9 films that fans of Oscar-winner Parasite need to see
PUBLISHED: 19:30 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 22 February 2020
The release of Parasite in cinemas this weekend has opened the eyes to mainstream cinemagoers to the joys of world cinema. Here are some critically acclaimed movies which provide audiences with easy access to foreign language films
This weekend this year's Best Picture Oscar winner, Parasite, exploded from a limited 100 screen release into a full-blooded 550 screen blockbuster extravaganza. It's the first time since the French romantic comedy Amelie that a foreign language film has captured such a mainstream audience. But, as sub-titles pop-up in everything from Star Trek (Klingon is now regarded as a proper language) to Game of Thrones, characters speaking a language other than English shouldn't be a barrier to audience enjoyment of world cinema but, sadly, there still seems a reluctance to embrace films not in the English language. Hopefully, Parasite will encourage audiences to seek out other foreign language films and hopefully discover some cracking movies that they have been missing out on.
Here's some suggestions:
Tell No One: France; dir: Guillaume Canet; starring: François Cluzet, Kristin Scott Thomas, André Dussollier, François Berléand, Eric Levkowitch (2006)
Edge of your seat contemporary thriller by American author Harlan Coben, seamlessly transplanted into Paris and then the French countryside. It's a breathless who-dunnit that keeps you guessing until the final reel. The plot keeps twisting and turning, leaving the audience hooked by unable to guess who the villain actually is. The ensemble cast is terrific. Cluzet holds the film together with an urgent portrayal of a man on the run, desperate to prove his innocence and get to the bottom of a mystery that has consumed his whole life. Scott Thomas is also excellent as Alex's feisty sister-in-law and best friend. It's terrific to see a thriller like this that so expertly avoids the clichés of the Hollywood blockbuster.
Brotherhood of the Wolf: France; dir: Christophe Gans; starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Jérémie Rénier, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci (2002)
This slick French period thriller is a dazzlingly opulent production, with gorgeous costumes and settings, lively camera work and fine actors. It looks like a Brothers Grimm movie crossed with Dangerous Liaisons and a healthy dose of martial arts action thrown in for good measure. It deals with a mythical beast terrorising the French countryside during the mid-18th century and a learned naturalist with his Native American manservant set out to prove that the monster is just a legend but sometimes myths can seem to be real.
L'Appartment: France; dir: Gilles Mimouni; starring: Romane Bohringer, Vincent Cassel, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Monica Bellucci (1996)
When you see something or someone in a situation can you really believe your eyes? This intriguing love story plays and replays encounters from different characters' perspectives. How can the same scene appear so different when seen through someone else's eyes? The story follows a recently engaged man who sees a former lover at a distance and becomes obsessed with meeting her again. A real gem.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: France; dir: Lus Besson; starring: Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche, Nicolas Giraud (2010)
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Based on a long-running French comic strip, this tongue-in-cheek big budget blockbuster sets out to beat Hollywood at its own game. This is the French version of Indiana Jones crossed with a 1920s Lara Croft and a collection of walking talking Mummies on a sight-seeing tour of Paris. There's also a mad inventor with a pet pterodactyl that he can't control. It's a wonderful adventure movie, perfect if you have kids learning French and you want to give them a feel of how the language sounds when spoken normally.
Lady Chatterley: France; dir: Pascale Ferran; starring: Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, Hippolyte Girardot (2007)
An English classic gets the French treatment and as a result we have an erotic classic that looks like a moving painting with gorgeous cinematography and lovely views of the woodland and rural landscapes. This version of the story (based on the rarely read and subtly different first version of the novel) takes a much more intimate, sensual and natural approach to the familiar story and characterised with strikingly raw performances. There is lots of nudity, as you would expect, but its never gratuitous and the dance/chase in the rain storm is exhilarating and beautiful.
Volver; Spain; dir: Pedro Almodóvar; starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo (2006)
Renegade Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar pays tribute to the power of women in keeping families together. Part comedy, part family drama, part ghost story, this is Almodóvar's most accessible and heartwarming film and a love letter to his muse Spanish actress Penelope Cruz who plays a single mother with a secret. She runs a cafe with her teenage daughter but the presence of her own mother is never far away. This is the best performance that Penelope Cruz has ever given - tough and strong and yet also tender and warm. Excellent.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Sweden; dir: Niels Arden Oplev; starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Haber, Sven-Bertil Taube (2009)
Forget the Hollywood remake with Daniel Craig is the real deal. This is the original Swedish thriller which captivated the world. This film, along with the two sequels The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Kicked The Hornet's Nest, are faithful adaptations of Stieg Larsson's compelling trilogy of so-called Millennium novels. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by a wealthy industrialist to look into the mysterious disappearance of a girl 16 years before. With the help of a troubled young computer hacker he finds out more than he imagined.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: China; dir: Ang Lee; starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen (2000)
After a run of superb films in the 1990s (Raise The Red Lantern, Farewell My Concubine) Chinese cinema finally came up with a break through movie that captured the imaginations of mainstream audiences. Set in 19th century China, this a mystery as well as an action adventure with gravity defying stunts choreographed by the same team that directed the action sequences in The Matrix. But, the film wasn't just about action. The mystery surrounding the theft of the ancient sword and the developing romance between its guardians created something rather special.
Love Is In The Air: France; dir: Alexandre Castagnetti; starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Nicolas Bedos, Jonathan Cohen (2016)
Beautifully pitched, bittersweet romantic comedy featuring French star Ludivine Sagnier. If this had been made by Hollywood in the 1990s then the part would have been perfect for Meg Ryan, except that Sagnier is far feistier than Ryan ever was. The premise is simple but effective. Antoine is a lawyer living in New York. On his way back to France for the final round of a job interview, Antoine finds himself sitting right next to his ex-girlfriend Julie. With a seven-hour flight ahead of them, they are going to have to speak to each other. This film proves that sub-titles can make you laugh.