Blu-ray Review: Parasite (Expectations Managed)

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Your love of Parasite has become tiresome and old. Out of the many people that will read this and share this, that statement will strike the right people in the right way. Like many films in the Expectations Managed mini-series, I’ve held off covering them because I don’t want to suffer from first take hate. However, time has passed and my contempt for the material at hand could be bottled. But, why?

Bong Joon Ho is either film’s greatest showman or the biggest bullshit artist working today. I’m not going to fault him for either stance. However, I wonder why pull that card now? What about setting up a persona as the Korean hotshot director turned Hollywood maverick requires carrying around assistants ala Prince in the later years? Especially when you’re making a string of movies about Leftist social issues that make such theatrics seem problematic. But, I’m discussing Parasite and not Bong Joon Ho. That will come at a later date.

Class warfare is slowly becoming a hot button issue in most of the West. Many have recognized it for awhile, while others have their favorite political talking heads finally putting it into terms they understand. They have, you don’t. They succeed, you don’t feel like you’re making it. But, like with many Us vs. Them scenarios, no effort is made to portray them as human.

In the film Parasite, we have a tale of two families. The Haves and Have Nots and the worlds they occupy on different levels. It’s no different than any number of British domestic period pieces or any 19th century American saga. But, why now? What about two families feeding off each other and living in unspoken disagreement works now? Well, it’s because one side has gotten angry.

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Anger is an energy, but like most things…it’s wasted on the ignorant. Ki-Woo Kim means well. The Kim family lives in poverty with aspirations of moving up the social class system. These guys get fumigated on, crapped on by food service workers and generally treated like garbage. When an academic friend visits them and offers a shot at more substantial work, Ki-Woo jumps as it. Thus, enter the Park family.

The Parks are a decent enough family. Maybe a bit aloof, but they care deeply for their family members and do right by their household employees. Things only change when the Kim family exploits the allergies of the older housekeeper. After mentally gaming the Kim family, they get the last piece removed in their quest to take over all the jobs in the Park household.

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Through a cruel twist of fate, it’s revealed that the old housekeeper and her husband have been gaming the Park family long before the Kims ever showed up. Now, both of the less fortunate families are playing off each other to keep their secrets. What results is a slow trickle of a lower class battle, as the Parks are played off as the unfortunate fools blind to the struggle.

The reads I’ve been hearing on this film are so trite. Whether it’s on the coasts or the various metro writers, they want to make this movie about class warfare. Well, it’s not. More than anything, it’s a film about economic opportunity blinding people to human decency. I can already feel your hot takes coming from Film Twitter.

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But, I eat your Hot Takes as a snack. In the cult of personality, it’s hard to divest yourself of the groupthink take on the movie you’ve crowned the GREATEST OF THE YEAR. Even when your read on the narrative doesn’t take into account anything displayed onscreen. The Parks aren’t aggressors. Their only crime in the mind of certain viewers is being wealthy.

Do they have semi-shitty personalities and seem offended by little things? Of course! Just imagine not knowing two warring poor families were wrecking your home. The various odors and mess would bug you. I’m sorry that they aren’t more socially sensitive and aware of Social Justice issues inside of their home. They have People Under the Stairs and living in their wall. Random old bitches coming out of the walls tend to upset you.

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The burden of action in the film falls squarely on the Kims and the older couple living in the secret room. Your inability to see the Parks as the manipulated victims here is quite childish. Just because you can’t identify with them or understand them, that doesn’t make the Parks into a threat. Parasite is an incredibly misguided film that aims for the stars and barely keeps it in between the lines.

If the effort to rise above poverty makes you act like a pack of rodents, then the loss of humanity is on you. The inability to recognize that your choices can ruin the good in you is disgusting. All good intentions can sour and the failure to be better is a personal choice. The Kims weren’t going to die if they didn’t invade the Parks home. Their lives sucked, but it was manageable.

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That dichotomy reveals so much behind the mentality of the people reading into this film. The Parks didn’t owe the old housekeeper or the Kims anything. They were strangers and employees encroaching on their lives. You might not like how the Parks act or respond to their employees, but it’s their goddamn house. If the Kims don’t like it, they can go elsewhere.

Is Parasite well made? Sure, masterful direction is apparent and the cinematography is stunning. But, the narrative is so fundamentally flawed that it allows for a narrative to be picked upon by the worst of us that write about film. Some things are above certain writers’ weight classes. Needless to say, Film Twitter knows nothing about anything that doesn’t appeal to the hivemind.

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My advice going forward is use this film as a launching point to understand narrative and your biases. Removing your worst leanings from assessment is a skill that was taught quite early to some. But, this era of constant conflict and demands to be heard has created a gross storm of semiotic bullshit. Kill your first takes dead every time and hang back a little longer. Solidify your thoughts before taking the company line. You’ll be better for it.

The Blu-ray comes with a Q&A as the sole special feature. The A/V Quality is sharp with a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track. Plus, the transfer is really strong. Check out the screenshots above taken directly from the disc. If you’re a fan, buy it. If you’re not, well pick it up and see what’s been annoying you.

Parasite is now available on Blu-ray from Universal/NEON.

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