Amongst the ever-evolving chaotic world that we now live in, the undying industry of cinema remains true to its art which is why it is a treasure I always hold on to as it allows me to explore the oh so interesting lives of others vicariously through the screens.
While some of us enjoy the comfortability of mainstream Hollywood, foreign film has become somewhat of an afterthought due to the unfamiliarity of the language, some may even say it is a chore to read the subtitles while watching. However, if you’re someone like me with a curious mind and an appreciation for cinema allow me to take you on a journey and embrace the new wave of foreign films. Continue reading with an open mind and an open heart.
Don’t forget the snacks!
Director: Julian Schnabel
In a few words, cinematically this movie is inspiring, magical, captivating, and of course humorous. The director Schnabel does a beautiful job in shedding light on the true story of Jean Dominique Bauby’s life, the editor of the French fashion magazine, Elle, who must come into terms with his new life after a tragic stroke. Due to his inability to speak, we navigate this new world through his internal dialogue, as Bauby retreats into his mind and explores his past and imagination. For those who have an eye for camera work, you will appreciate the wonderful montage of imagery of Bauby’s imagination and the subtle delicate shots of his trips to the beach.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amelie is the perfect introduction into the world of French films and will easily become a top pick for comfort films! The film transports you into the very fun and whimsical life of a young girl who works at a café and makes it her mission to make all the people she meets in her life reach their true destiny. The red and green vivid aesthetics of the film, along with the eye- capturing shots of Montmartre will seem like a warm and colourful hug from Amelie herself to you.
The Soviet Union, (1985)
Director: Elem Klimov
If you’re a huge war film fan, then you’ll want to keep reading. Expect top tier on screen performance from actor Aleksei Yevgenyevich Kravchenko’s. The dark, gritty, and almost biblical imagery of this film takes you through a hyper surreal hell dream of never-ending madness and terror for a young Belorussian boy when he discovers his first riffle deep within the mud during the bloody battle between the Soviet Union against the German Nazi regime.
Spain, France (1995)
Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
When it comes to brilliant filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s there is no shortage of marvellous films to choose from. The storyline of this film is a unique dark fairy-tale about a sad and lonely scientist who kidnaps orphans to steals their dreams. Jeunet has a keen eye for absurdity and dark witty humour in his films, so viewers can look forward to reliving a crazy and scary-ish fever dream.
Director: Zoya Akter
While not every film on this list may appeal to you, I would highly recommend watching the above to anyone. The title translates to “Life will never come to you twice” in Hindi, although at first glance it may sound banal, the film does not steer away from the simple yet important truth of every individual needing to live life for no one but themselves and to stay alive in every moment. It follows the life-changing journey of 3 childhood friends who travel to Spain for a bachelor’s party, during which they explore their true coming of age at nearly 30 years old. To top it off, some wholesome poetry is also incorporated into the film, one of which I find to be inspiring:
“Nazar mein khwabon ki
Bijliyan leke chal rahe ho
Toh zinda ho tum
Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise
Aazad rehno sikho”
This translated to: “As long as you carry the light of your dreams in your eyes, you are alive.
Learn to live like the free waves of the wind.”
Hong Kong, (2000)
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
This film feels like a personal love letter from Wong Kar-Wai himself. Compared to the seemingly edgy cinematography of his other popular films like Fallen Angels – In the mood for love is surprisingly more melancholic, soft, sensual, and slow. The artistry and elegance of the characters’ performances, combined with their striking costumes are just the perfect combination. Not to mention the slow and hypnotic violin-based soundtrack played by Shigeru Umebayashi throughout the movie will transport you into the perfect melody of love.
France, Belgium (2013)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
A very special and important LGBTQ film by Kechiche and is truly one of the rawest and authentic depictions of love and betrayal in film. The story of the teenage protagonist, Adèle’s, will stick with you as she will take you on a journey of growing up in France while trying to discover her sexuality and trying to live through heartbreak. The three-hour-long movie will have you experience an extreme amount of joy, excitement, loss, and hurt all at once.
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
“La Haine attire la Haine!” translates to “hatred breeds hatred”. This iconic film takes us through the early tensions and riots of France in the ‘90s. With the plot being over the course of 24-hours, you’d be surprised by the film’s level of depth as you’re introduced to strong themes of political and socioeconomic issues on the outskirts of Paris banlieue. Rather than focussing on your typical upper-class luxurious stereotype of Paris, you’re met with the realities of police brutality within poor immigrant housings of Paris, a side that we don’t often see.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
An epic queer coming-of- age film with Zachary Beaulieu who not only navigates the struggle of figuring out his sexuality but also constantly tests his relationship with faith and religion. Although his family doesn’t make life any easier for him, Zachary remains true to his identity by expressing himself through bold colours, his sense of fashion, and music. Throughout the film there are references to David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” album cover in Zachary’s costume which also later helps him to come into terms with his identity.
Director: Marjane Satrapi ,Vincent Paronnaud
While this movie riled a lot of controversies and is banned in Iran, you can’t help but appreciate the animation and black-and-white visuals. This tells the story of a young girl, Marjane who is sent her abroad due to her mischievous wits. During Marjane’s life abroad, we see her coming of age in a foreign setting while struggling to adjust and embrace her Iranian heritage. Through black and white comic figures, this movie discovers themes of war, politics, teenage rebellion, and conflicts of identity through the misadventures of Marjane in different countries. The story is open to many interpretations -, which is all the reason why one must watch it.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
One of the most fascinating films I have ever watched and is so brilliantly written, Bong Joon- Ho’s films are always so unique and will keep you emotionally invested the whole time. A very valuable film about class warfare that is cleverly portrayed between two innocent families. Not only is this a mystery thriller but you will also be surprised how Bong Joon-ho incorporates comedic relief and classical music elements to show an overarching theme of the catastrophe of socio-economic competition and modern-day capitalism.