Top picks: A South Korean thriller, classic anime from Japan, and more

Movies from ‘Parasite’ director Bong Joon-ho and anime legend Satoshi Kon, and music from The Comet Is Coming offer a gateway to international fare. 

CJ Entertainment/Newscom
Kim Hye-ja stars in director Bong Joon-ho's 2009 film "Mother."

A South Korean thriller

For anyone trying to get into foreign films, “Mother” is a great choice. Director Bong Joon-ho manages to balance suspense, drama, and comedy with great success. The plot centers on a woman whose mentally disabled son is implicated in the murder of a young girl. Viewers follow the mother as she attempts to clear his name. Lead actress Kim Hye-ja offers an exciting and immersive performance as she deftly portrays the struggle of single parenthood, poverty, and proving her son’s innocence. Despite its dark subject matter and R rating, “Mother,” released in 2009, is a solid introduction to this director’s filmography.

Classic anime from Japan

“Tokyo Godfathers” is the work of late anime legend Satoshi Kon. The film – which focuses on three homeless people attempting to return a lost baby to its parents on Christmas Eve – deals with ideas of coincidence, charity, and miracles in an honest, funny, and at times heartbreaking way. The story is wild and unpredictable, and the expressive character designs and animation keep eyes glued to the screen. Even people who don’t know a lot about anime should enjoy this one. It is rated PG-13, and includes some scenes too dark for young children. 

Modern jazz via Britain

The Comet Is Coming is a British band that blends jazz and electronic music creating a sound that can be hard-hitting, ethereal, and even catchy. Synthesizers provide an atmospheric sci-fi backdrop for drums and sax, creating something that sounds fresh and unique. Jazz purists might be apprehensive, but “Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery,” released in 2019, will be enjoyable to just about anyone who likes instrumental or electronic music. People looking to dip their toes in either genre should check out this album, along with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings’ other project, “Sons of Kemet.” 

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