5 Movies Like Freestyle (2023)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Freestyle ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

Operating in a similar style and speed as the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time and Uncut Gems, Freestyle gives us a peek into the seedy underbelly of Poland through the eyes of Diego, a smalltime muscian who slides back into his drug dealing ways when he finds himself short on money. On the sensory front, Freestyle is a thrilling experience. Diego charges the film with palpable anxiety, Kraków’s underground community lights it up in dizzying neon, and the local hip-hop scene backs it with exciting new sounds. It’s a technical feat, but stripped of these elements, Freestyle is nothing more than a predictable crime thriller populated with predictable characters, many of whom, by the way, are thrown in at random points in the movie so that it often gets confusing and infuriating to watch. Despite potentially having something to say about the apathy of youth or the glaring discrepancy between social classes, Freestyle seems solely interested in being a slick crime thriller that has its characters run around in circles to save themselves. It looks good and sounds even better, but without anything substantial holding it up, Freestyle fails to relay an authentic sense of relevance and urgency. 

, 2023

Jules’ wacky premise — an extra-terrestrial crash-lands in eccentric widower Milton’s (Ben Kingsley) flowerbeds — is a bit of a misdirection. While the movie is technically a sci-fi (featuring, as it does, some very out-there alien engineering), it’s really a charming, mostly-human drama about the isolation and surreality of aging. 

Though the mute presence of the alien (nicknamed Jules and played brilliantly by a totally silent Jade Quon) is a constant reminder of the expansiveness of the universe and strange wonders yet to be discovered, the movie keeps its feet firmly on the ground with a sensitive exploration of just how small the worlds of lonely, dementia-struck Milton and two other isolated elderly townspeople (Jane Curtin and Harriet Sansom Harris) are. Rather than expand outwards into a story about the extra-terrestrial itself, Jules focuses on the painful disorientation felt by its lonely trio of protagonists, who all find therapeutic relief and connection by way of the alien and its “understanding eyes.” Though the movie's zany forays into sci-fi territory do sometimes boggle the mind, they never undermine the genuine emotion in Jules’ raw grappling with the experience of aging, as well as give the movie a quirky charm that ensures you won't see anything like this again soon — an increasingly rare experience in itself.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Andy Daly, Anna George, Ben Kingsley, Cody Kostro, Donald Paul, Edward James Hyland, Eric T. Miller, Harriet Sansom Harris, Jade Quon, Jane Curtin, Lee Sellars, Patrick Noonan, Teddy Cañez, Zoe Winters

Director: Marc Turtletaub

Rating: PG-13

When the system messes with you personally, it’s such a powerful fantasy to be able to settle things with your own hands. To be strong enough to retaliate, and once things are settled, to be strong enough to be left alone, not to be messed with. The Black Book depicts this revenge fantasy, reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s Taken, albeit with corrupt police. The Nigerian action thriller isn’t afraid to go hard, with threats of splitting a person in half by a table saw, dramatic shoot-outs, and fight sequences. However, what makes the thriller work is that all these action sequences are intended to be the reckoning of corrupt institutions. There are some messy parts, certain shots that included some bad takes. Despite this, The Black Book still proves to be entertaining enough to forgive these mishaps.

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Ade Laoye, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Bimbo Akintola, Bimbo Manuel, Femi Branch, Iretiola Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sam Dede, Shaffy Bello

Director: Editi Effiong

Rating: R

It might not teach you the basics of cricket but Fire in Babylon uses the sport as an entertaining entry point into the discrimination faced by Caribbean peoples around the 1970s. The footage we see of actual cricket games is kept to the simplest elements, but what ultimately leaves a stronger impression are the lively testimonials from the documentary's many talking heads, injecting this historical account with a generous amount of personality. From the hip West Indian soundtrack to the unabashed pride that fuels every anecdote, this feels like a film that's genuinely being told by its characters, and not from an outsider's point of view.

Genre: Documentary, Family

Actor: Bunny Wailer, Clive Lloyd, Colin Croft, Viv Richards

Director: Stevan Riley

One day, Filipino romances will wean themselves away from the tropes that keep their stories circling back to the same conclusions, undermining the bold narrative ideas on which that they establish themselves. Nothing Like Paris still doesn't break free, but its commitment to a more serious, modern view of romance set against the loneliness of migration is surprising given director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo's previous collaboration with her lead actors (the inadvertently creepy I See You, set in Japan). Here, the possibility of romance built on little more than one's shared nationality and language is explored with real maturity, through two performers who prove that subtlety will always leave more room for complex emotion than ugly crying and cutesy, empty gestures.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Alessandra de Rossi, Dolly de Leon, Empoy Marquez, Jean-Marc Noirot-Cosson

Director: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo

Fairytale parodies reimagine these classic tales to reexamine or question its related themes. Once Upon a Crime attempts to do this by imagining Little Red Riding Hood as a detective investigating the murder of a hairdresser in Cinderella’s ball. The campy glamor of the costumes and sets, as well as the incongruence of Little Red’s detective mindset, makes the film watchable. However, the film takes strange twists that stray too far from the original stories. And while the cut locks make an intriguing metaphor, the resulting ending betrays any sense of justice for the characters, most especially the abused Cinderella.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy

Actor: Atsuhiro Inukai, Jiro Sato, Kanna Hashimoto, Masaki Kaji, Midoriko Kimura, Miki Maya, Mirei Kiritani, Mizuki Yamamoto, Natsuna Watanabe, Takanori Iwata, Tomoharu Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi Muro, Yuko Araki, Yumi Wakatsuki, 室毅

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Rating: PG