I’ve been watching a lot of foreign films lately. Sometimes it seems as though American cinema can not be bothered to come up with a new story line, especially for horror. If you liked The Grudge and The Ring, I urge you to see the original versions from Asian cinema. Other favorites from Asian horror are Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Infection.
Often Hollywood is not able to pull off a successful conversion. I thought Dark Water (American) sucked, while the original Japanese version was quite good. Likewise, I have read the reviews of The Eye, and it seems that they did just as poor a job with that one. Even though Jessica Alba is hot, I won’t watch a bad movie just because it has her in it. I couldn’t even make it through half of Into the Blue. However, having just seen the original The Eye, I must say it creeped the hell out of me.
Asian directors can make a scene scary where it seems Hollywood only remembers how to make things shocking. It wasn’t always like that. The Changling was a movie I saw as a teenager that was extremely scary, but had no shock value at all, just creepy. I do think that 1408 is a decent scary movie from Hollywood, and I am glad to see that Stephen King still has some spook left in him.
But where foreign film really shines is in the drama department. Some of the best has transcended the language barrier [look at all the foreign films that won Academy Awards this year] but there are so many out there. Sometimes I go for a week not watching a movie in English. Anything with Audrey Tautou is good, I think. I loved A Very Long Engagement but i think most people know her for Amélie. It was also very good; quirky, but good. Pan’s Labrynth, of course, was Spanish. Motorcycle Diaries should also not be missed. Especially for all those people who wear Che Guevara shirts and don’t even know who he is. It doesn’t talk about his revolution, but it does show his evolution.
The Violin is a black and white drama from Mexico set against the backdrop of a revolution against an oppressive South American government. Tae Guk Gi is a Korean film that documents the way the Korean war ripped families apart, much like our own civil war. It is also the most impressive combat movie I have seen since Saving Private Ryan.
Vitus is a Swiss movie about a child prodigy who just wants a normal life. The Experiment is a German movie about a prison guard experiment a la Stanford which I wish someone in charge would have watched before we invaded Iraq. Foreseen is forewarned.
I could go on and on. I use IMDB to get an idea of how good a movie is going to be. I’ll watch it anyway, perhaps, because I can make up my own mind. These films I have mentioned all score high sevens and eights. That is almost unheard of in todays cinema. Most of the crap coming out of Hollywood gets a six or a low seven if it is lucky. There are, of course, exceptions. My point is that there are good movies out there, you just have to go outside the box. I think a lot of people are turned off of foreign films because of the subtitles, but they are really missing out. Even if a little bit of action is missed while reading the dialog, that is what the pause and rewind buttons are for, right?
Go ahead, don’t be afraid, visit the foreign film section.