Parasite

Parasite ★★★★

So.... any of you heard of Parasite? It's a pretty good movie. Wouldn't want it to get lost in all the new movie excitement and have no one notice.

Really though, Parasite is quite good. It's my first Bong Joon-ho film (I know, I know), so it's worth keeping in mind that I lack the context of his other works, should that make any difference. But writing about something that has now become the 2nd ranked film on this entire website is honestly kind of annoying -- let's just say that 4 stars is a quite good rating, and I have few complaints about the movie, it just didn't connect and grab me well enough to really get the highest ratings. Such is life, just if you're looking for me to "justify" rating this lower than 76% of this website has, you're going to be disappointed. I won't deny feeling a degree of "Oh... that was it?" when considering the ridiculous hype people have surrounded this film in, but that came from me feeling a constant "Hey this is good" but virtually never feeling "Wow this is spectacular" or however you want to phrase it.

In a technical sense, the hype is easy to understand. Joon-ho (along with cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo) is able to squeeze beauty out of every shot. Whether in the architectural wonder-house of the rich family or the dingy basement of the poor one, virtually every shot is interesting to look at. The actors are great as well across the board. Through writing and interactions the Kim (poor) family is endearing, feeling like a real family with bonds to each other. The Parks (rich) are just as good but in a slightly more cold, distant way -- there's the sense that they do care about each other, but their possessions, servants, and busy lives have almost served to detach them from each other. Money has made life far easier, but it has also eroded some human connections.

Though the rich are never quite attacked by the film as harshly as I expected. The wealth and luxuries that the Parks have shield them from ever thinking about those who are less fortunate. As presented here, they aren't callous or greedy; they are just entirely ignorant. For Parasite, the rich just were fortunate, probably from birth, to be shielded from the harsh reality that the poor live. They make games out of the events (for example, heavy rainfall) that might ruin other people's lives. They just don't know. There's no doubt a degree of truth to that, but I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it; I think I may have preferred if the film gave us the opportunity to see how they react when faced with people who have been screwed over by the system.

I do enjoy the way that throughout the film, the poor are shown to idolize the rich, though. The Kims think the Parks are nice because they have money. There are some spoiler-y parallels later in the film to people who are suffering and just barely able to get by in some capacity who want to thank the wealthy for indirectly allowing them to... not quite die. It's hopefully changing, but "wealthy people are good" is certainly a fallacy that exists. The infighting and scrambling for crumbs among the poor is an important theme to see displayed here, too.

If I really had to dig in for a complaint, I think I'm just not quite feeling the ending of this film. It might be better off without that epilogue at all. Either way, to some degree I did enjoy the amusing setup of the first half more than the tense payoff of the second. The later parts of the movie almost felt too much like what people expect from popular Korean films, if that makes sense. Not to say it's a good idea to paint a country's film output with such a wide brush, but I think there are certain storytelling trends that international audiences associate with the country and Parasite indulged in the way that those would lead me to expect.

Still, Parasite is a cool movie. Focus on those words and not the other ones. I hate feeling like a grumpy contrarian when giving something this high of a rating.

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