Dan and I have taken to watching lots of foreign movies and TV shows lately. It started with some Bollywood films (the Indian version of Hollywood, for the uninitiated). We watched a few we really enjoyed, then got some more recommendations from a couple of Indian friends. We’ve watched enough of them that we’re starting to recognize some of the actors (even if we can’t pronounce their names). More recently we have found some Korean shows we really enjoy. We even did a marathon of sorts to finish a series because we got so caught up in the story.
Since I have some hearing loss, we are used to having closed captions on when they are available (hear me Netflix?) so using subtitles wasn’t a big jump. One of the funny things we found, though, in Bollywood films anyway, is that the actors often throw in English phrases and sentences. When we asked an Indian friend about this, she said that some things are just easier to say in English than in Hindi. Go figure. Still, sometimes you have to read pretty fast, and you can’t exactly be doing something else while having a show on in the background.
Anyway, I got to wondering why we find these shows so appealing. For one thing, they don’t tend to take themselves too seriously. What American film have you watched recently that wound up the story with a big dance number? (Slum Dog Millionaire doesn’t count.) When was the last time the hero in a (new) movie you were watching broke out in song? The stories are campy and predictable, but they present cultures completely different than we’re used to, albeit we recognize that entertainment media might be just a little bit slanted. They don’t try to teach me anything – they simply entertain, and that is very refreshing.
One more thing: because we can’t really do anything else while watching these shows, like sitting with our separate digital devices, or even doing hobbywork, all that’s left is for us to sit next to each other and hold hands or cuddle.
Here’s a short list of some of the movies and shows we’ve enjoyed:
- Babette’s Feast (Danish): our first. An interesting study in human character.
- Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Chinese): It’s funny how many of the films we like revolve around food.
- Outsourced (English/Hindi): not really “foreign”, but showing a lot of Indian culture. A very American businessman thrown into Indian life.
- Jab We Met (Hindi): A very un-serious romance
- Pasta (Korean): Like I said, food – with an endearingly persistent female protagonist. “Yes, chef.”
- The Great Doctor (Korean): Serious and funny at the same time. Set in Medieval Korea, with wonderfully detailed costumes and sets, and lots of interesting characters.