Quick Reviews: 'Parasite', 'Uncut Gems' | Bong Joon-Ho's Scathing Thriller, Adam Sandler, Crime
Parasite (기생충 in Korean) is one of those rare pieces of beautiful cinema that we’re lucky to get from time to time. It’s simply a marvel of genre mixing, having something from comedy, drama, thriller and horror, and blending all that into its own ”ram-don”. The film constantly keeps revealing another layer (imagine a multi-story house) about the story and surprises the viewer in a plethora of ways. Personally, I was very lucky going into it pretty much blind, which is how I would recommend it to others as well.
With a movie that is full of achievements in different aspects, you could write a whole essay on it. Here we can start with the script by director Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won that seems to be absolutely bulletproof, yet a bit cheeky. Bong and Han have outdone themselves with this one. Lee Ha-jun’s production design is captivating, ranging from building the intricate Park family’s house to the suffocating basement condo of Kim’s. In scenes at the Park house, Bong’s directing levels up with some incredible shots in the driveway and in front of the basement’s entrance.
There are no weak links in the cast when it comes to performances—as provided by Song Kang-ho (Ki-taek, Kim family's dad), Jang Hye-jin (Chung-sook, mom), Choi Woo-shik (Ki-woo, son), Park So-dam (Ki-jung, daughter), Lee Sun-kyun (Ki-taek, Park family's father), Cho Yeo-jeong (Yeon-gyo, mom), Jung Ji-so (Da-hye, daughter) and Jung hyeon-jun (Da-song, son)—however some praise shall go to Lee Jung-eun as housekeeper Moon-gwang and especially her acting during the vital basement scenes.
This is often the point in reviews where you hear some of the dislikes. However, that can't be the case every time. I believe that when you genuinely find a movie you love, you don’t need to point out something you found mediocre just for the sake of it. That’s how I feel about Parasite: there’s really nothing pushing back its impact. It’s a beautiful moment you need to cherish when a film works in total cohesion. I feel confident when I say that this is one of the best films this decade.
Smileys: Screenplay, production design, directing, performance by a cast, originality
Bong Joon-ho has crafted a miracle with this one. Go see it yesterday.
Uncut Gems is quite an adrenaline rush to get through. Directing and writing duo Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie (also known as the Safdie brothers) have created a film that keeps building and escalating from the first moment we see Howard Ratner (played by Adam Sandler) until the very end. It has this unrelenting pace which keeps the viewer in its grip and there is an ending that’s not usually the outcome these kind of movies have, instead it will probably make a lot of people quite mad.
I can very confidently say that this is a film carried by amazing editing. Story beats and dialogue happens in such speed that it really needs a strong backbone like that. Sandler shines like a star here, in a role which he is deservedly getting the most praise he’s perhaps ever received. He portrays Howard with just enough sadness, annoyance and desperation. Daniel Lopatin’s score is on par with Sandler, the pulsating synth is pumping as Howard is just trying to win big.
Though, in scenes where there is dialogue, score and heavy sound design going on at the same time, there is a blaring mistake when it comes to mixing. There seems to be important stuff spoken between characters which is hard to comprehend. This happens quite a few times. Some scenes including Howard and his family come off as fat that could’ve been cut as they break the tension and anxiety of the plot.
Smileys: Editing, Adam Sandler, score, Julia Fox
Frowneys: Some issues with sound mixing
Uncut Gems is a gamble worth taking.