World cinema may not be the reason for most people signing up to Netflix – but after Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black is watched, it’s good to change it up and have a more adventurous binge-watching session.
There sure are some weird and wonderful gems on offer too. Pippa Day looks at seven highly unusual foreign films to watch through the video streaming service.
Holy Motors (2012)
French actor Denis Lavant (pictured) plays the absurd lead character in this art-house flick, assuming different roles in his daily life: a weirdly memorizing performance that’s both uncomfortable and compelling. Supporting actors include Édith Scob as Lavant’s character’s limo driver, Eva Mendes as a model and Kylie Minogue (yes, really) as Lavant’s suicidal ex-partner. Lavant’s transformation through his day of varying ‘appointments’ takes him from a motion capture studio to assuming the role of a Chinese gangster.
This Danish comedy tackles a plethora of taboos. It follows two inappropriate friends (comedians Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen) and a kidnapped 12 year old nephew on their debauched road trip. Denmark’s answer to a Sacha Baron Cohen movie, director Mikkel Nørgaard tries his best to include as many lewd sex acts and bodily functions in the film as possible. An American remake is now in the works thanks to Warner Bros. with Todd Phillips (the Hangover trilogy) set to direct, but be sure to check out this original version. Not one to watch while eating dinner.
The first Tamil superhero movie, Mugamoodi follows a martial arts specialist called Bruce Lee (!) who gets caught up in fighting crime after pretending to be a superhero to entertain kids. Half action movie, half romance – with musical numbers thrown in.
Iron Sky: Director’s Cut (2012)
The theatrical cut is available on Netflix too, but if you’re going to watch a film about Nazis from the moon, you might as well watch it the way the director intended. It’s 2018, and this Finnish-Australian-German film predicts that the Nazis who fled earth in 1945 to the moon are returning with a space fleet, stronger than ever. Lunar Nazis should be bizarre enough to convince anyone to give foreign cinema a try, their slogan awkwardly: “we come in peace”.
This Japanese drama follows an unemployed cellist who makes a career change to a nōkanshi (a ritual mortician). It’s a sentimental film which sees the lead character Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) move back to his hometown from Tokyo to take up the profession. The reaction of Kobayashi’s wife after she learns he is preparing bodies for cremation is a particularly interesting aspect of the film – death considered unclean in traditional Japanese culture.
The Returned (2004)
The deathly theme continues with the French film that influenced the popular supernatural TV series of the same name. When the dead come back to life, they pose a challenging prospect for the living. With no blood or gore, this unusually placid zombie movie is a must-see.
An Italian comedy about one man’s obsession with reality TV show Big Brother. The man, Luciano, is a fishmonger in a small town who becomes infatuated with the show after auditioning for a place. Bizarrely, lead actor Aniello Arena has been serving a life sentence for killing three men in 1991 – and director Matteo Garrone discovered him at a prison theatre performance.