After hitting reservation capacity, the Eckerd International Cinema Series will kick off the semester with the award-winning Korean film Parasite.
Playing Friday, Feb. 7, Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar nominated masterpiece of socially aware film has broken barriers and now will be on display for the Saint Petersburg community at 7 p.m. in the Miller Auditorium. The Spring Programmer for the International Cinema Series, Dr. Christina Petersen, said after seeing the awards run and traction the film had received, she was eager to bring it to the students.
“We have shown a few of Bong Joon-ho’s previous films as part of the International Cinema Series and the Environmental Film Festival over the years, including The Host and Snowpiercer, and his work always captures the mood of the moment, combining humor and melodrama to examine pressing issues in society in unexpected ways,” Petersen said. “After Parasite won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival (and was the first to win with a unanimous vote since Blue Is the Warmest Color), I was excited to see it myself and when I saw the film this past fall, I immediately knew that I wanted to include it in our series and have been watching its award wins and long run in theaters with great interest.”
Reservations for the International Cinema Series showing are closed but the film is still available in theaters as well as for purchase online.
Though it’s often a hard call to make, Parasite is a perfect film. Following the Kim family from the start, we see the poor family living in a basement apartment, subterranean in a busy city with no cell service and them constantly grappling for WiFi to communicate with the family job, folding pizza boxes. This all changes however, when Kim Ki-woo, played by Choi Woo-sik, receives the opportunity to tutor a friend’s teenage girlfriend in English. It has a slightly creepy start as we find out Kim’s friend's girlfriend is a senior in high school from the wealthy Park family, while Kim and his friend are college age students; but that’s only the beginning of the weirdness.
After his sister helps to forge university paperwork, which Kim was never able to attend due to financial issues within his family, he is hired at the Park family’s incredible home. Soon, his family begins to take hold, becoming any number of individuals with different credentials, sneaking their way into the lives of the Parks.
The movie in essence is a perfect example of classism and what capitalism can drive people to do. With a climate that’s increasingly hostile toward billionaires, Bong artfully crafts this world around the idea. Parasite isn’t a horror movie in the conventional sense. It moves slowly, making you realize just what the Kims are planning on doing, and then silently cheering through the suspense for them. As of the last few years no movies have had such copious, truly unsettling suspense, but Parasite brought it out in spades.
In the second act of the film the nail-biting is turned up to ten. You root so hard for the Kim family, despite seeing what they're capable of doing and have done. It feels a lot like the stalking perfection of horror icon Michael Myers from Halloween. Despite where people run or hide, there is the looming omnipresence of Michael always trudging closer. This sense of trying to outrun what seems so inevitable is what makes these scenes in Parasite so much better. Silences feel longer, breaths are more sharp and shallow, everyone in the theater feels collectively trapped by something they can't see. What this human fear does best of all - and that really makes the film - is transcend the language barrier.
A lot of people first seemed interested in Parasite before I got the chance to explain that it is all spoken in the actors native tongue, Korean. While continued reading for just over two hours seems daunting to some, the impact it has is much more important. Keeping Parasite in Korean also maintains the authenticity and truth of the film. Parasite gives you a western capitalist atomic family in the Parks, but nothing else. The film is truly and wholly eastern, and Bong does an incredible job of holding its identity close. Having such an incredibly important film this year come from the east and keep its identity is also a wonderful reminder that art is not western. Hopefully on top of the thoughts it evokes or the fear it elicits, audiences consider that people the world over feel the same emotions, strive for the same things and fear the same evils.
Bong has gone above and beyond in the filmmaking world to do something incredible yet restrained. His thesis of classism in an increasingly uneven economic society rings eerily true between calls for wealth tax or more extreme riots in Hong Kong. Synthesizing that into something of a perfect world and if only for a moment, the Kim’s infiltrate the heavenly upper class and understand what it means to live in a cutthroat class.