Yes, okay, this is much longer than a "capsule," but most of that is explaining why the review is so short. Bizarre, yes, I know. But still...
Last weekend, I saw a very good, quite interesting movie, but I didn't write about it here because it was a foreign language film in Korean, and I figured that most people wouldn't likely be able to see it -- or want to, in some cases. However, it did win the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or, so I tossed a coin over it. But within the past hour I saw two "Now playing in select cities" TV ads for the film, so obviously the distributor is not only going to give it a domestic release, but also putting some support behind it. And I'm sure it will expand beyond this. You don't put on TV ads in limited cities if you don't plan to build support for it. So...okay, then.
The film is called Parasite. And...well, another reason I didn't write about it is because that's almost all I want to say because there are some major twists and turns to it which I won't give away. And the plot alone doesn't do it justice.
It screened at the Writers Guild, and their write-up said, "Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan." That wasn't enough to interest me, but when I off-handedly mentioned it to a friend who used to participate on the Motion Picture Academy's foreign language film committee until he moved out of town -- but keeps up with such things -- he insisted I had to go because he'd heard how good it is.
And it's very good. Very accessible, nothing esoteric or ethereal. I liked it a lot, though I'm a little surprised it won the Palme d'Or -- though in fairness I don't know the competition. (My friend has seen one of the competitors and said he found that one boring.) I didn't buy everything in it, and don't know if it made its thematic point as strongly as it was trying to -- but it's a really wonderful ride, tells a terrific story and is handled with great panache. What I'll say is that a better description -- without giving anything away -- is that it tells the story of what happens when a very wealthy family and very poor family overlap in an unexpected way, and when you think you see where it's going, it takes a big turn. And then takes other turns.
The problem is what video to embed. All the various trailers, while very good, give a very wrong impression of the movie. They sell it extremely well, but make it look like it's one thing and it's not that. But the thing is, I don't even want to explain why it's not. And it's not that it's "A Mystery!" but rather just goes in unexpected direction and in several ways. (A user comment posted under the Official Trailer says it correctly: "Just watch this movie. Don't search the web for it, don't watch any more trailers or reviews. You need to go in blindly." So, see, it isn't just me!)
So, I'll do this instead, I'm going to post two videos. Neither give a great sense of the movie. But they don't give anything away or give the wrong idea of what the movie is.
This first is a clip of the opening scene. So, there's nothing substantive in it with the plot, but it does set up some of the characters. (At one point, you'll have to click away an ad that appears at the bottom of the screen, since it blocks the subtitles.)
And this other will absolutely give nothing away -- because it's in Korean, and the subtitles aren't in English. It's a behind-the-scenes video of the production design, so what you will get is a sense of the production (which is wonderful) and the range of scenes.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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