

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    Comment number 64.

    And Pulp fiction:

    Talk about a movie so loaded in Western pop culture that it's actually a movie about American filmmaking.

    I was amazed how people who speak correct English struggle to get a hold on what Samuel L Jackson is actually saying!

    It's a subtle movie in many respects and it relies on the audience having a firm grasp of western pop culture for it to really shine through.

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    Comment number 48.

    I'm an Englishman living in South Korea.

    We know Korea for the films of Park Chan Ook (Oldboy) and Bong Joon-Ho (Mother). These guys however don't make the most popular movies.

    One of the most popular Korean movies in terms of perception is 2001's 'My Sassy Girl'. People out here love it, and I simply don't get it. This woman chastises this pathetic guy over the course of two hours at no point are we supposed to understand that they would be a good couple. Her the 'sassiness' just comes of as cruel. This movie can only make sense to Koreans in Korea.

    There was a American re-make in 2008 starring Elisha Cuthbert.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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