best foreign movies and tv streaming

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

We live in a world where Parasite is a Best Picture winner, and where every publication has been quick to recommend dozens of other South Korean films to watch now that audiences have suddenly accepted subtitles.

Well, as the column that has long been advocating for subtitled movies, I’m here to shake things up a bit. I won’t be recommending the best South Korean films to check out if Parasite has piqued your interest in the country’s cinematic offerings (we already have a list for those who want to begin that journey), but giving you a peek behind the curtain into Parasite director Bong Joon-ho’s mind. Bong is an ardent cinephile who has passionately spoken about his favorite films, classic and new, all of which span the globe. So if you want to dig into the films that influenced Bong and his latest masterpiece Parasite, here is where you can stream some of his favorite non-English language films.

Fire up those subtitles, and let’s get streaming.

The Housemaid – Criterion Channel

Country: South Korea

Genre: Psychosexual thriller

Director: Kim Ki-young

Cast: Lee Eun-shim, Ju Jeung-nyeo, Kim Jin-kyu.

The movie that Bong has cited as the most influential Korean film on his career, The Housemaid‘s premise may sound familiar to fans of Parasite. The film follows a precocious housemaid who is hired to work for a wealthy piano composer and his family, but begins to display increasingly alarming behavior as she grows obsessed with the piano composer — finally seducing him and getting pregnant by him. It’s a claustrophobic psychosexual thriller with socioeconomic underpinnings that reflected the post-war turbulence of the time. And you can see shades of Parasite throughout, especially in the looming presence of the staircase, one of the rare early appearances of the western piece of architecture in Korean cinema which underscored the divide between rich and poor.

Watch This If You LikeFatal Attraction, Single White Female, Basic Instinct, like if that sex scene in Parasite was an entire movie.

Fanny and Alexander – Criterion Channel

Country: Sweden

Genre: Historical period drama

Director: Ingmar Bergman

Cast: Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Jan Malmsjö, Börje Ahlstedt, Anna Bergman, Gunn Wållgren, Kristina Adolphson, Erland Josephson, Mats Bergman, Jarl Kulle.

In his list of top 10 Criterion releases, Bong praised Ingmar Bergman’s swan song Fanny and Alexander for having “the most beautiful ending to a feature film career in the history of cinema.” Intended to be his final film before he retired, Fanny and Alexander is a sumptuous semi-autobiographical film that originally was conceived as a television miniseries. Later released as a 188-minute cut created later for cinematic release, Fanny and Alexander managed to maintain the sprawling scope of its story, which follows siblings Alexander and Fanny whose happy family life in Uppsala, Sweden is shaken up after their mother remarries a strict bishop following the death of their father. The director’s warmest and arguably most accessible film, Fanny and Alexander‘s playful symphony of dreams masks darker themes that are just as chilling as his earlier psychological thrillers.

Watch This If You LikeA River Runs Through It, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, ghost stories.

The 400 Blows – Criterion Channel

Country: France

Genre: Drama

Director: François Truffaut

Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier.

Bong calls François Truffaut‘s The 400 Blows “the most beautiful feature film debut in the history of cinema.” And he’s not far off: a wry and empathetic portrait of troubled childhood, The 400 Blows is an unflinching semi-autobiographical film that delivers and honest and heartbreaking ode to youth without the rosy veneer of nostalgia. The film follows a troubled young delinquent named Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), who lashes out against apathetic parents by skipping school and running from home. Truffaut would go on to become a major player in the French New Wave with his divisive masterwork Breathless becoming a prime example of the movement, but the director would always go back to his intensely personal character, revisiting the character of Antoine Doinel (along with his effortlessly natural star Jean-Pierre Leaud) four more times in feature and short films.

Watch This If You LikeStand By Me, Boyhood, The Outsiders, connecting a little too hard with Holden Caulfield.

Cure – Criterion Channel

Country: Japan

Genre: Crime drama

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Cast: K?ji Yakusho, Masato Hagiwara, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa.

Six years before Bong released his 2003 crime masterpiece Memories of Murder, the director became enamored with Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 1997 crime drama Cure, which he described on his 2012 Sight and Sound poll as one of the films that had the “biggest impact” on his career as a director. The film follows a detective investigating a string of identical gruesome murders that are committed by killers who mysteriously have no memory of their crimes. An atmospheric serial killer thriller that shares more in common with the horror genre, Cure was unfortunately overshadowed by other turn-of-the-century horror like Ringu and Audition that would kick off the J-horror boom, but whose visceral impact remains as striking two decades later.

Watch This If You LikeSe7enThe Silence of the Lambs, not-so-true crime.

The Wages of Fear – Criterion

Country: France, Italy

Genre: Thriller

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Cast: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Folco Lulli, Peter Van Eyck.

During Bong’s Criterion closet video, the director excitedly proclaimed The Wages of Fear his “favorite” and “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterpiece.” Bong has also included it on his list of the greatest films ever made. The 1953 thriller follows four European men tasked with driving trucks filled with nitroglycerine to extinguish a massive fire threatening to burn down a South American oil well owned by an American company. A high-wire display of suspense that threatens to explode — both literally and emotionally — The Wages of Fear is a relentless thriller with a nihilistic edge.

Watch This If You Like: Sorcerer, Papillon, witnessing the filmmaker who inspired Hitchcock to make Psycho.

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