‘Parasite’ is Bong Joon-ho’s Best to Date, Richly Layered with Metaphor and Socio-Political Satire

People will tell you that Parasite is best if you dive in with no knowledge whatsoever of the story. Respectfully, I disagree. If you’re familiar with Bong Joon-ho’s more mainstream oeuvre such as The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013), and Okja (2017), you’d probably expect this to be an action-packed sci-fi flick –– even the title of “Parasite” suggests a gruesome creature feature. Instead, Bong keeps the satirical elements of his previous work while simultaneously ensuring the constantly-shifting-but-mostly dark tone stays consistently grounded, making his latest feature feel more akin to his Korean-language crime-drama Mother (2009) than anything else he’s made before. The one aspect every single one of Bong’s films have in common? An incisive injection of spot-on socio-political commentary. And this is his sharpest yet. 

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Review: A Star is Re-Born with Brad Pitt’s Stellar Performance in Cosmo-Drama ‘Ad Astra’

For the second time this year, Brad Pitt has delivered a film that shatters audience expectations. Some went into Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood expecting a flashy, vengeful bloodbath. Instead, they received a hazy hang-out film, only slightly blood-spattered. Some will go into James Gray’s  BrAd Astra expecting an action-packed cosmic thriller filled with high-speed moon buggy chases and laser blaster fights. Instead, they’ll receive a languid character study centered on Roy McBride (Pitt), a top-level Sad Astra-naut who desperately needs to go to therapy. 

Rather, McBride’s superiors opt to send him to space on a deeply emotional mission to make contact with his estranged Dad Astra (Tommy Lee Jones), further destabilizing his already shaky mental state. As they explain to him the possibility of his father’s survival, his entire posture almost imperceptibly changes. His eyes twitch with the effort of repressing his true emotions, and his chest rises and falls with a newfound velocity, indicating that his static pulse that famously never goes above 80 bpm is pounding away underneath the polished layers of his military uniform. 

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MUBI Review: ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ and Surrealist Commentary

As of today, the Amazon Rainforest is on fire, fascist rhetoric seems normalized, and I’m seeing videos of protestors across the seas and in my own country being beaten and oppressed. The world is unfair, cruel, and traumatic; and we are left to figure it out. It is especially infuriating when it seems those with the power to change the world turn a deaf ear to those fighting for justice.

Of course, this push and pull between the haves and have nots is nothing new. Often, analyzing how others have spoken out against injustice puts our anger in a comforting context. Luis Buñel had many of the frustrations that we have today, albeit in a different situation to say the least. In a strange twist of fate and fortune, we have the luxury to analyze his surrealist commentary in one of the seminal works of his career, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise. 

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Review: “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is As Scattered As its Protagonist

A new Richard Linklater comedy starring Cate Blanchett as an agoraphobic misanthrope architect who runs away to the Arctic to attempt reconnecting with her own creativity sounds like a fantasy. While the end result definitely isn’t a nightmare, it is reminiscent of a listless and languid dream, one that you forget a few moments after you wake up.

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‘Consequences’: On Gay Loneliness and the Spectacle of Hyper-Masculinity

Slovenia’s first LGBTQ-themed film, Consequences (or Posledice, 2018), is an arresting portrayal of what happens when institutional and judicial structures fail young gay men. The debut film by director Darko Štante asks: if men haphazardly placed in youth detention centers do not receive adequate support, what happens to the gay men in it? How do failing political structures further marginalise gay men, and leave them twice-removed from society?

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The End of the World is a Delight in ‘Good Omens’

Let’s talk about God. Or, rather, the Voice of God.

The Voice of God is the first thing we hear in the delightful Amazon and BBC series Good Omens. Played by the great Frances McDormand, the Voice of God creates the impression of a warm, lighthearted higher power who is also utterly unpredictable.

Within just a few seconds of knowing her, McDormand’s God lets us know exactly what we’re in for. Good Omens is set at the brink of Armageddon — the coming of the Antichrist, the ride of the Four Horsemen, the great war between Heaven and Hell, etcetera, etcetera — and the fate of an oblivious humankind hangs in the balance. But God at least has a fantastic sense of humor about it all, which we could stand to learn a thing or two from.

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‘Hard Paint’ and the Tenderness of Gay Love

“Is this paint the kind that shines in the dark? Do you have someone who makes you happy? Someone who makes you shine like paint?

While an unflinching look at the plight of LGBTQ Brazilians up to this day, Hard Paint (or Tinta Bruta, 2018) is a sweepingly tender portrayal of gay love. Directed by Brazilian writer-director pair Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, the film astutely illuminates the realities of poverty, sex work, and gay loneliness amidst the backdrop of rising homophobic violence against Brazilian LGBTQ people. 

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