It’s difficult to categorize any film by Parasite’s director, Bong Joon-ho; the Oscar-winning filmmaker excels at making movies that explode boundaries. His darkly comedic monster films, like The Host and Okja, double as biting social commentaries, often aiming barbs at inequality in his native South Korea. Parasite returns to those themes with superb control. It’s a bleakly comic film about two families, one wealthy and one not-so-wealthy, and a caustic tale of class conflict. (At times, it plays like a dark inversion of 2018’s Shoplifters.)
Bong is working at the top of his game here, constructing with his cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo a world where drastic shifts inside houses signify not just changing living conditions but the interior state of the inhabitants. Everything on these characters’ insides shows up outside, too — and that may be why their world is in chaos.
At Cannes in 2019, Parasite won Bong the Palme d’Or in a unanimous decision by the jury, becoming the first Korean film to take home the festival’s top prize. And this past February, it made history again by becoming both South Korea’s first Oscar winner and the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture in the history of the awards.
Want to read more about Parasite? We have you very, very covered:
- Here’s my review of the film.
- Before Parasite won an Oscar, I talked with Vox writers Alex Abad-Santos and Dylan Matthews about why we thought it should win.
- Alex also wrote about the shameful shut-out of the Parasite cast from acting nominations, and what it signifies about the Academy’s attitude toward Asian actors.
- But it did win the biggest prize!
- After it won Best Picture, I wrote about why I didn’t think it could — and why that win was so significant.
- That piece stirred a bit of a tempest on Twitter about whether or not Americans’ dislike of subtitles was universal, and whether subtitles or dubbing are better, so Vox reporter Aja Romano wrote about that debate — which extends far before Parasite.
- I also took a look back at one of Bong’s earlier films, The Host, in which many of the same themes as Parasite pop up.
- Vox reporter Alex Ward wrote about what Parasite says about Korean culture.
- Vox contributor Eric Margolis wrote about how Parasite’s win was forcing a reckoning in the Japanese film industry.
One Good Thing is Vox’s recommendations feature. In each edition, find one more thing from the world of culture that we highly recommend.