Thursday, February 4, 2016

Foreign films can teach us about the state of our own culture

If you want to know how cynical our entertainment industry is, watch some foreign films and compare them to our own. Personally, I gave up on American film and television several years ago. I reduced my cable to the basics so I won’t be a complete hermit and I rarely go to the mainstream blockbuster films in theaters.

American films can now be divided into three categories: things that go boom, puerile comedy, and partisan propaganda from Hollywood elites. These just don’t interest me.

How do I entertain myself? I watch movies and television from other countries. Almost any country has better drama than ours does. Better structured plots. More intelligent dialogue. More finely drawn characters. More heart-felt emotions and themes.

British drama is the best, hands down. They are, after all, the land of Shakespeare. But many of the Scandinavian countries also have wonderful television series. Our neighbors south of the border do an array of exciting films, many of them quite controversial and provocative. Asian film is also really good, from its historical drama to its romances and comedic dramas.

Yes, you have to get used to the subtitles, but once you’re over that obstacle, there’s a world of good plotlines to explore. It’s a wonderful way for a writer to see, within a few hours, the differences in plot construction from one culture to the next.

Here are a couple of really good dramas I watched recently—the Dutch movie, “Secrets of War,” and the Korean series, “Secret Affair.” The word secret in both titles is coincidental. One is about a couple of boys during World War II who befriend a young Jewish girl before she’s sent away to the concentration camp. Such a beautiful story and such great young actors. The other is a romance about a young man who’s a talented but poor pianist and his older female mentor. Of course, they fall in love, but the ins and outs of the plot are artfully done and the acting is superb.

My series, The Juan Miguel Series, on Amazon:

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