What better way to try out the new Movies & TV Shows community than talk about the man of the hour, Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho.
Before his debut feature film, Bong worked on a variety of projects as screenwriter and assistant director. But we'll begin our journey with hi actual debut - Barking Dogs Never Bite.
Immediately, Bong's trademarks are on full display - a wicked sense of humour, local issues but universally relevant, class differences, intermixing of different genres and moods, etc. Indeed, his debut may feature some of the most biting (sorry, couldn't resist) satire of his career. There are definitely some rough edges, but Bong's love for the medium is evident.
On to what's still Bong's best film - Memories of Murder. There's nothing quite like it, and yet, it is like many other great films. It combines a plethore of genres, tones, and themes, and does so in an almost invisibly entertaining manner. This is also Bong's first collaboration with Song Kang-ho, which is quickly reaching the heights of Scorsese-De Niro or Kurosawa-Mifune for greatest long-term actor-director collaboration. Memories of Murder is one of those rare films that's highly recommended to every audience - whether it be casual viewers familiar only with Hollywood blockbusters, or the most ardent of cinephiles.
And that's Bong's greatest strength. He demonstrates that smart, entertaining films can appeal to a broad audience, make a shitload of money, all while zero "dumbing-down" or pandering.
The Host was Bong's breakout commercial success. Equipped with a relatively sizeable budget, Bong once proves Hollywood wrong by showing how visual effects can be used seamlessly to enhance a human narrative, rather than becoming the narrative. By now, he's an international sensation, and being poached by Hollywood studios.
Of course, this being Bong Joon-ho, he moves in the opposite direction, collaborating with Michel Gondry and Leos Carax for the anthology film Tokyo!
Then, he goes back to his roots with Mother. Of all his films, this is perhaps the most genre-bending, tonal-shifting of the lot. While there are hints of earlier, this is the first film we see Bong start to incorporate heavy visual motifs to complement these tonal shifts, in addition to the writing.
For the next few years, Bong heads off to Hollywood, to deliver primarily English-language Snowpiercer and Okja. Arguably, these are two of his weaker films, but nonetheless still interesting and feature all of Bong's penchant. I think what may have not worked as well are the more fantastical Hollywood-ish settings - for Bong's absurdity to work, a grounded setting seems to work well.
That brings us to Parasite. While it lacks some of the charm of Memories of Murder, Parasite is the perfect culmination of Bong's career. Once again, he takes strong themes that seem local, but really, are universal. As Bong puts it, "Capitalism is a worldwide region", and boy does he go to town. This is a meticulously constructed film, with phenomenal world-building, biting humour and pretty much no flaws. Almost to a fault, as it does lack some of the playful charm of his previous films. Still, it's a rare film that thoroughly deserves the Academy Award for Best Picture.
What next? He has two films in the works - one in English and the other in Korean. No matter how they turn out, you can be rest assured I'll be queuing to watch them. Bong Joon-ho is one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation.