Evaluating the coming crop of buzzed-about films from around the globe
From left: A Separation, The Skin I Live In, Tomboy, Outrage, House of Tolerance
Foreign cinema occupies a strange space in American movie culture. Relegated to postage-stamp-sized newspaper ads, ghettoized in big-city art-house theaters, and often fetishized by critics who assume subtitles mean quality, foreign films released stateside arrive cloaked in mystery and prestige—and then are ignored by most moviegoers.
Now that the summer's industrially processed rom-coms and budget-busting action flicks have given way to the comparatively refined offerings of autumn, viewers will be able to discover a particularly bold and diverse crop of foreign films. The lot includes new works from France, Spain, Argentina, Iran, Japan, and Finland, in which directors, some long-cherished, others barely known, tackle subjects like prostitution, gender identity, adolescent love, depression, presidential politics, immigration, grisly crime, grislier revenge, and cinema itself.
Though some of the best foreign titles to recently secure North American distribution (Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia from Turkey, Joseph Cedar's Footnote from Israel, and Christophe Honore's Beloved from France) won't hit US screens until 2012, several of those with upcoming release dates are very much worth seeking out. Others, less so.
Here's a look at which of the forthcoming, much-talked-about foreign-language films are worth seeing.