Amazon Prime members in the United Kingdom not only get free access to some of the website’s exclusive on-demand television via its Instant Video service, such as the award winning Transparent and Mozart In The Jungle. There is also an eclectic library of world cinema across countries such as Italy, France, Poland and South Korea. Here are some of the ones we would recommend checking out if you are interested in foreign language movies:
01. Deep Red
When it comes to Giallo horror there are few directors who surpass Dario Argento. The undisputed master of the genre – well, at least in our eyes – was at the height of his powers with Deep Red. Released in 1975, at which time it was a huge box office success in Italy, it had an enormous influence on the filmmaking of everyone from George A Romero to Sam Raimi.
One of the classic foreign language films that everyone watches when they are first discovering world cinema, Amelie is a rite-of-passage for anyone trying to expand their cinematic horizons. It still holds up too with a quirky, distinctive and surprisingly poetic charm that is entirely its own.
03. I Saw The Devil
The blurred lines between good and evil have been explored in revenge dramas for decades. However, this excessively violent and uncompromisingly grim entry from Korea has never made this theme so thrilling. I Saw The Devil is packed with fantastic scenes, all rendered to maximum effect by director Kim Jee Woon, that make for one of hell of an uncompromisingly bloody ride.
Leviathan is remarkable in that it’s a Russian movie about corruption within the Russian government that managed to sneak past the country’s censors. It’s especially brave when you realise that Leviathan was financed in part by the very institution it is attacking. This man vs. the system drama in which the little guy is eclipsed by the might of his opponent is tragic, angry and deeply political.
05. A Prophet
Jacques Audiard’s prison set gangster epic received comparisons with The Godfather and Scarface when it was first seen by critics. Those are rather large boots to fill, but A Prophet was indeed one of the best crime movies of the last decade. Charting the rise to power of a inmate as he climbs the ranks amid the prison’s gangs A Prophet is a thrilling, visceral and suspenseful movie. It also features a terrific performance by then newcomer Tahar Rahim.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is the darling of Hollywood right now having won the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for Birdman and now being nominated for both again with The Revenant. However, before he made the transition to Hollywood he made Biutiful, a harrowing drama about a father trying to prepare for his own death after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Javier Bardem stars and gives one of his greatest performances.
07. La Haine
La Haine is a stylish drama about the tensions between the residents of a housing project and the French police after a gun goes missing. It was one of the most influential movies during the independent movement of the 1990s with the radical camerawork and youthful energy that came to define that era of filmmaking.
The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film award at last year’s Oscars, Ida is a haunting black-and-white drama about a young girl learning pf her true heritage. It is shot in a peculiarly brilliant way in which its director Pawel Pawlikowski isolates his main character at the sides or bottom of the frame, only moving her closer to the centre as her character develops.
We know the field is crowded with black-and-white Iranian feminist vampire westerns but trust us when we say this one really stands out. In all seriousness, the debut movie from Ana Lily Amirpour, a singer and DJ turned filmmaker, is a one-of-a-kind experience that defies categorisation.
One of the best films of last year, Girlhood is a story about an introverted high school girl who becomes part of a gang in Paris. The great thing about the movie, the third feature from director Celine Sciamma, is that it doesn’t pander to the idea that she got in with the wrong crowd like most Hollywood movies would. Instead, it is simply a vibrant and moving story of friendship amid the girls’ inner-city squalor. The scene set to Rihanna’s pop anthem Diamonds was one of 2015’s best.