Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2019 (as well as best film at the Sydney Film Festival), Parasite is a splendidly anarchic dark comedy about social divides and love of money.
As dirt-poor Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song – Snowpiercer, The Age of Shadows) and his family struggle to survive, an opportunity for his son, Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi – Okja, Train to Busan), to teach English at the wealthy Parks’ home leads to a scam that goes tragically wrong.
Director Joon-ho Bong (Okja, Snowpiercer) mixes humour, slapstick, drama, gore and suspense to masterful effect in his love of sociopolitical commentaries (Snowpiercer, anyone?) ably supported by a cast that excels.
A riveting slow burner from Korean director Chang-dong Lee (Poetry, Secret Sunshine), Burning evolves, on the surface at least, from a romance story into a metaphysical thriller.
The dow-eyed, stoical Lee Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo – The Throne, Veteran) bumps into Haemi (newcomer Jong-seo Jun), a former school classmate, in the streets of Seoul. Spending time between the city and the impoverished family farm, Lee Jong-su becomes drawn into a menage a trois with Haemi and the wealthy Ben (Steven Yeun – Okja, TV’s The Walking Dead), an enigmatic playboy.
Adapted and expanded from a Haruki Murakami short story, Burning is a powerful psychological portrait with its distorted perceptions, building up to a shocking finale that it tragic but not wholly unexpected.
Overtly stylised Korean film noir, The Age of Shadows is a beautifully filmed cloak-and-dagger twisting narrative as the Korean Resistance attempt to move explosives from Shanghai into Seoul to move against the 1930s Japanese occupation.
It’s a slow start (with the exception of the fabulously staged shoot-out that opens the film) as characters are introduced, with Kang-ho Song (Snowpiercer, The Host) the Korean-born Japanese police officer heading the team trying to stop the Resistance. But director Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, I Saw the Devil) ramps up the action as things become more and more desperate for all parties.
Sexually explicit, exquisitely filmed, quietly sensual, Chan-wook Park’s (Oldboy, Stoker) (loose) adaptation of Sarah Waters’ best seller is luridly mesmerising over its 150 minute run-time.
Told in three parts and set in 1930s Korea under Japanese occupation, the twists and turns of the intricate lesbian love-story-with-a-difference keep you engaged, even if some of the scenes are less than subtle.