I enjoy watching foreign films very much and have started watching much more of them laately. They are often much harder to find here in the states and not enough people know about them. Foreign Films offer a great chance to get a small glimpse into the lives of various cultures and people around the world, and to see how different life is and the beauty that is present in all the various cultures. Here are five really great foreign language films that I would recommend everyone see sometimes in their lives. This is a small selection of some of my favorites; however there are many many more great ones, some of which I will likely discuss in the future. I also must recommend that all these films be watched in their original languages with subtitles, as dubs will often ruin the movie and will not do it justice … well at least for me.
This is a great movie by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu. This movie was his director debut; and he also directed the more well-known movie Babel, which is also a great film. Amores Perros is my favorite film by him though and it also holds a very high place on my list of all-time favorite movies. This is a multiple-storyline movie like most of his others, which follows different characters and focusses on the lives of several different people living in Mexico, and the problems that they go through. It is a very powerful and emotionally charged film that will make you think and really shows how intense and difficult life can be for different people. This film is graphic in some scenes and also involves dog-fighting to a fairly high amount in the plot, although not too much is shown in the film. I highly recommend you see this movie though, it is just an amazingly well done movie in most all respects.
This is a great Japanese movie by director Yjir Takitaabout an unemployed cellist who must take a job as a Nokanshi (encoffineer), someone who fulfills funeral rites and prepares the dead to be buried and continue their journey onward to the next life. It is a very beautiful film and its focus and portrait of the theme of death is done in a very toching and beautiful way. We see the struggles an ordinary man goes through after taking up a job such as this, one that is often shunned by society, as the people around him slowly start to accept his new profession. This movie tackles the tough theme of death in an amazing way and is very powerful, showing the great beauty in cultural rituals such as this.
Sin Nombre is a wonderful movie by Cary Fukunaga. It follows the life of a Honduran teenager as she tries to make it across South America to the United States with her family to start a new life. This journey will not be an easy one and they experience many troubles along the way. The director went to great lengths to make this movie as realistic and eye-opening as possible, spending much time in the region doing research on what life was like. We see how harsh life can really be in these places, and there are many powerful scenes such as the trips riding on the top of trains and scenes involving gang violence and child gang members. The movie culminates with a very powerful ending which leaves everyone we meet in the movie deeply and everlastingly affected.
Oldboy is a wonderful South Korean film by director Chan-wook Park. There are many great films coming out of Korea and Chan-wook Park has many others that are very good including the Vengeance Trilogy. Oldboy is a revenge flick like many of his other movies and is probably my all-time favorite movie in the revenge genre. It is a story about a guy who is imprisoned mysteriously against his will for 15 years, and now must deal with a completely different life when released, after no longer having anything and being severely affected by this ordeal. He now must track down the person who did this to him and learn the reasoning behind it. This movie really makes you think and I would describe it as a psychological thriller / mystery. I highly recommend you see this movie and also check out many of the other great films coming of Korea.
The Motorcycle Diaries:
The Motorcycle Diaries is a very powerful movie by Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles. It is based on a true story in which Che Guevara and his friend, a doctor and biochemist, go on a motorcycle road trip across South America attempting to see the rest of the continent they live on and help people when they can. On the way they discover many things about life and who they are, and their characters experience deep changes. They encounter many difficulties along the way, including their motorcycle breaking down, and they see firsthand the trouble many people of their country and continent go through. They spend a great deal of time at a leper colony, and this is where the most powerful transformations for the young men take place. This is a very wonderful movie about self-discovery and realization, in discovering your place in the world and what you were meant to do.