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Five international films to stream now

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

Stream it on Netflix.

Hardcore pornography, international drug mafias, and a doctoral student’s literary explorations of critical gender theory: true to its title, this black comedyadapted from a novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos, involves such a bizarre hodgepodge of references and tones that it stretches plausibility – albeit to wonderfully entertaining ends.

The madness begins when Juan Pablo, a student in Mexico, is accepted into a Ph.D. program in Barcelona. After an unexpected call from his troublesome cousin, things take a shocking and bloody turn. Juan Pablo is still on his way to a doctorate, but now at the mercy of a murderous gangster. He is forced to follow a series of strange instructions – including changing his thesis subject and attempting an affair with a lesbian classmate – the rationale of which remains a mystery to our hapless hero (and to the viewers) until the very end. END.

A modern, noir-infused take on surrealist literature and cinema, “I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me” makes less sense as a narrative than as a series of expertly constructed moments with their own internal logic . Each scene or fragment of self-contained content – whether it’s Juan Pablo’s mother’s recurring voicemails, full of insults veiled as love, or the friendship his girlfriend develops with a Italian vagabond – is densely packed with references, gags and deadpan performances, keeping the film balanced. on the razor’s edge of irony and pathos. What it all boils down to is a melancholy allegory about the unpredictability of life and the vain ambitions of writers to give it order and meaning.

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Stream it on Criterion Channel.

This magnificent drama by Lina Rodriguez begins with two calm and austere excerpts. A dark-haired woman climbs into the trunk of a car and a couple, accompanied by two small children, drives the vehicle to a border checkpoint. Next, we see the woman, Aurora (Noëlle Schönwald), in an interview with an officer, explaining the violent circumstances that led her to flee Colombia and seek asylum in Canada, temporarily leaving her daughter behind .

From then on, “So Much Tenderness” is no longer concerned with how of the situation of Aurora and her daughter Lucia. The film unfolds in the form of a series of vignettes that immerse us in different moments of the duo’s lives: Aurora teaches Spanish during a language class; Lucia stocks groceries in a supermarket; They each date different men. The knotty bureaucracy of immigration – the hearings, the permits, the assimilation process – is evaded; instead, we are suspended in the everyday experiences of these new immigrants. Yet a tension is always palpable – not only in the brief flashbacks of Aurora’s memories or in the mysterious figure from her past that she sees in town, but also in that unspoken sense of destabilization that sticks like lint to lives uprooted from the characters.

Stream it on Ovid.

In a French high school, teenage dancers, mostly from the suburbs, play politics and poetry with their bodies. From the first scene of “Rookies,” a documentary about the dance troupe at the Turgot school in Paris, the kinetics of its diverse class is palpable. The camera captures a hip-hop battle as a rush of close-ups of limbs, popping, locking and swinging energetically. But what gives weight to these movement scenes is the student commentary that the directors, Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, weave throughout.

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Turgot removed geographic zoning restrictions for this course, meaning kids from all over the city, from diverse economic and racial backgrounds, mix. Interviews with leading minds and intimate exchanges between teachers and students highlight all the meanings that these young people give to dance. For some, moving their body with confidence is a feminist awakening; for others, classes form a utopian bubble in a deeply divided world; and for still others, it is a real salvation.

Rent or buy it on Amazon Prime Video.

Be warned before reading any further that this Tamil-language thriller is best viewed with minimal context; its pleasures lie in its innumerable surprises and twists, deployed with precision by director SU Arun Kumar. But if you need more persuasion, here’s a tip.

In a small southern Indian town, a young man, Eeswaran (Siddharth), lives with his sister and raises his 8-year-old niece, Sundari (Sahasra Sree), with tender – and often overprotective – fatherly care. The first half of ‘Chithha’ is a sweet portrait of this uncle-niece relationship, with sparkling performances from both the actors. But from time to time, hints of menace and suspense interrupt these charming activities and confuse our bearings. There is the woman from Eeswaran’s past who has reappeared in town and with whom he exchanges resentful glances; there’s also a specter of sordid sexual violence that eventually takes over the narrative.

If “Chithha” offers the satisfactions of the classic revenge thriller, led by the nobly enraged hero, its strength lies in the way it also undermines these tropes to offer a scathing critique of male saviorism. Come for the thrills and kills, but stay for the sobering lesson about the reality of a woman’s life in a man’s world.

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Stream it on Mubi.

Documentaries about hospitals – those strange, liminal spaces poised between life and death – are having a moment. Last year, “Our Body” by Claire Simon and “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” by Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor offered two distinct but equally fascinating portraits of medical institutions and the way in which they bring together the most bureaucratic aspects and existential aspects of human life. Director Deniz Tortum adds to this work “Phases of Matter”, a strange portrait of a public hospital in Turkey.

Throughout the film, the curious camera takes several points of view. Placed outside the hospital, it overlooks a corridor with large glass windows that reveal moments of contemplation – like a man gazing wistfully at the sky – among the busy traffic of staff and patients. Inside, he peers over the shoulders of surgeons in the operating rooms as they cut up bodies, or hovers in the dining room, where doctors casually discuss matters of illness and mortality. In one incredible sequence, the lens moves out of an occupational therapist in crisis and into the eerie, deserted basement that houses the morgue. Within the four walls of the hospital, Tortum captures all the drama of life, in all its urgency and banality.