Five international movies to stream now

In the age of streaming, the earth is flat – the size of a screen – with journeys to distant destinations just a monthly fee and a click away. We’ve scoured the world of options and picked out the best new international movies to watch.

Rent it on Amazon.

It wasn’t until I laughed, cried, and bit my nails watching “Binti” that I realized it was tagged in the “kids” category on Amazon. Directed by Frederike Migom, this Belgian film pulls off a feat rarely seen in American children’s cinema: it weaves real-life issues of racial inequality and immigration into a feel-good story without ever condescending to its audience. At the beating and overflowing heart of this film is 11-year-old Binti (played by the vivacious Bebel Tshiani Baloji), an undocumented Congolese immigrant who lives in Belgium with her father. She’s a social media-obsessed teenager with a massive following online, amassed through videos that put a glamorous spin on her precarious life.

When a police raid forces Binti and her father to flee the house where they are squatting with other undocumented immigrants, she crosses paths with Elias (Mo Bakker), a white teenager struggling to come to terms with his parents’ divorce. With the miraculous faith in humanity typical of children’s films, Elias and his mother decide to bring Binti and his father to safety. Soon, this resulting makeshift family is planning a dance performance to benefit an animal Elias adores, the okapi, an endangered species related to the giraffe and endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Warmth and comedy run through these antics, but when the characters are faced with the threat of eviction, Migom treats it with lucid seriousness, tying it all together in a climax that is both realistic in its depiction of an unfair world and optimistic about people’s potential. – and especially children – to make things better.

Stream it on HBO Max.

Sleek, suspenseful, and utterly surprising, “Workforce” unfolds in its first half like a gritty Kafkaesque drama about exploited workers. After losing his brother in a work accident, Francisco (Luis Alberti), a construction worker in Mexico City, tries to obtain compensation for his pregnant sister-in-law and is blocked by an indifferent and corrupt bureaucracy. In strikingly composed neorealist scenes, director David Zonana details the day-to-day work of Francisco and his colleagues. Not only do the men toil all day to build a lavish home that looks obscene compared to their own cramped, leaky huts, but they also suffer routine indignities on the job: long hours, missed pay, deductions for mistakes minors.

But halfway through, this slow-burning kitchen sink drama suddenly changes shape, as a dark twist leads Francisco and his co-workers to take over the house and live there with their families. The group’s deliberations and negotiations – and their amazement at the relative luxury now available to them – are moving and captivating to watch. But an unease lingers and grows through it all, as Francisco transforms into a slippery, morally ambiguous figure. Zonana keeps her cards close to her chest until the very end, turning a searing critique of class inequality and the corruption of capital into a taut thriller.

This Malayali superhero story begins with a literal bang. In a small village in the state of Kerala, in southern India, a wave of lightning precipitated by a rare astronomical event strikes two men at the same time: Jaison (Tovino Thomas), a handsome young tailor who dreams of moving to America to find work; and Shibu (Guru Somasundaram), an eccentric outcast whose long-lost love has just returned to town. Right off the bat, the film sets up an intriguing mystery. Which of these two men, who are both soon spitting up blue phlegm and moving objects with their minds, is the movie’s title superhero (“minnal” meaning “lightning”)? And are they potential teammates or antagonists?

In a clever narrative tactic, “Minnal Murali” doesn’t clarify these questions until at least an hour into the film, instead charting the rise to power of its two leads with equal empathy and wit. Dressed in rambling disguises, Jaison uses his newfound mega-strength to teach the town’s dumb and corrupt police a lesson, while Shibu defends his crush against lustful dudes and robs a bank to help the woman’s sick daughter. Jaison signs his antics as Minnal Murali, and when the village assumes Shibu’s escapades are also from the same masked man, confusion and rivalries ensue. The stakes do eventually rise, but for the most part, Basil Joseph’s film feels less like a superhero actor and more like a charming provincial comedy. Featuring a fantastically unanimous ensemble cast, the film revels in the endearing quirks of a small village and the humble aspirations that drive even its most powerful inhabitants.

Stream it on Mubi.

“Gritt” is the nickname of Gry-Jeanette, the performance artist at the heart of Itonje Soimer Guttormsen’s film, but it could also be a reference to a quality that our stubborn, head-in-the-clouds protagonist may have. be in excess. When we first meet Gritt, she is in New York with a Norwegian theater troupe as an assistant to an actress with Down syndrome, whom she views with envy and resentment. It’s the latest in a series of globe-trotting attempts by Gritt to break into the avant-garde art scene, and it looks promising when a local theater manager puts her in touch with a colleague in Oslo.

As we’ll soon learn, however, Gritt has neither the resources (she doesn’t have a stable home and is denied government grants due to lack of experience) nor the integrity to bring her to life. his noble ideas. In Oslo, she lands an apprenticeship at the Theater of Cruelty and begins working on a project with local Syrian refugees, only to mess it all up with poor decisions and selfish lies – a turning point that ultimately prompts soul-searching. With real-life artists from New York and Oslo appearing as themselves, and frenetic, portable cinematography that invokes reality TV, “Gritt” itself can sometimes feel like performance art – a portrait of character that spurns the viewer on with its deeply ambiguous yet gripping subject matter, performed with superb engagement by Birgitte Larsen.

Stream it on Ovid.

The personal and the political intertwine in fascinating ways in Federico Atehortúa’s meditative documentary essay Arteaga. The director originally planned to make a film about what is widely considered the beginnings of Colombian cinema: the reconstruction of a 1906 assassination attempt on the country’s president, Rafael Reyes, for a photographic reportage. While working on this project, Atehortúa Arteaga’s mother developed a sudden case of mutism that doctors could not explain. In “Mute Fire,” the director draws associative ties between these two events, weaving them together in an inspired investigation of performance, trauma, and the unspoken ways in which the weight of Colombia’s bloody wars is borne bodily by its people.

Using archival images and home videos, Atehortúa Arteaga investigates the role images play in family and historical memory. Deftly, with a poetic voice-over, he weaves together the early films of Thomas Edison, which recreated famous executions; the controversy surrounding one of the very first films made in Colombia, capturing the death of political leader Rafael Uribe Uribe; and the Colombian military’s ‘false positives’ scandal, involving thousands of innocent men and women murdered and portrayed as killed in action during the country’s recent civil conflict. War, Atehortúa Arteaga demonstrates movingly, is fought as much with images as with weapons, and as these images persist over time, so do the many wounds of battle.

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