Parasite Movie, Explained – What to Know About Bong Joon-Ho’s Film

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  • Parasite won Best Foreign Film at the 77th Golden Globes on Sunday, January.
  • Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, it’s expected to be a major contender at this year’s Academy Awards.
  • It just might be the best movie to come out this year.

    After his latest movie, Parasite, took home the 2020 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, director Bong Joon-Ho relayed a message that a lot of viewers have certainly heard at least a few times before: read more.

    No, the director of one of 2019’s most acclaimed films (currently sitting at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes) wasn’t suggesting audiences get off the line of their local movie theater on a Friday night, but rather that they expand their set of cinematic options to include not online films made in their native tongue, but films of all languages. “Once you overcome the one inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” he said through his translator.

    Really, it’s not that much of an ask. Think about it. If you’re willing to watch Star Wars (Last month’s Rise of Skywalker is up to $900 million, so…), where lines are frequently subtitled and spoken in fictional languages (Huttese!), you’ve got literally no excuse. Take this as an opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture that values film just as much as we do.

    Still, excuses aside, Parasite is a movie that’s worth your time; not only did it have a major moment at the Golden Globes, but it’s expected to be a major player at this year’s Oscars (nominations for this year’s ceremony will be unveiled next Monday, January 13). But until then, here’s exactly why you should give Parasite the 132 minutes it’s asking for.

    First, what is Parasite about?

    The Parasite movie focuses on a low-income family looking for different ways to get by each month. When a scenario presents itself that allows the family a bit of stability, it puts them and some of their contemporaries in a situation that will alter lives forever.

    Who’s in the Parasite cast?

    parasite song kang-ho 


    Even for the most subtitle-averse moviegoer, it’s near impossible to ignore the quality of the performances in Parasite. South Korean actors Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, So-dam Park, Jeong-eun Lee, and Hye-jin Jang are all parts of the movie’s excellent ensemble cast, but the true standout is Song Kang-ho, who plays the family’s patriarch.

    Parasite marks Song’s fourth appearance in a film directed by Bong; most recently, he shined when sharing the screen with Chris Evans in the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer (which, we should add, is currently available on Netflix and also stars Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer). If Bong’s closest parallel is a director like Jordan Peele, Song’s would be some combination of actors Russell Crowe and Christian Bale; an amazing, intense performer just as willing to take an unglamorous role as a heroic one.

    Where can I watch Parasite?

    I got to see Parasite a pair of times in theaters; the first time, I went in knowing actually zero of what the movie was all about. I had heard that the movie was exceptional, and seen some headlines and/or Tweets about how the movie compared to another visually-striking and stunningly-written 2019 film that made audiences think: Jordan Peele’s Us. From the opening moments of the film, when the title card hits the screen, accompanied by Jung Jaeil’s score, you’ll be compelled and transported to the all-too-real world of Bong’s Parasite.

    There’s more good news, too: even after you’ve taken the Parasite ride once, there’s major rewatchability; things will click on repeated viewings that you never would’ve noticed the first time around. Everything in the movie is done deliberately—that much is clear.

    Parasite is still in theaters, so check your local listings to try to find it. The movie isn’t available to stream at home just yet, but Amazon Prime has a page where you can pre-order the movie; it’ll be available to buy first, and rent after that.

    Pre-order Parasite Here

    Why should I care about Parasite?

    Well, if you clicked on this story, obviously that means you’re at least a little bit curious, and it probably means you’re a fan of good movies. Thusly, my main thesis: Parasite is an extremely good movie. If you haven’t seen any movies by director Bong before (after Snowpiercer, he directed 2017’s Okja, with Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhaal), it’s important to share that he’s a filmmaker who exists entirely in his own silo; his movies a style entirely of his own making.

    If you had to compare the style of Parasite, though, the best comparison would probably be to Peele (Get Out, Us) or, in certain ways, The Coen Brothers (some of their darker work like No Country for Old Men or Inside Llewyn Davis). These are movies that not only cover the cinematic bases of stunning visuals, a compelling story, and top-notch acting, but do so while adding a distinct underlying message, and a splash of humor for good measure.

    What are people saying about Parasite?

    People freaking love Parasite. In addition to the overwhelming adulation from both critics and audiences (check out that Rotten Tomatoes score one more time), people on social media looooove this movie. Just look at a few of the recent tweets (and memes):

    Has Parasite won any awards yet?

    Yes! A lot! Not only has Parasite won the award for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, but it’s earned a total of 109 wins and 176 nominations, according to IMDB. Most notable of these is the Palme D’or, which is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s also nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Award, and for Best Screenplay at the Writer’s Guild Awards. All of these seem to indicate a major contender for the upcoming Academy Awards.

    What other movies has Bong Joon-Ho directed?

    Bong has been the hit of awards season thus far, and for good reason. A New York Times story discussed how everyone wants to hang out with Bong, and while Parasite is great, it’s likely that a lot of these fans aren’t new fans.

    His first South Korean feature film, in 2000, was Barking Dogs Don’t Bite, followed by Memories of Murder in 2003, The Host in 2006, and Mother in 2009. In 2013, Bong made his first english-language film, the aforementioned Snowpiercer; Snowpiercer was a runaway hit for Netflix once it hit the streaming service, which led the company to order his next film, 2017’s Okja. That leads us to Parasite, which came out last November. He also directed a segment of Tokyo, a movie made up of three short films (the other two are directed by Holy Motors director Leos Carax, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry).

    You can watch Snowpiercer and Okja on Netflix; Tokyo is available to Amazon Prime members. The rest (other than Memories of Murder) are all available to rent on Amazon Prime video.

    Watch Snowpiercer Here

    Watch Okja Here

    Watch Mother Here

    Watch The Host Here

    Watch Barking Dogs Never Bite Here

    Watch Tokyo Here

    At the end of the day, you know what to do.

    NBC's "77th Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Show

    HandoutGetty Images

    See. Parasite. You won’t regret it.

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