Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 10/11/19

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CREDIT: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
The Addams Family (Theatrically Nationwide) – Probably no MC Hammer, though.
Jexi (Theatrically Nationwide) – Rose Byrne has made me laugh in the past.
Parasite (Limited Theatrically)

TV
Arrow Season 8 Premiere (October 15 on The CW) – Final season alert!

With ‘Parasite,’ Bong Joon-ho Weaves Together an Explosively Satirical Meeting of the Haves and Have-Nots

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CREDIT: NEON/CJ Entertainment

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyun-joon, Lee Jung-eun, Park Myung-hoon, Park Seo-joon

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Running Time: 132 Minutes

Rating: R for Language, Bruising Brawls, and Surprising, Surreptitious Sex

Release Date: October 11, 2019 (Limited)

When I see movies in the theater, I unfortunately find myself nodding off more often than I’d like to. I suppose it has something to do with the combination of the darkened setting and the sluggishness that comes with (as is often the case) having just eaten a meal. It gets even worse with foreign films, as hearing people talk in another language is a natural lullaby and also because my brain has to do the extra work of reading the subtitles. That’s especially bad news, because I usually need to devote more mental energy to foreign films to keep straight in my head all the actors that I’m unfamiliar with. So as I was nodding off a half hour into Parasite, I was so worried that I would miss essential information. But then, miraculously, my bout with Mr. Sandman ended at the perfect time, right as the major twist was about to re-establish everything. This is the latest from Bong Joon-ho, and on the basis of his earlier films like Snowpiercer and Okja, I was primed for Parasite to eventually reveal more ambitions than its modest beginnings. I never could have guessed just how right I was.

We meet the Kim family of four living in a ridiculously shabby semi-basement apartment where they have to deal with a wealth of indignities that would be depressing if they weren’t so comical (like a hooligan who keeps urinating on the road outside their window). They’re all struggling to get any work better than folding a bunch of pizza boxes as fast as humanly possible, but then a bit of luck allows Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) to get a job tutoring the teenage daughter of the wealthy Park family, though he does have to fudge his credentials a bit. He’s then able to land his sister Ki-jung (Park So-dam) a gig teaching art to the Park’s young son. Pressing forward, the Kim siblings next scheme to get the Park’s driver and housekeeper fired so that their father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and mother Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin) can take over in those positions. And all this time, the Parks never realize that they’re now employing the entire Kim family.

It seems that the Kims have pulled off their little scam flawlessly, but what was the purpose of it exactly? They do not seem to have any intention of robbing the Parks, but rather, the relative security of a set of service jobs is the end goal. (It makes you wonder, if infamous fraudster Frank Abagnale were a young man today, would Catch Me If You Can have been about him forging his credentials to secure lower-paying jobs like housekeeping and food delivery?) When Chung-sook is tasked with house-sitting as the Parks head out for some overnight camping, the Kims use the opportunity for the fanciest (but also sloppiest) night of drinking they’ve probably ever had, and it’s almost charming how much more they could be taking advantage of their employers. But it turns out that they’ve already pushed things too far, as the old housekeeper (Lee Jung-eun) shows up at the front door that night to ask the Kims for a little favor.

At this point, Parasite reveals itself to be the latest of Bong’s teardowns of modern capitalism, as a major secret reveals what, and who, society buries and pushes aside to prop up its pockets of wealth. Bong has been consistently interested in exploring what happens when people are pushed to the brink and stowed away from the levers of power. Parasite presents that arrangement about as literally as possible. When the hidden contents are unleashed, they spill out to create an unclassifiable mix of satire, chaotic action, and poignant melancholy. This is fascinatingly revealing cinema that won’t soon be forgotten by anyone lucky enough to see it.

Parasite is Recommended If You Like: Movies that resemble Russian nesting dolls

Grade: 4.5 out of 5 Falsified Credentials