Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some people don't like reading subtitles. I'd like to help.

I can understand why subtitles can be a barrier for entry some people just can't get over. You don't read them fast enough, and by the time you figure out what the hell's going on, you've missed the next three scenes of the movie. I feel your pain, and I'd like to make a few recommendations that might accustom you to the multi-tasked requirement of watching foreign films. These few selections are either light on story and someone will get punched in a few seconds anyways, or the pacing is such that you won't be hitting rewind after every scene.

Anything by Jackie Chan

All of his movies pretty much rely on his stunt work and acrobatics, and the plots are usually throwaways. Not every time, but you can usually count on him to slide down the side of a building, through a ring of fire down onto a bed of coals, then proceed to drop-kick someone through a pane of glass into a display made entirely of Legos. And 90 percent of the time his character's name is Jackie. Go figure.

PTU: Police Tactical Unit

A Chinese film by director Johnnie To, it's about a dipshit detective who loses his gun one night while he's out being a dipshit. His Police Tactical Unit friends decide to help him save face, so they go on the hunt for the missing firearm. Things happen at a slow enough pace to where you should be able to keep up, but it doesn't drag or make you spill your beer in your lap from falling asleep.

Ichi the Killer

Welcome to the batshit-insane world of Takashi Miike. Ichi the Killer is a Japanese yakuza film, and in it you'll find tongue removing, hot oil(or something) being poured on someone's back, limbs being heinously sliced, and so much more over-the-top craziness I can't list it all off the top of my head.

Pan's Labyrinth

From the director of Hellboy, this Spanish drama centers around a young girl trying to cope with family situations while in the midst of an on-going war. It has the same visual flair of Hellboy, but it's a lot richer in content. If you like anything by Guillermo Del Toro, I guarantee you'll enjoy this.


The remake by Warner Herzog of the black and white classic. If you find black and white silent films are just not your bag, then definitely give this a try. It stays within the general story arch of the original, while adding a little more character depth. And if you haven't seen anything by Warner Herzog, this is as good a place to start as any. He's done so much shit, it's almost unbelievable.

And so ends my recommendations for the subtitle-handicapped among you. I hope you give these a try, and who knows, you might start to find some really good films as a result. Happy hunting!

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