Friday flicks: Bong Joon Ho

For this week’s Friday Flicks, we’re highlighting Director Bong Joon Ho. Bong Joon Ho is famous for his unique style, often featuring a strange and seamless mix of dark comedy, slapstick humour, and intense drama. He’s one of only nine directors in history who’ve won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay all for one movie (Parasite). That same movie was the first ever foreign-language film to win Best Picture. He’s also the first Korean to win the Oscar for Best Director. When asked about his achievement after receiving four Oscars at the 2020 awards ceremonies, Bong stated, “I will drink until next morning” which gives us all the more reason to love him. While he’s most well known for Parasite and Okja, he’s written and directed a number of other incredible films across a variety of genres that are absolutely worth watching. This week we’ll look at a handful of those films (including one that’s in English for those viewers who truly hate subtitles 😅).  

Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)

Yun-ju is a failing academic with a pregnant wife and very little interest in life. We witness his descent into madness as he sits at home, attempting to revive his career, tormented by the relentless yapping of a neighbour’s dog. Taking action on the one thing in his life that he can possibly change, Yun-ju is brought into the strange and bizarre plot of this film. Hyeon-nam works in the very same apartment block, experiencing a similar kind of listlessness and finding purpose in the same endeavor – the apartment block dogs. If you’re a die-hard dog lover, this movie is probably not for you. If you’re a fan of dark comedy, you’re in for a hilarious and peculiar ride. The absurd plot leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next after each scene and truly, anything could happen. I can’t say much more without giving anything away, but trust me this is a great watch. 

This movie would pair particularly well with a THC-infused beverage, which is enough to have you giggling through the film without missing the more subtle layers of humour. 

The Host (2006)

The American Military has been dumping toxic waste into the Han River and it’s had a terrifying effect on the ecosystem. A lazy vendor (played by Kang-ho Song) who works at his father’s snack shack by the river is forced into action when a mutated river monster climbs out of the water and begins to attack and eat everything in sight. When his daughter is taken, his family quickly decides that amongst all the chaos and death, they’re going to have to save her themselves. In classic Bong Joon Ho style, this movie doesn’t fit into any one genre, blending horror, drama, and comedy to make something truly entertaining and endearing. With incredible acting performances across the board, excellent cinematography, witty writing, and a very convincing river monster, this is truly a quality film. While it’s full of commentary on the role of government control during disaster times, the mysterious and possibly malicious intent of the military, and the dynamics of family, The Host is also simply terrifying and hilarious. 

You can watch this movie for a film class and pick apart the complex concepts or (like in our case😉) get incredibly stoned and enjoy a wild theatrical ride, and that’s what makes it so dang good. 

Memories of Murder (2003)

Two dimwitted detectives are investigating two horrific murders in their small Korean province. As more women turn up dead, they realize they may be dealing with a serial killer, something they are woefully unprepared for at this tiny police precinct in 1986 Korea. Kang-ho Song, who plays the lazy father in The Host, gives a fantastic performance as Detective Park Doo-man, the incompetent, hot-headed, ego-driven detective who at the same time is genuinely tormented by the cruel killer who seems to hunt freely, and somewhat sloppily, in the province. Like many other great directors, Bong has a number of ‘favourite actors’, and you’ll understand why Kang-ho Song is one of them as soon as you’ve seen one of his films. His ability to deliver on Bong’s script, taking us from full-on laughter to edge-of-your-seat drama within moments, is exactly what this film needed. Based on a true story, you could classify it as a crime drama or true crime film. It’s a terrifying, suspenseful, and at times very funny story that will leave you sitting in silence as the credits roll. 

Snowpiercer (2013)

Due to a climate-change experiment gone wrong, the Earth is thrown into an ice age and what’s left of humankind is now living on a train that endlessly circles the globe. A strict social hierarchy has evolved on the train, with the richest passengers living in the front cars and enjoying the finest luxuries life has to offer while the “scum” live meager lives at the back of the train, surviving on unappealing rations under brutal conditions. For those of you who aren’t a fan of subtitles, this is an English-language film starring names we all know like Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, and of course, Kang-ho Song! It’s difficult to talk about this film without getting into the obvious and brilliant commentary on class hierarchy and climate change, and how the two intersect to expose some of the darkest and most virulent aspects of humanity. However, I’ll focus on the fact that it’s an action-packed, violent, emotional, and unpredictable film that, in classic Bong manor, will have you fully engaged from start to finish. And while it all sounds very intense, there are some welcome splashes of humour to keep you from reaching for the tissues. This sci-fi action thriller has become a timeless classic for a reason, and you won’t regret watching it. 

We hope you enjoy our selection! Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram if any of our Friday Flicks made it into your movie night, and stay tuned for more recommendations every other Friday on our blog 😊

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