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Critic’s Choice: ‘Memories of Murder’ remains one of Bong Joon Ho’s finest thrillers

Byun Hee-bong and Song Kang-ho in the movie ‘Memories of Murder’
Byun Hee-bong, left, and Song Kang-ho in the movie “Memories of Murder.”
(CJ Entertainment)

Long before his Palme d’Or-winning art-house smash, “Parasite,” South Korean writer-director Bong Joon Ho made his reputation with the brilliant investigative procedural “Memories of Murder” (2003). Inspired by Korea’s first serial killings, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province, the movie is still regarded by many as Bong’s masterpiece, comparable to David Fincher’s “Zodiac” in the way it unravels a grim true-crime saga with multiple victims and no clear answers.

Until now, perhaps. In early October, Korean authorities identified the man they believe responsible for the Hwaseong homicides, a shocking development that may finally close a uniquely terrifying chapter of the nation’s history. For audiences interested in learning more about that chapter — or simply in the mood for an early example of Bong’s singular command of tension, technique and gallows humor — “Memories of Murder” will screen Saturday at the Aero Theatre as part of the American Cinematheque’s Bong retrospective. Screening on 35-millimeter film, it’s the second half of a double bill that begins with “Okja,” his delightful 2017 speculative fiction about the adventures of a young girl and her giant, genetically modified pig.

Bong Joon Ho double: 'Okja,' 'Memories of Murder'
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2

Where: Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Tickets: $12 ($8 members)

Info: americancinemathequecalendar.com

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‘Okja,’ ‘Memories of Murder’


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