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For Your (Global) Entertainment: Music and Movies From Around the World

I turn up the volume each time Lady GaGa comes on the radio. And whenever my friends and I can’t decide on a movie, 27 Dresses is the perfect fall-back plan. After a while though, it all starts to get pretty predictable. It’s easy to forget that the American entertainment industry is not the ONLY entertainment industry out there. Even if you want to inject some culture into your listening and viewing experience, it can be a little overwhelming at first. For those of you who are totally over English language tunes and recycled plot-lines, or just want to spice things up, it’s time to go international. Consider this your going-global starter pack. We’ll start small with music:

Choc Quib Town

Where they’re from: Columbia
Start with this song: Somos Pacifico
What makes them unique: This band is all over the place, but in the best possible way. They combine funk, North American hip hop, Jamaican, electronic and traditional Columbian beats. On their website, they say that the band’s mission is just to be accepted for their originality. That’s something we can all relate to.
Website: chocquibtown.com

Vanessa Paradis

Where she’s from: France
Start with this song: Divine Idylle
Her sound: A smoother, lighter version of “typical” pop music, but just as upbeat. Why her name might sound familiar: She started as a model, and then became a singer and an actress. After she had children with actor Johnny Depp , she started up her singing career again.

FranKo

Where they’re from: United Kingdom
Start with this song: Nighttime
They may sing in English but: These guys have a uniquely edgy sound that grows on you more and more each time you listen… and then there are the accents!
They’re just getting started: The four band members are all around 20 years old.

Now it’s time for the advanced course: movies. Don’t let the subtitles scare you away. Each of these has a unique storyline that speaks volumes about the countries where they were produced. With the help of the lovely IMDB, I’ve done the work for you and dug up some plot summaries and fun facts to make the transition to global cinema a bit less daunting.

Fa yeung nin wa

English Translation: In the Mood for Love
Country: China
Background: Set in Hong Kong in the early 1960s, this one is about an extra-marital affair with a side of ethics. New neighbors become close friends and begin to realize that their spouses are having an affair. Although their compatibility is undeniable, they decide that it would be too clichéd to do the same.
Fun Fact: The director of this film didn’t believe in using scripts. This posed a problem when Chinese authorities demanded a copy of the script. The only solution was to relocate filming from Beijing to Macau. Trailer on IMDB

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

English Translation: The Big-Hearted Will Win the Bride
Country: India
Background: Hindi films are known for having plots, within plots, within plots, all complexly woven together (I’ll try to make this as simple as possible). The film is about two teenagers, a boy who is wealthy and free-spirited and a girl whose father is all about traditional Indian values. They meet on a train trip though Europe and at first, his game-playing and jokes frustrate her to no end, but eventually, they fall in love. An arranged marriage throws a monkey wrench in their plans, when the girl goes back to India to marry a man her parents chose for her. The boy refuses to give up and follows her to India, hoping to win her back without her parents realizing his intentions.
Fun Fact: This movie set a world record, showing in theaters for more than 11 years.

Como Agua Para Chocolate

English Translation: Like Water For Chocolate
Country: Mexico
Background: Two girls, Tita and Rosaura, live with their mother. But Tita is conflicted between love and her mother’s request for her to remain unmarried and take care of her. When Pedro tries unsuccessfully to convince Tita’s mother to let the two marry, he is forced to get creative. Pedro asks to marry Tita’s sister, since this would mean he could at least spend time with the woman he really loves. Tita is assigned chef duty for their wedding and the film quickly turns to magical realism. Her food evokes emotions in those who eat it and she uses this to keep her connection with Pedro.
Fun Fact: In a second wedding scene, one of the characters opens a bottle of Andre Champagne, which did not exist in 1934, when the film is supposed to take place.

Still looking for more? Libraries tend to be a great resource for foreign films. The “browse” section of iTunes also has a category for world music, where you can sample songs from South Africa to the Middle East. If you’re looking for movies, the iTunes foreign film section has trailers and plot summaries and the option to rent or buy the films. 365Mag.com is another go-to place to get your musical cultural fix. It has album reviews, top five charts from around the world, and even a live radio station. Wherever your search takes you, be sure to keep an open mind and you’ll be a global-entertainment whiz in no time!

Sources:

IMDB Movies imdb.com/name/nm0660854/bio

Alyssa Grossman is a Jersey girl who sacrificed warmer winters to study Magazine Journalism at Syracuse University. When she isn’t writing, you can probably find her tap dancing, baking, or laughing uncontrollably with friends. She loves going on spontaneous road trips, then coming back and recording every detail in her journal. She’s also obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes and sushi, though not together. Last summer, she interned at M Magazine and as a result, is now a teen pop culture whiz. She is Features Editor at Zipped Magazine, Syracuse University’s fashion publication, and is a contributing writer for the online magazine, bizme.biz. After graduation, she plans to follow her love of Magazine Journalism wherever it takes her. Because, frankly, she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.
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