"The Wind Rises"
"The Wind Rises"

Not going to the Berlin Film Festival? Well, there's plenty of fantastic cinema from around the world about to hit U.S. theaters this month, which should more than make up for that. From India to Palestine, Quebec to Japan, check out Indiewire's very world cinema-minded picks for February 2014's best:

1. The Wind Rises (February 21)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog, Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood, Ronan Farrow (voices of US dubbed version)
Distributor: Touchstone/Ghibli
Current Criticwire average: A- (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"?
Though Hayao Miyazaki's movies have always dealt with big ideas -- from anti-war arguments to the nuances of gender relations and the innocence of childhood among them -- they have always contained a steady dose of fantasy. By contrast, "The Wind Rises" (which the 71-year-old filmmaker claims to be his final film) is a fairly straightforward biopic, revolving around the early career ambitions of Jiro Horikoshi, the late Japanese airplane engineer responsible for designing the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the lightweight aircraft notoriously used in the attack on Pearl Harbor. That morally complex outcome never really comes into play in Miyazaki's gentle portrait; instead, "The Wind Rises" obsesses over Horikoshi's fascination with the ethereal quality of airplanes and his desire to play a role in expanding their possibilities, providing a cogent metaphor for Miyazaki's own filmmaking passion. Read Indiewire's review from last fall here.

Watch the trailer below:

2. The Lunchbox (February 28)

Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"?  Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai-set drama revolves around a housewife (Nimrat Kaur) who tries to resurrect her failing marriage through her kitchen, only to find that her husband’s special lunch has inadvertently been given to his co-worker. This setup leads her to start a lunchbox-based correspondence with the other man, a lonely man looking back on his life whose solace comes in the form of an equally downtrodden soul. A hit on the 2013 festival circuit, "The Lunchbox" was controversially snubbed by India for submission to the Oscar's foreign language category. Hopefully audiences still find their way to it anyway.

Watch the trailer below:

3. A Field In England (February 7)

Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Julian Barratt, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Ferdinando, Ryan Pope, Richard Glover
Distributor: Drafthouse
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"? Keeping more in touch with the color of his passport, with "A Field in England" Ben Wheatley delivers a bonkers tale told in the traditions of Monty Python, Blackadder and, more tangentially, Bruce Robinson's "Withnail and I." In keeping with this heritage, Wheatley chooses traditional "losers" as his chief protagonists. British comedy has never had much of a tradition based around a character intent on doing evil, preferring instead to champion laissez-faire individuals wanting to simply live their lives in peace and quiet. If these characters have a mantra, it's "leave me alone." But you won't want to do that...

Watch the trailer below: