Foreign films have always fascinated me. Although the stories told may seem familiar, the lines from which they are born splits, immersing viewers into a world unknown, filled with rich textures, music, and colorful characters with even more colorful outlooks on life. It’s this mystery and newness that keeps me coming for more. But recently my craving for films from-another-mother, so to speak, has turned into quite an addiction. So much so that watching domestic films gives me the same feeling I assume that crack heads get when they smoke weed, its alright but nothing like their drug of choice, mine being foreign grown.
With that said, I’ve come to realize that the only way to cure my non-drug addiction is to push it onto others. So I’ve come up with what I believe to be the 5 hardest hitting foreign films of the 21st century. Although the schizophrenic pause/play action caused by the fast rolling subtitles can make foreign films a little annoying to watch, the high you get after is so worth it. I only hope that the hits you take from these films will help ease my own addiction, but at the rate I’m going it’s only a matter of time before I O.D. So make sure to find a comfy spot on your couch, pop in one of these films, and have your munchies snacks handy as your hunger for foreign films will only grow rapidly each time you inhale. Now sit back, enjoy and always remember to watch responsibly.
City of God
This film is like crack. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund and written by Bráulio Mantovani, this film, based off of the novel by Paulo Lins, is guaranteed to take you on the ride of your life. As two boys, played by Alexandre Rodrigues and Leandro Firmino, grow up in the dangerous neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, their paths split as one of the boys chooses to view life through a lens and the other down the barrel of a gun. With heart pumping scenes and an amazing cast, you’ll soon realize that not all crack is wack, at least not in terms of this film. Set in one of the most beautiful and exotic locations on the planet, Brazil, “City of God” shows viewers a side of this country usually hidden among the shadows, but now exposed in it’s raw form for the world to see. With a heart-wrenching storyline and even better direction, it is hands down one of the best foreign films ever made.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by Guillaume Laurant with help from Jeunet, it is a whimsical and charming story set in the romantic city of Paris, France about a young naive woman, played by Audrey Tautou, and her journey toward discovery while also accidentally stumbling on love along the way. This film is not only colorful in it’s amazing editing but also in it’s characters who almost play out like Warner Bros. cartoons. With little surprises waiting at every turn, this film is sure to satisfy your foreign cravings.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev and written by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, this is the first of three films based off of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novels, the Millenium trilogy. This Swedish film follows one girl, Lisbeth Salander played by Noomi Rapace, as she faces her tormenting past that has suddenly come back to haunt her. A past filled with rape, betrayal, and a family so dysfunctional it is no surprise that she grows up to be the badass that she is. Although this film is a definite hard hitter, you’ll soon suffer from withdrawal if you don’t follow it up with the even harder hitting sequels, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. Soon to be made into an American version, we will have to wait and see if this diluted strand delivers as hard as the authentic version. But we all know that if it ain’t pure, it just ain’t sure. So stick with foreign grown if you want more bang for your buck.
Memoirs of a Geisha
Set in Japan, this film tells the story of Chiyo, played by Suzuka Ohgo, and how she rose from being a small town girl from a fishing village to her new identity as Nitta Sayurione, one of the country’s most recognized geishas. Based off of a book by Arthur Golden, the storyline helps make this film one of the most captivating foreigns films of this century. Directed by Rob Marshall and written by Robin Swicord, it is pure ecstacy on a film strip and a definite hard hitter.
It’s 1944 in fascist Spain and a little girl, who has an appetite for books, must deal with her new life with her pregnant mother and sadistic army officer stepfather. With heightened curiousity, she ventures off on an adventure through an eerie fantasy world. With new creatures and twists lurking around every corner, this film will set you soaring to new heights. Directed and written by Guillermo del Toro, it is an absolute visual feast for the eyes that will give you an insaciable appetite for more.
Still feening for more? Check out these other hard hitting foreign films:
- Ong Bak (trilogy)
- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
- Amores Perros