Parasite

Parasite ★★★★★

Did one of those communal outdoors experiences, where we all sat on blankets on the grass (social distancing, of course), and the movie was projected on the screen. It's been forever since I've done one of those, and I gotta say, I was surprised how clear and immersive the film still was despite being shown on a screen that sometimes wrinkled and fluttered.

It's a coincidence that we rewatched this thing so soon after the embarrassing, impotent 2021 Oscars ceremony, which somehow managed to pick a really good film for best picture - Chloé Zhao's transcendent Nomadland - and still usurp itself by saving Best Actor for last, and then giving it to an actor who couldn't even be bothered to show up (which, honestly, respect to Anthony Hopkins for recognizing how worthless these silly little awards shows really are). I bring this up because, for people who somehow still care about the Oscars, last year's showing was something of a galvanizing experience; not only was the ceremony relatively free of cringe (I say relatively), but, astonishingly enough, the Best Picture award actually went to the best picture.

I think it really says something that, even more than a year since its surprise victory at the Academy Awards, Parasite has been totally free of those snarky, clickbait "But was it reeeeeeeally that good?" takes, with the general understanding being that, yes, it really was. It's pretty commonplace for there to be backlash against the Best Picture winners, even if the winners were good movies in their own right - Argo springs to mind as a movie I really like, but which got quickly drowned in a deluge of "BUT WHAT ABOUT ---" takes - but somehow, that just hasn't happened to Director Bong's masterpiece.

I remember there being a moment in the runup to the Academy Awards, a tangible moment, where Director Bong made the leap from “well-respected director” and became a bona-fide Savior of Cinema. It was right after Parasite won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language (a win that signaled many more to come, not that we dared to dream it at the time). Director Bong got on the stage, along with his translator Sharon Choi, and proceeded to deliver this iconic quote: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films." Of all the sanctimonious, self-important drivel that actors and movie stars tend to spew at these rich people circle jerks (sorry, "awards shows"), that one quote stands out as maybe the best thing anyone's ever said at an award's show, something that speaks to an actual truth about the state of modern cinema.

And if anyone was gonna say it, it might as well be the guy who made fucking Parasite. Watching it again, I was struck most at the genuinely Hitchcockian style of filmmaking at play, something I didn't dare to comment on in my first review, because c'mon; who makes comparisons to Hitchcock when discussing a new movie? Don't you know that all movies nowadays are basic trash?!? I genuinely didn't allow myself to believe that it'd seen something that good - with that sheer level of classical filmmaking combined with such a layered script - and I sort of tried to convince myself that it was more basic than it was, as if trying to take this wild thing and bring it down to my level.

Fortunately, as the months went by and the thing percolated more in my brain, I settled on the obvious truth; Parasite is a masterpiece, one of the defining movies of the 21st century. Rewatching it in a communal space, it really is startling how much of a hold it has on people; even in this informal setting, people were riveted, and there were several moments - like, double digits - where people audibly gasped. Like, legit gasps, and it didn't break the immersion at all. That's something I hadn't experienced since watching Hitchcock with people, and the moment in Rear Window where the killer looks right down the barrel of the binoculars got everyone in the audience to freak out. This movie is operating on that level, and a couple more beyond. Over a year later, and this thing still holds up in the way that timeless movies tend to do; that puny one-inch barrier is crumbling by the minute.

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