In Review: Parasite

In an era where discussions of class structures and all of the inherent systemic evils are constantly at the forefront of both our conversations and the art that responds, master storytelling Bong Joon-ho may have just given us a definitive text. Parasite, his newest blend of classic genres pushed into a daring new future, is far-reaching and immersive in its ideas, a contained piece of essential cinema. It expresses how we live today and how we feel, all while unfolding with unexpected consequences and reveals that serve its look at wealth inequity.

But aside from its ability to condemn the forces upholding our social strata and how it delights us in doing so, Parasite reveals the wounded soul at the heart of the suffering, and the things that keep us apart from even those closest to us. Parasite is an uproarious and furious heartbreaker, one to let consume you with the might of its full force.

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In Review: Jojo Rabbit

The laughs die quickly in Jojo Rabbit, writer-director Taika Waititi’s newest whimsical farce. Set in the dying days of Nazi Germany, a preteen would-be soldier named Jojo (played by Roman Griffin Davis) in the youth army struggles to fit in with his Reich peers. No matter, because he has the faith of his imaginary friend, a cartoonish version of Adolf Hitler played by none other than Waititi himself. Its silly and convincing opening act soon falls into one-note flatness as things turn to sentimentalism, giving us Waititi’s weakest film and one that frustrates in its fleeting successes.

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In Review: First Love

Grandmaster Takashi Miike returns with another crime saga and genre hybrid in First Love, a downshift in his trademark provocation but no less spirited. This time Miike turns fablistic in rooting through violence, capturing a young love starting in the crosshairs of the criminal underworld. He’s as witty as ever, and as idiosyncratic, but this film is much more tame in its delights, losing much of the director’s signature danger in the process.

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In Review: Judy

The glossiest of biopics arrives with Judy, Rupert Goold’s adaptation of Peter Quilter’s play The End of the Rainbow that details the final performing days of Judy Garland. In order to prevent homelessness and lose complete custody of her two young children, the faded legend Judy Garland took on headlining a series of concerts in London in the late 60s. The film follows her struggles with stage fright and addictions as she struggles to match her legacy, years of insomnia and anxiety taking its toll on her voice and psyche. It’s a blend of the somber and the splashy, a sometimes inelegant tonal soup that is nevertheless elevated by a transformative performance from Renée Zellweger as Garland in her most tragic days.

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In Review: Vita and Virginia

Some costume dramas excite in their mere opulence, bringing to life a former era with delicious design elements; some view their period ironically, winking at their subjects with anachronisms to appeal to modern audiences. Vita and Virginia, director Chanya Button’s take on Virginia Woolf’s affair with writer Vita Sackville-West, excels in its refusal to be stuffy by fusing elements of the two approaches. It’s something left-of-center in a traditional costume drama’s clothing, and arrestingly so.

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