Parasite (2019) Review

Parasite (2019) (기생충, 寄生蟲, gisaengchung, kisaengch’ung)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating the household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

My Opinion:

After a year of hearing everyone raving over this on Twitter, the UK is FINALLY getting the chance to see it today. I was beyond excited & extremely happy to see it two weeks early with my cinema membership. It’s a very good film. But is it a masterpiece as so many are claiming? I hate how any halfway decent current film gets declared a damn masterpiece. Let a movie age a bit! See if it stands the test of time. Will Parasite be a “masterpiece” 20 years from now? I’m not sure about that but I think it’ll always be a well respected film. I expected this to be my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominee as I love foreign films. It might be my favorite but in some ways I think Joker is a better film despite people whining about it (although Parasite is far more “me” than a Scorsese-wannabe comic book movie). Okay, yes – Parasite is probably my favorite Best Picture nominee this year… I admit it’s grown on me over the past two weeks.

Despite the hype, I didn’t go into a Parasite with really high expectations as I’ve not loved any of Bong Joon-ho’s work that I’ve seen. Although the concept for Snowpiercer was amazing, the film was a bit of a mess. Okja was mostly just annoying as, with Snowpiercer as well, the characters were so unpleasant & ridiculous (especially Swinton & Gyllenhaal). I think I may have actually enjoyed his film The Host the most as I like a decent monster movie & the young girl in it was really good (and one of the only Bong Joon-ho characters to not be hateful in some way). However, as much as I hate hateful characters (which is why I suppose I haven’t gotten on with his work), they work perfectly for Parasite. I mean, it’s a social satire & the whole point of the film. Actually, these are probably his least hateful movie characters as the bad in each of them is far more subtle & none of them are the ridiculous Swinton-type caricatures. Everyone is flawed in some way, making them feel more real (we’re all flawed). You feel both sympathy & repulsion for every character at various points in the film.

I do think Parasite is a clever film with far deeper characters than we’ve had in Bong Joon-ho’s other work (that I’ve seen) & I understand some of the hype. It’s certainly his best film & I did enjoy the strange mix of genres, especially the dark humor. I was just hoping I might love Parasite. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a new movie that I know will be an all-time favorite of mine. Parasite is a very good film but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I respect it. It’s well-written, it looks fantastic (it’s too bad I’m doing a short review so don’t have many images from the film as there are some great shots), and the acting is very good. But there are loads of foreign films I’ve thought were much better that didn’t get this same level of acclaim. Still, I’m happy to see a foreign film getting so much attention & hope that maybe it will open more people up to the idea of checking out some non-English language movies.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Host (2006) Review

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The Host (2006) (Goemul)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring:
Song Kang-ho
Byun Hee-bong
Park Hae-il
Bae Doona
Go Ah-sung

Running time: 119 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Host is a 2006 South Korean monster film. The movie concerns a monster kidnapping a man’s daughter, and his attempts to rescue her. According to the director, his inspiration came from a local article about a deformed fish with an S-shaped spine caught in Han River.

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My Opinion:

I watched this a while back but hadn’t reviewed it as I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I’d been wanting to see it for ages as I thought it looked really good and it’s had a lot of positive reviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it although I know it’s quite a “good” film. I definitely preferred A Tale Of Two Sisters, another South Korean horror movie I watched more recently.

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The Host is actually a political satire but I’m not going to pretend to have a lot of knowledge about that or attempt to discuss that aspect of it – you’d be able to find better discussions of that online. I’ll just talk about what I thought of it as a “monster movie”, which is the reason I watched it. As a monster movie, I thought it was pretty good! I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by showing pictures of the monster as this isn’t one of those movies where you hardly see the monster – you see it a lot and it looks good so I was happy about that.

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The movie also had a great and very promising start. We get to know the main characters pretty well straight away and I immediately liked the young girl and the relationship with her father. The father is… Simple? Slow? Maybe just really immature? You don’t at first realize he’s the girl’s father as she’s the mature and responsible one and seems to be the one taking care of HIM. They’re very sweet together, though, and it’s a shame we don’t get to see a little more of them together at the beginning before she’s kidnapped by the monster (not a spoiler – the movie is about her kidnapping and her family’s attempt to then rescue her). I was back & forth on how I felt about the father. At times you feel for him as he’s sweet and childlike and clearly loves his daughter but the stupid things he does throughout the movie get a bit frustrating. I liked his father, who was always standing up for his son, but his brother and sister felt a bit wasted in this movie (especially the archery champion sister). It’s unfortunate that this bickering bunch get much more screen time than the young girl, who was by far the best character (in my opinion anyway).

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I’m not sure what else to say. The girl is great, I loved her relationship with her father, the monster looked good, and the opening of the film was very promising with good character development and an exciting scene when the monster appears and wreaks havoc before kidnapping the girl. It falls apart in the middle, however, as we watch the family search for the girl. The other characters were just far less interesting than the girl and their bickering and stupidity was a little annoying at times. Also, I really didn’t like how this movie ended (obviously I won’t give that away but I don’t mean the very final scene – that was good and I liked it a lot). It’s hard to know how to rate this as I think it IS a good movie and I’d recommend it if you like monster movies and/or foreign horror films. I really liked the beginning but found myself a little bored until the ending that I didn’t find very satisfying. Good monster movie with characters that are well-developed (for a horror movie) but definitely flawed in the middle.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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