Parasite ★★★★

This brilliant "upstairs/downstairs" contemporary Korean sociological satire is both occasionally funny and always trenchant. However, it had a few too many perceived plot contrivances that kept me from raising it to the exalted level that its lauded critical reception and awards have given it. Still, it is a fun, if ultimately queasy, watch with fine acting and an incredible production design (apparently all the extraordinarily realistic locations were built on sound stages, a fact that elicited gasps from the knowledgeable Academy audience that watched the Q&A afterwards.) Director Bong Joon-ho is an original talent who seemingly never repeats a genre. Here he is playing in the kind of family dramedy field that the Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda has almost made his own (compare this to last year's equally brilliant Shoplifters.) It is to Bong's credit that he gives it such an original, black comedy spin.

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