“Parasite”: Scenes from the Class Struggle in South Korea


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Truth is in the ear of the believer.

From Bong Joon-Ho, the director of The Host, Snowpiercer, and Okja, a movie with a name like Parasite implies sooner or later there’ll be a monster and bloodletting and bigger, badder, wilder, all-out, off-the-wall, jaw-dropping pandemonium, because moviegoers expect escalation. Several words in that sentence come true and thus is the prophecy fulfilled, but with Joon-Ho it’s best never to think we can expect the unexpected. What most of us think of as “unexpected” is actually very expected because we think along a select number of unconsciously rigid tracks. We clench Occam’s Razor between our fingers and use it to sketch our predictions, drawn from among the most common forms of what average storytellers consider “unexpected” rather than unimaginable forms of unexpected. Preconceptions are a drag even when we think we don’t have any.

Parasite tinkers with quite a few of them. Among the most common and beloved in many a Hollywood tales of late: “Poor = good. Rich = bad.” As us-vs.-them conformist mentalities go, “rich vs. poor” has become among the most exploited. If that’s among your favorite simplistic conflicts, I’m pretty sure Hustlers is still playing in a multiplex near you. Go have fun!

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“Snowpiercer”: No Saints After the Apocalypse


“Marvel Team-Up” presents Captain America and the War Doctor in Snowpiercer.

Sure, a bleak Korean sci-fi film based on a French graphic novel, delayed for months while studio heads squabbled over whether or not to delete nearly 20% of it before letting Americans see it, doesn’t sound like the perfect star vehicle for Chris Evans, cinematic hero of this summer’s Captain America: the Winter Soldier. It’s certainly not a vote of confidence that the Weinstein Company compromised by leaving it intact but downgraded to a limited-release run with minimal advertising. In the hands of an unkinder corporation, Snowpiercer could’ve found itself sentenced with immediate relegation to the Walmart $5 DVD bin.

Thanks to exactly one theater in all of Indianapolis, last weekend I had the chance to witness one of the darkest, riskiest, most thought-provoking spectacles of the year. Considering the competition is mostly sequels, I’ll admit that’s not saying much.

– All aboard for the Trip to Bountiless…->

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