10 movies of 2019 – and more: Part 1

Here are the first 5 movies in my list.

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1. Parasite
Bong Joon-ho’s latest film “Parasite’, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival early in this year while also incidentally distinguishing itself as the first South Korean film to receive the award, is a funny and enthralling genre piece packed with superb elements to be appreciated and admired. Although I must say that I was initially not sure about its greatness unlike some other local critics, I eventually came to conclude that this is indeed a masterwork to be cherished for legitimate reasons, and I can assure you that you will not regret once you watch it.

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2. The Farewell
As an Asian audience, I knowingly smiled as watching the heroine of Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” coming inside her dear grandmother’s residence full of their family members. When I was young, I and my family routinely visited the house of my mother’s eldest brother along with many other relatives, and I still fondly remember those lively domestic moments among my family and relatives, which are not so far from those boisterous domestic moments in the film. I must confess that this warm, funny, and poignant film almost made me cry from time to time during my viewing, and, considering that I do not cry that often while watching movies, that is certainly an achievement.

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3. Marriage Story
Noah Baumbach’s latest film “Marriage Story” is a sharp and intimate story about one difficult process of divorce. When its two main characters decide to end their marital relationship, they want to divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible, but they eventually find themselves in a long, bitter legal/emotional struggle, and the movie deftly alternates between drama and comedy while never losing its deep empathy toward both of its two main characters. Yes, the movie is occasionally quite painful to watch, but we come to empathize a lot with its two main characters as getting to know them more, and that is why it is touching to see when they eventually arrive at a point where they come to understand and care about each other more than before. Sure, they move on separately now, but they do remember what they once had, and they will certainly do their best for what both of them care most.

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4. Midsommar
Ari Aster’s second feature film “Midsommar” is one hell of horror film. Alternatively unsettling and spellbinding from the beginning to the end, the movie dexterously lures us into the weird and disturbing circumstance surrounding its main characters, and then it serves us a series of bizarre moments which are not only striking for sheer terror and madness but also morbidly entertaining for a dark, vicious sense of humor. In short, this is another impressive genre work from Aster, and its commendable overall result confirms to us again that he is indeed a very talented filmmaker who really knows how to engage and terrify us.

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5. The Irishman
Martin Scorsese’s latest film “The Irishman” is a dry, long elegy to a cold, mean, and violent criminal world in the past. Although it certainly requires some patience considering its long running time (209 minutes), the movie firmly gripped my attention just like many of Scorsese’s notable works when I watched it along with a friend of mine yesterday, and I appreciated its many strong aspects although it did not excite or intrigue me as much as “Goodfellas” (1990) or his several works during recent years. Although it somehow feels less special to me compared to his recent works such as “Hugo” (2011), “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), and “Silence” (2016), I still respect how Scorsese and his crew and cast members reach for greatness, and I am glad that I watched it on a big screen.

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