A brilliant opening shot from the basement of the Kim’s semi-sunk apartment (with drying socks as their chandelier). It ends on the same note — spectacular formal bookends (for a second I thought we were going with an unearned Spielbergian Minority Report-like ending (Bong’s penultimate shot which is another stunner just before the final shot) but thank god Bong didn’t go for that). That shot is a dream, lighting coming in, and then we end with the second shot below here- the cold winter through their depressing sunken apartment window.
Two families, two houses (fantastic set pieces) and the different literal and metaphorical level in the house and the city (half-sunken apartment, the hidden basement apartment, the mansion on higher elevation than the rest of Seoul (as we see during the flood sequence– 92 minutes rain and run back to house. Stairs down in long shot –Biblical flood)) are all a part of the narrative but of course is Bong’s social statement as well. This class statement and the family as a unit (important to Bong in his body of work) is all Bong. He makes a similar statement in Snowpiercer of course with the different classes in the carts and what keeps the train going (much like the title here literally living off the classes). Like all great auteur cinema, Parasite works a supreme stand-alone film, but also deepens and enriches Bong’s previous films
I don’t know how you write a review of Parasite without mentioning Bunuel. Parasite has the best of Bunuel- there’s The Exterminating Angel and The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie here. Bong, like Bunuel, takes a flamethrower to the bourgeoisie but Bong’s Parasite is more complex than Bunuel’s middle-finger cinema as the Kim family also holds on for dear life to their new-found social standing when the previous housekeeper and her husband threaten it.
The depiction of the Park family is dark. Their sex scene together pretending to be on drugs and lower class is revolting and could be right from Bunuel. This is also yet another scene where the Parks are both physically and socially above the Kim family (the Kim family is hiding underneath their furniture).
Open discussion of the thesis, the rich, creditors and debtors. This isn’t subtle- it’ll be interesting to see how critics compare it with Joker as they have much in common frankly.
This is bleak but never punishing—it’s an incredibly easy 132 minutes
Like The Shining, Bong has weaved the Native Americans here as a symbol of oppression
the first 53 minutes are really The Sting (broadly of course)- an eleborate and entertaining heist game with social class context
Class also plays a part in 2018’s Burning from Lee Chang-dong (both use cinematography Kyung-pyo Hong). Lee Chang-dong and Bong are the Godard and Truffaut of the South Korean New Wave here over the last 20 years. After one viewing of Parasite I think Burning is the slightly superior work. There’s nothing here like the finale climax of Burning in terms of pure filmmaking or the jaw-dropping long-take Jong-seo Jun’s character stripping and dancing desolately in the magic-hour dusk
Von Trier’s Dogville is another film that I think is an apt comparison, some of the work of Pasolini, and definitely Peele’s Us, and Get Out
A key shot is the views from the windows of the two residences again. The Park family has a pristine paradise. The Kim family is literally getting pissed on by drunks who stumble around a half-level above. The two houses are important set pieces, but the windows (both have prominent windows) specifically– masterful
Bong continues to be a master of blending genres. This film is a satire, and a wildly successful one, but there are elements of real connection (the two Kim men lying next to each other talking about their dreams), moments of an elevated drama, and there well executed moments of a visceral thriller as well — think of the comic moments in Joe Pesci in Goodfellas or even the recent example of Adam Driver doing slapstick in the scene with the case worker in Marriage Story. Bong does it so well here.
there are multiple rewarding levels and layers to the film– both text and subtext– the stick bugs (not something I remember from the first viewing), “Crossing the line”, the landscape stone and it’s significance, “so metaphorical”- haha
the voice over at 116 is really the coda and switching to the letter written. I think it is fine formally.
feels like it is at least a Must-See film– perhaps a MS/MP or even a MP with a third viewing.