By John H. Foote
Every so often a film comes about that is wildly acclaimed, and I am on the outside looking in, not comprehending the acclaim. It happened with The Artist (2011), fun film, built on a gimmick, but Best Picture? Please! I felt the same gnawing annoyance about Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which I liked, but did not love. Hailed as wildly original, I saw at its core a romantic comedy, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back forever. Set against the background of brutal poverty in India and a popular game show, I suppose it had some originality but eight Academy Awards!
The one that staggers me most was The English Patient (1996) which I, in a word, hated. Yes I know the desert vistas are endlessly beautiful, the design makes the film look incredibly expensive when it was not. I did not care a hoot about the characters, except the Nurse, Hanna, played with luminous raw beauty and honesty by Juliette Binoche. The rest, I loathed. During the great emotional, romantic scene in the cave, all I was thinking was “die, for God sakes DIE!! put us out of our misery!” I did not believe the romance between Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas at all, I did believe anyone could love her and he was so muted, I wondered how she even knew he wanted her. Hated it, even more, the second time, and then it wins nine Academy Awards!
I do not believe I am wrong with these films, I stand by what I wrote.
Parasite, from South Korea, is the most OVERRATED, OVER PRAISED film of the year.
Yep, I went there. Shoot me.
What is all the fuss about?
The film is impossible to believe, to begin with. Are we expected to believe a wealthy, very intelligent family would not smell a rat with the family they hire? Rich people are rarely stupid people. The end comes out of nowhere and I did not buy it. Forced, unimaginative, not for a second did I buy it. Yet it is hailed a masterpiece and a legitimate threat to win the Academy Award as Best Picture! It seems to have already claimed Best International Feature, but France’s Les Miserables (not the musical, not the novel) is a far better film and should win this award.
But no, it seems Parasite will latch on to the Academy.
One of Canada’s best-known film critics, he spent 10 years on TV as co-host of Reel to Real, and another 10 in education (still writing as a critic) as Director of the Toronto Film School, where he created the curriculum for three programs and taught film history. Film has always been his passion. He has written for magazines such as Toronto Life, Fashion and Hollywood North, been quoted in the Los Angeles and New York Times, as well as the major Toronto dailies. Online he has written for such sites as The Wrap, In Contention, Awards Circuit and The Cinemaholic. His first book Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker, was published in 2010. His second Steven Spielberg: American Film Visionary, a massive volume, has just found a publisher and he’s working on American Film Renaissance – 1967-2018 with Nick Maylor. As a critic, he has had the good fortune to interview directors and stars such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Emma Stone, Jane Fonda, and countless others. As he quips, “Everyone but Jack Nicholson!”