John says go see Parasite -- it's going to win an Oscar

It was a pretty good year for movies. But to me, one film stood out for its originality, humor, and some big surprises that might shock you

January 8, 2020
Movie theater showing Parasite

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The Oscar nominations won’t be announced until Monday (January 13.) But I can tell you right now that a prime Best Picture contender (and probably a top Foreign Film candidate, too) will be Parasite. Take it to the bank.

Although its title makes it sound a little like some kind of horror film in which a slimy creature attaches itself to innocent civilians, Parasite isn't anything like that. And while you may be turned off by the fact that it’s a South Korean film, in Korean, with English subtitles, do NOT let that stop you from going. (As an old pal of mine used to say, “If I’m spending $12 at the movies, it should be in English and there shouldn’t be words on the screen. If I want to read, I’ll buy a magazine.” Well, get over yourself. In this case, it’s worth bringing your glasses.)

I can’t even really tell you much about the plot of Parasite because the less you know, the more fun this movie is. I guess you could call it a black comedy; it’s got almost a Quentin Tarantino vibe in that you never really know where it’s going and some things happen that may shock and upset you. It’s set in South Korea. It focuses on a close-knit but financially desperate family in a poor urban neighborhood and the way they cleverly turn a random job opportunity for the son into a goldmine for the whole family . . . until things get weird. Really weird. And that’s about all I can tell you.

Actually, I guess I could tell you that Parasite is a commentary on income inequality in the 21st Century. Or that it's a classic story of "fake it till you make it" that goes w-a-a-y-y-y off the rails. Whatever. There's really no point in trying to tell you what it's about because it seems like it's one thing, and then it turns into a whole other thing. You're better off just going along for the ride and being surprised.

You’re not going to recognize any of the stars. You’re going to have to read subtitles. You’ll laugh a lot. And then there will come a point where you may not even be able to look at the screen except between your fingers as you cringe in anticipation. But trust me; this is a totally original and exhilarating movie.

There are some great films contending for Oscars this year. I loved Once Upon A Time . . . . In Hollywood, Marriage Story, and Uncut Gems, to name a few, and if any of them turned out to win Best Picture, I’d be happy. But my vote goes to the surprising, engaging, funny and unpredictable Parasite. I promise you're not going to say, "I feel like I've seen this story before."

Go see it and tell me how you liked it.

(You can email me at

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