Add These Five Foreign & Indie Films to Your Queue | Fast Scans

This month's top foreign and indie picks include a romantic thriller from Korean director Park Chan-wook and a high-def French reissue dramatizing the inner life of a man paralyzed by a major stroke. 

Armageddon Time. 115 min. Focus Features, dist. by Universal. 2022. DVD UPC 191329159347. $29.95; Blu-ray / DVD UPC 191329159354. $34.99. Rated: R. DRAMA

Before transferring to an elite private institution, Jewish sixth-grader Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) befriends a fellow student (Jaylin Webb) at his early-1980s Queens public school where, much to the dismay of his parents (Jeremy Strong, Anne Hathaway), the pair often get into trouble. Anthony Hopkins plays a pivotal role as Paul’s supportive grandfather, encouraging his dream of becoming an artist. Writer-director James Gray (The Lost City of Z) nostalgically dramatizes his own childhood. VERDICT A small-scale drama for discriminating audiences.

Decision To Leave. 138 min. In Korean w/English subtitles. MUBI. 2022. DVD UPC 860009138407. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 860009138414. $34.99. MYSTERY

Insomniac detective Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) is smitten with Seo-rae (Tang Wei), the woman he’s investigating for the ostensibly accidental death of her husband. But a year after being cleared, Seo-rae turns up as a suspect in Hae-jun’s investigation of the suspicious death of her new husband. Cannes Film Fest–winning Best Director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; The Handmaiden) brings his dazzling technical skills to a curiously remote and convoluted romantic thriller elevated by an intense ending. VERDICT Critical raves and awards-season attention will pique patron curiosity.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. 112 min. In French w/English subtitles. Paramount. 2007. Blu-ray UPC 191329237816. $19.99. Rated: PG-13. BIOPIC

Based on the memoir of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), director Julian Schnabel tells the amazing story of a bon vivant whose paralyzing stroke leaves him cognizant but only able to blink one eyelid. Often experienced from Bauby’s claustrophobic point of view, this highly praised drama captures a man trapped in his own body—symbolized by dreams of containment in a diving bell—but set free by his imagination. Amalric won a well-deserved César for his performance. VERDICT Foreign film fans should celebrate this high-def reissue.

God’s Country. 102 min. IFC Films. 2022. DVD UPC 014381152104. $27.99. Rated: R. THRILLER

A rural Montana college professor originally from New Orleans, outsider Sandra Guidry (Thandiwe Newton) gets into a steadily escalating dispute with two local hunters trespassing on her property. Writer-director Julian Higgins revisits James Lee Burke’s short story “Winter Light” after his previous half-hour film adaptation, changing the white male protagonist to a Black female one, thus adding gender and race to class and culture as points of friction in a war of wills that ends in more dramatic fashion. VERDICT Puts to rest the notion that the book is always better.

Rogue Agent. 116 min. RLJ Entertainment. 2022. DVD UPC 01438115208. $27.99. DRAMA

Posing as an undercover agent in Britain’s MI5, Robert Freegard (James Norton) recruits college students in 1993 to infiltrate the Irish Republican Army as a test to get into the intelligence service. Twelve years later, Sophie (Marisa Albela) is still on the hook, while Robert has focused on conning women out of money. But Alice Archer (Gemma Arterton) is a victim who fights back, helping police capture the slick huckster. Codirectors Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson make this film, based on a true story, a nailbiter. VERDICT Arterton offers a relatable character for her fans.

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