The works of Bong Joon-ho

5개월 전

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.

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On to what's still Bong's best film - Memories of Murder.

I completely agree. I actually watched the film years ago when I was just starting to really get into international cinema. It was one of the first I saw, and had no idea of what to expect. I then went on to watch The Host and the rest.

What I love about Memories of Murder, compared to his other works, is how grounded it is, given the story it's telling. It feels like a very realistic depiction of desperation and gradual loss of humanity. It doesn't shy away from displaying a gritty lifestyle in the muddy countryside. The whole film just feels so bleak.

Also, it's great to have you join the community. It's been great seeing you write about film and tv shows recently. I look forward to seeing more!

I'm really looking forward to watch his next projects.

I'd watched Snowpiercer a few years ago without knowing anything about the director and I didn't pay any attention to him until Parasite came around. Thanks for the rundown on him.

Thanks for sharing recap of Bong Joon-ho's work. I haven't seen Parasite yet, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing it. Regardless of Trump's recent comments. :-)


Classic tweet here from the American distributors of Parasite.


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Memories of Murder is a masterpiece. After Parasite won so many awards I wonder how many people are discovering Korean cinema for the first time. I envy those people in a way because they have a massive backlog of absolutely excellent films to watch now :)