Five great films, all from different parts of the world!
If you’ve never dipped your toes into the large ocean of world cinema, you may not know where to start. Here I’ve listed five films I’d deem easily accessible to anyone not used to watching foreign films.
Amélie (2001) – France
Amélie is the story of a young woman who decides to better the lives of those around her – all the while dealing with her own struggles. The vibrant colour palette and memorable soundtrack have left impressions on me since my first watch. Audrey Tautou exudes such warmth as Amélie, you can’t help but feel swept into her world of sweetness. If you want to feel inspired or reminded that humans can be something other than assholes, give this one a watch.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Spain
Ten-year-old, Ofelia, lives with her mother and cruel Stepfather during the early Francoist period. She soon finds escapism in a dark fantasy world, when a faun asks her to complete three tasks. Pan’s Labyrinth is bleak, morbid, magical and beautiful all at once. The set pieces and practical effects in this film are incredible to behold. It’s still arguably director, Guillermo del Toro’s, best work. The story is expertly crafted, as well as the pacing – there’s a particular scene that still makes me feel tense despite watching it many times. It’s dark fantasy at its best. I dare you not to love it!
Spirited Away (2001) – Japan
Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new home. While on route they take a shortcut through, what at first seems like an abandoned village. All that changes though when Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs! Chihiro is lost in a world of spirits and must find a way to help herself and her parents. Studio Ghibli are quite possibly the king of 2D animation. Lush visuals and whimsical soundtracks are all part and parcel for some Ghibli magic. Spirited Away is usually people’s first introduction to the world of Ghibli, for good reason. It was the top grossing film in Japan for 19 years! Not only that, but it also won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Parasite (2019) – South Korea
Speaking of Oscar winners – Parasite was the first (ever!) foreign language film to win Best Picture (it took 92 Academy Award Shows to make this happen – overdue is an understatement in my opinion) A poverty-stricken family end up working for a rich family. Each family member finds a way to work for them by creative means, all of which are darkly comical. As we soon discover, not everything about the home is as it seems. Parasite is hilarious, grim and poignant. Its look at class divide is unfortunately incredibly relevant and will probably remain so for years to come. Director Bong Joon-ho’s body of work in general is also well worth checking out if you enjoy Parasite. A particular favourite of mine is Mother (2009)
The Raid (2011) – Indonesia
The Raid has a simple premise and fantastic execution. An elite police squad must infiltrate a tower block, to take down the drug lord who runs the building. It’s a pitch-perfect action movie. The cinematography lends itself to the well-crafted choreography of the fight scenes, so you don’t miss any of the action (no overuse of shaky cam to be found here) The Raid doesn’t slow for a moment, and if it does, it’s only to create a feeling of tension. If you like the John Wick series, The Raid will be right up your street.
I hope you enjoy your trip around the world with these movies. If you’re familiar with World Cinema, what was the first foreign movie you watched? Let me know in the comments!