In all honesty, there hasn’t been a movie that has shaken the table at the Oscar’s quite like Bong Joon-Ho’s recent film, Parasite. Not only did it receive a standing ovation at the SAG Awards, it has also been nominated for Best Picture which is a tremendous achievement for a foreign film.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 20, 2020
By now, I bet everyone is sick to death of hearing (and reading) rave reviews about the movie, so I’ll spare you the details of my excitement. However, there hasn’t been any buzz for the films that actually have similar elements to Parasite. On that note, I believe it is my civil duty to introduce you to some films you may (or may not) have heard of.
Halt! Before we proceed, this article is strictly for those who have seen the movie because there will be spoilers ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Without further ado, here are our favourite elements of Parasite but in other films…
1. Loveable familial bond
The first thing that struck me when I watched Parasite was how tight-knit the Kim family was. Their loyalty and adoration for one another encourages support from the audience, regardless of how questionable their choices were. To be honest, I wasn’t even mad at how remorselessly they finessed the Park family because as soon as I saw their explosive and raw family dynamic, I was going to root for them no matter what. Secure the bag, sis! Eat the rich!
However, if the characters hadn’t been as fleshed-out and well-developed as they were, the entire foundation of Parasite, which was rooting for the Kim family’s success, would crumble into pieces. It was the chemistry between characters and their love for one another that kept the momentum going until the tragic end.
With that, I recommend Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Kore-ada and released in 2018.
A Japanese film that details the hardships of a family stricken by poverty yet still has the heart to take in a young girl whom they found helpless and alone, this movie is the definition of how family can guide you through even the most turbulent storms. The family, as the title may suggest, are a group of shoplifters who survive on committing crimes. So, similar to Parasite, we’re not reallyyy supposed to root for them, but to hell with it! Their beautiful relationship supersedes all my moral judgement and I wish them the best in stealing their groceries.
2. Dysfunctional family relationship
We just spoke of how cute a family can be, but let’s switch it up a little. Let’s talk about dysfunctionality which is something most of us can relate to a lot more.
The Park family, albeit picture-perfect on the surface, hides several secrets from the public behind the veneer of wealth and poise. With the expensive steaks and Hors d’Oeuvres (I had to google the spelling because I’m too poor to know), comes the obligation to preserve their image and reputation to their peers. As seen by how the youngest son’s learning disability is kept from public knowledge via a private art teacher, the Park family is multi-faceted and not all their surfaces are clean.
A perfect example of another highly dysfunctional family is the family depicted in Happiness, directed by Todd Solondz and released in 1998. Now, I feel the need to warn you that if you’re squeamish during uncomfortable situations, you might want to sit this one out… This film is messed up!
A movie that follows the three Jordan sisters, Joy, Helen and Trish, it depicts their journey in search of ( you guessed it) happiness. All three of them have distinct personalities and outrageous lives that will have you scratching your head at how they’ve gotten themselves in such convoluted situations. I won’t spoil anything for you, but just go into it expecting a perverted Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a deeply-disturbing Dylan Baker. Trust me, you’ll never feel the same way about ‘Father’s Day’ again…
3. Separation of classes
Okay, Beyonce didn’t actually say that, but I thought it was fitting for this discussion.
Although Parasite has an impressive thriller/comedy plot that commands the majority of the film, it is actually a commentary on how classism has been engrained within the privileged and how it affects those who do not have the same privileges.
Evident in the way the rainstorm in Parasite minimally impacted the Park family and was even deemed a blessing the next day because of the sunny weather it caused, but that same hail resulted in the destruction and flood in the Kim’s family neighbourhood, classism is a weapon unsheathed in unassuming instances by the bourgeoisie.
Bong Joon-Ho made sure that the class disparity in the film shed a light on how we take our privilege for granted and how we should be mindful of how certain situations may impact others less fortunate than us. This issue is highlighted in another film, albeit differently, in Blindspotting, directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada and released in 2018.
Blindspotting tackles polarity but in a different yet equally effective way. The film tackles racism and how despite the fact that two men come from the same background, one will be treated with more fairness purely because of his skin colour.
Meet Collin, and his troublemaker best friend, Miles. Both have been freed from incarceration but are currently still on probation when a police shooting occurs. Collin, being black, fears for his life while Miles treats the situation apathetically.
The turning point of the film, is when Collin confronts Miles on his privilege as a white man. Despite being friends forever, Collin must grapple with the idea of remaining friends with a convict who seems to attract trouble everywhere he goes and who might cost him his own freedom.
A much needed conversation complemented by excellent and hilarious performances by the two leads, Blindspotting has all the social commentary we loved in Parasite.
4. A Conman’s Wet Dream
You’re lying if you didn’t rejoice when the Kim family successfully infiltrated the Park family house by exploiting the gullibility of the Park matriarch. There hasn’t been a more entertaining and engrossing con film since Spielberg’s, Catch Me If You Can, but Parasite and my next recommendation may be strong contenders for the number 1 spot.
Bad Genius was a film that took Malaysia by storm. I’m not one to head to the cinema (or leave my house in general) so the fact that I saw this movie in theatres is a testament to how much buzz surrounded the film when it was released in 2017.
Directed by Nattawut Poonpiriya, this Thai film is perfect for a con connoisseur. Centred around Lyn, a top scorer in her competitive high school, the film shows her utilising her intelligence to make the big bucks. By that I mean, she helps her classmates cheat on their exams in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money to pay for her tuition and to secure her future.
An incredibly clever and funny film, Bad Genius has all the elements that we love in Parasite which are exciting characters, a relatable and redeemable mission and high stakes for their actions. With this, the film maintains a fast pace and crescendos to a mind-numbing ending that left audiences dumbfounded. For fans of Parasite, this film will not disappoint.
5. Isolated thriller
The thrilling element of Parasite comes not only from the brilliant performances and masterful script, but also from the sheer atmosphere of that big ol’ house! Seriously, I can fit my entire family in there with room to spare. The architecture that goes behind the set design (customised by Bong Joon-Ho) is truly something to behold and although I don’t have a movie with a house of that grandeur, I can safely say that the eeriness of Creep is similar to that of Parasite.
Patrick Brice released Creep in 2014 and ever since, I’ve been deathly afraid of meeting anyone that I’ve encountered online. A found-footage film (I know, don’t be scared… It’s not Paranormal Activity) that centres around Aaron, a struggling videographer seeking odd jobs, Creep shows him meeting a stranger at a derelict cabin far from civilisation after answering a Craigslist ad for a ‘$1,000 a day’ filming service.
Josef, a creepy (I’m just echoing the film title at this point) loner, greets him and at first, everything seems ordinary despite the circumstances. But as time goes on, Josef begins to reveal his true self and Aaron is trapped in the cabin with no way to escape.
The parallels may seem far-fetched but when I saw the house in Parasite, I immediately harkened back to Creep’s sinister cabin. The fact that a house, a place that signifies shelter and comfort, can exude such menacing vibes is a true demonstration of excellent set design.
Honourable mention: Peaches
You’ve heard about foot fetishes (courtesy of Quentin Tarantino), now get ready for… Peach fetish!
Nah, I’m just playing. But it’s interesting how two completely different films, Parasite and Call Me By Your Name, are fixated on one butt-looking fruit. Really makes you think…
What is it about that fuzzy fruit that incites such deep fascination from directors? I truly would like to know… And once I do, you best believe I will be the first human to be casted in the newest Oscar film as a peach.
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