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Should we be watching more international films and TV shows?

Andy Bassett

Standard Member
Staff member
A comment by @DarkDogZA in the 'What's new on Netflix for May 2020' thread queried why there were so few non-English TV shows included in the rundown.

Although closer inspection of the streaming service's coming soon rundown reveals a couple of exciting looking foreign language shows coming this month - including Belgium's plane-hijack-during-a-deadly-solar-event series Into The Night, and Mexico's Control Z high-school hacking drama - the overwhelming majority are English speaking.

Given the increased availability of high quality, international content on streaming services and a raised awareness by breakout non-English speaking films such as Roma and more recently Parasite, would members be happy to take in more foreign language content?

The basic "show don't tell" format of visual storytelling ought to transcend language barriers and the chance to examine the human condition through the prism of a variety of cultures and outlooks can only enhance our own understanding as we seek empathic connections.

Dubbing, subtitles and our own implicit biases all present different barriers but aren't these worth overcoming for the chance to enjoy quality storytelling, regardless of the country of origin?

What do you think?
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
The Rain is another great show on Netflix. It faltered a little during S2, but will be getting a (final) season 3.

Happy to see foreign language content. There are some superb dramas on BBC4 mostly from the Scandinavian countries that are well worth watching.

I started watching Into The Night and the first episode was interesting. It's more of an international affair rather than foreign language as there is English spoken and many other languages too!

Don't mind subtitles. Dubbing on the other hand is the work of the devil and should be destroyed at all costs.
 

Belzok

Active Member
I really get on well with the Scandinavian crime stuff. The Bridge was superb, and got me hooked, but there and many others that I've watched over the years and usually enjoyed.

Into the Night was entertaining, you do have to remove at least part of your brain though :)

Always watch with subtitles, dubbing annoys the hell out of me, bit OCD as even a bit of lip sync problems with English language stuff ruins the film/episode for me.

French stuff for the most part I enjoy, although there seems to be a lack on the streaming platforms from what I can see. Loved the old French films, La Femme Nikita, Le Apartement, B13 (District 13) are all very enjoyable.

I can't get on with Spanish, Portuguese or Italian, I think it's the speed of the spoken word but maybe it's just the style.

Same goes with Indian stuff, just not to my taste. Some Japanese or Korean stuff is okay but it's rare that it grabs me, again a culture thing I think.

Watching Bordertown at the moment, Finnish, and the first two season were good, the most recent just released is not capturing me, story problems IMO.
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
Dangal and 3 Idiots are two of the best films I've ever watched and both are Indian.

I'm a great lover of martial arts films so I've watched a disproportionate number of martial arts films from the far east and all have subtitles. Some of the bigger films have been dubbed but I usually prefer to watch them in their original Mandarin or Cantonese as the dubbing is so bad (though some of them are hilarious like the dubbed version of Drunken Master which has one of the best lines ever “Bend down you little squirt! Crawl between my legs! Go and clean crud and pissholes!") If I was any good with languages I'd probably try and learn Mandarin and use my love of MA films as the way in but Mandarin is a scary language!

That said I have to be "in the mood" for watching anything with subtitles as it's sometimes quite tiring depending on how much dialogue there is. This does tend to mean I go in phases with it and rarely watch something with subtitles on a whim. But I do definitely think if you do ignore films just because they have subtitles you definitely miss out on some outstanding cinema.

G
 

Topmetom 2

Well-known Member
We watch a bit of the scandinavian crime stuff lately, its really good. Ch4 do the Walter presents and theres been some really good stuff on there.
 

SteveAWOL

Distinguished Member
Whilst I‘m happy to watch a foreign language film, the prospect of having to read subtitles for hours on end to get through a series does often feel like too much of a chore; especially after how underwhelmed I was with most of the Nordic Noir craze a decade ago.

These old threads might be of interest to those who’ve completed Netflix!


 

kinggo

Member
Don't mind subtitles. Dubbing on the other hand is the work of the devil and should be destroyed at all costs.
40848604975080970009 times this.
Luckily, i live in a country where this was never the way to go except for cartoons. And that helped so much to get used to hearing foreign language, english mostly, that it was not much of a problem when I started with learning in elementary school. So just from that pow, it is very bad cause makes ppl even more uneducated.
But watching polish and some others dubbing with just one actor is..........we need a new word for that.
 

Rockets

Active Member
I do watch foreign language films and series, there has been plenty good stuff available on SKY for the last few years.

A constructive criticism - AV forums seem to spam review all the super hero/franchise/action movies and spin off series. I understand the reviewers like certain films and they work hard and do a fine job but more variety would be appreciated.
 

richp007

Distinguished Member
I would like to watch more to be honest, but I always seem to miss out on many.

I really enjoyed the The Tunnel, that was more of a collab admittedly, but well worth a watch. Probably be somewhere amongst the Sky Boxsets.

The Rain is definitely on my list, and being just 3 season's has my interest. I very much favour shorter, sharper TV these days.
 

LotusElan

Well-known Member
"Should we be..." sounds a bit prescriptive to me. Unless somebody enforces some legislation upon the great unwashed viewing public then they're still free to watch whatever they want. Even if it's (subjectively) garbage! Perhaps the title would've been better as "Why aren't we...". Anyway, I'll take my pedantic @r$e hat off now. :rotfl:

Just in case the previous waffle didn't come across as intended it was mostly meant to be tongue in cheek! However must be reasons why people don't even bother giving things a go - "I don't want to read", "It's foreign so I won't like it", "I don't understand that culture so this will confuse me".

We've watched a lot of the BBC4 "foreign language" series over the years, and there have been some crackers - Spiral, The Bridge and Borgen spring to mind instantly. We tend to mix it up with our viewing habits (which includes quite a bit of tat as well) and throw in something different every now and then - we recently watched Shoplifters and will probably be giving Cold War a go soon.

I think one of the issues I've had is actually being aware of what foreign content I think we'd like to watch. From my perspective whatever pops up on (e.g.) BBC4, appears in the cinema or is available for streaming is probably the most high profile (cherry picked) programming that the distributors have sold to the broadcasters so there's also going to be a lot of equally good, if not better, stuff out there that I've never heard of, and realistically probably never will. Some film and TV review programmes and publications make a point of looking at foreign content but in general it can seem a little sidelined. However this is understandable - these are UK based reviewing platforms which are serving a UK based viewing public whom are (primarily) English speaking.

Anyway the only problem we have with subtitled content is that sometimes, but admittedly quite rarely, the captions go by too fast! We're not especially slow readers, by the way, but occasionally it's easy to miss some dialogue when you've made the mistake of looking up to see what the actor is doing.

I can understand why some people would think that they want to avoid anything with subtitles but perhaps that's their mistake as they could be missing out on their next undiscovered viewing treat. Hopefully Parasite's success has raised the profile of foreign films in general and intrigued some people to give them a go but I doubt it will have changed many viewing habits substantially.

Oh, and personally I could've done with subtitles the first time I watched The Wire and before the accents had clicked, but that's a discussion for another thread. :)
 
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Rockets

Active Member
"Should we be..." sounds a bit prescriptive to me. Unless somebody enforces some legislation upon the great unwashed viewing public then they're still free to watch whatever they want. Even if it's (subjectively) garbage! Perhaps the title would've been better as "Why aren't we...". Anyway, I'll take my pedantic @r$e hat off now. :rotfl:

Just in case the previous waffle didn't come across as intended it was mostly meant to be tongue in cheek! However must be reasons why people don't even bother giving things a go - "I don't want to read", "It's foreign so I won't like it", "I don't understand that culture so this will confuse me".

We've watched a lot of the BBC4 "foreign language" series over the years, and there have been some crackers - Spiral, The Bridge and Borgen spring to mind instantly. We tend to mix it up with our viewing habits (which includes quite a bit of tat as well) and throw in something different every now and then - we recently watched Shoplifters and will probably be giving Cold War a go soon.

I think one of the issues I've had is actually being aware of what foreign content I think we'd like to watch. From my perspective whatever pops up on (e.g.) BBC4, appears in the cinema or is available for streaming is probably the most high profile (cherry picked) programming that the distributors have sold to the broadcasters so there's also going to be a lot of equally good, if not better, stuff out there that I've never heard of, and realistically probably never will. Some film and TV review programmes and publications make a point of looking at foreign content but in general it can seem a little sidelined. However this is understandable - these are UK based reviewing platforms which are serving a UK based viewing public whom are (primarily) English speaking.

Anyway the only problem we have with subtitled content is that sometimes, but admittedly quite rarely, the captions go by too fast! We're not especially slow readers, by the way, but occasionally it's easy to miss some dialogue when you've made the mistake of looking up to see what the actor is doing.

I can understand why some people would think that they want to avoid anything with subtitles but perhaps that's their mistake as they could be missing out on their next undiscovered viewing treat. Hopefully Parasite's success has raised the profile of foreign films in general and intrigued some people to give them a go but I doubt it will have changed many viewing habits substantially.

Oh, and personally I could've done with subtitles the first time I watched The Wire and before the accents had clicked, but that's a discussion for another thread. :)
You can try this one if you have access, the first (season) book adaptation was very good (IMO BBC 4 hasn't had quite anything that match's it's level so far for foreign language).
Waiting for series 2 to turn up on SKY via HBO tie up which shouldn't be too long now, Sky is talking June.
 

Khankat

Active Member
I enjoy watching foreign film and TV. I liked Braquo and Spiral. With those, one also learns a little about different police and legal procedures. The Bridge was good. Also Korean films.
 

ozzzy189

Distinguished Member
A comment by @DarkDogZA in the 'What's new on Netflix for May 2020' thread queried why there were so few non-English TV shows included in the rundown.

Although closer inspection of the streaming service's coming soon rundown reveals a couple of exciting looking foreign language shows coming this month - including Belgium's plane-hijack-during-a-deadly-solar-event series Into The Night, and Mexico's Control Z high-school hacking drama - the overwhelming majority are English speaking.

Given the increased availability of high quality, international content on streaming services and a raised awareness by breakout non-English speaking films such as Roma and more recently Parasite, would members be happy to take in more foreign language content?

The basic "show don't tell" format of visual storytelling ought to transcend language barriers and the chance to examine the human condition through the prism of a variety of cultures and outlooks can only enhance our own understanding as we seek empathic connections.

Dubbing, subtitles and our own implicit biases all present different barriers but aren't these worth overcoming for the chance to enjoy quality storytelling, regardless of the country of origin?

What do you think?
I'd say some of the most enjoyable series for us on Netflix were foreign.
Into the night
The break
La mante
Black spot
Le chalet
The frozen dead
Kingdom
Perfume

And I'm sure there's more we've not seen. We always watch in original language too.
 

ozzzy189

Distinguished Member
I do watch foreign language films and series, there has been plenty good stuff available on SKY for the last few years.

A constructive criticism - AV forums seem to spam review all the super hero/franchise/action movies and spin off series. I understand the reviewers like certain films and they work hard and do a fine job but more variety would be appreciated.
I couldn't agree with you more. At least Cas reviewed Kingdom and Into the night.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
I just wish that Netflix would add the Korean film Extreme Job to its catalogue. I can only find it on a region A BR ... grrr.

Clem
 

silent ninja

Well-known Member
Korea has been producing class leading movies for over a decade. Sure Parasite has finally got some recognition, and Oldboy did well in the West, but there's plenty more. Kingdom is a high quality zombie/period drama politics series currently on Netflix. Man from Nowhere, The Chaser (a film where the serial killer is caught in the first few minutes and it defies belief what happens next) are other movies that did reasonably well on Netflix.

I've never shied from watching foreign stuff, the only issue is discovering and finding what's good.

My top movies of all time are non discriminatory, I honestly don't care where movies are from and have no issues with subtitles.

Honourable mentions:
Raid 1/2, Ip Man (all), Grave of the Fireflies, The Artist (French silent movie), Letters from Iwo Jima, 13 Assassins, anything from Jackie Chan's native stuff, everything from Bruce Lee
(yes I grew up watching martial arts movies)
 

LotusElan

Well-known Member
You can try this one if you have access, the first (season) book adaptation was very good (IMO BBC 4 hasn't had quite anything that match's it's level so far for foreign language).
Waiting for series 2 to turn up on SKY via HBO tie up which shouldn't be too long now, Sky is talking June.
Thanks for the recommendation. We have Now TV so have added that to the watchlist. :thumbsup:
 

ozzzy189

Distinguished Member
The ip man films are truly superb too.
Also check out The Mire, polish series about a journalist uncovering a poorly investigated murder.
 

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