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Bong Joon-ho's Movies, and Reasons to Watch Them

Darius is a former high school literary and feature writer that loves reading books, listening to music, and watching movies.

Bong Joon-ho's sensational black comedy "Parasite," nominated in six categories, including best picture, at the upcoming Oscars, has been invited to 57 film festivals and award events across the world, and collected 55 trophies.

Bong Joon-ho's sensational black comedy "Parasite," nominated in six categories, including best picture, at the upcoming Oscars, has been invited to 57 film festivals and award events across the world, and collected 55 trophies.

Opening of the Scenes

Movies have been around for years ever since the discovery of "moving pictures." It evolves from time-to-time, adapting to its patrons' needs, and experiments on how it would remain intact into their consciousness once the credits roll-out or after taking that very first step outside of the movie theater.

Some of Bong Joon-ho's well-known movies you can watch or have watched.

MoviesYearRottenTomatoesIMDb

Memories of Murder

2003

90%

8.1/10

The Host

2006

93%

7/10

Mother

2009

96%

7.8/10

Snowpiercer

2013

95%

7.1/10

Okja

2017

86%

7.3/10

Parasite

2019

99%

8.6/10

I stumbled upon a familiar and "noisy" film that has been released by year 2019 while scrolling through my social networking sites' feed and looking in various webpages.

"Parasite" is a South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho. I quickly looked at its movie scores in RottenTomatoes, IMDb, and Metacritic to see just how good this movie is. And to my quick observation, along with various numbers of high-rated reviews and blogs online, the movie itself is marked as one of 2019's best films to ever be created. I quickly dug more into its details and synopsis online, even spoiling myself with the plot by watching very short "pirated" or "director's cut" scenes on YouTube, and thought that this movie will pique your interest and will leave you on the edge of the seat.

Since then, I quickly looked at the director's name and searched for more of his movies. It turned out that most of his works are either numerously nominated for an award or have won various awards from giant film-awarding societies and awards from his home, South Korea.

I could still remember the first time I've watched his "The Host" and "Snowpiercer" on our home's television. If you were me, your eyes wouldn't budge a blink or look away from any unforeseen detail that may occur. So you sit there or lie on a couch with almost nothing moving besides, of course, your breathing. You would not even dare to take a second to go to the bathroom, or else you will miss something important that might happen within the story. Don't let their film trailers fool you, as well for they are like wrapped gifts with lots of layers to be uncovered.

Snowpiercer's movie cover.

Snowpiercer's movie cover.

As I have observed and read through multiple facets, reviews, and blogs about his works online, and as well as a first-hand viewer of at least three of his work, most of them revolve around a well-scrutinized view of the world: from the blunt showing of major gaps and distances existing between the rich and the poor to a subtle yet terrifying exposition of individual self-destructive traits that could wreak-havoc within anyone. His movies also depict:

  • satire of consumerism and capitalism,
  • negligence and ignorance of the protection of the environment would lead to such catastrophic events affecting innocent people,
  • "criticisms" on how national and global governments poorly handle unfortunate events,
  • how extreme beliefs could change lives, for better or worse, and
  • how different classes within a society is specifically defined by how they live and how they plan to "move above the ladder" and plan to "stay on that level of the ladder,"

Unlike many other movies, most sequences of events from his movies would assume its place on small spaces within your mind and will continue to play in a loop for a long time.

What I find fascinating about him is that he writes all of his works. You'll also know that "this is his work" when a film seemingly starts off subtle, light, and smooth, like film sequences that's straight out of Studio Ghibli movies, and then ends with something that would leave you feeling empty, conflicted, or needing more. He has this "sure-kill" strike whenever the film gets to that point. And by this, he means that he would often show his viewers the reality of it all, especially in our world instead of hiding behind rainbow-colored curtains of imaginations. And then you'll know that the film you just watched is truly his work.

Bong Joon-ho Expresses Interest in Directing an Episode of Netflix’s “Mindhunter

Bong Joon-ho Expresses Interest in Directing an Episode of Netflix’s “Mindhunter

Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. He garnered international acclaim for his second feature film Memories of Murder, before achieving commercial success with his subsequent films The Host and Snowpiercer, both of which are among the highest-grossing films of all time in South Korea.

Bong Joon-ho was born in Daegu in 1969 and decided to become a filmmaker while in middle school. Despite his passion for film, he did not enroll for a theater major in university due to his parents' disagreement. He majored in sociology at Yonsei University in the late 1980s and was a member of the film club there.

After graduating, he spent the next five years contributing in various capacities to works by other directors. Shortly afterward, Bong began shooting his first feature Barking Dogs Never Bite under producer Cha Seung-Jae, a film about a low-ranking university lecturer who abducts a neighbor's dog shot in the same apartment complex where Bong had lived after getting married.

I always write the script by myself.

— Bong Joon-ho

Whenever I meet a new director like Bong Joon-ho via films or the internet, I always happen to speculate if that director's name suddenly flashes onto a new movie trailer then I will already know that the movie, itself, would be artistical, almost gut-wrenching, twisted, in a way, but awesomely well-crafted and executed.

At the 76th Golden Globe awards, Parasite director Bong Joon Ho collected the award for best foreign-language film. His translator addressed the audience on his behalf, telling them: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” The sarcasm was palpable, even through a translator.

Director Bong Joon-ho in an interview.

Director Bong Joon-ho in an interview.

The Host marked a step up in scale in Bong's career, and indeed for the Korean film industry as a whole. The big-budget work centered on a fictional monster that rises up out of the Han River to wreak havoc on the people of Seoul and on one family in particular. Featuring many of the actors who had appeared in his previous films, the film was the focus of strong audience interest even before it started shooting, but many doubts were raised about whether a Korean production could rise to the challenge of creating a full-fledged, believable digital monster.

In 2011, Bong served as a jury member for the 27th Sundance Film Festival. He was also the head of the jury for the Caméra d'Or section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and the 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

2013 saw the release of Bong's first English-language film Snowpiercer, based on the graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jean-Marc Rochette and Jacques Lob.

In 2017, Bong Joon-ho premiered Okja at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film was met with displeasure, mixed with applause, during its premiere at the film festival, once when the Netflix logo appeared on screen and again during a technical glitch (which got the movie projected in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes). The festival later issued an apology to the filmmakers. However, despite the studio's negative response, the film itself received a four-minute standing ovation.

In 2019, Bong directed the full Korean-language film Parasite, a comedy thriller about a poor family that insinuates itself into a wealthy household. The film premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, becoming the first Korean film to receive the award and the first film to do so with a unanimous vote since 2013's Blue Is the Warmest Colour. It was subsequently selected as the South Korean entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Along with the directing, the effective and artistical use of cinematography in his films are phenomenal.

Along with the directing, the effective and artistical use of cinematography in his films are phenomenal.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching movies as much as the next guys I've seated with in the theaters. But only a handful could do so magnificent that I tend to leave before I even finish the whole thing. And you might be thinking that this action isn't considered for someone who loves movies. But, in fact it does. Observe the critics during premiers and film festivals. They either stay because they have nothing less to do with their schedules, or they leave because they've already deemed any movie worth scrutiny just before the opening acts. Almost most film reviews and analysis cover what breaks a film, and what doesn't make them. And I don't blame them since the reviewer and I can have the same mindset. They remind me of Anton Ego from Ratatouille, before the final sequences by the way where his character development took a total 180. "I don't like food. I LOVE it. If I don't love it, I don't swallow." I particularly like movies if the movie itself doesn't leave your mind even after you've finished it; I like movie that'll make you think, and not shown in front of a screen just because for sheer entertainment.

Eastern movies aren't my cup of tea back then. Their dramas aren't my favored cheese and crackers, either. But there are most out there worth watching if given chances. These films are jaw-dropping, exciting, and sometimes filled with suspense. I see the differences made between Eastern and Western films. Some of this notable differences is the overlay and underlay of heavy tones run across a narrative you couldn't structure. And it's a fun way of discovery, the knowing of two (or more) worlds. I like Western films for their heavy CGI, action-packed capabilities. And I like Eastern films for the grave storytelling, those worth exploring and thinking about. This likeability can also happen in any genre, in vice-versa. And the way how director Bong emphasizes the importance of film exploration resonates how there could more amazing films, produced by known and unknown directors, out there that needs the attention they deserve.

© 2019 Darius Razzle Paciente