Saturday, November 2, 2019

Parasite (기생충) - Movie Review

The Movie: Parasite (기생충)

The Director: Bong Joon-ho

The Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam

The Story: All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.

The Review:
Bong Joon-ho is not only one of South Korea's renowned directors, his eclectic collection of films have earned him prominence on the global stage and this latest effort might be the best of them all. My first taste of the director's work was 2006's The Host which takes the large scale monster movie genre and turns it on its head and then more recent works like Snowpiercer and Okja have further twisted and dissected the Hollywood style of film making. And now we have Parasite.

Parasite defies any sort of genre labeling. The story works beautifully on so many different levels and just when you think it's going one direction, it spirals out of control into another. The story works perfectly within every genre that it tackles and comes out being better than any one of them. I would say it's mostly a psychological thriller yet it's so funny, I'm not sure of that really fits and the humor works so well within the reality of the movie, it doesn't feel like a full blown comedy either and yet it is.

Bong Joon-ho also weaves in elements of South Korean politics, culture, society, family, education, poverty, wealth, technology, and more stuff that I'm not even thinking of right now. That might seem like a lot and the director handles it all with a dexterity that is mind blowing yet so perfectly balanced you don't even realize what you've just witnessed until your brain has time to process it all. Yeah, the story sticks with you. I've been thinking about all the different layers the story offers and every time I pull one thread, it leads to a few more I hadn't thought of.

The casting for this movie is spot on and absolutely perfect with standout performances from. Well, from everyone. Song Kang-ho, who plays Kim Ki-taek the patriarch of a family of con artists, is becoming one of my all time favorite actors partly thanks to this movie and also for his work in other Bong Joon-ho films like Snowpiercer and The Host as well as 2017's A Taxi Driver where he earned recognition as one of's favorite performances of that year.

Other standouts in the film are rising star Park So-dam as Kim Ki-jung the daughter of the con artist family and Jo Yeo-jeong as Park Yeon-kyo, the mother of the wealthy family who the Kim family seek to take advantage of. Both are extremely strong and bring a lot to their characters to give them life and originality as supporting characters. Overall, the character work is nearly on par with Shoplifters, a similar movie from Japan that was one of my absolutely favorite films from 2018 mainly because of the brilliant acting performances.

The Verdict:

Parasite is one of the best movies of 2019.

I see lots of conversation about how there is no creativity or originality in movies any more so why go to the theater. Well, here's your chance to see a movie that is original, creative, inventive, different, funny, scary, thrilling, timely, dramatic, emotional and all of the things that make cinema the beautifully fulfilling art form that it is. Here's your chance to buy a ticket, go to the theater, enjoy the heck out of this movie, and then tell everyone about it. That's the activity Hollywood pays attention to when deciding what to produce.

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