Newsletter: The year’s best movie opens today

Members of the Kim family have their eyes on a better life in Bong Joon-ho's thriller "Parasite."
(Neon / CJ Entertainment)

If you live in Los Angeles or New York, you’ll have the chance to see the year’s best movie today. If not ... don’t worry. “Parasite” is going to stick around well into the new year.

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I’m Glenn Whipp, The Times’ awards columnist and your newsletter host.


Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’ arrives

Since premiering at Cannes and taking the festival’s Palme d’Or prize in May, “Parasite” has been winning accolades and adoration at film festivals around the world. Times film critic Justin Chang and I sang its praises following the Toronto International Film Festival, and Justin has weighed in again with a full review of the movie, calling it “deviously entertaining.” That it is.

With “Parasite,” Bong has fashioned a thrilling and funny feature about class struggle. It asks us to identify with the Kims, a family of resourceful grifters who insinuate themselves into a wealthy family. What begins as a con-artist tale evolves into something forlorn and angry, grappling with injustice and inequality, and the forces that would compel the Kims’ attitudes and actions.

And it has a final shot that will just leave you gutted.

Looking for more about the movie? Film writer Mark Olsen, host of The Times’ entertainment podcast The Reel, led a conversation about “Parasite,” including Justin and staffer Jen Yamato.

Knives Out Rian Johnson
A backstabbing wealthy family becomes the focus of a murder investigation in Rian Johnson’s upcoming whodunit “Knives Out.”
(Claire Folger / Lionsgate)

Filmmakers exploring inequality in entertaining ways

“Parasite” is one of several movies looking at the gap between the haves and the have-nots that will play in theaters in the coming weeks. “Joker” pokes at the notion of a growing inequality, though doesn’t do much with it. The theme is present in “Hustlers” too, which follows a group of struggling strippers who start drugging Wall Street types so they can pay their bills and, yes, buy chinchilla coats.

Times film writer Josh Rottenberg took a look at these movies, which, he writes, “wouldn’t be out of place in a stump speech on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.”

“Films always respond to the world that they are born out of,” said writer-director Rian Johnson, whose excellent murder mystery “Knives Out” arrives in theaters Nov. 27. “It’s unavoidable right now that we are in a world dealing with increased income disparity, and you can feel it.”

Pedro Almodóvar and star Antonio Banderas on the set of "Pain and Glory."
Pedro Almodóvar, left, and star Antonio Banderas on the set of “Pain and Glory.”
(Manolo Pavón / Sony Pictures Classics)

Almodóvar and Banderas talk ‘Pain and Glory’

I wrote about Pedro Almodóvar’s excellent drama “Pain and Glory” last week. Perhaps some of you have had the chance to see it. Perhaps you’re waiting until it arrives in your city. In the meantime, you can read Mark Olsen’s interview with Almodóvar and the film’s star, Antonio Banderas, who plays something of an Almodóvar stand-in. It’s their eighth collaboration and definitely one of their best.


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