best foreign movies and tv streaming

(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite broke streaming records when it hit Hulu last week, making it just the latest achievement the blackly comic thriller has notched since won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019, culminating in this year’s historic Best Picture win at the Oscars.

But while Hulu proudly touts its new crown jewel, three other Bong Joon-ho films quietly slipped onto the streaming service on the same week — one of which was never available on a streaming platform until now. Bong’s 2006 blockbuster hit The Host, his quietly devastating crime drama Motherand his electric debut film Barking Dogs Never Bite were also made available on Hulu.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

Parasite – Hulu

Country: South Korea

Genre: Black comedy/thriller

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Jung-eun.

What else is there to gush about with Bong’s genre-defying masterpiece? Its razor-sharp social commentary on class? Its heart-pounding suspense sequences that rival Hitchcock? Its simultaneously sympathetic and critical eye it casts on the two families locked in symbiotic relationship? Plenty has been written about Parasite, and plenty more will be written still, but all I can say is: watch it. You won’t regret it. Now that it has the title of Oscar winner under its belt, the Korean-language thriller may seem even more intimidating to the average viewer, but Bong’s wildly entertaining approach to the story of an impoverished family who cons their way into the employ of a rich family is just as, maybe even more, entertaining as any popcorn flick. It’s a heist thriller with messages to spare, and an expert sleight of hand that will leave you on the edge of your comfy couch.

Watch This If You Like: Us, Psycho, eating the rich.

The Host – Hulu

Country: South Korea

Genre: Monster horror

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona and Go Ah-sung

The movie that launched Bong Joon-ho to international stardom, The Host is Bong Joon-ho’s most accessible film. A monster movie, a family tragicomedy, and a blistering critique of bureaucratic inadequacy, The Host follows a hopelessly inept father (Bong’s most trusted collaborator and muse Song Kang-ho) whose daughter (Go Ah-sung) kets abducted by a monster that emerges from the polluted Han river — a product of the dumping of toxic chemicals that was actually based on real events (the chemical dumping, not the monster). With the help of his dysfunctional family, the father defies government quarantines to rescue his daughter, who struggles to stay alive in the sewer where the monster dumped her. Bong once again playfully leaps between genre and tone with The Host, which remains one of the best monster movies of the 21st century.

Watch This If You Like: The Cloverfield Paradox, Shin Godzilla, Doctor Strangelove, realizing the real monster is bureaucracy.

Mother – Hulu

Country: South Korea

Genre: Crime drama

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin.

Bong Joon-ho’s most wrenching film, Mother is a quietly devastating crime drama about the things you do for love. Kim Hye-ja turns in a show-stopping performance as the titular Mother, a widow who dotes on her mentally challenged son and is distraught when he is arrested for the murder of a teenage girl in their small village. As Mother pieces together the events surrounding the crime in an obsessive quest to prove her son’s innocence, Mother transforms from a straightforward crime drama a few shades darker than Bong’s previous masterwork Memories of Murder, into a fractured and dreamlike portrait of obsessive love, and how it can so easily descend into violence. Mother is one of the few movies where Bong plays it straight — gone is the cheeky humor and sardonic wit of most of his catalogue. All that’s left is an epic tragedy that is embodied by the eerie emptiness of the field of yellow grass where Kim dances with abandon in the opening and closing shots of the film.

Watch This If You Like: Oldboy, Zodiac, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, movie titles without exclamation points.

Barking Dogs Never Bite – Hulu

Country: South Korea

Genre: Black comedy

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Lee Sung-jae, Bae Doona.

Bong likes to dismiss his electric first film, but Barking Dogs Never Bite has a charming shagginess to it that warrants a watch for every Bong completionist. An absurdist black comedy, Barking Dogs Never Bite is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the dog lover — the film follows an embittered academic (Lee Sung-jae) on the verge of a promotion who gets fed up with the consistent barking in his apartment complex, and takes revenge on his neighbors dogs by kidnapping and killing them. But Bae Doona‘s apartment custodian soon catches on and decides to catch the dog-napper. Barking Dogs Never Bite is a little rough around the edges, but brims with the energy of a first-time director — Bong didn’t have an angle he didn’t like, nor a smash cut he didn’t use. And despite its experimental nature, or maybe because of it, Barking Dogs Never Bite is a refreshingly unpredictable and snappy black comedy.

Watch This If You Like: Amelie, Delicatessen, Brazil, cats.

Snowpiercer or Okja – Netflix

With the four above movies coming to Hulu, every Bong Joon-ho feature film is available to stream — except one. Memories of Murder, which used to be available on Amazon Prime, can only be found on digital rental. That will soon change when Bong’s crime drama masterwork comes to the Criterion Channel, as part of the induction of the director’s first films — Parasite and Memories of Murder — into the Criterion Collection.

The other major of Bong’s feature films are the two wildly different films available on Netflix: Snowpiercer and Okja. But if you’re continuing your Bong Joon-ho marathon, both make pretty good companions to the director’s other four films. If you loved the scathing commentary on capitalism in Parasite, Bong distills it into taut dystopian thriller with Snowpiercer. The over-the-top social satire in The Host and Parasite is dialed up to eleven in Okja — which also makes a nice complement to Barking Dogs Never Bite as another film that will make you never want to eat meat again.

Either way, you’re due for a treat with both films — just one that will put you off protein bars and bacon for a long time.

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