A list of International films (in random order) that I’d recommend to any casual/serious movie-buff! (2008-2016)

Well, the title explains itself. So, let’s get on with it:

1. Toni Erdmann (2016) – You either completely like the movie or you hate it..no two ways about that. The movie graciously touches upon various themes and instincts such as measuring the intrinsic values of what we possess (material joys) and what we have lost (childhood, pets and simple joys). It works wonders as an intriguing character study. The dad-jokes (delivered by a splendid Peter Simonischek) don’t always hit the intended mark but they aren’t supposed to either. Sandra Huller is equally efficient as well. This movie isn’t a masterpiece as some might call it, but is indeed a commendable directorial effort from Maren Ade.(3.5/5)

Language: German /  Austrian / English

Director: Maren Ade

Run-time: 2h 42m

Genre: Comedy ~ Drama

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4048272/

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2. The Fury of a Patient Man (Tarde para la ira) (2016) – Well etched-out characters make this Spanish road-revenge-thriller worth a watch. The screenplay doesn’t follow the conventional revenge tropes, instead fleshes out a strong narrative (a.la Jee Woon’s “I Saw The Devil” or Sriram Raghavan’s “Badlapur“) backed by performances from de la Torre and Callejo.(3/5)

Language: Spanish

Director: Raúl Arévalo

Run-time: 1h 32m

Genre: Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4771896/

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3. Lion (2016) – Garth Davis pulls all the right emotional strings and presents a fantastic tale of ‘lost and regained’. Sunny Pawar (the young Saroo) is a revelation. Patel puts up a stellar show as well. Fate can be hard-hitting, but it also brings hope. One of the best films of the year 2016.(4/5)

Language: Hindi /  Bengali / English

Director: Garth Davis

Run-time: 2 h

Genre: Drama

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3741834/

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4. Pandora (2016) – This South Korean flick is a chilling account of a nuclear disaster told from the perspective of a few individuals. At times, the melodrama quotient might appear a little off-limit, but other crowd-pleasing elements such as VFX, performances and to an extent, satire, do their best to negate it.(3.5/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Park Jeong-Woo, Park Jung-woo

Run-time: 2h 16m

Genre: Disaster ~ Drama

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6302160/

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5. The Terror Live (2013) – Almost everything about the movie leaves a mark..the racy (at times implausible) screenplay, the above-par special effects, the exciting background score and the wicked idea to let all of it unfold in ‘real-time’. This South Korean flick is a definite treat for thriller fanatics.(3.5/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Kim Byung-woo

Run-time: 1h 38m

Genre: Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2990738/

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6. The Tunnel (Teo-neol) (2016) – A fine example of a thrilling disaster drama with satirical humor thrown in for good measure.(3.5/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Kim Seong-hun

Run-time: 2h 7m

Genre: Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5910280/

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7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – New Zealand film-maker Taika Waititi has yet again proven that he is an extremely skilled artisan when it comes to feel-good comedies. He is able to extract truly heart-warming performances from Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata and the rest of the cast. Hands down, one of the best indies of 2016. Recommended for all n’ sundry. The last act is a bit far-fetched but entertaining nonetheless. Cinematography by Lachlan Milne deserves a special mention (for enticing the viewer with rich frames of the lush wilderness in NZ). Waiting to see how Waititi cracks the Marvel Universe open in Thor: Ragnarok.(4/5)

Language: English

Director: Taika Waititi

Run-time: 1h 41m

Genre: Drama ~ Comedy

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4698684/

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8. Shin Godzilla (a.k.a Godzilla Resurgence) (2016) – Shin Godzilla might be the campiest yet most entertaining Japanese disaster-flick in recent times. The film follows a rapid n’ cut-throat editing technique in the opening thirty minutes and the director-duo waste no time in getting to the point. The only character development you get is for the creature itself. The CGI looks weirdly sub-par initially but gets increasingly better as the movie progresses. The budget is barely one-tenth of the 2014 Gareth Edwards version so there’s not a lot to complain.(3.5/5)

Language: Japanese / English / German

Director: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi

Run-time: 2 h

Genre: Drama ~ Sci-fi

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4262980/

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9. The Wailing (Goksung) (2016) – ‘The Wailing’ will undoubtedly be hailed as a cult-classic in the years to come. The story doesn’t necessarily tread fresh ground, but its the treatment (horror sub-genre mishmash) that makes it stand out. The first half hour adeptly lays out the character portraits in a rather light fashion, but the tone shifts completely to outright horror thereafter. The viewer is in fact, left hanging even after the end credits start rolling. Hong-Jin Na concocts a screenplay that effectively blends contemporary atmospheric horror with East Asian mythology. Performances are deliciously first-rate. The climax is one that the viewer is never gonna forget. The 155 minute run-time is completely justifiable. ‘The Wailing’ is yet another fine example which reinstates the fact that South Korean filmmakers are indeed the true masters of horror.(4/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Na Hong-jin

Run-time: 2h 36m

Genre: Fantasy ~ Mystery ~ Horror

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5215952/

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10. Land of Mine (Under Sandet) (2016) – A gut-wrenching tale of 4 things: survival, friendship, hatred and mercy. The performances are invariably profound and the proceedings are bound to leave a strong aftertaste. Roland Møller is without doubt, sensational.(3.5/5)

Language: Danish / English / German

Director: Martin Pieter Zandvliet

Run-time: 1h 41m

Genre: History ~ Drama

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3841424/

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11. Under The Shadow (2016) – The atmosphere is increasingly unsettling, the performances by the two leads are terrific and the screenplay builds tension at sufficient tempo. ‘Under The Shadow’ is certainly one of the better horror surprises of the year 2016 from debut director Babak Anvari. The ambiguity in the climax leaves room for a sequel / spin-off.(3.5/5)

Language: Persian

Director: Babak Anvari

Run-time: 1h 24m

Genre: Horror ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4273292/

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12. Train to Busan (2016) – ‘Train to Busan’ succeeds in hitting all the right notes in terms of blending high-octane n’ well-executed zombie set-pieces with the just-about right dose of drama. Kim Su-an (the kid) is exemplary. The climax is surprisingly well-done. Definitely one of the best zombie flicks in recent times.(4/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Run-time: 1h 58m

Genre: Action ~ Horror ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5700672/

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13. Kung Fu Jungle (a.k.a Kung Fu Killer) (2015) – An entertaining Hong Kong actioner with a wafer-thin storyline and some ol’ school set-pieces. Donnie Yen and Wang Baoqiang impress with fast-paced stunt choreography.(3/5)

Language: Cantonese / Mandarin

Director: Teddy Chan

Run-time: 1h 40m

Genre: Action ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2952602/

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14. Demon (2015) – A movie that certainly intrigues and engrosses the viewer; the ‘ambiguity’ factor only adds to the overall freshness. The late Marcin Wrona’s take on the dybbuk myth is vastly different (in a good way, of course!) from any drama/horror film I have seen so far. Felt shades of an underrated Malayalam movie ‘Devadoothan’ (2000). The cast is wildly effective and the proceedings are portrayed with utmost panache. The cinematography is definitely a major plus.(3.5/5)

Language: Yiddish / English / Polish

Director: Marcin Wrona

Run-time: 1h 34m

Genre: Horror ~ Thriller ~ Comedy

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4935158/

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15. Ip Man 3 (2015) – Story-wise not as good as the predecessors, but the action sequences compensate for that. The storyline is basically an excuse for the several geographically varying set-pieces. Donnie Yen is great, yet seems to have slowed down a bit owing to his age. Tyson doesn’t have much to do, although his and Yen’s short action sequence is well executed. Jin Zhang impresses as Cheung Tin-chi.(3/5)

Language: Cantonese / English

Director: Wilson Yip

Run-time: 1h 50m

Genre: Action ~ Biography ~ Drama

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2888046/

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16. Son of Saul (Saul fia) (2015) – ‘Son of Saul’ is definitely not a film for all. But for those viewers who think films are not mere ‘feel-good entertainment’ pieces, this will be a harrowing experience altogether. Debut writer/director László Nemes takes us on an unnerving journey of a prisoner at the Auschwitz camp. The climax is bound to stay with the viewer for a long time.(3.5/5)

Language: Hungarian / French / Russian / German / Yiddish / Greek / Hebrew / Polish / Czech / Slovak

Director: László Nemes

Run-time: 1h 57m

Genre: Drama ~ War

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3808342/

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17. The Body (El Cuerpo) (2012) – A near-flawless Spanish thriller which is sure to get picked up in the Hollywood remake circuit. The performances are first-rate, the screenplay is water-tight and the thrills are deftly placed. The climax twist is satisfying and definitely one that the viewer will not foresee.(4/5)

Language: Spanish

Director: Oriol Paulo

Run-time: 1h 51m

Genre: Mystery ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1937149/

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18. The Unjust (2010) – ‘The Unjust’ is yet another example of Korean noir film-making at its finest. The acting is first-rate, the screenplay detailed, cinematography and cuts are above par. The unfolding of events becomes darker as the film progresses and ends with a BANG.(3.5/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Run-time: 1h 59m

Genre: Crime ~ Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1843120/

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19. Borgman (2013) – ‘Bizarre’ is the perfect word to describe the film. The writer-director Alex van Warmerdam takes the Michael Haneke route posing more and more questions as the film progresses, leading to a rather low-impact climax. However the multiple layers of interpretation the creative mind of the director manages to pull the viewer into, is by itself sufficiently satisfying.(3.5/5)

Language: Dutch

Director: Alex van Warmerdam

Run-time: 1h 58m

Genre: Drama ~ Mystery ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954315/

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20. 4bia (Phobia) (2008) – Apart from the second segment with some laughably bad CGI, the anthology works quite well. The third segment was funny although predictable, while the first one stood out in terms of atmosphere and zero dialogue, the last one provided the frights and gave a claustrophobic feel. Overall, definitely worth a watch for horror fanatics!(3/5)
Rating by segment:
Loneliness – 3.5/5
Deadly Charm – 1.5/5
The Man in the Middle – 3/5
The Last Flight – 3.5/5

Language: Thai

Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun / Paween Purijitpanya / Parkpoom Wongpoom / Yongyoot Thongkongtoon

Run-time: 2h

Genre: Drama ~ Mystery ~ Horror

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1292575/

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21. New World (2013) – Story-wise, it may just appear to be a rehash of countless Korean gangster films, yet what makes ‘New World’ stand out is in the unfolding of its plot, extensive character development and the emotional turmoil that the protagonist (played wonderfully by Jung-Jae Lee) has to go through, along with ample support from the rest of the cast. Jeong-min Hwang pulls off a stunning, convincing performance as a ruthless gangster. The action is adequate and not for once over-the-top. The theme song is grim and infectious.(3.5/5)

Language: Korean

Director: Park Hoon-jung

Run-time: 2h 14m

Genre: Crime ~ Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2625030/

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22. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) – A compelling mystery thriller that is backed by subtle performances. (3.5/5)

Language: Spanish

Director: Juan José Campanella

Run-time: 2h 9m

Genre: Drama ~ Thriller ~ Mystery

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305806/

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23. Trash (2014) – Set in the slums of Rio, the director sets the story rolling from the very first shot. The protagonists are instantly likable and they have done a great show. The OST is a little badass and amply supported by great cuts and above par cinematography. In short, ‘Trash’ is a little gem of a movie for lovers of world cinema. Oh yeah, Rooney Mara is around in a pivotal role as well. (3.5/5)

Language: English / Portuguese

Director: Stephen Daldry, Christian Duurvoort

Run-time: 1h 54m

Genre: Drama ~ Adventure ~ Crime

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1921149/

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24. Killers (2014) – The Mo Brothers present their extremely stylish take on the serial-killer genre in the form of ‘Killers’. The gore is aplenty, the kills are gruesome and the action scenes are impressively shot. Although the screenplay is taut, where the movie falters slightly is in the pacing and dialogues. But the screen presence of the two leads, especially Kazuki Kitamura, make the proceedings a highly entertaining affair. (3.5/5)

Language: Japanese / Indonesian / English

Director: Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel

Run-time: 1h 54m

Genre: Crime ~ Drama ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2409300/

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25. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (2014) – An extremely fun splatter flick which maintains the tempo of the original or maybe even improves a tad bit. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments as promised. (3.5/5)

Language: English / Norwegian / German

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Run-time: 1h 41m

Genre: Action ~ Comedy ~ Horror

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2832470/

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26. Sleep Tight (2011) – You just can’t sleep in your studio apartment as peacefully as you used to, once you’ve watched this flick. An excellent thriller by [REC] & [REC]2 director Jaume Balagueró starring Luis Tosar as a miserable apartment concierge.

Language: Spanish

Director: Jaume Balagueró

Run-time: 1h 48m

Genre: Drama ~ Horror ~ Mystery ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1437358/

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27. Big Bad Wolves (2013) – A riveting black-comedy thriller from Israel with slight tonal inconsistencies, putting grey characters on both sides of the law depicting the gritty, violent aftermath of a few (dreadful) incidents. Deemed the best flick of that year by Tarantino (obviously on a modest note), this one is indeed worth a watch for its bold, in-your-face approach on certain topics, wildly intriguing screenplay laced with dark humor, and a fairly unpredictable climax.(3.5/5)

Language: Hebrew

Director: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado

Run-time: 1h 50m

Genre: Comedy ~ Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2309224/

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28. The Wave (Bølgen) (2015) – The first forty minutes impressively sets up the character portraits, the next sixty spent detailing the aftermath of the disaster. What works in this Norwegian catastrophe-drama are the down-to-earth performances, dazzling cinematography, to an extent the VFX, and Roar Uthaug’s craftsmanship (hopefully won’t disappoint the fans in the upcoming ‘Tomb Raider’ movie!).(3.5/5)

Language: Norwegian

Director: Roar Uthaug

Run-time: 1h 45m

Genre: Action~Drama~Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3616916/

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29. The Salesman (Forushande) (2016) – The Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2016, Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’ tells the tale of a dramatist couple who deal with a personal tragedy in their own ways. The screenplay is watertight and aided by excellent performances. A subtle blend of grief and art, this flick stands out for its unabashed portrayal of revenge.(4/5)

Language: Persian / English

Director: Asghar Farhadi

Run-time: 2h 5m

Genre: Drama~Thriller

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5186714/

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1 Comment

  1. Exactly what I was looking for. Excellent list, excellent description about the movies. I’m strapping in for an exquisite movie experience. Thanks Arun \m/

    Liked by 1 person

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