Parasite ★★★½


Hard not to see this for the ship-in-a-bottle it truly is, but equally as hard not to admire the workmanlike construction regardless—so beautiful and formally sharp at times that it almost hurts. But Bong’s bleeding passion comes at the cost of nuance. No disguising his class warfare agendas here: The poor are so desperate that their collective talents - which, by the way, reads slightly implausible to me; wouldn’t someone with e.g. photoshop skills as deft as Ki-jung be able to land a legitimate job somewhere? This family seems too smart to have wound up on skid row in the first place - are channeled toward ruthless ends, competence translating directly into self-serving corruption. On the other hand, the rich are so filthy rich that they’re both oblivious to the way they’re trampling on the backs of those less fortunate and apparently in short supply of anything resembling common sense. (Your entire personal staff needing replacements within the same week should raise a red flag for any functioning human being. Does having lots of money make you immeasurably gullible by nature?) Either way, I found myself directly engaged with the craftsmanship, and while the socioeconomic separation is drawn to uncomfortable extremes, the sheer precision of the clicking gears - the systematic way Kim’s family absorbs themselves into the Park household in titular fashion - mitigated much of my distress over the boldly outlined archetyping. Mid-film revelation (err..twist? I guess?) successfully blindsided me, but also promised a more satisfying closure of the Poor vs. Poor narrative i.e., the point I originally thought the film was trying to make. (Ultimately, the Kim family’s forceful usurping of the existing middle-to-lower-class staff has no real repercussions to the Park family. Sure, their children aren’t getting “properly” tutored, but it’s evident they weren’t before, either, and anyway, they’re completely okay [and/or sufficiently stupid enough] to overpay without proper evidence of worthiness.) In essence, I thought it was a keen commentary on the poor fighting among themselves instead of combining their efforts and resisting upward. All of that implodes during the birthday party fiasco, though, unraveling any thematic coherence and trading the strands for ultra-gonzo mayhem and lots of last-minute hairpinning. (The morse code coda: yuck.) I had similar thoughts on MEMORIES OF A MURDER: The surface-level pleasures and screenplay intricacy have undeniable magnetism, but the boffo elements are simply unpleasant to me, especially when laid up against a scenario that’s at least partially attempting practicality.

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