One of the really annoying things about cinema today is that too many Hollywood blockbusters are overexposed in the media, and small, indie movies from other countries of the world get almost no credit at all.
The major mission of this list is to bring such gems to the limelight and introduce movie buffs the best cinema can offer. Please note that these are not boring arthouse flicks, but rather interesting and exciting films you may long to see but haven’t had the chance to. Let’s see if any of these look appealing to your cinematic taste.
1. The Brand New Testament (2015, Jaco Van Dormael, Belgium)
If “Inglourious Basterds” is a brilliant rewrite of the history of World War II, then ”The Brand New Testament” is an even crazier retelling of the New Testament. If you are a fan of “Mr. Nobody”, then you know that this movie, made by the same director, will be a mind-blowing fantasy that one cannot easily forget.
God is a middle-aged man living in an apartment in Brussels and he has a computer to create everything on earth. He has a meek wife who’s often abused by her bad-tempered husband. Their rebellious daughter can’t take it anymore, and decides to find six apostles to write the Brand New Testament. The task becomes more challenging after his father finds her escaping and tries to prevent her plan from happening.
“The Brand New Testament” is a celebration of the human imagination and the amazing special effects really give wings to it. Movie buffs will love it because it constantly pays homages to classic movies like “The Shining”, “Max My Love”, “Caroline”, and others. One of the many fun things of watching this movie is spotting these nicely placed tricks that will put a smile on your face.
2. The Distinguished Citizen (2016, Gastón Duprat & Mariano Cohn, Argentina)
This Argentinian gem is one of the few movies that have 100 percent ‘fresh’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s the official selected entry for Oscar Best Foreign Language Film this year. That should give you a good first impression.
The movie tells the story of Nobel Prize winner Daniel Mantovani, who has been living in Europe for 40 years, as he accepts the invitation from his hometown in Argentina to receive the “Distinguished Citizen” prize. He will soon regret the trip as a series of weird and funny things happen to him during his 4-day stay. Consider anything you would expect from such a story about the homecoming of small-town celebrity.
The story looks absurd at times, but everything that takes place in the film makes perfect sense. It’s shot in documentary style, and the events have roots in everyday reality so you totally believe what you see, and it’s such an universal story that it could happen at anytime, anywhere. What’s so good about the movie is it not only satirizes the small town citizens and bureaucrats, but also the writer himself. Anyone who likes black comedy should see this one.
3. A Man Called Ove (2015, Hannes Holm, Sweden)
In a world full of dark dramas, we need more heartwarming movies like “A Man Called Ove”, a comedy-drama reminiscent of Aki Kaurismaki’s fairy-tale-like “Le Havre”.
Ove Lindahl, a 59-year-old widower, is the kind of neighbor you might have in your community. He is stubborn, a little bit weird, and full of responsibilities of keeping the order of the community. After being fired by the company where he has worked for 43 years, he decides to commit suicide. But his several attempts are interfered by his new neighbors, and during every attempt, we see flashbacks of his past, how he loses his father and meets his love of life.
The movie is not only a well-structured slice-of-life drama, but also an excellent character study. It digs into the history of the protagonist to add layers to his complex character, so we understand why Ove became the man he is as we see him in the beginning, and why he behaves like that. It is the best kind of comedy that makes you laugh hard, and then cry harder. Perfect for a family watch during the weekends.
4. The Invisible Guest (2016, Oriol Paulo, Spain)
Look no further, “The Invisible Guest” could probably be the best crime thriller in recent years.
A young man wakes up in a hotel room next to his dead love, and he tries to get the best lawyer to defend him. They only have one night to sort out things, and then the story is told by the young man in flashbacks. One day, he and his lover hit a car by accident, and the driver is dead. They get rid of the body and pretend nothing has happened. When they think everything is back to normal, a grand scheme is waiting for them…
Like the recent Park Chan-wook thriller “The Handmaiden”, the movie is told in Rashomon style; we don’t really see what really happened, we only see what the characters tell us, and that is very effective in storytelling, especially with a genre like this. It’s not easy to pull off as it often has many plot holes, but the screenplay is very clever and cautious so they keep the plot holes to a minimum. The intense plot will make you sweat all the time and the twist and turns will satisfy any real thriller lover.
5. Perfect Strangers (2016, Paolo Genovese, Italy)
This Italian gem can resonate with everyone, as it deals with two of the most important things in our daily lives – mobile phones and relationships.
Seven close friends decide to play a game during a dinner party. They all place their mobile phones on the table, and make every text message and phone call public. The purpose of the game is to show that they have nothing to hide from their closest companions, but the party soon turns into a nasty mess.
“Perfect Strangers” is one of those movies you wouldn’t want to watch with your significant other. Like the characters say in the movie, “the mobile phone has become our black box, all the important information is in it.” Everyone has privacy and secrets, and relationships are very vulnerable when these secrets are revealed. Do you dare play the game?