Friday, December 31, 2021

Enjoyable Subtitled movies seen in 2021

Why should you waste your precious time on subtitled movies?  They require more attention and sharper vision, they don't have any of the stars you are used to and they are well, "foreign." The world is more interconnected and it is consequently ever more important to understand how others think and live.  Subtitled moves are only one tool, but easily accessible and a push in the right direction.   On top of all those reasons they really can be very enjoyable.  Creativity thrives globally.

 The photo to the left is of my most satisfying movie of the year.  It also had the highest rating ever on IMDB.  Appropriately it is on a human rights issue and how many try to bury them often requiring a super human effort to fix them.  Last year my top movie was also a Tamil movie, "Peranbu" (2018):

A few trends that I have become conscious of.  Mini series are favored for streaming and their advantage is that they give opportunity for both character and plot development.  Their disadvantage is they can drag on a good idea to the point of monotony   Koreans seem to have mastered them.  I have also come to admire both Tamil and Malayalam film industries that deserve more international respect.  I still pick up DVDs at the library which offers an older selection and some which come with special features helping one to better appreciate the quality.


Mads Mikkelsen and Sisse Graum Jorgensen have some history around  the Oscar with this being their latest triumph for 2020.  "Another Round" (2020) is about a group who for awhile believe getting mildly drunk each day helps them teach better.  However as you might imagine it is too easy to get carried away.  Denmark acknowledges a problem with alcohol.






"My Life as a Dog" (1985) directed by internationally renown Lars Hallstrom.  Focused on a young boy who felt life had been unfair to him. 

"The Unlikely Murderer" (2021) One of the great mysteries-Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme killed .  Referred to in Stig Larrsson "Dragon" books.   In this film Stig Engstrom, real person is portrayed as a bitter man with a political agenda seeking attention.  The police investigation was sloppy at the beginning, but did develop in a major way.   Years later a journalist re examined evidence and concluded Stig was guilty.  The film series says the murder has not been proven, but both the media and the police believe Stig did it.

"The Caliphate" (2020)  gullible young girls from Sweden get involved with terrorists, while one who left for to live with ISIS want to escape back home.  





"Loverkvinnen" (2016 Lion Woman) was about a child born with hair growing all over her face and her ability to overcome prejudice and shocked first reactions.  The film uses 3 actresses to portray the woman at three different ages.  Another leading character was played by Rolf Lassgard who I have watched in three different languages, Norwegian, Danish ("After the Wedding") and Swedish ("A Man Called Ove).

"The Painter and the Thief" (2020) is a documentary telling the story of how a painter relates to the man who stole her painting (which was never recovered.  She became very supportive of the thief with addictions and even visited him in prison.


Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020) was the headliner for AGH Film Festival, but I waited to see it on a DVD.   In the late 1700's, a female painter is hired to paint a picture on an isolated island of a woman about to be married to an aristocrat she has never met.




"Money Heist" (2017-2021))  was another Netflix blockbuster.   My favorite series of the year.  Some things it has going for it:  really good twists, psychological understanding, enjoyable actors and good camera work. 

"The Lighhouse of the Orcas" (2016) is based on a true story about a man helping an autistic boy with whales.  My most popular movie blogs:
Set in Argentina.





 "Live Twice, Love Once" (2019)  set in Valencia is one of a few with an Alzheimer theme.  Very well done.  Watch for a precocious child actress--the script was re-written for her.

 "La Esclava Blanca" (2016)  got my attention as one of Italian neighbor's mother was addicted to Novellas from Colombia and I had read that Russia used them to fill a vacuum when their government fell.  This one is very lengthy with over 60 episodes with new developments for every one.  The history is interesting to explore.





"The Hand of God" (2021) Reminds me that I used to watch Maradona play for Napoli on live tv at the time this movie was set.   Sexual content.   Semi autobiographic of director/writer Paolo Sorrentino


"Berlin Alexanderplatz" (2020)  is a brutal story about a refugee from Guinea-Bissau who ends up in Germany and has good intentions, but finds himself in a world of drug dealing, pimping and robbery.  It is brutal in many parts and sexually explicit.  The leading actor Welket Bungue. was born in Guinea-Bissau and actually ended up in Portugal where he has acted, directed and produced.  An award winner operating in Portuguese, German and English.



"Preparations to be together for an unknown amount of time" (2020) shows a 40 year old American  woman brain surgeon going back to Budapest to meet a man she had met at a conference, but he doesn't acknowledge her at first.  It might be described as a dramatic romance.  The interesting angle for me is the brain surgery where it pointed out that they physically handle thoughts and feelings.  A very well done psychological drama.


"Chernobyl" (2019) about the major disaster and Russian attempts initially to suppress information.  The impact of the explosion was felt in more of Europe. 

"Atlantis" (2019) listed as science fiction it really is more predicting our nearby future.  Set in 2025 after a war between Ukraine and Russia.  Very bleak demonstrating that damage can inflict on all of us.


"The Ascent" (1977).  Set in German occupied Russia during WWII with partisans scrapping for survival. 


 "Collective" (2019) is an Oscar nominated documentary concerned with journalists uncovering corruption in the health care of Romania.


"The Miracle" (Mucize 2015)  Set in Turkey during the 1960'ss when  a teacher is sent to an area without a school.  The story is how he helps establish a school despite lot of odds.

Ethos (2020) 7.5 mini series

Winter Sleep (2014) Check





"Love me Instead" (2021) As one reviewer put it, it is both heart warming and heart breaking.  A brief description was confusing, but justified.  A unique movie.


Since discovering Korean mini series I have seldom been disappointed.  They are  producing ones that are so easy to engage with and they compare very favorably to others.  The series listed below are just skimming the wealth of engaging choices.

"Squid Game" (2021) reached new international levels, at one time the all time most popular series on Netflix.  It was brutal in a random manner.  There was an underlying message about inequality.  



 "My Mister" (2018) read more at:

"It's Okay not to be Okay" (2020) A children;s story writer and a caregiver at mental institutions cross paths and had a significant history.  Korean mini series were most consistently high rated.

"Heaven's Garden" (2011)The oldest of the Korean mini series watched.  It has aged fairly well with an interesting story.  A woman returns home after failed marriage that her father disapproved of with one daughter (she is a key person) from her husband's first marriage and her own younger daughter. 

" Signal" (2016) based on American show "Frequency" about crime solving with time travel elements.

"Mad for Each Other" (2021)  is a comedy miniseries, however at times it is drop dead serious.

"Live up to your Name" (2017) uses time travel as a dramatic tool.  It contrasts modern medicine with ancient acupuncture.  Some interesting visual aids for acupuncture.  There is corruption and romance

"Beyond Evil" (2021)  Two cops chase after a serial killer with lots of twists and personal conflicts as the two do not always get along.

"Move to Heaven"(2021) is about a small company that cleans up messes left after a death.  One of the main characters is autistic and it is fascinating how the characters are linked.  This is a relatively short series, easy to get used to.




 "Designated Survivor:  60 Days" (2019)   Wanted to include this one, because it left a better impression than the American original.


"Little Big Women" (2020) set in Taiwan in the Mandarin language.  An estranged father has died and his first family gathers.  The first wife, the matron of the family meets the second wife.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" (2005) was directed by  well known Chinese director/writer, Yimou Zhang and had a famous Japanese actor, Ken Takakura leading.  An estranged father wanting to do something for his son.

 "From Zero to Hero" (2021) is about a Paralympian from Hong Kong and thus the language used in Cantonese.   When he was born his family was told he would never walk and would likely to deaf.  Although urged to institutionalize him, but his mother wouldn't give up on it.  They encouraged him to walk found a hearing aid fo him.  As part of a relay team he won Hong Kong's first Paralympic gold medal.  He went on to win others.  In the family a younger son was born and felt neglected--reminding me of "It's Okay not to be Okay" where he leading character was born just to care for his older autistic brother and after years of resentment became his biggest helper.   Cantonese

 "Throw Down" (2004) A tribute by Hong Kong director John To to Akira Kurasawa.  It has some martial arts elements, but is really a study in relationships. Cantonese.

"Wet Season" (2020) was Singapore's nomination for Oscar.  In Mandarin a teacher gets entangled uncomfortably with a student.   Uncomfortable sexual content.


"Chhichhore" (2019) in contrast to movies that focus on winners.   There is more to life than winning.  Charming and inspiring.


"Mimi" (2021) is about surrogacy.  There is a little humor in the early part, but gets deadly serious as it develops.  Sheds some light on childless couples and unwanted children

"Bala" (2019) was Ayushmann Khurrana as a bald man scorned dealing with hurt feelings.  Not the only film from India dealing with baldness.  Check:

"Super 30" (2019) is focused on education.  Tutoring is a tool that can help reduce inequality when made accessible to the lower classes as portrayed in this film.   Check

"Shiddat" (2021) is an enjoyable romantic drama involving two couples.

Meenakshi Sundareshwar (2021) is about a couple that are separated (due to job) without consummation  and although both are faithful it is difficult to maintain a relationship.  Very funny in parts--attempts at phone sex.  Sanya Malhotra is delightful.

"Rubaru Rhshni" (Unbroken 2019)  is a documentary narrated by Aamir Khan about forgiveness.  Some good examples. 

"99 Songs" (2019)  A. R. Rahman, wrote the script, produced the film and composed the songs.  A man must write 99 songs to marry his sweetheart.

"Torbaaz" (2020) based on young children at Afghan refugee camp that had been encouraged to be suicide bombers being coached cricket and overcoming some of their ethnic rivalries.  It reflects adangerous location

Regional India:   


"24" (2016) Another time machine story, this one with brotherly conflict.

 "Asuran" (2019) is a class conflict involving murder.  Well done.

"Mandela" (2021) is not about the famous Nelson Mandela, but of a simple man given the name by a post mistress who found himself in a pivotal position in a small town that was sharply divided.  Watched as U.S. Senate settled at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.  Creates a unique set of dynamics

"Jai Bhim" (2021) came on the scene in November and immediately achieved the top IMBD rating ever.  It turns out it is exceptional.  Human rights battles are always noble, but this one is based on a real case and gets a lot of details right .How the lawyer overcomes corruption is very riveting.




 "Anbe Sivam" (2003) was a philosophical story about views of two different men.  It is profoundly moving as you realize the background of one character and how he changes the outlook of the other.  The two leading characters, Kamal Haasan (who wrote the script) and Madhavan have both left a mark on Bollywood, but the Tamil language was their root. 

Maara (2021). A young girl hears a fairy tale sees it has painted mural many years later.  A well told story.


Another obscure language for me, but thanks to streaming services  offer the world some very interesting stories presented in an engaging manner.  My world is richer for it.

"Take Off" (2017) Another triumph for Parvathy Thiruvothu, 30 something mother with her son ---a group of Mayali medical personnel stuck in Tikrit surrounded by ISIS.  Parvathy plays a contrasting role in "Bangalore Days"

"Bangalore Days" (2014) has a lot of good things going for it.  A well constructed romance (actually 3 of them) with for me a unique twist.  It also has Dulquer Salmaan, Fahadh Faasil and Parvathy Thiruvothu which are all becoming very appreciated by me.  Also my introduction to Anjali Menon, the director and writer.  Anjalie was involved with two others I enjoyed.  "Koode" (2018) and "Ustad  Hotel" (2012).





"Drishyam" (2013)is the original that has been remade in several languages.and "Drishyam 2" (2021)was a followup that has also been copied in other languages.  It reminds me of a favorite book from Japan about how a very clever man was able to cast suspicion away from a guilty action.  See "Drushyam 2" (2021) in the Telegu section.  Check blog on the Hindi version which was a remake of the original Malayalam version:

"Kurup" (2021) was originally a Malayalam film, but has also been filmed with same crew in several other languages.  Essentially about a fraud criminal on the fly across India and the Middle East.  With Dulquer Salmaan and Tovino Thomas, two Malayalam stalwarts I have become used to. 

"Minnal Murali" (2021) is the only super hero type of movie seen, and only because of Tovino Thomas who did well as the nuanced hero. 


"Samantaral"(2017) is about a young man and his girl friend visiting his home and getting involved with an uncle who has been locked up in a room for years.  Supposedly there is a mental health issue, but it goes much deeper. 

Shonar Pahar (2018) was directed by Parambrata Chattopadhyay who also wrote the script and had a minor acting role

"Devi" (1960) A masterpiece that was controversial when first released.  The main theme was that dogmatic religious devotion to orthodox Hinduism was dangerous.  Satyajit Ray thought out many details to dramatically make his point.  Loosely based on short story of Rabindrath Tagore (a distant relative of the 15 year old leading lady Sharmila Tagore) and bolstered with Ray's ideas.      






"Thimmanrusu" (2021) a lawyer fighting corruption.

"Maestro" (2021) is a remake of the Bollywood hit "Andhadhan," but compares fairly well.  Full of interesting twists.  Check:





"Drushyam 2" (2021) runs parallel to "Drishyam 2" with the same director and writer, Joseph Jeethu.  It is a masterpiece.  Did not see the original "Drushyam," but it follows the same brilliant story plan of the Malayalam version. 


"In Family We Trust" (2018) focuses on a murder with many layers and consequences.  A series seen on Netflix.  Family surprises galore. 



"Sleepless Society;  Insomnia" (2020) was a mystery set in a rural part of Thailand.  The attraction for me was the lead actress Chutimon Chuengcharoensuiying. 

"Tee Shot:  Ariya Jutanugam" (2019) is about a female golfer who was forced to develop golfing skills by her father.  Her father was brutal, but effective.  Ariya became a real champion on the LPGA.  I   briefly followed her at the Tokyo Olympics where she contended for awhile, but encountered a knee injury.


"Seven Sundays" (2017) is a family oriented comedy drama.  The four children of the grandfather were quarreling among themselves with their own private problems.  The grandfather was notified on his impending death and wanted to bring his family together.  

"Love You to the Stars and Back" (2017) is a sweet story in parts. Two alienated youths find each other in a strange way and grow closer together. Also a bit of a tearjerker which tend to overload emotions, but I think well done.  Enjoyable.

"Isa Pa with Feelings" (2017) was an enjoyable rom-com, by focusing on a deaf man romancing a hearing woman.  More effective than others the audience got a more realistic feel for being deaf. 






"The Cave" (2019)  is a documentary set in  Syria with a group of female doctors caring for victims of air strikes and bombings.  There is sexism handicapping their efforts.

"Asmaa" (2011) is about a woman in Egypt who has aids.  The shame and the culture makes it difficult to deal with this, but she is determined to live.

"The Square" (2014) is  a documentary regarding the Arab Spring set in Egypt where eventually the military took over.

"Heaven without People"(2018) is about a Lebanese family getting together for a large Easter dinner.  An incident sparks heated feelings and reveals religious prejudices.

"Ghadi" (2013)   has a clever Lebanonese father convincing his neighbors that his mentally challenged son is really a saint and should be treated more respectfully.

"Blind Intersections" (2012) is a demonstration of how we are all connected.  Three individuals who never meet interact with one another unknowingly.  Takes place in Beirut.


"Shtisel"(2013) is a mini series in Hebrew.  We tend to see Haredi Jews as backward religious fanatics, but they have the usual relationship conflicts. 


Kandahar (2021)  Farsi, Pushtu, English   Canadian woman visits Afghanistan to see her sister.  On the way we are shown a group of amputees.


"The Fisherman's Diary" (2020)  pidgin English Cameroon

"Downstream to Kinshasa" (2021) was a documentary with spoken Lingala, Swahili, French.


"Uvanga" (2013) depicts a single mother returning to the town she had a brief affair in that led a son.  The son has never seen his father's land in Nunavut, northern Canada.  There is a bit of a culture clash, but in the end the son

You can read about my thoughts on English speaking films I was able to view at:

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