The best way to start the new year is by trying something different. How about reading a movie or two? some of these were originally suggested as great holiday gifts, but I have added a few new additions, and elaborated on some of the detail as well…with 2012 here, they’re a great way to start the new year with some classic foreign films…
1- Oldboy – the classic Korean thriller about a man who goes on a drunken bender, only to wake up trapped in a hotel room. For 15 years. Then, he’s suddenly set free. The opening ten minutes of this movie will suck your eyeballs out, so put them back in and enjoy Korean melodrama at its finest. his is the kind of aggressive, no holds barred filmmaking that many of our American movies lack right now. It has a number of jaw-dropping moments, but perhaps the most notable is the fight scene that involves….well, let just say this: You’ll never walk down a hallway with a ball-peen hammer the same way again…
2- Tell No One – this french thriller tells the story of a man whose wife is tragically killed. 5 years later, he gets an email from her. What else do you need to know? A smart thriller being remade here in the US, but see the original.
3-Nightwatch. This 2004 Russian thriller imagines the battle that overtakes Moscow when the forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle. Amazing special effects and a story just convoluted enough to make you think you speak Russian at times.
4-John Woo Double Bill! “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled” are the two classic Hong Kong action spectaculars that have never been topped. Sure, I could have put Woo’s “A Better Tomorrow” on the list as well, but if you haven’t seen Woo, these are two to start with. he Killer tells the story of a hitman trying to make amends for a horrible mistake he makes on the job. Oh, and a bunch of guys want him dead. Hard Boiled has the most intense gun battle I have ever seen, all inside a hosital! John Woo loads up the guns, and the slo-mo doves, and the result is a double shot of pure adrenalin.
5-Animal Kingdom. hey, this is in English! Well, Australian, so put down the reading glasses and watch this 2010 crime drama that includes an amazing, Oscar-nominated performance by Jacki Weaver. This is all over cable right now, so if you haven’t given it a try, now is the time!
6-Tears Of The Black Tiger. Douglas Sirk meet Sergio Leone. If this means anything to you, then this is the Thai western medlodrama to check out. It was reporterd that the Director HAND PAINTED frames of the film to achieve the saturated colors you’ll see here. It has action, romance, and HAND-PAINTED FRAMES…’nuf said. I will admit this is the kind of movie that your really have to commit to, but if you commit to it, you will be rewarded!
7-Run Lola Run. This 1998 German thriller is all about Lola running…over and over, each time revealing a new aspect of the story…much like “Momento”, this is film making that turns storytelling on its head, to great effect.
8-I Saw The Devil – this new Korean thriller is extreme in many ways, but with a simple setup: a cop uncovers a serial killer, and decides to exact justice on his own, for his own reasons…this is the most brutal film on the list…”Silence Of The Lambs” meets “Blood Feast”.
9-13 Assassins. Japanese Director Takashi Miike has made some of the most controversial films ever, such as “Ichi The Killer” and the thriller “Audition”, both of which I can recommend. his movie from just last year is much more accessible…imagine “The Magnificent Seven” with Ninjas….a great story of honor and betrayal, and 13 Ninja Assassins kicking assmfor the last 45 minutes…how can you go wrong?
10-Battle Royale – and finally, what is Japan to do when the schoolkids just won’t behave? How about shipping a class full of them to a deserted island, arm them with weapons, and let one of them go home. The last one standing. Hypnotic, beautifully directed and acted, and a subtle political and social allegory…with exploding heads. Battle Royale is much more beautifully made than its controversial history suggests…give it a try and be rewarded for stepping outside of the mainstream and into some classic foreign films!