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Plein Soleil (France, 1960)
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The Awakening of the Ants (Costa Rica, 2019)
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Number 37 (South Africa, 2018)
4
Breathless (France, 1960)
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The Wild Goose Lake (China, 2019)
6
Bacurau (Brazil, 2020)
7
Oldboy (South Korea, 2003)
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Alphaville (France, 1965)
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Pusher (Denmark, 1996)
Worldwide

Trippin's Top Foreign-Language Films

For those of you who have binged your Mubi account or are bored of Netflix, travel through World Cinema with our top foreign-language films. Curated by South-East London Filmmakers Will & Ed Reid, scroll down for our favourite films that remain unforgettable and stand the test of time.

Plein Soleil (France, 1960)

The film that reinvigorated our interest in French Cinema, Plein Soleil is a loose adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley that displays the best and worst qualities of human nature; lust, greed, apathy, ambition, the manipulation of others to get what one wants…perhaps just the worst qualities then. Plein Soleil is a film that will exhaust you in the best possible way as you follow Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) through an increasingly audacious series’ of close shaves which will have you rooting for him to succeed by the end of the film despite his contemptible nature due to the lengths he goes to get what he wants. With superb Direction by Clément and cinematography by Henri Decaë that brings the French and Italian environment’s of the 1960’s to life in early Eastmancolor, Plein Soleil is worth your time.

The Awakening of the Ants (Costa Rica, 2019)

The Awakening of the Ants (Spanish title: El despertar de las hormigas) is a beautifully honest portrait of the pressures that lingering patriarchal and societal expectations have on women. Costa Rican Director Antonella Sudasassi gives us Ana: a character who supposedly has everything in life to make her happy, yet the film creatively shows the internal struggles that comes with any superficial form of “perfection”. A woman who is juggling her own business, caring for her two daughters, dealing with financial strain and her husbands desire for a third child. Tactfully displaying how these stresses manifest themselves within Ana and the uncomfortable journey of self discovery it encourages, The Awakening of the Ants is a slow film, that will linger in the mind long after.

Number 37 (South Africa, 2018)

Anyone who attempts to remake a classic film already has a tough job ahead of them. Add to that endeavour that the film you’re remaking is a Hitchcock one? Good luck. Yet what South African Director Nosipho Dumisa has done with Number 37 is electrifying. Avoiding the traps of a direct remake of plot and setting, she has taken the premise of Rear Window and translated it into a dangerous South African neighbourhood. A world rich with new characters and environments all the while commenting on the hardships that disabled individuals face when trying to find work in a society that has forgotten them. Weaving in genre tropes from classic gangster and heist films, Number 37 is a suitable re-imagining of a Hitchcock that left us quite impressed to be honest.

Breathless (France, 1960)

The first feature from Jean Luc Godard laid the groundwork for what would become a career defined by his subversion of (then contemporary) cinematic ‘rules’. Predominantly set in a sweltering Parisian summer, we follow Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who, after an impulsive bout of theft and murder, tries to convince his love interest Patricia (Jean Seberg) to run away with him to Italy. What follows is an ever intensifying game of cat and mouse as the suspicions from both the police and Patricia close in on Michel - all lensed through Godard’s dynamic approach to filmmaking. What makes Breathless significant beyond being Godard’s first feature is that it’s his first collaboration with French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who became an integral part of Godard’s career along with being the breakout role for Jean-Paul Belmondo. Belmondo would go on to not only become an icon in Godard’s filmography, but French cinema as a whole. Romance, danger, unpredictability and coming in at No.13 best film of all time in the overall Sight and Sound poll - Breathless is one to watch.

The Wild Goose Lake (China, 2019)

This feels like the best Nicholas Winding Refn film he never made - and that’s a compliment, we promise. An astoundingly tight and intricate offering from Chinese director Yi'nan Diao, we explore the world of Chinese bike thieves in Wuhan city (yes, the now infamous one) and wrestle with the consequences of cupidity and trying to do right by loved ones when you’re past saving yourself. It’s very human, very stressful, and very interesting to watch a film set in a city that has been dragged from relative obscurity in the West onto the centre of the world stage in recent months. Getting a sense for the geography of the place is interesting - and it’s helped along by the class of the filmmaking.

Bacurau (Brazil, 2020)

This film was a bit of a wildcard choice. I’d seen a trailer for it when at the Curzon just before the quarantine and saw that it was being released on Mubi later in the month, so when it was me and Ed sat down to watch it blind. It’s a total off the wall genre-blender set in Brazil that kinda feels like a parochial envisioning of a real life Fortnite map… I won’t say much more on this one because I think it’s best to just dive in and go down the flume of weirdness with it, but if you’ve seen Cabin in the Woods, it’s kinda in the same stable house - in the best way.

Oldboy (South Korea, 2003)

No one does vengeance cinema like Chan-wook Park. Despite the fact that later work could arguably be seen as regurgitative, Oldboy is an impeccable revenge thriller. A hard watch? Naturally. A battle of attrition that keeps you glued to the characters even when you’re not sure who you should be rooting for? Of course. A total brain-bending stomach dropping climax in a twist that rivals any other celebrated denouement in cinema history? Yeah, it kinda has it all, and there’s some great food scenes too which is always fun. We like watching people eat in movies.

Alphaville (France, 1965)

Showing Godard turned up to his most obtusely modernist setting, Alphaville is one of the most revered New Wave attempts at science fiction, having gone on to subtly but prominently (when you know where to look) influence a generation of Dystopian Sci-Fi vernacular. It’s a Neo-noir leaning heavily into its own clichés at times and, in other places, writhing against the very constraints of the modernist movement within which Godard made films to fight an already raging battle against the established “rules” of filmmaking itself at the time. This double-reflexivity attempt to be totally original and free of pertaining to any classification makes for a very reactionary and elliptical film, partly galling but undeniably thematically relevant not just to the canon it contributes to but also to our world today: even here we find the ever present anxiety of being over-surveilled and the paranoia that the ruling classes in government are attempting to stifle the will of the general population. A bizarre and pulpy must-watch.

Pusher (Denmark, 1996)

The film debut of one of our most celebrated contemporary filmmakers, Nicholas Winding Refn, shows the king of stylisation finding his feet in a far more visceral and raw approach to his favoured world of crime. Having not yet evolved into the beast known for dripping his sets in hyper saturated lighting and controlled, ominous gliding camera movements, PUSHER is a dirty handheld 16mm vision of Copenhagen through the prism of a local drug gang - it’s energetic, set to a typically amazing soundtrack and full of the thematic hallmarks Refn explores more elegantly later (masculinity, power, the necessity of violence as a survival tool) - but it’s barebones in a way that feels confidence boosting to young directors, and when we first saw it it blew us away. A reminder that nearly no artist, however polished by the halcyon of their career, steps out fully-formed