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Parasite

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When he accepted the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, director Bong Joon Ho urged audiences to seek out films not in their native language. He could not be more right, because Bong’s Parasite is a wickedly inventive drama of deceit, family and social stratification that absolutely must be seen. Don’t ponder this, don’t wait for details, just see it. The less you know about this film, the better it will be for you. In brief, the film is funny in its situations that veer from the outrageous to the absurd to the witty. It is also scary in its portrayal of poverty and privilege and contains moments of gory violence. Amazingly, it is often scary and funny at the same time, causing the viewer to laugh and recoil all at once. It is also ingenious in its portrayal of families and in its scathing social commentary, making it a superb satire of contemporary South Korea. But it does not feel culturally specific as the concerns, characters, jokes and commentary could be applied to any modern city and society. The performances are all superb, from Kant-ho Song to Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo to Woo-sic Choi, while Ha-jun Lee’s production design ensures that the house where most of the action takes place is also a character in the film. Director of photography Kyung-pyo Hong shifts between deep and shallow focus, often capturing events accorded multiple planes of action so the viewer must always be alert. Most impressively, co-writer and director Bong balances the different tones of the film as superbly as he did with Snowpiercer and The Host, handling shifts from dark comedy to nerve-shredding tension, from warm family drama to absurdist social satire with a deftly light touch. To say more about Parasite would be to spoil it, so the simple review is to reiterate that it must be seen.

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