6 Movies Like The Isle (2000)

Staff & contributors

The atmosphere in Millennium Mambo is magical. The opening scene alone will leave you enchanted, with long walks through a tunnel-like space and dreamy techno music playing in the background. We are misled into thinking that this will be a movie full of colors and dance, and to some degree, this is true, as it portrays Taipei and its neon colors of green, pink, and blue, featuring dance sequences in a bar that serves flashy drinks. But as the movie develops, a chilling shadow is cast as we become entangled in a brutal relationship that is as full of cruelty as it is of love and lust. Narrated from the future, the story shows how the present-day protagonist, Vicky, grapples with her identity as she looks back upon her past self from ten years ago.

Chaotic, messy, but also peppered with moments of serenity and shot with flawless camerawork and cinematography, Millennium Mambo makes time feel fluid, and serves as a reminder that no matter how rough the journey may be, everything is always okay in the end.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Chun-hao Tuan, Doze Niu Cheng-Tse, Duan Chun-hao, Jack Kao, Pauline Chan, Pauline Chan Bo-Lin, Qi Shu, Rio Peng, Shu Qi

Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Rating: R

After years of documentaries covering Thailand’s controversial issues, some of which have been temporarily banned by the Ministry of Culture, Nontawat Numbenchapol takes a step into feature film in Doi Boy. The plot covers plenty of the topics he’s previously depicted– immigration, prostitution, and corruption– but it unfolds naturally into a slow-paced, but moving drama where an undocumented sex worker tries to find home. Awat Ratanapintha as Sorn excellently leads this journey, but Arak Amornsupasiri as reluctant cop Ji, and Bhumibhat Thavornsiri as passionate activist Wuth also make their mark. While the film doesn’t delve into the intricate intersectionality, it feels like that’s part of the point. The notion of a nation doesn’t care about people’s dreams, even if that dream is for the nation to be better.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Arak Amornsupasiri, Awat Ratanapintha, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri, Ornjira Lamwilai, Panisara Rikulsurakan, Teerawat Mulvilai

Director: Nontawat Numbenchapol

, 2022

Dhuin is evidently influenced by the Iranian filmmaker whose work its characters discuss: Abbas Kiarostami. Featuring non-professional actors and full of long observational takes that center everyday conversations in the life of an aspiring actor in a small Northern Indian city, it’s guided by the same social realist impulses that shaped Kiarostami’s work. What’s more, it even ends on an explicit reference to Close-Up. 

But what elevates Dhuin above homage is the acute internal struggle it depicts. Set during COVID lockdown, the film follows Pankaj (Abhinav Jha) as he works on his acting in a bedroom adorned with images of Hollywood stars, chafing against the much less glamorous reality of the home he shares with his financially struggling parents. He's on the cusp of having enough money to fulfill his dream and move to Mumbai (where he hopes to advance his career), but several meetings with puffed-up filmmakers who are visiting from Mumbai give Pankaj a new perspective on the world he’s desperate to join. A testament to the torment of difficult choices, Dhuin also gently offers an alternative to the trope of abandoning home for the big city, suggesting that there might be greater beauty in the reality of where you’ve always been than the places you dream of.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Abhinav Jha, Prashant Rana

Director: Achal Mishra

Polytechnique directed by Denis Villeneuve, is a dramatization of the 1989 Montreal massacre of multiple female engineering students. This film focuses on a male student navigating the massacre for the majority of the film’s run time. The performances and minimal dialogue in this film certainly make this an unnerving film to watch. Littered with the screams of the actors portraying the engineering students, this could be mistaken as a gaudy horror film. However, this is far from a fictionalized horror.

This Villeneuve classic is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally brutal films of the 2000s, yet I appreciate the honesty of the storytelling. Polytechnique encourages its audience to ask itself if it truly understands the truth of misogyny. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, History, Thriller

Actor: Adam Kosh, Alexandre St-Martin, Alexis Lefebvre, Cynthia Wu-Maheux, Dawn Ford, Eugénie Beaudry, Ève Duranceau, Eve Gadouas, Evelyne Brochu, Francesca Barcenas, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Jonathan Dubsky, Karine Vanasse, Larissa Corriveau, Lily Thibeault, Marc-André Brisebois, Martin Watier, Maxim Gaudette, Natalie Hamel-Roy, Nathalie Girard, Pierre Leblanc, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Sébastien Huberdeau, Sophie Desmarais, Stéphane Julien, Valerie Cadieux

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Rating: Not Rated

A doorway opens at the beginning of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, and through this doorway you are brought into the movie's world. Explanations or plot transitions rarely exist, and dialogue is kept at a minimum level. And yet this movie remains an incredibly simple film. Following a Buddhist master and his apprentice, it is a fable very much in the 'cycle of life' form, offering gentle complexity in the timeless and sole framework of a floating Buddhist monastery. That's all I can say without saying too much. If you are into aesthetically pleasing films, go watch this.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Choe Min, Ha Yeo-jin, Ji Dae-han, Jong-ho Kim, Ki-duk Kim, Kim Jong-ho, Kim Jung-young, Kim Ki-duk, Kim Young-min, Oh Yeong-su, Oh Young-soo, Park Ji-a, Park Zia, Seo Jae-kyeong, Yeong-su Oh

Director: Ki-duk Kim, Kim Ki-duk

Rating: R

One of the best, twistiest con movies in recent memory. Seasoned con artist Marcos takes young Juan under his wing after witnessing him pull a bill-switching scam in a deli. Soon Juan is learning the game and the two are roped into trying to pull off the largest scam in Marcos’ storied career, the selling of a set of incredibly rare stamps (the “nine queens” of the title). Along the way they will have to deal with a rotating cast of schemers, thieves, crooks -- and Marcos’ estranged sister. A superior little crime thriller, this one will have you guessing right up until the end.

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alejandro Awada, Antonio Ugo, Claudio Rissi, Elsa Berenguer, Gabo Correa, Gastón Pauls, Graciela Tenenbaum, Ignasi Abadal, Jorge Noya, Leticia Brédice, Maria Mercedes Villagra, Oscar Nunez, Pochi Ducasse, Ricardo Darín, Ricardo Diaz Mourelle, Roberto Rey, Roly Serrano, Tomas Fonzi

Director: Fabián Bielinsky

Rating: R