Upstairs Downstairs (Film Thoughts: Parasite)

parasite-french-movie-poster‘Parasite’ won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year so that is enough to make me pay attention to it. I know there are a lot of people who swear by current Korean cinema, but I can’t say I have been exposed to it that much. The film’s director, Bong Joon-hoo has a cult following among cinephiles, but I have not seen any of his earlier movies.

‘Parasite’ defies genre – it’s a comedy kinda, a thriller, kind of, a drama sure, but I also think it has horror elements. The film definitely packs a lot in it, and the story has enough twists and turns to turn one’s head. I have to say that I thought the first half was great social commentary about Korean culture, and halfway through it changes course and the storytelling begins. This is one of those films that will keep you on the edge of your seat, though I thought the ‘climax’ was a bit on the excessive side. But it is a film that will definitely catch your attention, and I even bet people will say that it is unforgettable. It’s not my kind of movie, genre wise, if I have to be honest, and I admire it more than I like it. I can’t see myself wanting to see it again, but then I feel the same way about Schindler’s List. I bet it wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Flame Burns (Film Thoughts: Burning)

burningFilms are there mostly for entertainment. Once in a while, a film leaves me really baffled – in a very good way.  After watching Lee Chang-dong’s ‘Burning,’ I have more questions than answers, and I actually had to read a very long thread on Reddit about it – something I very rarely do – to get some clarification, only for me to be more confused about it.  There are so many scenes in the film, especially, in the beginning that, as you are watching, will not make sense. But Dang-chong put it there for a reason, and each of them form a small piece in a big puzzle, and by the end of the film, you are left to piece it all together. But, really, I have no idea what I just watched, and now I have this, ehem, burning desire to learn. Perhaps that is the real point of the film.

But on surface, the film is kind of a love triangle between Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) Shin Hae-mi (Jun Jong-seo) and Ben (Steven Yuen) Lee and Hae-mi are childhood friends, although it took a while for Lee to remember that. When Hae-mi goes to Africa, she comes back with Ben and we get an emotional tug-of-war between the three. Ben could be a psychopath who takes Hae-mi under his wing, and afterwards may be responsible for her disappearance. We don’t really know and part of the mystery here is looking for all the signs that point to some kind of conclusion for the viewer. I wish I could say that I have successfully put everything together, but I have not. Based on all the online discussion about the film, I think I have barely scratched the surface. But one thing is for sure, though: I have not stopped thinking about the film, its characters, and I am craving for some kind of resolution. I think this is an indication of how brilliant the film is. It makes you think and ponder.