Black Swan (2010)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The Machinist (2004)
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Of the new films (2019>) I've watched the only film I gave a '10' was Parasite (2019) [1917 (2019) was very close]. My review of Parasite is here. https://www.imdb.com/review/rw5413566/
I rarely give a '10'. I'm very new to IMDB but I'm, what's the right word ... oh yes, it's 'old'. So, I'm getting all my film ratings up on IMDB now. Of the 1,783 I've put up so far (still lots to go), only 35 have achieved a '10'. Plus, it seems they're getting rarer for me. Parasite was only the second film in 2010s to get a '10' ... the only other being Inception (2010).
**** WARNING SPOILERS****
Smells like Poor Spirit:
For reviewers, universally-acclaimed and awards-sweeping movies call for immediate viewings and reactions, whether along the enthusiastic stream, or the other way (the eagerness to express a dislike being even greater). With Boon Jong Ho’s “Parasite”, I wanted to write a review as soon as I finished it.
But I was puzzled by that bloody climax. The last South Korean masterpiece I saw was “Old Boy” and if I was riveted by the story, the violence disturbed me no matter was relevant to the plot it was. Now, I didn’t expect that film that started like a fun comedy of errors leaning toward screwball to generate such a hyperbolic outburst of violence. It wasn’t even black comedy but straight out drama. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I wasn’t sure I hated it either. I guess I had to sleep on it and figure out what Boon Jong Ho was telling us. So, here’s my personal take, and apologies if I don’t mention the actors’ names, with the exception of the father played by Song Kang Ho.
First of all, this is not a spoiler-free review, which allows me to get right to the point.
Having digested the film now, I realized that Boon Jong Ho didn’t make a comedy at all, which makes senses. I don’t think the film would have won the Golden Palm or the Best Picture or all these awards if it was a cute comedy of a family of con-artists. Of course, the film Is encrusted with many humorous bits but so was Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”, a film less celebrated for its humor than its sharp blow against white liberals. Retrospectively, I find it obvious that the director and screenwriter was preparing us to a fatal clash between the classes, but I didn’t expect it the catalyst, and film’s leitmotif, to be something as trivial as “smell”. You read me.
There are three key scenes in my opinion that build up to the final rage that will lead the father to kill his boss, despite the total absence of enmity between them.
1/ “They have the same smell”: we’ve come to the comical momentum where every member of the “poor” family got a job in the rich property. They’re all fitting in the family, appreciated for their work and yet it’s the little kid who smells something ‘fishy’ in the way that they all smell the same. Bong Joon Ho doesn’t treat it as the hint that there’s something fishy about them (which a lesser director would do) but that they live in the same ramshackle house with all the street and fried onions stink sticking to their clothes. They smell because they smell like poor people. The smell symbolically blows their cover.
2/ The hidden-under-the-table scene: what could have been used as a slapstick moment gives more depth to two key characters: the fathers. Laying on the sofa, snuggling with his wife and watching his son outside in the teepee, the rich father compliments his driver’s work but laments about his terrible smell. Notice that the comment is paralleled with another one about him knowing how to stay in his place. Also notice the father’s reaction, he realizes that he’s not just a man or a valuable employee, he’s got the smell in the package of appreciation. Notice that the comment is said in secrecy during an intimate moment because in real-life, we never tell anyone about his smell, only a child can be that careless. But the father’s comment resonated like an indisputable verdict, one that reduced the father (and automatically his family) to their poor and stinky background, like the untouchables in India. Speaking of India, the scene is followed by a huge flood in the lowers streets... that feature the third key scene.
3/ One last cigarette: while everyone is trying to save whatever valuable hasn’t been taken by the waters, the daughter rushes to the toilet where huge sewage cascades are propelled from the bowl, spilling all over her body. Without minding the foulness, she just sits down and savors one last cigarette. We realize how familiar to the low depths these people are, that smelling anything is barely an issue. They don’t like it, they just don’t have the luxury of caring, but from the rich ones’ perspectives, people who don’t mind the stink, stink physically, and then symbolically.
So, no matter how friendly the relationships are, they clash each other on that iron curtain made of streets, sewage, gasoil or cooking fragrances and bourgeois hypocrisy. Which all naturally leads up to that moment where having just seen his daughter stabbed to death, the father must give the car keys to his boss to take his boy to emergency. The keys lay under a dead man’s body and the rich father is repulsed by his smell; one time too many. The poor father who should be angry toward that man who took his daughter’s life, directs instead his anger toward his boss, tracing an ironic line of solidarity with the killer... because he knew the hardship he went through in that bunker and the respect he showed to the house master only to be reduced to a smell, him too.
If there’s one movie that shows in powerful symbolism the battle of classes, it’s “Parasite” and the mood whiplash at the final act was like the detonation of a talent. Boon Jong Ho proves that Asian cinema is one to rely on, an Art that tells inventive stories and make them insightful and relevant and entertaining. It also reminded me of my criticism of former Asian Golden Palm winner “The Eel”, where I wished the film left the bloody scene as a climactic flashback. Blood is a big narrative expense and should be left to the right moment to implode its meaningful or cathartic power.
I was puzzled first but once I got that leitmotif, I could see the genius.
Flight to Mars (1951), 1/10. 9/10 Rifftrax commentary track.
What are your favorite sources for food porn?
Here's a(n almost) feature-length set from Bon Apettit's Claire Saffitz and Brad Leone.
Brad and Claire Make [Sourdough] Doughnuts
And this is a milestone review for me because with it, I finally get my first Top 250 Badge, the one of 2008. I'm enjoying the moment.
Since I only rate what I review, it took me 10 years to complete a full Top 250 list and 2008 was the most accessible, not surprising since 8 is my fetish number, 1619 (the number of the review) isn't that special a number except that it's the 256th prime number and 256 is 2 to the power of 8, like 2008.
Yippee for that first badge...
... and now, let's go back to the confinement, the virus and all that jazz.
Still, a great redeemer for Rian Johnson after Last Jedi.
American Graffiti (7/10)
The Invisible Guest (8/10)
The Garden of Words (8/10)
Kill Bill: Vol.1 (8/10)
Child's Play 2 (4/10)
The Fifth Element (5/10)
Robin Hood (6/10)
Baby's Day out (5/10)
The Game (8/10)
The Descendants (6/10)
Super 8 (6/10)
From Dusk Till Dawn (2/10)
Howards End (8/10)
Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro (7/10)
Escape from Alcatraz (7/10)
True Lies (7/10)
The Woman in the Window (8/10)
Uncute Gems (6/10)
District 9 (7/10)
Some Like It Hot (8/10)
Frozen II (6/10)
Moonrise Kindom (8/10)
BEST MOVIE: The Game
WORST MOVIE: From Dusk Till Dawn