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Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.
As this quarantine wears on, I know you’re all bored enough that you will give a foreign film a try. And with studios releasing some of their biggest theatrical and festival hits on digital platforms early, now is never a better time. Neon’s romance for the ages, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, hit Hulu early last week, while Netflix has some word-of-mouth hits on its hands with the electric K-drama Itaewon Class and the Spanish dystopian thriller The Platform. Those films and more are in this week’s Pop Culture Imports.
Let’s fire up those subtitles and get streaming.Portrait of a Lady on Fire – Hulu
Genre: Romantic drama
Director: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel.
When the poets write of the great love stories, at the top will be the searing romance between Marianne and Héloïse in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Céline Sciamma’s rapturous lesbian drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows female artist Marianne Noémie Merlant who is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of a mysterious daughter Adèle Haenel of a French countess, under the pretense of being her walking companion. But as they spend more time together, a close friendship blossoms and eventually, a deep, ecstatic romance. What else can there be written about this movie that hasn’t been written already? Why haven’t you seen it five times already? Watch it now and weep over the sheer overwhelming emotion of it all.
Watch This If You Like: Call Me By Your Name, Carol, Disobedience, the myth of Orpheus but 10 times sadder.Itaewon Class – Netflix
Country: South Korea
Creator: Kim Do-soo
Cast: Park Seo-joon, Kim Da-mi, Yoo Jae-myung, Kwon Nara.
I write about a lot of K-dramas in this column, and even as a fan of the medium, they start to feel samey after a while. But Itaewon Class has an energy to it, an electricity that pulses through its story of a young business owner whose group of ragtag employees try to hold down their bar in the hottest neighborhood in Seoul, that makes the series feel like few K-dramas I’ve watched before. The series follows Park Saeroyi Parasite‘s Park Seo-joon, an impossibly principled young man with a bad haircut whose opens a pocha a sort of sit-down bar called DanBam and destroy his enemies by turning it into the biggest food company in Korea. He opens the restaurant in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Itaewon and hires a crew of misfits that all hail from backgrounds not usually seen on Korean TV — an ex-con, a transgender woman chef, and a black Korean man among them. Itaewon Class has a...
High school can be a battlefield, but rarely has that battlefield seemed so dangerous as it does in Amazon’s stylish Sundance drama Selah and The Spades. The feature film debut of writer/director Tayarisha Poe, Selah and The Spades follows a young girl who is chosen to be the protégé of the Queen Bee of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, and discovers that she wasn’t the first to be given this dubious honor. Watch the Selah and The Spades trailer below.Selah and The Spades Trailer
Amazon Studios has released the official trailer for Tayarisha Poe’s feature film debut, Selah and The Spades, a stylish high school drama set in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school. In this exclusive world, the student body is run by five factions: The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects. Commanding the top faction is the titular Selah Summers Love Simone, who decides to choose a young protégé to take her place upon graduation. But as that sophomore upstart Paloma Celeste O’Connor soon finds, it’s a treacherous path to the top.
Selah and The Spades seems like a teen drama in the tradition of Brick or Thoroughbreds — stylish, razor-sharp, and populated by very good-looking teens who all act like characters in a noir film. The cast of fresh faces playing those characters include Jharrel Jerome, Jesse Williams, Gina Torres, and Ana Mulvoy Ten.
Here is the synopsis for Selah and The Spades:
In the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, Haldwell, the student body is run by five factions. Seventeen-year-old Selah Summers Lovie Simone runs the most dominant group, the Spades, with unshakable poise, as they cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. Tensions between the factions escalate, and when Selah’s best friend/right hand Maxxie MOONLIGHT’s Jharrel Jerome becomes distracted by a new love, Selah takes on a protégée, enamored sophomore Paloma Celeste O’Connor, to whom she imparts her wisdom on ruling the school. But with graduation looming and Paloma proving an impressively quick study, Selah’s fears turn sinister as she grapples with losing the control by which she defines herself.
In her feature debut, writer/director Tayarisha Poe immerses us in a ened depiction of teenage politics. This searing character study encapsulates just how intoxicating power can be for a teenage girl who acutely feels the threat of being denied it. Exciting newcomer Lovie Simone’s performance beautifully embodies both Selah’s publicly impeccable command and the internal fears and uncertainty that drive it.
Selah and The Spades premieres on Amazon Prime Video April 17, 2020....
Neon has had a banner year since picking up the U.S. distribution rights to Parasite, ushering the film to a history-making Best Picture win at the 2020 Oscars. Now the indie film distributor has won the domestic rights to the Nicolas Cage revenge thriller Pig and the Sundance favorite Possessor, directed by Brandon Cronenberg.
Variety reports that Neon, the U.S. distributor behind Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film Parasite, has won the domestic rights to the Nicolas Cage-starring revenge thriller Pig, directed by first-time filmmaker Michael Sarnoski.
Written and directed by Sarnoski, Pig stars Cage as “a reclusive truffle hunter in Oregon whose prize hunting pig is kidnapped, forcing him to return to old stomping grounds in Portland and confront his past.” The film also stars Hereditary‘s Alex Wolff, and is based on a story by Sarnoski and Vanessa Block, who also produced alongside Pulse Films.
Neon won the rights in a heated bidding war last week that involved “numerous competitors.” Based on the film’s premise of a man and his animal in the American frontier, I’d guess one of those competitors is fellow indie wunderkind A24. Don’t worry A24, you still have the lovely First Cow. Endeavor Content, which first showed the promo footage for Pig at February’s Berlin Film Festival, is continuing to seek international partners.
Neon continued its hot streak with the acquisition of the U.S. rights to Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, a sci-fi thriller starring Andrea Riseborough as a corporate agent who works for a “secretive organization using brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies and commit assassinations for high-paying clients,” according to Neon’s press release. The film, which /Film reviewer Chris Evangelista wants everyone to know, “rules,” debuted in January to the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, including ours.
“Neon is a hugely exciting distributor, and I’ve been eager to work with them for a while now. I’m thrilled they are taking on ‘Possessor’ in collaboration with Well Go USA, who made production of the film possible,” Cronenberg said in a statement.
Neon’s acquisitions are a nice return to regular movie news as the industry continues to stay at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered movie theaters around the country and forced studios to indefinitely delay major releases. Despite the demand for early digital releases and Neon’s own partnership with Hulu, Neon still plans to release Pig at a to-be-determined date. No release date has yet been set for Possessor....