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Parasite (2019)

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A receding hairline is not inherently creepy. I see one in the mirror daily without much thought beyond a vague wistfulness for those follicles whose usefulness is consigned to the past. But like so many little everyday details in Parasite — a packet of hot sauce, a walkie-talkie — it will be hard to look at that slowly expanding bald patch the same way again. Parasite is everyday life reflected back in one’s face with the veneer of the everyday … (read more)

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Snowpiercer (2013)

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Making the leap beyond regional borders for Asian filmmakers is not as easy as it sounds. The road to global domination, particularly with an assist from the Hollywood marketing machine is littered with the broken, bitter careers of many an auteur. For every Ang Lee there are countless Ringo Lams and John Woos. Added to that pile in the last little while are Kim Jee-woon (A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil), whose underrated The Last Stand(read more)

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Mother (2009)

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Bong Joon-Ho is one of my favourite directors, and in my opinion, one of the world’s best directors working today. His works so far have covered a wide variety of different genres, ranging from the quirky social satire Barking Dogs Never Bite, to the memorable murder mystery Memories of Murder, to the monster masterpiece The Host. What impresses me the most about this director is his ability to tell stories, regardless of their genres, so incredibly well. … (read more)

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The Host (2006)

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This is Bong Joon-ho’s third feature film, following Barking Dogs Never Bite and the wonderful Memories of Murder. Korean film watchers will know that The Host broke box office records in Korea, surpassing the previous record set by Taegukgi two years ago.

Of course The Host has all the signifiers of ‘blockbuster’ about it. A big cast in a large budgeted monster flick. But such simple facts belie the often intimate and subversive nature of the film.

It has … (read more)

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Memories of Murder (2003)

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A suprisingly powerful film from the director of the amusing Barking Dogs Never Bite, this film about a serial killer has the tone of Se7en but without the weirdness. More importantly, Memories of Murder has addressed the debate about integrity in police methods with the greatest effectiveness since Orson Welles made Touch of Evil. Song Kang-ho (JSA, The Foul King) is, as always, dynamite as the cop who is obsessed with this case.

Every Korean … (read more)

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Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)

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You can guess by the synopsis that this is a difficult film to write about: it wriggles about like a live thing, refusing to be pinned down by genre, plot, or style. And that alone makes it interesting. Add in a simple yet unusual plot, a ghost story, realistic characters played ably by a talented cast, and you’ve got a fine film.

First, though, I must make a confession: it took me three sessions to get through this film. Yes, … (read more)

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