Susan Picks: Foreign Films

I like foreign films as a form of foreign language practice.  The people speak at a normal rate and use conversational words as they would if you went to their country. But, like most people, if it’s a language I don’t know well, I tire of the gibberish after five minutes, and I rarely have time to sit and watch subtitles. On the other hand, I like foreign films because they aren’t the same repetitive formulaic Hollywood boredom.  They often rely heavily on character development, less on action, and are hard on irony.  The sceneries are often exotic and intriguing, ways of life (like collapsible yurts and nomadic circles) so very different – yet oddly similar – to America in all its forms. You sympathize with the main characters and feel their pain.  Here’s a weekend’s worth of films that you probably haven’t heard of and are well worth your trouble:

Since Otar Left – a Georgian film about three generations of women who haven’t heard from their bread-winning relative in ages, and imagine how well he’s doing as they wait for him to call.  Kind of like Waiting for Godot in Sochi.

Tulpan – a Kazakhstani film about a young nomadic sheepherder named Asa who returns after serving in the Russian Navy and wants a wife – but try and find one on the empty steppe. Then there are the crazy traditional courting rituals to be conquered … 


Combination Platter – a story about an illegal Chinese immigrant trying to live out the American promise while working like a slave in a Chinese restaurant and dodging the terror of immigration.


9th Company – a modern Russian film about their futile 1980’s war in Afghanistan, a no-holds-barred action thriller every bit as good as any American movie.  You might have hated them in 1980, but you will cheer for them now.

[Cover]Vitus – a sweet Swiss film about a little boy whose parents help push him to be a brilliant concert pianist by the age of nine – but all he really wants to be is a little boy.

Travel the world from your recliner and give one a try today!

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