We are now in the year one APW, or After Parasite’s Wins, when the Academy, and thus the rest of the English-speaking world, finally recognised the pure genius of filmmaker Bong Joon-ho.
Parasite not only won Best International Feature (formerly Best Foreign Film) but also Best Picture and garnered Bong the Best Director Award. Bong is nearly tied with Walt Disney for the most Oscars won in one night (the Best International win goes to to South Korea, not Bong, so the technicality stands, sigh).
But Bong’s talents have been around for a long time. Though we have Parasite to thank for the kind of global recognition Bong deserves, now is a great time to delve into the filmmaker’s other works. But how can you watch them now, at home?
These are films where Bong was both writer and director:
Barking Dogs Never Bite
The 2000 dark comedy-drama was Bong’s first feature where he both wrote and directed, and it was his directorial debut. The film is tough to find on streaming platforms in the UK, but if you’re in the USA you can watch it online on Amazon Prime.
In the UK, you can buy it as a Region 4 DVD (which means you need a multiregion DVD player to watch it). The synopsis reads: “An idle part-time college lecturer is annoyed by the yapping sound of a nearby dog. He decides to take drastic action.” Though there’s no critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is a positive 78 percent.
Memories of Murder
In Memories of Murder, a big-city detective helps two inept small-town cops investigate a serial killer. The 2003 film is even harder to find than Barking Dogs Never Bite – the Amazon DVD is Region 2 (so same multiregion requirement as above) is a whopping £49.99.
Strange but true, though – the whole movie is available to watch on YouTube for free! Legally! Rejoice!
It has a page on the USA Amazon Prime to stream, but weirdly you’re not actually allowed to do so. Now that Parasite has won big, though, UK and US platforms may be hustling to get their hands on licensing.
Finally, a Bong Joon-ho movie you can watch online! The Host is about a monster that emerges from Seoul’s Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people. One victim’s loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.
You can watch it online on Amazon Prime for £3.49. You can buy it on Blu-ray on Amazon, too. The Host is, like Parasite, an allegory for a larger theme – the struggle of ordinary people in the face of extraordinary things (whether it be capitalism or a giant river monster).
No, not that mother!. This is another movie of Bong’s that is unavailable (despite having a page) to stream. You can, however, buy it on Blu-ray or DVD on Amazon. The Blu-ray comes with bonus features like interviews with Bong and a making-of sequence.
The thriller follows a widow (Kim Hye-ja) who resides with her mentally challenged son (Won Bin) in a small South Korean town, where she scrapes out a living selling medicinal herbs. Mother and son are plunged into a nightmare when the body of a murdered young girl is discovered.
Circumstantial evidence indicates the son’s involvement, and he becomes the prime suspect during the sloppy police investigation. Betrayed by the legal system, the mother takes the law into her own hands to clear her son’s name.
One of the things that made Bong Joon-ho’s win for Parasite so sweet was its timing. As Bong was likely getting tanked at the Oscar’s after party, Harvey Weinstein continues his journey through the criminal justice system.
What do these things have to do with each other? Well, Weinstein buried Snowpiercer‘s release when Bong refused to make edits the way Weinstein wanted, as Bong recounted to Vulture.
The director stuck to his guns and got his cut of the film released, albeit “kicked the movie down to the company’s independent arm, Radius” where it got a limited release. Bong said: “Maybe for [Weinstein], it was some kind of punishment to a filmmaker who doesn’t do what he wants. But for me, we were all very happy. ‘Yeah! Director’s cut!'”
We were happy too (and gave it five stars!). Watch Snowpiercer on Amazon Prime Video, or buy it on DVD.
In Okja, Bong managed to sneak in some commentary about the battle with Weinstein over his previous film, Snowpiercer. In real life, Bong was dragged to Paramus, New Jersey, where a test audience slated Weinstein’s cut of Snowpiercer. Okja sees Mija’s titular pet super-pig Okja brought to a slaughterhouse – in Paramus.
The movie starred Snowpiercer alumna Tilda Swinton, and is available to watch on Netflix, which means unfortunately you can’t buy a DVD.
Yay Parasite! You can go see it in the cinema, which we highly recommend.
Parasite is now playing in cinemas.
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