We’re not quite sure why, but when we think of foreign movies we immediately think of French romance flicks. Pass. This is dumb since there are a ton of solid foreign movies for dudes. In fact, if you don’t mind a bit of reading with your movie watching, there are some kickass foreign films you really need to see. Here are 10 to get you started. (Just as a note, we’re leaving off British films & martial arts flicks because there are far too many awesome ones to try and squeeze in.)
1. CITY OF GOD
You’ve probably seen some pretty great American style gang movies, but you’ve never seen a gang movie with the grittiness of City of God. Based on a true story, City of God delves deep into the underworld of the slums of Rio de Janeiro. To add to the intensity, this doesn’t deal with grown up gangsters alone, it focuses on young kids caught up in the game and the struggle to live amongst it.
2. A PROPHET
Some great movies have used prison as the main backdrop for the film (see: Shawshank Redemption), but few have utilized it and taken advantage of it like A Prophet. The French film explores the corrupt nature behind prison doors and the world outside them through the dealings of an illiterate 19 year-old who just stepped up from juvie to the big boy punishment world.
3. PUSHER TRILOGY
Okay, technically this is three movies, but they’re all equally awesome so forgive us. Anything that’s described as the European version of The Sopranos deserves some attention. While we do like the description, we’d say it’s more like The Sopranos on steroids. More violence, more drugs and more of the stuff you loved about that TV show.
4. LA HAINE
Why this movie works better in black & white, we couldn’t tell you, all we know is it does and it’s awesome. The film unfolds over a 24 hour period filled with riots, police beatings and deadly blackmail. Standard light popcorn flick!
5. MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT
Another film starring Vincent Cassel on the list (who you might also know from Black Swan), and another winner. Dude is like the overseas Daniel Day Lewis; we’ll see whatever he puts out. The first of a two part series (and the much better part), Mesrine: Killer Instinct is part of the story of Jacques Mesrine, the infamous French criminal from the 60′s and 70′s that was best known for escaping prison and pulling off every crime in the book.
6. WALTZ WITH BASHIR
Don’t be fooled by the animated fact, Waltz with Bashir is about the furthest thing from a Disney flick you could imagine. The story/stories revolve around the Lebanon War in the early 80′s (not exactly a backdrop for a Snow White sequel). Told through a series of interviews and flashbacks, the comic book style film is more real than any cartoon you’ve ever seen.
For film buffs, Breathless is a must. The groundbreaking French new wave film ushered in a new style of cinema. That’s not to say you’d just have to watch it for the Citizen Kane-like historical aspect, there’s also pin up models, nice cars and people just being damn cool.
Horror movies can go one of two ways, either they’re genuinely scary and successful or they come off cheesy and are a waste of money until decades later when they’re so bad they’re actually entertaining. [Rec] is easily in the former of those two categories. In fact, it may be the gold standard for what a horror movie should be: Seriously smart and damn scary.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jo Nesbo, he writes the books that are always next to Steig Larrson’s at your local Barnes & Noble. For all the press The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo got, Nesbo puts out just as good reads. Headhunters displays that on the big screen. Based around an art thief living the high life, Headhunters offers viewers a delicious fast-paced crime thriller.
10. ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN
Just like City of God, Elite Squad provides a sense of realism in relation to the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It does so, however, with more of a focus on politics and law enforcement. While we can’t say it’s as good as City of God (few movies are), it is a damn fine film with some solid acting, a well thought out plot and lots of violent action (yay!)
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