Thursday, September 24, 2015

Actually, I Do Go to the Movies to Read

We all know people who refuse to watch any movie with subtitles. "I don't go to the movies to read," they say, as if that were a reasonable argument. Either less Americans mind subtitles these days, or the splintering of pop culture has made room for even foreign language TV shows.

Either way, season one The Returned (aka Les Revenants) was a hit for Sundance TV. In a small French town, long dead people reappear unchanged and as unaware of what the hell is going on as everyone else. Zombies with ennui. Great stuff. Season 2 launches in the US on October 31, so try to track down the 1st season and get caught up.

Netflix has lots of foreign language movies and TV shows. This works out great for me because I need to watch shows with subtitles while using my Cefaly device. My magic space tiara delivers electrical stimulation to my trigeminal nerve helping the whole migraine sitch, but only if I keep my head still. Subtitles are perfect for tricking myself into keeping my head perfectly still the whole 20 minutes cycle.

So I've seen a lot of foreign films in the past year or so, in 20 minute increments. Here are my recommendations:

Instructions Not Included

This Mexican film was a huge hit in the US last year. A beach bum in Acapulco gets stuck with his baby daughter. Hilarity ensues. Thanks to a time jump, the Three Men and a Baby routine is only a small part of the movie. There's also enough drama that it took major self discipline not to blow off work and just watch the whole thing straight through.


In this Danish TV show, a school is putting on a play about bullying. The only kids interested in being involved are the outcasts who get bullied. Hilarity ensues, lessons are learned, hearts are warmed. At only four episodes, i was left wanting much more. Season One was made in 2015, so there's definitely reason to hope for a second season.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

It's perfectly ordinary to want to get your ailing sister the best medical care available. It's less ordinary to steal the mummy of an ancient Egyptian doctor so you can revive him and get him to treat your sister. And a pterodactyl is terrorizing Paris. Because of course it is.


This Bollywood movie tries very hard to be an American action film. It mostly succeeds. The cop that plays cat and mouse with the criminal mastermind is a woman, so in that respect it actually improves on the films it's copying.

The Visitors

I've mentioned this before. It was made in 1993, but has a very 1980s sensibility. A knight (played by Jean Reno) and his squire get sent from 1193 to 1993. Hilarity ensues.


This Indo-Canadian film beautifully shows how much it sucked to be a widow in India before Gandhi came along and changed things. Not a fun movie, but a touching one.

Haute Cuisine

Based on the true story of the woman who became the personal chef to France's President Mitterand, and later worked as a cook in Antartica.  Like all movies about French food, it will make you hungry.  Thanks to Mitterrand's cardiac issues, it also addresses how much it sucks to cook and eat a restricted diet.

The Women on the 6th Floor

A French film about a rich guy (or a reasonably well off guy) who befriends the maids who work in the building and live on the top floor. It goes the way movies like that usually do, but it gets there pleasantly enough.


A French romantic comedy centered on the world of competitive speed typing. It's cuter and more charming than that description suggests. It's a little Pygmalion, a little Pushing Daisies and a little Mad Men.

The Painting

An animated film about the social distinctions between figures in an unfinished painting. The Allduns rank above the Halfies who rank about the Sketchies. A fellowship forms and sets off in search of the painter so they can get him to finish them, bringing about equality.

Girl on a Bicycle

Exactly what you'd expect from a French romantic comedy. Less insulting than most contemporary American romantic comedies, even when it gets slapstick.

Hit me with your foreign film recommendations. Even at only 20 minutes a day, I've been running out of subtitled stuff to watch. 

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