STREAMING PICK OF THE WEEK: It’s about time you watched Bong Joon-ho’s movies

Many films of this Oscar-winning director available to stream at home


Graphic by Bradley Hinkson. “Parasite” photo courtesy of Neon.

Bradley Hinkson

Every week, I’ll be recommending a film or television show currently available on certain streaming websites. New or old, it does not matter. I’ll recommend anything that I feel should be seen by many people.

With everything going on, it feels like Bong Joon-ho’s historic Oscar win happened over a year, not two months ago. 

For the general American public, that win may have been the first time they had heard of Bong. Now, many people may be wanting to see his other films. Thankfully a couple of streaming services are here to help.

Bong Joon-ho is one of the most talented directors of his time. With more exposure to his films now thanks to their availability on most streaming platforms, Bong’s films may be able to branch out to a wider audience and become a household name.

Parasite (Hulu)

“Parasite” made a huge impact after winning the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and its impact is still here. It won four Oscars and people still talk about it.

Without spoiling the film, the plot is brilliant and surprises you at every turn. 

What starts out as a funny and somewhat lighthearted story about two families of different classes turns into something much darker and intense. It’s a tough tonal switch to juggle but Bong is such an accomplished filmmaker that he pulls it off like a perfect magic trick.

It’s an intelligent commentary on class disparity and how manipulative those in higher class can be. If you haven’t seen “Parasite,” watch it immediately. The film has already become the second most watched film on Hulu in just over a week.

“The Host” (Hulu)

The best thing about Bong’s filmography is the wide variety of genres it has. So how about we go from a thriller to a giant monster film.

“The Host” may not fit the mold of what some audiences might want from a “giant monster film.” It   does have some exciting scenes of the monster rampaging, but at its core it’s a story of a family trying to save one of their own in the midst of  government incompetence.

Like many of Bong’s films, “The Host” doesn’t adhere to just one tone or genre. Even though this could be categorized as just a monster film, it’s also very funny. 

There’s a lot of strong political commentary. It highlights environmentalism, as the creature is created by the dumping of harsh chemicals into the Han River. 

It also comments on the incompetence of governments during crises. Many people who come into contact with the monster have to be placed in quarantine because they are told the monster is a host of deadly viruses. 

This does not go over well. Though it is revealed there is no virus, it seems as relevant as ever to see how the government deals with events like these. Especially when they’ve made the issue much worse.

“The Host” has everything I love about Bong’s films. 

“Okja” (Netflix)

There is a chance you may have heard of or even seen this film because it is a Netflix original but if you haven’t, just know this might be Bong at his wildest.

“Okja” is what happens when you take an “E.T.”-esque story of a young child and their magical creature and mix it with Bong’s unique tone and political themes.

This film has some of Bong’s most jarring tonal shifts — it goes from this fun almost lighthearted adventure film to a serious look at the treatment of animals for personal corporate gain. Bong never loses control of the film through all of this, thanks in part to the strange and unique characters and the world he had created.

The film boasts Bong’s biggest cast next to “Snowpiercer,” also available on Netflix.  The cast members are doing some truly great stuff.

Tilda Swinton, my favorite actress, gets to go all out in two different roles in the film and Jake Gyllenhaal gives an over the top performance unlike any other he’s ever given. I’m sure when you think Gyllenhaal you don’t think of a tight-short wearing, high-pitched zoologist. 

“Okja” may not be the most subtle in what it wants to say about genetically modified food and how animals are treated but Bong doesn’t care. After you watch this film, you’ll probably have a hard time eating meat the same way again. 

You’ll be worried that you’re eating Okja.

Start checking out his filmography as soon as possible. You’re missing out on some truly great stuff. 

Oh, and if you have a problem with many of his films being in Korean and needing to read subtitles, might I suggest you take Hulu’s advice.