Graphic by Cynthia Zhang
In today’s increasingly global society, audiences have access to arts and entertainment from creatives in many countries. For our future-themed March issue, The Monthly staff has rounded up a list of nine recommendations — movies, manga, albums and more from around the world — that we think you’ll enjoy.
1. “Kaguya-sama: Love Is War” (Japan)
Aka Akasaka’s manga is a rom-com that mixes razor-sharp humor with surprising emotional sincerity to form a perfect concoction. Following two teen geniuses and their convoluted mind game war to force the other to confess their crush, the series turns common rom-com tropes into a series of high-pressure farces that are as suspenseful as they are hysterical.
2. “El Mal Querer” (Spain)
Inspired by a 13th century novel, Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía’s second studio album takes you on an emotional journey through a toxic relationship that transcends language. The first and last songs on the album, “Malamente” and “A Ningún Hombre,” reveal that dichotomy.
3. “Another Round” (Denmark)
In Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish film, Mads Mikkelsen gives a phenomenal performance as a history teacher struggling with depression. Desperate to feel alive again, he and three coworkers embark on a “social experiment,” consuming small amounts of alcohol throughout the day. The result is a joyful tribute to the pleasures of drinking that also doesn’t shy away from the tragedies of hitting the bottle too hard.
4. “The Bad Kids” (China)
This psychological thriller follows a group of children who accidentally witness a murder. Constant twists and turns unfold over 12 riveting episodes, brought to life by a talented young cast. Watch with a friend — you’ll want someone to share in your sympathy and outrage and shock, and to process the ending with.
5. Elsa Majimbo (Kenya)
Majimbo is a charismatic comedian who’s received stamps of approval from Rihanna and Beyoncé. She’s best known for short, humorous Instagram videos where she dons ’90s sunglasses, snacks on chips and laughs throughout her commentary on everyday dilemmas (“I didn’t ask for work, work came to me. You can’t come to my territory with your demands, this is my house!”).
6. “Colores” (Colombia)
With titles that remind you of the Crayola crayons you used as a kid, Colombian artist J Balvin’s fourth studio album is a must for a (post-COVID) party playlist. The album’s artwork was designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, and the music videos are just as colorful as Balvin’s sound.
7. Sabrina & Friends (Canada)
Sabrina Cruz’s YouTube channel is perfect for those who love going down Wikipedia rabbit holes. Cruz and her friends have a knack for educational yet entertaining content, whether that’s exploring the ethics and safety of facial recognition tech by teaching an AI to recognize K-pop stars or asking why dating apps suck while creating a dating simulation for soup. Subscribe, and you’re sure to both learn and laugh.
8. “El Último Tour del Mundo” (Puerto Rico)
Bad Bunny’s latest experiment with Spanish punk, rock and hip-hop pushes both the singer and listeners out of their comfort zone. Where else could you listen to a workout jam like “BOOKER T” and then a Puerto Rican Christmas song right after?
9. “Bacurau” (Brazil)
“Bacurau” can be enjoyed on two levels: as a junky, fun gorefest and as an engaging parable about colonialism and inequality. Centering on the citizens of a very small Brazilian town as intruders invade, the movie transforms into a pulpy, gloriously bloody thriller when directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles drop the curtain halfway through. Go in blind, and the experience will be a rollercoaster.
Read more from the March edition of The Monthly here.
— Liner Notes: The best albums of 2020
— Staff Picks: What The Daily Editorial Board watched over break