(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best, wackiest, and weirdest foreign-language movies and TV shows streaming right now.)
Hello subtitle lovers! We’re back for another round of Pop Culture Imports, wherein I recommend to you good foreign-language movies and TV shows, and we binge-watch them all together to make us feel like we’re learning another language. This week, we have a historical epic K-drama from the writer of last year’s supremely popular Goblin, Luis Bunuel‘s mystifying final film, a harrowing Amazon adventure film, a tender Indian fable about a boy and his donkey, and an enchanting anime from a Studio Ghibli alum.
Let’s dive into the best foreign movies and TV shows streaming now.
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When I sat down to compile a list of the best animated movies of 2017, I realized that the selection was shockingly meager. Outside of Pixar and Disney, animation has never been the pride of Hollywood, often appealing to the lowest common denominator rather than stretching the limits of what animated storytelling can do. That’s a job for the foreign animated flicks or for the arthouse indie films. Mainstream animated films only have to keep kids occupied while their parents run errands.
But there was something exceptionally horrible about 2017’s mainstream animated offerings. Aside from Coco, Cars 3, and The Lego Batman Movie, Hollywood has had a pretty bad year for animated movies. Don’t remember what came out this year? The Emoji Movie, The Boss Baby, and Smurfs: The Lost Village, just to name a few. Now you see what I mean.
Compared to last year, which boasted fantastic widely released films from high-profile studios like Disney’s Moana and Zootopia and smaller studios like Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings, this year’s wide-release animated movies have little in the way of critical acclaim. How can there be such a difference in quality in one year? Let’s dive into it.
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Studio Ghibli may have closed its doors (for now), but Studio Ponoc is here to try to live up to its mantle as the premiere animated studio outside of Disney and Pixar.
Ponoc already has a lot going for it — the studio was founded by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, an animator on Spirited Away, and the director of acclaimed late-era Ghibli fare like The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There. And Ponoc’s first official film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, seems to be animated in the house style of Ghibli as well, making it an easy transition for any hardcore Ghibli fans. Let’s see if the film holds up to that daunting reputation.
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