Showing posts with label Entranced Earth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entranced Earth. Show all posts

Friday, January 24, 2020

"Parasite" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Parasite" as well as DVDs "Ad Astra" and "Christopher Robin."  The Book of the Week is "America's Test Kitchen Twentieth Anniversary TV Show Cookbook: Best-Ever Recipes from the Most Successful Cooking Show on TV."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Project" with "Terra em tranced."


Through an elaborate ruse, members of a poor family insinuate themselves into the lives of a rich family.

The Kim family - Ki-taek, the father 
(Kang-ho Song), Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang), the mother, and their two young adult kids, Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) and Ki-jeong (So-dam Park) - are all unemployed and live in a semi-basement apartmemt where they suffer the indignities of stink bugs, flooding and drunks using the sidewalk outside their window as a toilet. They also struggle to make ends meet and have basically given up. Ki-taek and Ki-woo don't appear to be making an effort to find work other than working at home folding pizza boxes for a local pizza company; Ki-jeong is grumpy and only seems to care about her wi-fi connection that the family is poaching from a neighbor; and Chung-sook can't be bothered to clean their oppressive apartment. 

So when Ki-woo's friend, Min (Seo-joon Park), comes for a visit to let him know that he is going to study abroad and offers Ki-woo his job as an English tutor for Da-hye Park (Ji-so Jung), a young rich girl, Ki-woo jumps at the chance despite the fact that he has not been to university. Min has brought the family a "scholar's rock," which is supposed to promote wealth, and now, with this chance for a job, it looks like the family's prospects are already looking up. 

But how can Ki-woo get this job without any credentials?

Well, no problem, Ki-jeong is an artist and a master at Photoshop, so she forges some diplomas for Ki-woo. When he meets Mrs. Park (Yeo-jeong Jo), he introduces himself as "Kevin" and pours on the charm, and she is easily won over.  It doesn't hurt that Min had told Ki-woo that Mrs. Park is, shall we say, not very smart? Naive? Gullible?  When Mrs. Park shares with Ki-woo that her young son, Da-song (Hyun-jun Jung), is a handful, but particularly skilled at art, Ki-woo comes up with the idea of proposing his sister, Ki-jeong, as an art therapist, though not telling Mrs. Park that she is his sister. Ki-jeong becomes "Jessica," the art therapist, and soon, he and Ki-jeong are able to get rid of the chauffeur and the longtime housekeeper (Jeong-eun Lee), so that Ki-taek and Chung-sook can also have jobs.

The Parks live in a beautiful, architecturally famous house and they are naive and trusting of the Kim family, unaware the four are related.  And the Kim family happily lives off of the Park family. Things are looking up. When the Park family goes on a camping trip, the Kims have the place to themselves and they party hardy until the old housekeeper returns, saying she left something in the house. And boy did she! When Chung-sook reluctantly lets her in, it is revealed that the old housekeeper has her own agenda and the ensuing twists and turns take you on a wild ride which doesn't turn out well for anyone.  

This is a story of them vs. us, the haves and the have nots, the class struggle. 
Despite the fact that the Kims clearly don't feel bad about taking advantage of the Parks, you empathize with them, especially when the Parks show such limited understanding of anyone who isn't rich, even going so far as to say that Ki-taek exudes an unpleasant odor. The odor of being poor? When Ki-taek tells Chung-sook that the Parks are nice, despite the fact they are rich, and Chung-sook replies that they are nice because they are rich, you see the great divide. 

One can't help but draw comparisons to Jordan Peele's "Us," which is also the same kind of story, right down to the have nots living underground.  But unlike that film, this film is a dark comedy, except maybe at the end which isn't funny at all, not even in a dark way.  

Written by Bong Joon-Ho and Jin Won Han and directed by Bong Joon-Ho, this is a strange but fascinating story of class and privilege that invites discussion.  Is it true that the Parks are only nice because they are rich?  Are the Kims forced to take advantage of the Parks because the system is against them or are they just lazy and manipulative people? Who are the villains here?  Who are the parasites? And does the chaos at the end of the film forebode what can happen because of the inequities that exist in our world?

"Parasite" has six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director, a first for a South Korean film.  It also just won a SAG Award for Best Cast, which is basically a Best Picture prize, the first forerign language film to ever win that prize, and this film has appeared on almost every critic's 2019 Top Ten lists (it would have been on mine, too, had I seen this film by the time I published my favorites for the year).  

So see this film. It is gaining award momentum. It just could pull a "Moonlight," and beat Tarantino's "Once Upon a Hollywood," which is this year's favorite for Best Picture.  (And in case you don't know what I mean by saying "pull a 'Moonlight,' remember that classic moment at the 2017 Oscars when everyone thought "La La Land" was a shoo-in for Best Picture and Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty called it as the winner only to find out the winner was "Moonlight?" That could happen again. Well, maybe not the nutty actors reading the wrong movie name, but this film must might be the surprise Best Picture).

Rosy the Reviewer says...a comedy, a thriller, a wild ride and like nothing you have ever seen before!

(in Korean with English subtitles)

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Ad Astra (2019)

It's the near future, and astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) undertakes a mission to find his father, whose aborted mission 30 years earlier, is now threatening the universe.

"Ad Astra," - "To the stars" - and that's where Roy McBride's astronaut dad, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), went thirty years ago to try to find extra-terrestrial life.  But something happened to that mission - The Lima Project - and he and his crew all died.  Or did they?  Now there are mysterious surges - uncontrolled releases of anti-matter - taking place that are affecting the universe and Roy's dad is being blamed.  Is Clifford McBride still alive? And is he responsible for threatening the universe?

Roy McBride was 16 when his father left on the Lima Project mission and 29 when his dad disappeared.  In the meantime, he has followed in his dad's footsteps as a well-regarded astronaut, capable and unflappable. He is cool under pressure with a pulse that is never over 80, no matter what danger he finds himself in, and he hasn't put a foot wrong.  So when the surges start occurring, and it comes to light that Clifford McBride might not be dead after all, there is the fear that he has gone rogue and could be causing these surges.  Now the son is asked to find the father, a father who in essence abandoned him 30 years ago.

So Roy "flies commercial" to the moon on his way to Mars to try to get a message to Neptune, where his father might be. The powers that be feel a personal plea from him might help. It's the "near future," a time when travel to the moon is ho-hum, and it has already been overtaken by commercial enterprises ("Subway," anyone?"), as well as hostile countries and even pirates.  So it's a wild ride across the moon to catch a ride to Mars where Roy is supposed to communicate with this Dad via secure laser transmission. When that fails, it's on to Neptune.

This is a tense and exciting film, not the least because of Brad Pitt, who himself has just gotten more exciting and handsome as he ages.

Let me rant for a bit...and this is a good rant.

I first remember seeing Brad Pitt in "Thelma and Louise," and, yes, I thought he was very handsome.  Almost too handsome.  I don't really like the pretty boys.  But now at the age of 56, Brad has grown into his face.  He is no longer pretty.  He is just damn handsome.  I look forward to his getting more and more handsome.  And then there is the whole issue of handsome and beautiful actors feeling they have to make themselves look ugly to be taken seriously.  Brad hasn't really gone the ugly route per se, but I believe he is one of those actors who hasn't been taken seriously enough as a really good actor because he is just so damn handsome.  You haven't heard anyone comparing him to De Niro, right?  But that may change, because Brad is not only damn handsome, he is a damn good actor as he shows in this film, as well as his supporting role in "Once Upon a Hollywood,a role that was not flashy, but one that he brought to life and for which he has already snagged Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG awards.  He is also the favorite for an Oscar as well. It's been a good year for Brad.  Now if he would just do a romantic drama where I could live vicariously through his co-star as he plants those lovely lips....

Anyway, okay, rant over and back to the film.

In addition to the handsomeness that is Brad Pitt, the special effects are awesome and there is some depth to be mined in this film.

Written by James Gray and Ethan Gross and directed by Gray, I couldn't help but think this was a space age version of "Apocalypse Now," with Pitt as the Martin Sheen character searching for Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has gone rogue and is supposedly insane.  This film plays out very much that way, except it's a son seeking his father, a father who emotionally and physically abandoned his son and who could be insane.  Roy has to literally let go, of his father and all of his pent-up grief.  

And I have to add that the film may be set in the future, but it's not particularly hopeful about the state of women in the world or of ugly politics or that we humans would rise above selfishness and greed. We don't.  Sadly, there are some moments in the film that could be labeled as a bit far-fetched but, hey, it's the future.  How do we know what's far-fetched and what's not?

Rosy the Reviewer says...a wonderful cautionary tale about going "to the stars." And, by the way, according to this film, there isn't anybody else out there. "Now we know we're all we've got." So make the most of it.

Christopher Robin (2018)

Christopher Robin (Ewen McGregor) has grown up and forgotten all about his childhood friends - Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl and Rabbit - and the fun he had in the Hundred Acre Wood...until they show up to remind him.

Christopher had to say goodbye to his friends and the Hundred Acre Wood when he was sent to boarding school.  And he didn't forget them. Well, not right way, he didn't. But time has a way of making us forget.  Christopher's experiences at boarding school and the death of his father make him grow up quickly.  He marries, has a daughter, serves in WW II and has a job as an efficiency expert. But he is married to his job, neglects his family and plans to send his daughter to boarding school. Christopher is over-worked and his wife thinks he is going to crack up.

Christopher's wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) have planned to spend the summer at Christopher's old country home, but he can't go because his company is having financial issues and Christopher must stay behind and work much to the disappointment of his wife and daughter.  In the meantime, Pooh has found his way to London and meets up with Christopher.  Now Christopher is befuddled and thinks he actually is cracking up, but decides he has to take Pooh back to the country, just a fast trip, drop him off and get back to work in London.  But you know how these things go, the best laid plans and all of that.  When he returns to his childhood home, Christopher is pulled back into his childhood world and learns how to live again and then little Madeline meets them and yadda yadda yadda.

The film is very sentimental and predictable but that little Pooh.  He got to me despite the fact that I find a bear wearing a shirt and no pants rather disturbing. But who can resist a little CGI teddy bear? Or those other adorable little anthropomorphic characters?  And who can resist Ewen McGregor? He can do and be anything and I will buy it.

Based on A.A. Milne's characters and Ernest Shepard's illustrations and directed by Marc Forster, this is a strange film that is mostly Ewen McGregor talking to CGI characters. I couldn't help but think how difficult that must have been for Ewen - doing all of that talking to a green screen.  But the film is also strangely affecting, the story of remembering our childhood to find what is really important in life.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

***My 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Project***

46 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Terra em transe (1967)
(alt. titles: "Earth Entranced;""Entranced Earth;" "Land in Anguish")

The personal and political turmoil of a poet and filmmaker caught in the spectrum of Latin American politics of the 1960's.

In a fictional South American country named Eldorado (which is really Brazil), poet and filmmaker Paulo Martins (Jardel Filho) tells his story in a series of flashbacks explaining how he ended up where he did, which is dead. 
Martins had been supporting the conservative leader, Porfirio Diaz (Paulo Autran), for governor, and had actually been also having an affair with Diaz's mistress, Silvia (Danuza Leao). But he abandons Diaz for the more liberal candidate, Felipe Vieira (Jose Lewgoy).  Vieira is elected but reneges on his promises, which disillusions Martins, who decides to abandon politics and concentrate on his writing and filmmaking. However, he is convinced to once again get into the political arena, and after getting involved in some seedy political shenanigans and discovering a betrayal, he adopts armed, militant resistance.  Not a good choice.

Directed by Glauber Rocha, a key figure in Cinema Novo and one of the most influential film directors in Brazilian cinema, this film has been compared to "Citizen Kane," but it is a much more difficult film to embrace, mostly because of the strange editing and lack of depth of the characters. It's also overwrought and over-the-top, but interestingly, the issues at war in this film are issues that resonate today in our own political world: the left vs. the right; the class struggle; poverty and hunger depicted as "fake news;" believers vs. non-believers; and a crazy politician seeking to become King. Filmed in beautiful black and white, the film is part political propaganda and part allegory for the political history of Brazil during the 1960's, which Rocha portrays as pretty hopeless, but it could just have easily taken place here in the United States of America in 2020.  

Why it's a Must See: "Few films were as insightful nor as universally criticized.  Yet seen today it seems not only Rocha's masterpiece, but also that of the new Latin American cinema."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...a noble effort, but mostly not a very satisfying film experience.
(b & w; Available on YouTube)

***The Book of the Week***

America's Test Kitchen Twentieth Anniversary TV Show Cookbook: Best-Ever Recipes from the Most Successful Cooking Show on TV by America's Test Kitchen (2019)

A cooking Bible!

Remember when "The Joy of Cooking" was the cookbook you always grabbed when you weren't sure how to prepare something that was fairly standard like poached eggs or a roast chicken?  It was the "bible" for cooking.

Well, here is a new cooking "bible."

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I review cookbooks from time to time because I not only love to cook, I actually like to READ cookbooks.  I am known to sit with my morning tea and go through page after page of a new cookbook and read the author's/cook's notes.  And this one is full of notes.  It's a tutorial on how to cook everything better!

The book brings together the best of the best  recipes featured on the America's Test Kitchen TV show over the last 20 years with the spotlight on the cast members and why they love particular recipes.

Want to make the perfect poached/fried/soft boiled/scrambled egg?  It's here!  Best chicken noodle soup?  It's here. Perfect poached chicken breasts or beef short ribs?  Yep.  Pan roasted asparagus?  Best french fries? Classic apple pie?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Now you might say, well, I have cookbooks and those recipes are in at least one of the cookbooks I already have.  Yes, you are right.  But what your cookbooks DON'T have are the lengthy explanations on "Why this recipe works," with foolproof step-by-step instructions on doing it right.  Remember, these are from The Test Kitchen!  Fully indexed with nutritional information for all of the recipes, this is a cookbook you will be consulting over and over again.  And READING just for fun.

Rosy the's time to up your cooking game with this necessary addition to your cookbook collection!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"The Turning"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project"

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.