Tuesday, November 19, 2013

10 Foreign Films You Don’t Have to be Artsy to Enjoy.

When it comes to foreign movies many people are apprehensive.  It could be the culture differences or even the subtitles that scare people away.  Foreign films have come up with some of the most original and clever material around.  Still, many feel that only artsy types watch foreign movies.  Here are a few great movies from around the world that you can watch to broaden your horizons. 

10. Haute Tension – France
Haute Tension, or High Tension as it was called in the United States, tells the story of two girls on a trip to visit their family.  A killer arrives and brutally murders the entire family; it becomes a game of survival for the two remaining girls.  It is a strange and dark story that does not skimp on violence and gore. While it is not the most critically acclaimed movie, it has a certain sense of style that should not be overlooked and certainly is underrated.  The twist is wildly outlandish but probably not the worst you’ll see. If goofy twists were banned then 90% of the movies in Hollywood would never get made.

9.  Kung Fu Hustle – Hong Kong
Take a Kung Fu movie and mix it with Looney Tunes style humor and that is what you will get out of Kung Fu Hustle.  In the 1930’s a Shanghai gang called the Axe Gang are terrorizing a tenement building.  A local low-life finds himself entangled in the gang and eventually must figure out a way to fight them off.  It is a fun, action filled movie that is very enjoyable. The characters are wild and cartoonish and steal every moment they are on screen. 

8. Dead Snow - Norway
A group of youths are enjoying some time vacationing in a cabin when they awaken Nazi Zombies that are after their gold.  Yes, it’s as silly as it seems.  The action is over the top and the movie is very aware of how ridiculous it is. The music continually plays along with the humor of film.  For example, In the Hall of the Mountain King is played during a chase scene.  As outrageous as this movie is, there are a lot of great moments that make it a very worthwhile movie experience.  

7. Suspiria - Italy
A dance school is the scene of some grisly murders. It turns out that the school houses a secret coven of witches.  It’s an eerie tale that is colorful and almost nightmarish in it’s content.  The effects are good and there are plenty of shocking and wince worthy moments. For example, a girl crawls into a window and falls directly into a huge pile of barbed wire and becomes stuck in it. Grit your teeth and give it a watch.

6. District 9 – South Africa
A group of aliens that landed in Johannesburg in 1982 are living in slums called District 9.  A man comes to relocate them and is sprayed by a mysterious chemical that makes him start turning into one of the aliens.  Now a weapons manufacturer and groups of gangs are all out to get a piece of him.  The acting, the effects, and the story for this movie are fantastic.  Anyone who is a fan of sci-fi should give this a watch. It is a great movie that will impress any that see it.  It will certainly lead to some interesting conversations once the credits start to roll.

5. Ginger Snaps - Canada
Two teenage sisters are moping about their suburban lives when a werewolf attacks.  Slowly, she becomes more promiscuous and more of a wild child while the other tries to find a way to stop the transformation.  It’s a unique take on a girl’s coming of age story.  The effects make the film a really fun movie to watch.  The girls are both decent actors and they have a real chemistry that makes them seem related.  It had two sequels as well in case you wanted to further the story after this movie.

4. [REC] - Spain
[REC] is the story about the host of a late night reality show following firefighters for the evening.  The movie is shot from the point of view from the cameraman.  The firefighters go into an apartment building and become trapped there as it becomes quarantined.  Rage zombies attack them and the survivors must do what they can to survive.  The movie has decent acting, likable characters, and an interesting story. You really grow to care for the character of Angela and you want her to live through this ordeal. It ended up getting two sequels with a third on the way. It was also the original of an American remake called Quarantine and an unrelated Quarantine 2.

3. Battle Royale - Japan
Classes of school children are picked at random to be taken to a small island.  They are given random weapons and then told to kill each other within a certain amount of time or they will be killed.  The kids must fight for survival, make amends with one another, try to fight the system and in some cases kill themselves.  It is a very interesting character story as well as wildly entertaining to think about what you would do in this Lord of the Flies style situation.  The film is violent and actually pretty emotional at times. The kids are interesting and all have unique plans to survive the truly awful experience.

2. Let the Right One In - Sweden
A young boy befriends a young girl in his apartment building.  She helps him deal with being bullied and he discovers that she is a vampire.  Can their friendship last? It’s beautiful movie that is really one of the best vampire stories I’ve ever seen.  It has great acting, amazing atmosphere, and is dark in all the ways that you expect a vampire movie to be.  It has an ending that is both incredibly lovely and incredibly bittersweet.  It was remade in the United States starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

1. Old Boy - South Korea
A man is kidnapped and trapped in a room for fifteen years.  There he has nothing to do but exercise and plan out his revenge- should he ever get out.  One day he wakes up and he is free. Naturally, he goes out on a violent vengeance streak.  The movie is brutal and wonderfully filmed.  It has the brilliance of a plot put together by the Count of Monte Cristo.  With every action it shows raw emotion ad great intensity.  The finale is so raw and well done.  There is an American remake that will be coming out soon starring Josh Brolin. 

There are millions of movies all over the world. If you are willing to give some a try you might find a true diamond in the rough.  No matter what the genre you can find something new and impressive. Let go of your sheltered sensibilities and use your passport to the world in films. You might just like what you find in your travels. If you don’t enjoy the film, the worst you have done is waste a couple hours of your life; you have nothing to lose.

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