Bong Joon-ho is one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers. His films have always pushed us to think and feel deeper about cinema than we have ever before. His films like ‘Memories Of Murder‘, ‘The Host’, ‘Snowpiercer’ and many others have constantly forced us to feel emotions which other movies barely bring forth. When Bong Joon Ho announced his seventh directorial venture ‘Parasite‘, fans were already waiting for another brilliant piece of cinema for them to enjoy, and boy did he deliver! ‘Parasite’ became a sensation all over the world immediately upon its release and even grabbed the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
‘Parasite’ is the story of a working-class family living in a basement apartment in Seoul. The family is rather poor, and survive by doing odd jobs like folding pizza boxes. However, they are very smart in the art of manipulation. When the son manages to enter the house of a rich family as the tutor of their teenage daughter, he is able to successfully manipulate them into hiring his sister. Slowly the story becomes that of the contrasting lives between the rich Parks and the poor Kims. A socially revealing drama, this film is one of the finest in recent years. It is crafted exquisitely, acted brilliantly, and takes on themes which rarely get represented in mainstream films. If you loved watching ‘Parasite’ and want to check out similar films, here are some titles that are highly recommended. You can watch many of these movies like ‘Parasite’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. Roma (2018)
One of the finest films of 2018, ‘Roma’ is the creation of Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. The film is the director’s love letter to his childhood and the part of Mexico City where he grew up. The film depicts the story of a family living in Roma. They comprise of Antonio and Sofía and their four children, who are mostly taken care of by their hired help Cleo. The story depicts both Sofia and Cleo’s lives and their struggles. The children and Sofia love Cleo as one of their own, and this mutual care is beautifully captured by Cuaron in every scene. The film not only depicts the personal lives of this family, but also delves into the political tensions the city was going through when Cuaron was growing up, thus making it inspired by real events. The direction and the cinematography in this film are magnificent. The use of black-and-white is done masterfully by Cuaron, and the interplay of light and shadow becomes a metaphor for how a child slowly grows up into an adult.
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6. I, Daniel Blake (2016)
What more can be said about British filmmaker Ken Loach which has not already been said? Loach crafts his movies like poetry in motion. But his poetry is not all happy and smug. They speak of realities of the world where the weak lose and the strong win. In films like ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ and ‘I, Daniel Blake’, the power of Loach’s camera moves us in no uncertain way. ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is the story of an old man who is struggling to get the social welfare that is his due. He cannot continue his job as a carpenter after suffering from ill-health. We follow Blake as he goes through an extremely frustrating process of getting government approval for his social welfare. Meanwhile, he becomes friends with a poor single mother. The film is a painful look at a man’s battle against a slow and unfair system. Notably, it was met with criticism from certain members of the British Conservative Party.
5. The Grapes Of Wrath (1940)
During the times of any financial instability in a country, the greatest effect of course falls upon the poorer sections of the society. No film portrays it as startingly as the 1940 classic ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. Based on the similarly-titled book by John Steinbeck, this film depicts the tale of a Midwestern family of farmers who lose the plot of land they own during the Great Depression. After losing the only property that they had, the Joads move to California to look for work. The extreme suffering and humiliation one has to go through after losing everything they have is deftly portrayed in this film. The Joads go through a series of misfortunes with only one of the sons, Tom Joad, keeping up his spirit through the entire ordeal.
4. Do The Right Thing (1989)
The most acclaimed film of rockstar filmmaker Spike Lee, ‘Do The Right Thing’ is both a comedy and an eye-opening social document. Starring Lee in the lead role as a pizza delivery guy called Mookie, the film centers around numerous characters living in a Brooklyn neighborhood. We look at their lives from close quarters to understand, how they interact with each other, and how despite the poverty, everyone just tries to have a good life. This afro-american neighborhood has a pizzeria owned by an Italian American who hangs pictures of Italian actors on the wall of his pizza joint. This upsets a local guy called Buggin’ Out, and from then on ensues a quarrel that might potentially lead to something dangerous. Race relations in America are portrayed in this film with great mastery. By the end, ‘Do The Right Thing’ leaves us with a sense of sheer admiration of Lee’s storytelling prowess.
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3. Los Olvidados (1950)
This 1950 film by Luis Bunuel speaks of a time when extreme child poverty was one of the major social concerns in Mexico. The film centers around a boy called El Jaibo who returns to become the leader of his gang after spending some time in jail. Jaibo is adamant to find out who is the person who sent him to jail, and for that, he hires a younger boy called Pedro. However, Pedro gets involved with the dangerous criminal underworld from which there is no respite. The film makes it clear to us how poverty sometimes pushes a person towards a path of crime whereas s/he never intended to step into it in the first place.
2. On The Waterfront (1954)
One of the finest films in the glittering career of Marlon Brando, ‘On The Waterfront’ is directed by another Hollywood legend, Elia Kazan. The story of the film centers around Brando’s character Terry Mallory. A worker at the docks of New Jersey, Mallory is also one of the associates of the ganglord Johnny Friendly. Besides running his illegal activities, Friendly also has connections with the mafia. Mallory’s unhappiness with his life is revealed when he rants to his brother that he could be something better than a gangster. He goes against Johnny after he comes across the sister of a man Johnny killed. Brando’s brilliant performance in the film earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. The film ended up winning a total of 8 Oscars against its 12 nominations. The condition of dockworkers and the several political and social hurdles they have to cross is vividly portrayed in this film.
1. The 400 Blows (1959)
Francois Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ is a film which is said to have kickstarted the French New Wave movement where a generation of exciting new filmmakers stepped forth to tell the stories of their world in a way they saw fit. ‘The 400 Blows’ follows a young school-going boy called Antoine Doinel. Someone who is always interested in escaping from the societal structures like family and school. Antoine remains the ultimate rebellious child until the very end. Painting a poignant picture of Paris during the 1940s, ‘The 400 Blows’ uses minimal resources, but manages to make a film which remains to be a milestone in the history of this art form.
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