Impression: I sometimes wonder how much advertising influences how much I like a movie. For example, I saw Moonlight way before any of the hype. I saw it accidentally for totally stupid reasons while at TIFF: I knew it took place in Miami, and there was a line for it on a Sunday morning. And it turned out to be the most moving film going experience of my life. It’s probably the only movie I saw 3 times in the theaters (excluding Rocky Horror Picture Show). Would I have enjoyed it just as much if I had seen it months later? I like to think so, but no way to know.
With Parasite, I had heard months and months of hype. I had seen it win an Oscar. The first foreign language film to win Best Picture! I had seen a couple of other movies by Bong Joon-Ho, like Okja and Snowpiercer, which I liked for their genre-bending and imagination, but while enjoying the non-apologetic leftist stands of both of those, often found subtlety lacking. I feel like Parasite was a logical and a more mature version of these films. And despite all the hype, I enjoyed it immensely.
I saw it on a Tuesday at noon, in a relatively large theater, the week following the Oscars. The theater was packed, and we got some of the last seats. That by itself made me happy! I love feeling like I live in a place where people love the things I love. As much as I loved Indy, I always missed this feeling of shared interest with a large group of people.
Anyway, at this point, I don’t know how much new I can say about Parasite that hasn’t been said by other people. It was an impeccably paced movie, the dramatic tension was so well built, and the plot kept developing in unpredictable ways. It was a perfect blend of entertainment and unmistakable message. It was a comedy, it was a tragedy, it was a story of class struggle and its limits and consequences. It was also very clever and incredibly well acted.
The Kims are a poor family fallen on hard times, but very crafty and funny and with a lot of comradely between them: mother, father and young adult son and daughter. Their interactions are so much fun to watch. They manage to worm their way into a rich and frivolous family, but after some time realize that by doing so they have knocked off someone even more in need of their patronage. A bloody battle for survival ensues.
As a piece of art, the film uses a lot of cinematic cues, from the Kims subterranean apartment, to the torrential rains, and the raised toilet as a last resort, to the beautiful shots of many, many downward staircases. Yeah, ok he still likes to hit your over the head with visual metaphors, but in this one they work perfectly.
Facts: An out of work family of 4 weasels it’s way through cunning and guile onto the payroll of a very wealthy but clueless family; mayhem ensues.
My Buddhist reading: Karma is the idea that you reap what you sow, not in any judgmental way, but just that all actions have corresponding consequences. In this movie, this is true for both the rich and the poor. No one comes out of the inevitable confrontation unscathed. The other idea that seems to apply is that in a society everyone is dependent on everyone else, and no one is “self made”. This also seems to be in agreement with the ethos of the film.