Foreign Films are Good, You Guys are Just Mean

Image via Kate Oates

Image via Kate Oates

Caitlin Bailey, Journalist

“Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

 –Bong Joon Ho


When Parasite gained traction in 2019, a plethora of foreign films were brought to light. Westerners were discovering–some, for the first time–that our media isn’t the only kind out there. In fact, some of my favorite shows and movies require subtitles (because, unfortunately, learning languages is difficult and I only have survivable knowledge of Spanish). 


I’ve written a lot about Crash Landing on You, a Netflix original k-drama, so I won’t continue to talk about it, but you get the point: foreign work can change your life and surprise you in the best of ways. Though this should be obvious, we often find ourselves to be self-absorbed, especially because most people in the western world are often influenced by our biased ethnocentrism. This rigid refusal can completely cut you off from experiencing the best pieces of media that the world has to offer.


Besides, Hollywood has lost its touch. Everything is either reused or has too many sequels to count, each more watered down than the last. Take the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or Fast and Furious, or the nine Batmans with different actors playing the same characters who have the same origin story; do we really need more of those movies? Nostalgia can only get you so far without an interesting plot or complex characters, which is probably why they just don’t hit like they used to. 


You’re probably wondering why I’m so picky, and I’ll answer you–it’s because I’ve finally discovered what good cinema is and I’m not lowering my standards to the cheap Hollywood knockoffs that are meant to bring in revenue instead of quality storylines. In this respect, it comes down to quality over quantity, an aspect that the western world has woefully forgotten about. 


There are a lot of jokes about foreign films, specifically k-dramas: that the main character and their love interest don’t hold hands until halfway through the season. And yeah it’s true, but in my opinion, that makes it better than western shows where the main characters get together within the span of the first 30 minutes of a show. 


Like, where is the build-up? Where is the angst, the pining? I can’t root for characters to get together when directors make it so painfully obvious that they’re endgame. Call it taste or masochism, but at least I know what I want. 


Even if there is no clear ship, foreign films and shows are just . . . better. From plotlines to characters, they know what they’re doing. Everything is purposeful and cohesive, and they know how to end shows; there aren’t any sequels or additional seasons needed.


Here are some of my top recommendations if you’re just being introduced to the wonderful world of foreign films and shows. 


Parasite (2019)

Crash Landing on You (2019)

Roma (2018) 

Squid Game (2021)

The Negotiation (2018)