(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)
It seems like every month heralds the debut of a new streaming service, or at least a newly rebranded streaming service. And with more and more streaming platforms come more opportunities to watch international movies that you wouldn’t have had the chance to before. Yes, I know that it’s ridiculous to pay for the obscene amount of streaming services out there, but that’s what free trials are for, baby! This month we saw the launch of Paramount+, and with it come a few foreign-language classics that you might have missed. Of course, Netflix, Hulu, and all the rest still have new offerings each month, a couple of which are in danger of getting buried in the algorithms.
So let’s fire up those subtitles and get streaming.
Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now
Infernal Affairs – Paramount+
Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Crime thriller
Director: Andrew Lau
Cast: Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang.
Have you ever wondered whether the Hong Kong crime drama that inspired Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was any good, but were slightly put off by the corny title? I don’t blame you, but it would be a shame if you delayed watching Infernal Affairs any longer, because it is a doozy of a Hong Kong gangster flick. Starring Tony Leung as an undercover police officer who infiltrates a triad (Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in The Departed), and Andy Lau as a mole in the police force working for the same gang (Matt Damon’s counterpart), Infernal Affairs is a dizzying, twisty crime drama that still manages to play out its edge-of-your-seat thrills even if you’re deeply familiar with the beats of Scorsese’s gangster flick. While its operatic emotion can get feel a little overwrought for the Western viewer, Infernal Affairs far outpaces The Departed in terms of emotional resonance. Coupled with tremendous performances by both Leung and Lau (the latter of which is far superior to Damon’s charmless turn), Infernal Affairs might just edge out The Departed.
Watch This If You Like: The Departed, duh.
Nights of Cabiria – Criterion Channel
Director: Federico Fellini
Cast: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi, Dorian Gray, Amedeo Nazzari.
Like many an Italian neorealist film, Nights of Cabiria is kind of a strange one. The Federico Fellini film opens on a naive prostitute, Cabiria, (Giulietta Masina) getting pushed off a cliff by her boyfriend, who steals her purse and disappears without a trace. Heartbroken, Cabiria returns to the prostitution trade, while dreaming of settling down with the perfect (rich) man. The film follows one night in the short, scrappy, and often volatile Cabiria’s life as she wanders the streets of Rome looking for work, occasionally stumbling into surreal and unworldly shenanigans or displays of wealth. Nights of Cabiria is a lonely, bitter, beautifully hopeful film centered around a flawless performance by Giulietta Masina, whose radiant innocence shines through even as she slogs around the destitute outskirts of Rome.
Watch This If You Like: La Strada, Far from the Madding Crowd, thinking La Dolce Vita is fine.
Bombay Rose – Netflix
Genre: Romantic drama
Director: Gitanjali Rao
Cast: Cyli Khare, Amit Deondi, Anurag Kashyap, Makrand Deshpande, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Virendra Saxena, Amardeep Jha.
She’s a flower seller supporting her younger sister and infirm grandfather. He’s a refugee hawking flower bouquets on the streets of Mumbai. She dreams of escaping her hard life into a fantasy world of gods and mythological monsters. He dreams of being a swaggering Bollywood hero. Their eyes meet across the street. They fall in love. But alas, she’s Hindu and he’s Muslim. Bombay Rose is a swooning star-crossed romance that plays out like an impressionist painting come to life, thanks to the talents of award-winning animation master Gitanjali Rao, who makes her directorial feature debut with the festival darling that is a feat of animation. Painstakling hand painted by 60 artists over 18 months, Bombay Rose is a singular animated film that is equal parts love letter to classic Bollywood cinema and wistful melodrama. Full to the brim with nostalgia and tributes to the black-and-white post-colonial cityscape reminiscent of Bollywood’s Golden Age, Bombay Rose is a dreamlike ode to “the city of dreams.”
Watch This If You Like: Persepolis, The Breadwinner, finding great animated gems.
Another Round – Hulu
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe.
Yes, yes, movies about white men going through midlife crises are a dime a dozen, and at first blush, Another Round does little to distinguish itself from all its wry existential counterparts. But a lowkey comedy-drama about a group of high school teachers who decide to get wasted during work to distract themselves from the growing tediousness of life, transforms into a moving tragicomedy. Mads Mikkelsen reteams with frequent collaborator Thomas Vinterberg to star as a high school teacher who has lost his passion for his work and for his family. His wife is on the verge of leaving him, and his students constantly disrespect him. At a dinner with his fellow disillusioned friends and teachers, the group decide to embark on a social “experiment” in which they maintain a constant level of alcohol in their blood to lower inhibitions and reach their maximum potential. At first, it works to glorious effect. But the men slowly begin to spiral in ways that range from amusing to distressing, culminating in an ecstatic and bittersweet final sequence that elevates the entire movie.
Watch This If You Like: Sideways, A Serious Man, white men going through midlife crises, but Mads Mikkelsen dances at the end.
Demon Slayer – Netflix
Genre: Fantasy action anime
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Cast: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitô.
At this point, you’ve probably heard of Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train, the anime film that unseated Spirited Away at the Japanese box office and took the country by storm. At some point, you’ve probably seen a poster or image from the movie, full of screaming feudal warriors and bloody demonic faces, and thought, “Oh, that’s not for me.” And it may not be, but I’m here to tell you that the anime series that Mugen Train follows up on, is actually pretty good. Set during the Taisho era (roughly the 1910s), Demon Slayer follows the young Tanjiro Kamado, whose entire family gets murdered by a demon one night. The only survivor is his younger sister Nezuko, who gets turned into a bloodthirsty demon. The series follows Tanjiro as he sets out on a quest to become a Demon Slayer in order to find a way to bring his sister back to being human. Demon Slayer is a rather conventional shonen (battle/action) anime with some breathtaking fight sequences animated by Ufotable, but it’s got a sweet sibling relationship at its core that makes it more than just a series about big swords. Though the swords are still cool.
Watch This If You Like: Fullmetal Alchemist, Rurouni Kenshin, Dororo, big swords!
The post Pop Culture Imports: ‘Infernal Affairs,’ ‘Another Round,’ ‘Bombay Rose,’ and More appeared first on /Film.
/Film – ‘Slash Film: Pop Culture Imports: ‘Infernal Affairs,’ ‘Another Round,’ ‘Bombay Rose,’ and More’
Author: Hoai-Tran Bui
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March 29, 2021