14 January 2020 02:49
It was clear from Times critic Justin Chang's radiant enthusiasm coming out of Cannes in May: "Parasite" was something special — a movie to be seen, and then to be watched as it took the awards circuit by storm. It's a journey that will culminate Feb. 9 at the Oscars, where the Korean-language film now stands nominated in six categories, including best picture and director. But for those those who've missed the "Parasite" train thus far, here's a short course in why director Bong Joon Ho's movie is such a buzzy big deal. Bong Joon Ho poses with his Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May. When that review came out in October, "Parasite" had already taken home the Palme d'Or from Cannes — or the "Bong d'Or, as it must henceforth be known," Chang said back in May. "If there is a particular reason why 'Parasite' prevailed," Chang wrote, "I think it's because it delivered the competition's single most original and entertaining approach to a subject — the rebellion of the underclass, the return of the repressed — that ran through many other films in competition, including several other prizewinners." Ultimately, "Parasite" topped Chang's list of the best films of 2019.
You're never sure where the story's heading and when it finally lands, the ending will leave you gutted," Times awards expert Glenn Whipp wrote in October in a column whose headline declared the film "should win all the Oscars" but might not win any. Whipp also brought attention to director Bong's resume, which includes "Okja," "Snowpiercer," "Mother," "The Host" and "Memories of Murder," even as he bemoaned the 2019 Oscar fate of "Roma," another foreign-language film that failed to win best picture though it earned trophies for foreign film, director and cinematography. Times film reporter Jen Yamato talked to the director in October, noting that some people who'd seen "Parasite" said it made them feel uncomfortable. Actor Song Kang Ho, who has worked with Bong four times, including in "Parasite," knows the drill by now. I always expect the project will turn out great," he told The Times last week.
It was also nominated for outstanding movie ensemble cast at the SAG Awards and on Feb. 2 will learn its fate at the BAFTA Awards, where it's up for best film, director, original screenplay and non-English-language movie. Bong has used the opportunities presented by his film's success to bring attention to world cinema, most recently at the Golden Globes, where — speaking mostly in his native Korean — he urged English-speaking audiences to "overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles" and be rewarded with access to a new world of amazing films. One of the big winners when it came to Oscar nominations this year was Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, with the South Korean film notching six nominations including a nod in the coveted Best Picture category. But a release for the film is on the way… so here's everything you need to know about Parasite. The film will make it to cinemas in the UK on Friday 7th February 2020 – just two days before we find out if it has translated any of its Oscar nominations into wins at the 2020 ceremony.
Sign up to get alerts for movie news, reviews and recommendations plus receive television and entertainment email newsletters from our award-winning editorial team. It is not – the dialogue in the film is all in Korean, with English subtitles provided for its UK release. As Bong Joon-ho himself said upon accepting an award at the Golden Globes, "Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films." What else has Bong Joon-ho directed? Bong Joon-ho has directed films in both Korean and English, including the 2017 Netflix movie Okja, and blockbuster Snowpiercer, which boasted a starry cast including Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Shortly after its premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Parasite won the prestigious Palme D'Or – the highest honour at the iconic event. It has also won a number of awards for Best International Film, including its success at the Golden Globes, while its six Oscar nominations could well be translated into more honours. But despite that, it doesn't happen very often for an Asian or Korean film to get nominated for the Oscars. I think it just shows that "Parasite" isn't a film that came out of nowhere. Korean cinema has a very long history, and "Parasite" is a continuation of all the Korean films that came before. It's not the first time a Korean film has gone through something like this. Park Chan-wook's "The Handmaiden" won a BAFTA, and last year "Burning" [directed by Lee Chang-dong] was a part of the shortlist [for what was then the foreign-language film Oscar]. From Cannes, to today in L.A., we've experienced a series of all of these unexpected events with the film. I created this film because of the controversial aspects of the story, and to take on these bold challenges, but I always worried how they would be received by the public and the wider world. Monday was a big day for Parasite — and it's not just because of the Oscar nominations. Director Bong Joon-ho shared new details about the Parasite adaptation coming to HBO, a TV series based on the movie which also has The Big Short director Adam McKay attached. Turns out, what seemed like a dubious move for a film so critically-acclaimed might actually deserve some cautious optimism. Shortly after Parasite earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best International Film, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design, Bong spoke with Variety about the newly-announced HBO series. Through an interpreter, Bong explained about the Parasite HBO series plans: "When I think of a limited series, I really think of it as an expanded film. Additionally, Bong shared about the Parasite TV series is "still very much in the early stages. For now, a lot of things are open." That includes whether the series will continue to be set in South Korea, like the feature film, or possibly in an English-speaking country. "Adam McKay and HBO did very well with Succession, to work with these artists who have created great works I would like to actualize this attempt to expand this film and explore all the ideas that I've had from the script writing stage from what could happen in between the scenes through the TV series." So, it seems like this Parasite series is poised to go in some interesting directions. Since it's still early days, we should expect even more exciting news to come out about the project in the coming months.