Cinematic Treats From Around The Globe
Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Parasite’ tops new releases
Monday, October 28, 2019
It’s all treats and no tricks in theaters as we head toward Halloween. Here's a trio of tasty offerings. In addition to "The Lighthouse" opening this week you can also find Bong Joon Ho's latest film "Parasite" and a historical drama about Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla called "The Current War." Plus you can still catch Pedro Almodovar's "Pain and Glory."
I have avoided watching any trailers or reading any information about Bong Joon Ho's latest film "Parasite" because I wanted to go in not knowing what to expect. I love his films ("The Host," "Mother," "Memories of Murder") and love the way his films defy easy categorization.
With "Parasite" the South Korean master serves up a wildly entertaining yet poignantly complex tale of class and social dynamics. The film surprises at every turn and delivers a riveting piece of cinema full of pathos, allegory, savagery and unexpected hilarity.
As a fan of South Korean cinema I have noted that many of the country's films have a unique complexity that seems to stem from being a country that was divided, with families sometime split up across two countries that see each now as enemies. So many Korean films eschew black and white distinctions and frequently don't have characters that can easily be defined as good or evil.
In the case of "Parasite," we have one rich family and one poor family, neither is perfect, neither is evil. Unlike the rich in the film "Ready or Not" that is literally trying to kill the outsider, the rich family in "Parasite" is mainly guilty of being oblivious to the problems of the lower classes. They view a torrential rain as a lovely cleansing completely unaware that it also means devastating flooding to poor families living in basements.
What distinguishes so many Korean films is their complex humanity. You tend to care for all the characters because they are all flawed in some way and all struggling in some way.
"Parasite" is brilliant film with some many layers and such rich artistry.
'The Current War: The Director's Cut'
Genius of differing kinds is on display in the historical drama "The Current War." The film depicts the ruthless battle between Thomas Edision (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world. Nicola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) also makes an appearance as the film looks to how each man faced challenges and pursued innovation. The film proves surprisingly poetic and insightful as it sheds light on a fascinating moment of world-changing inventions.
'Pain and Glory'
Finally, you can still catch Pedro Almodóvar's latest film "Pain and Glory" in theaters. The film reveals a gently mellowing master reflecting on his films and life with a bittersweet nostalgia. Antonio Banderas plays the director's alter ego Salvador Mallo, who is in uneasy semi-retirement as he battles with both physical and mental issues.
The film traverses multiple time frames as Mallo spends a lot of time thinking about his past and his childhood and tries to turn his life into art through his films. The film lacks the audacity of some of Almodóvar's early work and while I miss that wildness, I can't complain about what has replaced it. The style is simply different.
"Pain and Glory" reveals that Almodóvar is still growing and changing as an artist and trying new things, and that's exciting.
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