Listomania: Top Five Foreign-Language Films

I love subtitles. Good ones help me not miss the minutest details like blowing wind and dog barking in the background. Often, they help me with the punch line too. However, there is a special place in my heart for movies in foreign language. I take immense pleasure in hearing those undecipherable words and unfamiliar sounds. Emotions are conveyed by fusing the expressions, sounds, and text. I like that. So here is the list of my top five foreign-language films.

1. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain: Amélie is a widely acclaimed and hugely watched contemporary French film. It is whimsical, idealistic, romantic, unrealistic, and picturesque. I like the movie because it awakens my senses; it makes me want to sit back, soak the sun and smell the coffee. It talks about the beauty that surrounds us but is completely ignored by us in our daily endeavors. Of course, the feeling of wanting to slow down and soaking in this beauty lasts only for a couple of hours, but it is wonderful nonetheless.

the wondrous french film

the wondrous french film

The movie tells the story of a shy and lonely waitress who takes joy in the simple pleasures of life. One day she stumbles upon a boy’s childhood treasure trove and decides to find the owner and return it to him. The happiness the old man displays on finding his childhood treasure results in Amélie devoting her free time to making people around her happy. Somewhere in the process, she ends up smitten by a mysterious stranger but somehow is not sure how to make herself happy this time. It is a pretty story sprinkled with hope and dreams.

2. Låt Den Rätte Komma In: The Swedish film with the title “let the right one in,” is a romantic vampire film. Now, can there be anything cooler than that? The correct answer is No. Curiosity, shock, fear, sympathy, disgust, and joy are the feelings that the movie made me experience is the span of two hours. Hence, it is on this list. The movie is grim and the high saturation colors and the cold and empty location keep you feeling bleak throughout. However, somewhere the movie makes you fall in love with the most inappropriate characters. The movie deals with serious topics like bullying, single parent, and crimes against the young all under the wraps of a horrific fantasy.  A strong feeling of lingering dread that stayed with me long after the movie ended. I was hoping for a happy life for the characters and knew it was a lost hope.

the heartbreaking swedish horror

the heartbreaking swedish horror

It is a tale of a 12-year old lonely boy who is being constantly bullied at the school. He strikes a friendship with a weird new neighbor who is around his age and slowly the two become close friends. The new friend helps him gather courage to fight the bullies at school, something he had only imagined in dreams until now. As the number of murders in the local area increase, the boy finds out that his friend is actually a 200-years old vampire. However, despite the revelation, their friendship remains strong and they fight the injustice around them together and run away in the end. Only, it breaks your heart completely when you realize what the future holds for them.

3. Omohide Poro Poro: The title means “memories like falling raindrops” in Japanese and the movie was called Only Yesterday in English. It is a Ghibli film, which automatically makes it a movie worth watching but what makes it my favorite Ghibli as well as my favorite Japanese film is much more than that. It is a drama without being melodramatic, and it is delivered by the medium of animation. However, it is a film that would have a kid bored within twenty minutes, which means that is a movie targeted at the adult audience through n through. While watching the film, I found myself exploring my childhood memories along with the protagonist. As always, Ghibli pays attention to the minutest details and captures the beauty of rural Japan. This movie made me want to catch a flight to Japan more strongly than any Japanese live action film.

the animated japanese drama

the animated japanese drama

The movie revolves around a 27-year old Tokyo girl who decides to visit some far-away relatives in rural Japan during her vacation. She is trying to run away from the prying questions about her single status and finds the change of scenery extremely inviting. While on the train, she remembers how she had wished for a holiday back in fifth grade, and that triggers memories of that year and forgotten memories of first crush, childish tantrums, and troubles with boys and math homework come flooding back. There is a constant switch between present and past, while she roams around the rural area and meets the simplest and sweetest people, and thinks back about her childhood dreams.

4. Y Tu Mamá También: The literal translation of the movie title is “and your mother too,” and for me, it is a perfect sample of the tone of the film. Although, the movie is just another story of coming of age of two teenage friends, who fall in love with the same older woman while on a road trip, it is still a favorite because it is refreshing, funny, and light hearted. You cannot watch the movie and not have fun, unless of course, you want to be critical from the first moment on. The movie is breezy and sexy, fun and unrestrained, dramatic and fishy.  But it is not all froth, this film. For those who like deeper cinema, the film explores philosophies such as impermanence of everything and uses the three central characters to demonstrate things about each of them that the others will never know. The narrator, in his dead-pan voice, comments on the situations from a different, more practical, point of view.

the pensive spanish comedy

the pensive spanish comedy

Two boys, one rich one poor, are whiling away time driving round the city and attending posh weddings at the beginning of the movie. At the wedding, the two notice an attractive woman who is mostly brooding. By some random stroke of good luck (of the boys) and bad luck (of the attractive brooding Spanish woman) the three set out on a road trip. There is sexy bits thrown in every now and then, and for once I do not mind any of it. This exhilarating road trip ends with a lesson that the attractive Spanish woman leaves the boys with; however, we will never know if the boys absorb that lesson or not and then comes the twist. What starts off as a bubbly sex comedy ends in a pensive commentary on the modern world, its class politics, and relationships. Beautiful.

5. Jiǎozi: “Dumplings” in English, is a short Hong Kong horror film. Although this is the second horror film on my very short list of favorites, horror is not my favorite genre. It is only when something horrifies me so much that I cannot get it out of my mind even years later that I include it on my lists. Like the short film in Mandarin, Dumplings. Show me a movie about monsters and ghosts and I may not sleep well that night but show me something like Dumplings, and I lose a little bit of my trust in humanity. Now which do you think is truer horror? Dumplings shook me to the core, and it is mostly the imagery and the sound used in the film that resulted in delivering such an effect. Till date, it remains the most horrific film I have seen (although, I recommend you watch Drag Me To Hell, it is splendid.)

the chinese horror

the chinese horror

The film is a story of a middle-aged woman who used to be a popular television actress in her youth and is now struggling to regain her husband’s interest. Desperate to free him from the claws of other young and beautiful women, she seeks help of a local chef, whose dumplings are supposed to keep the women forever young. Soon the woman finds out that the dumplings are made of unborn fetus, but is undeterred by this revelation. Her husband continues to cheat on her and she becomes more and more distressed and she ultimately ends up making her own dumplings with extremely special and drastic ingredients.

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One Response to “Listomania: Top Five Foreign-Language Films”

  1. scorpiongurl Says:

    A must watch – My Girl (thai movie)

    Its super cute…I was hooked…tho I have missed the end twice! 😐

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