Tag: TCK

5 Romantic Foreign Language Films You Will Love

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Seeing as my last post on foreign language films was surprisingly well-received, I thought I’d write another one. This time the focus is on the romance genre, which is undoubtedly a favorite of mine. It’s a genre that translates well into other languages. It is, after all, a universal phenomenon. I have seen countless romantic foreign language filmsover the years but these are the ones that, for whatever reason, stuck with me the most. Once again, subtitles are EVERYTHING. Watch these films in their original language and you might just pick up a romantic foreign word or two to impress your significant other with.

1. Germany: What a Man


The name Matthias Schweighöfer has, over the past few years, become almost synonymous with the German romantic comedy genre. I’m always down for a good German rom-com, so if you’re looking for a cute, light and hilarious film to watch this weekend, I recommend you give this one a go. What a Man (2011) is about Alex, a 30-year-old man, who is cheated on by his girlfriend. In search for answers as to why his relationship failed, he moves in with his friend Nele. Now, name one film where this kind of situation do not lead to love and other disasters. Call it predictable, call it cliché, call it whatever you want to call it but don’t tell me this film won’t put a smile on you face, because it will. As a person who generally is not the biggest fan of German humor I can promise you, What a Man will make you laugh. Out loud. Bonus points for the great soundtrack.

2. South Korea: A Millionaire’s First Love


I first discovered all that East Asia had to offer in 2005 and I’ve been hooked ever since. South Korean films are definitely sadder, more dramatic, and, here and there, over the top but all the more addictive. That said, these films also often revolve around sickness, as does A Millionaire’s First Love (2006). I chose this one because it’s one of the first Korean movies I saw. It’s romantic, it’s a little cheesy and it’ll have you trying to hold back the tears. Hyun Bin stars as the stereotypical rich kid, who transfers to a new school in a small town, and it is here that he meets Choi Eun-hwan. They don’t hit it off but ultimately start to bond, to then fall in love. Eun-hwan’s illness puts the ‘drama’ in ‘romantic drama’ and soon both are fighting for a life together. This definitely won’t be the best Korean movie you will ever watch but it is a cute and uplifting film.

3. The Netherlands: Alles Is Liefde


Here is one thing you need to know about Dutch cinema: there is big love for ensemble films. In fact, most commercially successful Dutch films are just that. Alles Is Liefde (2007) is my favorite Dutch movie of all time. Foreigners might find the film a little strange at first because it centers around Sinterklaas, a traditional Dutch phenomenon you could compare to Santa Claus. Hence, the comparison to Love Actually is often made. The film’s plot is difficult to describe, and so a mere sentence or two won’t do it justice. Set around Sinterklaas, it follows the lives of a handful of people; families, couples and individuals, during the eventful days leading up to the big occasion they’re trying to save. Starring household name Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones), this feel good film is utterly heartwarming, fun and the perfect introduction to Dutch humor!

4. Taiwan: Hear Me


This is a special one because there is hardly any talking in this film. Hear Me (2009) is about Tian-Kuo, a delivery boy, who falls for Yang Yang, a young girl taking care of her hearing-impaired older sister. Tian-Kuo and Yang Yang communicate using sign language throughout most of the movie, resulting in an interesting relationship between the two and an ending you do not see coming. Some might dislike the slow pace of the film, I loved it for that exact reason. Hear Me is more than your stereotypical love story, as it beautifully portrays a slice of Taiwanese life through sign language. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Tian-Kuo’s parents luckily also provide a healthy dose of hilarity. I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of the plot twist towards the end but it does not make this touching movie any less worthwhile to watch.

5. Japan: I Just Wanna Hug You


I know, I know – this title does absolutely nothing for the film. In fact, it might even discourage you to watch it, and so I urge you not to judge this film by its name. I have included this one because it’s the most recent Japanese film I’ve seen and I liked it. I Just Wanna Hug You (2014) is about Masaki, a taxi driver, who falls in love with Tsukasa, a young wheelchair-bound girl. I told you, Asia produces some killer romantic dramas. I have been a fan of Nishikido Ryo ever since Ichi Rittoru No Namida (2005) because he’s always been convincing as the caring good guy. Similar to Hear Me, I Just Wanna Hug You follows a simple storyline and shines in its simplicity. Masaki and Tsukasa are adorable together and manage to deal with the challenges life throws at them. Make sure you’ve got some Kleenex nearby because there is a chance you might need some.

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5 Foreign Language Films You Won’t Regret Watching


As a “third culture kid” I grew up with people from all over the world. Foreign became familiar and before I knew it I was watching Korean Dramas that my best friend got me hooked on. Allow me to pay it forward and to share some of my favorite foreign films with you. Before I start, I want you to know that I dislike dubbed films with a passion. I’m a 100% pro subtitles, so I suggest that is how you watch them: subtitled. It’s well worth the additional brain exercise.

1. Mexico: Sin Nombre


Released in 2009, this is hands down the best Spanish-language film I’ve seen thus far. Directed by Cary Fukunaga and produced by actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, who are no strangers to filmmaking, this film centers around a teenaged boy, Casper, attempting to escape gang life and a girl, Sayra, trying to reach, and cross, the American border in the hope of a better life. On the verge of life and death the two strike up an unlikely yet powerful friendship that will keep you engaged for 96 minutes from beginning to end.

Fun fact: Fukunaga did his research by immersing himself in the lives of the immigrants and gang members depicted in the film, stating “[he] spent about two years in two different prisons, and reduced a group of gang members down to a couple guys [he] could trust”. That is some dedication right there.

2. Denmark: Efter Brylluppet


I have been a Mads Mikkelsen fan ever since he played Le Chiffre, so when I came across this film I knew I had to watch it. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Efter Brylluppet (2006) is about a man, Jacob, who, in order to save the Indian orphanage he runs, must return to Denmark to meet with the CEO, Jørgen, willing to fund the project. Upon arrival Jørgen invites Jacob to his daughter’s wedding and it is there that he finds out Jørgen’s wife is, or was, the love of Jacob’s life. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you are caught up in this “dark [and] richly mounted film”.

Fun Fact: Efter Brylluppet lost out to Das Leben Der Anderen at the 78th Academy Awards. This German movie is another fantastic foreign film that I highly recommend you watch. Especially if you’re interested in the GDR.

3. Netherlands: Komt Een Vrouw Bij De Dokter


This film, based on the hugely successful book by the same name, was quite controversial in the Netherlands to say the least. The reason for this being its plot. Komt Een Vrouw Bij De Dokter is about a couple, Stijn and Carmen, played by one of the Netherlands’ biggest exports; Carice van Houten, who seem to have the perfect marriage. Tragedy strikes when Carmen is diagnosed with breast cancer and Stijn’s night time adventures start to spiral out of control, as he continues to cheat on his sick wife. At this point I should mention that the book is largely autobiographical. Be prepared for some major waterworks.

Fun fact: The film, released in 2009, is one of the only 6 films to win “De Diamanten Film”, which recognizes films that have sold over 1 million tickets. Carice van Houten stars in 3 of the 6 films that have won the prize thus far.

4. France: LOL (Laughing Out Loud)


Before I start, this one is not to be confused with the bad American remake. In fact, there should never have been a remake because LOL is perfect. Released in 2008, this French comedy follows the eventful life of Lola, nicknamed LOL, as she juggles school, friends, boyfriends and life as a child of divorce. Being a teenager is far from easy, and when Lola’s boyfriend cheats on her and her parents have no clue how to handle their preadolescent daughter, Lola must find her own way. LOL oozes that French je ne sais quoi and Sophie Marceau does a great job as Lola’s mother, making it a must-watch coming-of-age film.

Fun fact: Sophie Marceau made her name as the main protagonist, a teen coping with all kinds of issues, in La Boum (1980). It discusses surprisingly similar themes as LOL, which makes Sophie Marceau a smart casting choice.

5. Germany: Keinohrhasen


I cannot produce a list of foreign language film favorites without mentioning this one. I just can’t. I’ve seen multiple German movies over the years, most of which deserve an honorable mention, but this one will forever be an all-time favorite of mine. Keinohrhasen (2007) was written, produced and directed by Til Schweiger, who also happens to star in it as Ludo Decker, the male lead. Ludo is a paparazzo, sentenced to community service at a local kindergarten following a mission gone wrong. Here he meets Anna, who is still traumatized by her childhood memories of Ludo. We all know there’s a fine line between love and hate, and so the tension between them unfolds into a romance with arguably more downs than ups. But fear not, you can expect a happy ending.

Fun fact: The real star of Keinohrhasen is Schweiger’s 5-year-old daughter Emma, who has since appeared in most of her father’s movies. In fact, all 4 of Schweiger’s children make an appearance in this successful German film.

Originally posted on

3 Chinese Films That Will Make You Love, Laugh and Cry


It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of foreign language films since forever. I discovered Chinese language cinema in 2005 when, as a third culture kid, I was first exposed to all that it has to offer. I started with Hong Kong movies, for which I blame New Police Story, followed shortly by ever so popular Taiwanese dramas, such as It Started with a Kiss and Devil Beside You. After years of watching every Korean drama out there (slight over-exaggeration) I recently decided to check out some newer Chinese movies. Here’s what I watched, and why these films will make you want to discover the realm of Chinese cinema.

1. Go Away Mr. Tumor (2015)


Go Away Mr. Tumor is easily one of the best foreign language films I have seen this year, and in a quite a while for that matter. Hence it doesn’t surprise me that this comedy-drama was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It better be short-listed and make it into the final 5, I’m just sayin’. Based on a true story, this heartwarming tale follows the life of Xiong Dun, who is beautifully portrayed by Bai Bai He, an optimistic and imaginative woman, as she struggles with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Enter Dr. Liang, played by Daniel Wu, Xiong Dun’s treating physician whom she develops a major crush on. Bubbly and extrovert as she is, Xiong manages to leave a lasting imprint on an introvert Dr. Liang’s heart.

What I like most about this film is the optimism it oozes and its emphasis on the importance of the support of family and friends. Xiong’s adorkable personality, along with her fantastic support system, bring so much heart to the movie that you won’t be able to hold back the tears. The chemistry between Bai and Wu is obvious, and the friendship their characters develop is genuine, and both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Though their relationship isn’t a romantic one, their relationship clearly exceeds the boundaries of friendship, which is beautifully portrayed in their final conversation. I highly suggest you grab those tissues because you’re going to be bawling your eyes out.

2. Women Who Flirt (2014)

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Though Zhou Xun is the obvious heart and soul of the movie, her girl squad is hilarious and will seriously make you consider trying to pick up guys using your best baby voice. Women Who Flirt is probably not be the best Chinese film you will see but it is most definitely entertaining in the most ridiculously fun way.

3. A Beautiful Life (2011)


If you’re even the tiniest bit familiar with Hong Kong or Chinese cinema, then the name Andrew Lau will ring a bell. Lau is the talented man behind the Infernal Affairs trilogy, the films that inspired Martin Scorsese’s remake, the Academy Award winning The Departed. In my opinion, A Beautiful Life is split into two parts, with a strange and hysterical first half and a serious, heartbreaking second half. It follows the life of real-estate agent Li Peiru, portrayed by Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who seems to have a bit of an alcohol problem. We first meet her drunk at a karaoke bar, seducing her married boss. This is where she first runs into Fang Zhendong, a lonely police officer played by Liu Ye, but it definitely isn’t the last these two will see of each other.

“It’s not about responsibility. I’m in love with her.” – Fang Zhendong

When Peiru finds out her lover is cheating on her with another, she starts to use and abuse Fang Zhendong to her benefit. They lose touch but manage to find their way back to one another, but not after Fang Zhendong is diagnosed with a serious condition. Their time apart has made Peiru appreciate just how much he has done for her. Their story is one hell of a ride, melancholic as much as it is heartwarming. Shu Qi and Liu Ye play polar opposites but complement each other so beautifully in this fantastic romantic drama that will make you laugh out loud and cry your eyes out.

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