Parasite ★★★½

Dulled a tad by Burning, no? - obviously in the particulars of the inequality battle (rich people shielded from a North Korean strike is a laminate that’s largely missing from the global conundrum, immediately conjuring images of Jong-su’s home that’s shouting distance from the demilitarized zone), but also in the way that both films complicate the necessitous side - by making them con-artists or delusional masculine protectors, and by keeping the wealthy so composed that it’s all perhaps a fantasy of agitation - a realization that no amount of cover will ever help you belong. Unmistakably the same cinematographer too, the shots in Steve Yeun’s condo, the gold overlay of shelves and cases, the new-age architecture, and the sinewy movements all quite similar. Of course the dividing line is dark-comedy versus serial-killer mystery, my preference for the latter, with Bong’s first hour set-up playing like an equally implausible Ocean’s Eleven plot. Goofballs seemingly transform themselves overnight, professional specialization assumed with zero pushback. Still, I find this to be a relevant fable with varying degrees of wit: Song Kang-ho ending up in a new basement that’s still a vertical climb (there’s phone service and consistent plumbing, hence the resistance of the prior man’s removal) was strong; the idea that the working class will cannibalize each other because they have no plan, unaccustomed to fleeting bits of luxury, was a little blunt. What I can’t deny is the pinpoint direction of that second act, which is mainstream crackerjack entertainment done right, every single movement blocked within an inch of its life. Less of a tonal blend than Bong’s other pictures, instead strictly alternating comedy and armrest digging suspense for all 45-minutes of that masterful middle section, plus the best Tarantino ending this year (now I see why they are friends). Certainly a return to form if you share my minority opinion that Bong’s last two English language pictures aren’t very good.

Eugene liked this review