best foreign movies and tv streaming

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

As this quarantine wears on, I know you’re all bored enough that you will give a foreign film a try. And with studios releasing some of their biggest theatrical and festival hits on digital platforms early, now is never a better time. Neon’s romance for the ages, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, hit Hulu early last week, while Netflix has some word-of-mouth hits on its hands with the electric K-drama Itaewon Class and the Spanish dystopian thriller The Platform. Those films and more are in this week’s Pop Culture Imports.

Let’s fire up those subtitles and get streaming.

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Monos Review

A group of child soldiers kick a can around in a makeshift game of soccer atop a misty mountain. Blindfolded, arms out, wandering haphazardly around the foggy peak, their little hands nearly tickle the clouds. Suddenly, a messenger arrives on horseback and runs his “monos” through a standard series of military drills. Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura), Lady (Karen Quintero), Bigfoot (Moises Arias), Boom Boom (Sneider Castro), Wolf (Julian Giraldo), Smurf (Delby Rueda), Dog (Paul Cubides) and the others are assigned various tasks, approved for proposed romantic relationships, and gifted a contribution for their cause – Shakira, and black and white milk cow whom they have sworn to guard and protect, much like their human hostage Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). What begins as a playful experiment in freedom quickly devolves into a horrific descent into madness as inevitable war rears its ugly head and the stars themselves hide from the fury of man’s own damnation.

On an unspecified mountaintop somewhere in Columbia, in an undetermined period of time, director Alejandro Landes brilliantly welcomes the viewer into the void. Gone are the archetypal safety nets of good wholesome family names, exact locations, society’s gender labels, clear political affiliations, or even a rough estimate of the decade in which these characters reside. From the very beginning, the audience is kept off kilter, forced to watch a story unfold in a non-binary world wherein soldiers are humanized not only because they are children, but also because it is never quite clear if they are fighting for the right or the left, or if they are the so-called ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’. Like a heightened waking dream, the viewer is dropped smack dab into the middle of the story and told to keep up, thereby highlighting the murkiness of war and the unease with which many innocents are forced to participate.

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Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week, we delve into the duplicity of a man who helped shape Donald Trump, see how where you live can influence if you survive a natural disaster, get animated, go deep into the jungle, and see what Paul Scheer is up to. Read More »

Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week, we dance our way through existential sadness, get happy by checking in with Udo Kier, take a seriously long holiday in Italy, stay wonderfully confused about what a conscripted cow is, and then throw it back to Russia in the early 80s for some pop pleasure. Read More »