When it comes to blockbusters, we’re really spoiled for choice. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and the franchises seem to keep on coming. And while we love to keep up with the latest adventures of our favourite superheroes, or discover what the latest reboot is like, their number makes it all too easy for gems of small films to go unnoticed.
Lots of foreign movies, for instance, go by too often with their praises unsung. And that’s a real pity. To do our bit, we’ve compiled for yours truly a collection of flicks from abroad that you simply can’t miss. They’re all amazing recent releases that really haven’t had the buzz they deserve. Take a look, and you’ll be finding yourself showing off your knowledge of niche cinema in no time.
1. It’s Only The End of The World
French Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan is only 28, and he’s directed six feature films, almost all of which have won prizes at major film festivals of the likes of Cannes. That’s a terrifyingly awesome resume. It’s Only the End of the World is his latest effort, in which Louis, a thirty-something, returns to visit his family after a long absence. He’s got something big to tell them – but amid the uneasy relationships among the group, will he manage? This riveting drama will make your awkward Christmas dinners look like a total walk in the park.
Find It's Only The End of The World in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies
2. Train To Busan
Can't get enough of zombies? In Train to Busan, they attack – you guessed it – a train travelling across Korea. A motley crew of passengers assemble to fend off their onslaught from carriage to carriage. It’s a brutal, perfectly plotted thriller, and a stellar addition to the undead genre.
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Thriller Transpecos skilfully unpacks how a dull, everyday situation can escalate into something nightmarish. We start off with three border patrol agents posted on a remote checkpoint along the US-Mexico border. When a suspicious car attempts to come through, it reveals secret loyalties, and a wild chase into the desert ensues.
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4. La Noche
In the mood for something edgy? Then La Noche is for you. A disenchanted Martin spends a night out in the less savoury neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, having both strange and amorous encounters. What makes it all the more unusual is that the film is shot in an ultra-realistic way - and most of the people who feature in it are non-actors, who were trained and recruited just for this. The result is eerie and brilliantly unsettling.
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5. What We Become
It’s not just in Korea that zombies are making a killing (sorry). What We Become takes us to a happy family living in an idyllic suburb of Denmark. Everything is all very hygge until their neighbourhood is mysteriously sealed off and declared a contaminated zone. But contaminated with what? And is the government really trying to help the inhabitants – or rather eliminate the disease as efficiently as possible? We simply love this blend of horror and Scandi-noir.
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Director Pedro Almodovar is the star of Spanish cinema, and for decades now his wacky movies have shocked and delighted us. Julieta is his new heart-wrenching feature. In a story told across decades, the movie unpicks the mystery that surrounds the titular character and her daughter. Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suarez both play Julieta at a different stages in her life in a major acting tour-de-force. It’s a beautiful, entrancing drama that is bound to haunt you for days.
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7. The Student
Not all teenage rebellions are the same, and the point is rather salient in Russian hit drama The Student. Teenager Veniamin expresses his angst by turning to religion, and starts quoting the Bible at everyone around. His atheist mother and his liberal teachers don’t know what to do with him, and the audience is left to wonder whether this is all an act, or actually the product of a heartfelt conversion. It’s a thought-provoking and hilarious satire, which also gives a fascinating glimpse into daily life in modern Russia.
Frantz is a gorgeously told story of loss, love, and determination. Shortly after WWI, a young German woman is grieving the death of her fiancé, a soldier who passed away in the conflict. Her dreary routine is all of a sudden upset by the appearance of a Frenchman, who claims to have known her lost love. But how did he meet him? And why is he there? Don’t let the black and white fool you – this gripping film has some of the best acting performances and cinematography you’ll see in a while.
Frantz is in UK cinemas from Friday 12th May