Cannes Palm d’Or winner ‘Parasite’ is a brutal look at social inequality

“Parasite” is a polished effort, tightly scripted with scenes seamlessly merging into one another, despite the occasional bit of overacting. (Supplied)
Updated 11 June 2019

Cannes Palm d’Or winner ‘Parasite’ is a brutal look at social inequality

  • “Parasite” is Bong’s best work since “Memories of Murder,” “The Host” and “Okja”
  • It is a brutal portrait of class hierarchy and how it pushes people to turn to crime

CANNES: The Palm d’Or award at the recent Cannes Film Festival in France went to an Asian title for the second consecutive year.

While Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” won the honor in 2018, South Korean work “Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho clinched this year’s edition. Both movies touched on a similar theme — dysfunctional people driven to despair by inequality. Men and women come together in “Shoplifters” to form the loosest pretense of a family, in order to steal a living, but “Parasite” features a real family who try to better their lives by worming their way into a super-rich household.

A brutal portrait of class hierarchy and how it pushes people to turn to crime, “Parasite” is Bong’s best work since “Memories of Murder,” “The Host” and “Okja.” But the real beauty of this film is its ability to weave the story through an array of bumbling, almost comical, characters.

Family patriarch, Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), is brought to tears of laughter by the most mundane of his children’s achievements. “Does Oxford have a course in forgery?” he asks his daughter, Ki-Jung (Park So-dam), as she replicates a degree for her brother, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), before guffawing at his own levity.

When Ki-woo gets a chance to coach the daughter of a rich businessman, Park (Lee Sun-kyun), he leaves behind his struggling days of folding pizza boxes, and brings his sister, mother and father into the prosperous household with him. Ki-Jung begins to teach Park’s son, her mother becomes a maid and Ki-taek the chauffeur. The family’s days in a dark and damp apartment with a leaking roof are over. Or, so it appears, until a series of incidents lead to an unexpected climax.

“Parasite” is a polished effort, tightly scripted with scenes seamlessly merging into one another, despite the occasional bit of overacting. The movie might not match “Shoplifters,” but Bong’s effort is South Korea’s most impressive production in quite some time.


’People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

Updated 18 August 2019

’People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

  • The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event
  • Friday’s was the first open to the public

BAGHDAD: Members of rival Iraqi biker gangs, clad in studded leather and black berets, burst out of their semi-circles to break dance, their tattoo-covered arms waving neon glowsticks.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event, a car show and concert held at a sports stadium in the heart of Baghdad.
The scene was a far cry from the usual images broadcast from the city of violence and mayhem. But nearly two years since Iraq declared victory over the
Daesh, the capital has been quietly remaking its image.
Since the blast walls — a feature of the capital since a US-led invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein — started coming down, a less restrictive way of life has emerged.
“We held this party so people can know that Iraq has this kind of culture, and has these kinds of people who love life and music,” said Arshad Haybat, a 30-year-old film director who founded the Riot Gear events company.
Riot Gear has thrown similar parties in Iraq before, but Friday’s was the first open to the public.
The day started with young men showing off imported muscle cars and motorcycles. By nightfall, it had turned into a pulsating electronic dance music (EDM) show.
Iraqi hip-hop collective Tribe of Monsters played a mix of EDM and Trap music as young men, clasping elaborate vape pens, danced through strobe lights and smoke machines, livestreaming their moves on Snapchat and Instagram.
It was a heady mix of Baghdad’s burgeoning subcultures: bikers, gamers, EDM enthusiasts. What most had in common was they’d never been to a party like this in Iraq.
“We have only ever seen this kind of concert on TV and films,” said 21-year-old Mustafa Osama. “I can’t describe my feelings to see such a thing in Iraq.”
Though dominated by young men, lots of women attended, with some dancing near the main stage. But event organizers ensured a “family section” was available, so groups of women, families and couples out on dates could dance, away from the lively crowd.
“All the young people are happy here,” said Ain, one of the female partygoers who declined to give her last name. “I hope there will be more and more of these events in Iraq.”