Parasite (2019)

A masterpiece of socioeconomic classism discourse, parabolic cinematography, home invasion, black comedy, cultural themes, and poverty that transcends genres & perplexes long after credits roll, B.J.H.’s Parasite is the Best Film Of 2010’s. 9.8/10.

Plot Synopsis: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A Game-Changer Out Of South Korea

A Class Warfare/Black-Comedy/Home-Invasion/Sociological/Genre-Blending Film Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

“You know what type of plan [always works out?] No plan at all.” Parasite; Ghastly images of Malaria-riddled corpses, tapeworm-guts, or coccidiaic intestinal tracts straight out of sci-fi/horror films or CDC archives come to mind at mere mention of the word. Legendary director Bong Joon-ho has a different type of parasitism on his mind: a mythic juxtaposition of bold sociological themes, class warfare, black comedy, home-invasion thrills, genre-mixing, & sudden tonal shifts unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed before. Boasting the pedigreed Palme d’Or at Cannes 2019, this late addition to filmic slates is a stunner out of South Korea that sends year’s and decade’s best films list into a frenzy – perhaps impossibly grabbing the top spot of both mere days before the end of the 2010’s on its U.S. Release Tour. A masterpiece of socioeconomic classism discourse, parabolic cinematography, home invasion thrills, black comedy, poverty dreams, cultural themes, & an elegiac tale that defies genre-categorization & perplexes long after the credits roll, Bong Joon-Ho’s South Korean allegorical thriller/family-drama-on-acid is virtuoso cinema and the best film of the decade.

The Kim Residence

A Grisly Depiction Of Impoverished Survival

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

We’re introduced to our familial protagonists through a ghastly depiction of impoverished survival amongst the rat-infested slums of a South Korean cityscape. The Kim family lives together in squalor so unconscionably dreadful, they have to distort themselves over used toilets to get basic internet access leeching off of neighboring cafes’ wi-fi and keep their windows open to toxic fumes of street fumigation practices to rid their apartment of stinkbugs using secondhand smoke. They struggle daily to make ends meet, taking whatever paltry jobs they can find like pizza box-folding, but dream of bigger and better things to lift themselves out of this eternal damnation of sustenance-but-not-living. It’s a striking canvas of lower-class filth that has almost an operatic/eulogized feel, evoking intense empathy and shock value witnessing such a poor way of life, only to be sharply-juxtaposed like a buzzsaw by its opposite-spectrum depiction of the glamorous, chic, silver-spoon lifestyle of the Park family.

The Park Residence

A Canvas Of Limitless Wealth & Excess

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

When Ki-woo Kim is offered an opportunity for work tutoring the rich-kid client of a college friend utilizing forged qualifications as he studies abroad for a semester, Ki-woo is introduced to a breathtaking canvas of limitless wealth and excess – the veritable antithesis of the squalor and subhuman living conditions we just witnessed moments ago. Award-winning architectural design, stainless steel countertops, football field-sized lawns in the middle of the city looking down on the rooftops below like gods of old, countless bedrooms, & stunning contemporary touches assault our senses and drop Ki-woo’s jaw to the floor. A peripheral sight of an idiosyncratic painting on the wall by the youngest member of the Park clan Da-song prompts a devilish con to end all cons: bring in his sister as a “famous art therapist” to help analyze the painting and, one-by-one, the entire Kim family as veritable wolves in sheep’s clothing framing the help of each of the Park family’s external duties to get them fired so they can take the positions under false pseudonyms and start the parasitism process of moving their client’s money into their pockets in a brutalistic, aggressively-latched-on state of charlatan symbiosis.

A Portrait Of Wolves & Charlatanism

An Appetite For Destruction & Falsified Resumés w/ One Goal: Take All Positions; Move Their Money Into Your Pockets

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

The startling juxtaposition of these massively-paradoxical lifestyles, ruthlessness with which the Marxist proletariat seize the proverbial bourgeoise’s assets, and consistent cons by almost everyone in the film’s canvas coalesce into a film packing a lot of crucial sociological, psychological, and philosophical questions about our current civilizational predicament. How broken is our system such that some have so much money, they don’t even know what to do with it: their only concerns being impromptu-garden parties for rich socialite housewives to show off to their friends – while others willing to take any work they can find have to beg, borrow, and steal to even secure enough to food to feed their families? Is there ever a situation where it’s ethically-acceptable to thieve or siphon what isn’t technically-yours? Do those you’re taking from feel the same way? Is it really stealing if you’re providing them a service too? Are white lies justifiable? Does stepping over others to take their jobs – even if for survival reasons – make you a bigger monster than the system you blame for inequities? Does the power of money or comfort change you as a person – make you ‘nicer because you have it’ or oblivious to the suffering around you because it no longer affects you? What is the symbolic value of currency – whether it’s money in human society or strength/natural resources in environmental ones, parasitic organisms are omnipresent to sponge off someone else; what does that say about our ecosystem and evolutionary hierarchy? Finally, if everyone’s running their own cons, from housekeepers to tutors, to survive in this concrete jungle – what does that say about the morality-norm of our modern society?

Bong Joon-ho

A Master Auteur & Surgically-Detailed Directorial Force In Full Control Of His Craft

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

Parasite is like every classic morality/ethical dilemma you’ve ever heard, combined and on *steroids* – a philosophical and existential discourse as depth-filled and thought-provoking as anything you’ve seen in cinemas in the 2010’s. Bong Joon-ho is the man of the hour responsible for bringing this veritable symphony of intellectualism to life – through his brilliant self-written screenplay, storytelling prowess, and directorial virtuosity displaying masterful, surgical attention to detail and pedigreed control of a filmmaker in full control of his craft. This off-the-rails class-warfare film literally defies genre categorization, blending everything from home invasion thrills to black comedy to class satire to Hitchcockian horror to family drama for a strikingly-entertaining 2 hours of the movies. Also managed to be fit in is some of the most philosophically & sociologically-heavy ideas and themes to grace a film this decade – in case all that wasn’t enough in this one-of-a-king piece of filmmaking. Even more curious though, the wild complexity and richness of depth of the multi-layered screenplay and storyline are sharply juxtaposed by a simplistic, less-is-more, elegant visual accompaniment & flamboyant orchestral package.

Themes In Parasite

The Startling Juxtaposition Of Lifestyles, Brilliant Socioeconomic Classism Discourse, & Philosophically-Complex Moral Questions

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

Parasite’s orchestral & cinematographical pairings charm with simplicity and voyeuristic stylism. The cinematic translation of this Grand Canyon-sized class divide is accomplished first and foremost rhythmically and sensorily by Hong Gyeong-Pyo’s crisp, classically-Asian, parabolic cinematography. First and foremost is the difference between sunlight-levels: the almost deprivation of it in the basements of South Korea topographically against the natural light-bursting, open-space, wide-windowed opulence of it in the Park’s mansion used as a metaphorical prism to contrast the dark, grimy underworld of poverty with the bright, happy, aspirational and heaven-like one of wealth. The eye-level and seismographic difference is noteworthy too, with the poor being at a physically-lower altitude and eye-level having to watch grisly sites like fumigation, garbage trucks, and a drunk man pissing on the street, while the rich get to enjoy an entire forest of peace, privacy, and seclusion above the problems that plague those less fortunate down below like they don’t even exist or matter to them. Rain is also utilized interestingly, in the Park’s house being almost a romantic experience still light and gentle enough for kids to go camping outside in, while the Kim’s house gets flooded with bludgeoning force that’s almost punishment-like by an angry deity – and water mixed with sewage for an added layer of dramatic discongruity representationally. Gyeong-Pyo’s innovative traversal of technique utilizing everything from overheads to tracking shots cycled through with seamless finesse in bringing these shots to life is echoed by clean-cut shots that exemplify classically-Asian themes of orderliness, geometrical symmetry, and sterility (especially in the Park’s house) for one of the most peculiar and fascinating visual sets of the year.

The Score

A Composed, Classic Asian Cinematography Balance & Flamboyancy In Bombastic, Emotive, Suspenseful Jae-il Orchestral Score

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

The composed, muted style of its visuals is anything but the style Jung Jae-il chooses for the orchestral one – with bombastic, flamboyant, emotional score sequences in classical music motifs highlighting old-wealth elegance & adding a dramatic flair to the film. This all dots the landscape as it churns from one moment to the next in a violent, volatile mix of unpredictability in storytelling – switching gears like clockwork between as it goes from a comparaitively-light character study to open, into Hitchcockian-suspense and blackmail/home invasion thriller to mid, to veritable horror and Greek tragedy in the finale at the garden party open to speculative interpretation as well: why father Kim did what he did (perhaps socialite-jealous or fed up with the condescension), the ambition of a young Ki-woo planning out ways to get rich even against the nihilistic prophecies of his father, and futility of aspiration by a fate often unconcerned with fairness if you’re poor – setting up intricate mouse-traps those in poverty often can’t get out from.

The Performances

Game-Changing Diversity Potential & Top-Tier Performances That Need Recognition

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

The performances in Bong Joon Ho’s tour-de-force are absolutely *sensational* – begging to question why foreign actors like these are rarely, if ever, heard of before (& after) these breakout performances. Ash is Purest White, Birds Of Passage, Tigers Are Not Afraid, Roma; it seems like every single year, the best films coming out are nearly-all ‘international’.. yet get glossed over as ‘foreign’ and almost-lesser by Hollywood and worldwide audiences like the Kims sociologically in this film. Choi woo-shik is show-stealing as lead Ki-woo, Park so-dam is femme fatale-ish as the sneaky con artist Ki-jung (complete with a ‘Jessica, only child, Illinois, Chicago’ moment that should become iconic), Cho Yeo-jung plays a perfect gullible housewife Yeon-kyo, Lee jyeong-eun’s Moon-gwang is a soothing presence who gets fired up when she figures out the Kims’ con, etc. As an Asian myself writing this, Parasite can – and hopefully will – be the film that breaks through the barrier placed on international film in anything but international categories, making history with a clean sweep of the Oscars and deafening awards-resumé that would have to start turning the right heads that there is just as much filmmaking talent outside of 90210 as inside it.

Flaws

A Canvas Of Nitpicks Too Minutiae To Take Seriously; A Masterclass Of Filmmaking

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

The only flaws I can even think of in Parasite are a few paltry plot points that could’ve been a bit better thought-out. There’s no conceivable way the Park parents wouldn’t have been able to see the Kims chilling mere feet away from them under their living room table. Why did not a single person step in to help take down the madman with a knife at kid Da-song’s party? Etc. These are, of course, castigatory nitpicks that are almost heretic to consider seriously in what’s otherwise a near-PERFECT masterpiece that’s the best film of the year – and, likely, the decade.

Conclusion

The Best Film The 2010’s

A Masterpiece Of Sociological Classism Themes, Parabolic Cinematography, Genre-Mixes, Cultural Spotlight, & Elegiac Tragedy

Photo Courtesy Of: NEON x Universal

Overall, Parasite is the best film of 2019. It might be the best film of the decade. What starts as a clear-cut character study and class warfare-flick morphs suddenly without warning into a magic trick that breaks the rules and creative boxes of classical cinema, bursts with philosophically-complex questions foundational to the core of humanity and civilization, and could innovate the industry entirely opening up Hollywood spotlight and resources to zipcodes and colors outside of 90210 and its demographics. A masterpiece of socioeconomic classism discourse, parabolic cinematography, home invasion thrills, black comedy, poverty dreams, cultural themes, & elegiac tale that defies categorization & perplexes long after the credits roll, Bong Joon-Ho’s South Korean allegorical thriller ‘Parasite’ is mythic cinema by a filmmaker in complete control of his craft and the best film of the 2010’s.

Official CLC Score: 9.8/10