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Parasite: Everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-nominated film | Ents & Arts News

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Parasite has made history as the first Korean film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars.

With five additional Academy awards nods, four BAFTA nods and a Golden Globe and Palme d’Or already in the bag, it’s one of the most talked about films of the year.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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It’s a story of haves and have-nots, told through two families. Pic. Studio Canal

What’s Parasite about?

Parasite is a social satire about two families, the poor Kim family and rich Park family.

The Kims live in a squalid basement flat, while the Parks lead an Instagram perfect life.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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The film has a legion of fans who use the #BongHive. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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The Park family have an aspirational lifestyle in a gorgeous house. Pic. Studio Canal

But when the Kims are gifted a ‘scholars rock’ (Korean stones that are believed to bring wisdom) their fortunes start to change.

Led by the son of the family, who becomes a tutor for the Park’s daughter, the Kims infiltrate the lives of the wealthy family one by one, telling the odd lie along the way.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal

However, just when the Kims start getting used to the added perks of their new employers, things take a very dark turn.

Capitalism, greed and class discrimination are the stand out themes.

Who’s the director?

It’s the seventh feature film from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho.

The 50-year-old filmmaker is known for his political commentary, black humour and long-takes which incorporate multiple on-screen happenings.

Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics' Choice Awards
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Bong Joon-Ho shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards

Mixing genres, playing with rhythm and sudden mood shifts are also Bong trademarks.

Bong already achieved mainstream success with 2017 adventure Okja, about a genetically modified superpig, and 2013 climate-change disaster movie Snowpiercer.

Parasite has now firmly established him as one of the world’s leading filmmakers.

What’s the inspiration?

Bong came up with the idea for Parasite in 2013, prompted by the notion that “everyone loves to spy on the private lives of strangers”.

Bong himself was briefly a maths tutor for a rich family when he was a student, but unlike Ki-wood in the film, he was fired after just a few months. He says it’s because he was “horrible at maths”.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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The lives of the rich and beautiful will always be of interest to others. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Bong was once a tutor himself, but it didn’t work out. Pic. Studio Canal

Bong doesn’t specifically label any of his characters as villains, and the identity of the ‘parasites’ of the title is open to interpretation.

In his director’s statement he calls it “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains, all leading to a violent tangle and a headlong plunge down the stairs”.

Is it subtitled?

Yes. The film is based in South Korea, and the actors speak Korean throughout.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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The film is in Korean, with subtitles throughout. Pic. Studio Canal

The film did not qualify for the best picture category in the Golden Globes for this very reason.

The Globes stipulate each nominee must feature “more than 50% English dialogue”.

What age rating is it?

Parasite has a 15 rating, listing strong bloody violence, language, sex and sex references as features of the film.

How long is it?

It has a fairly long running time of two hours and 12 minutes.

Who’s in it?

The film stars the director’s frequent collaborator, actor Song Kang Ho as, Ki-teak – an unemployed and unambitious 50-something, and patriarch of the Kim family.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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South Korean actor Song Kang Ho leads the cast. Pic. Studio Canal

Other lead cast members include Jang Hye-jin as his supportive wife Chung-sook; Choi Woo-Shik as his college-age son Ki-wood and Park So-Dam as his cynical twenty-something daughter Ki-jung.

Despite their critically acclaimed performances, none of the stars were nominated in any of the Oscar acting categories. The inevitable language barrier is likely to have impeded their chances.

What are people saying about it?

The film’s been a massive hit with audiences and critics in the South Korea (where it came out in May) and the US (where it came out in October – four months ahead of the UK release date).

Critics have called it a “masterpiece”, hailing Bong as “one of the best filmmakers in the world” and some have even compared him to master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

Parasite had the most successful opening weekend in America since La La Land in 2016, making it the best-ever performing foreign language film at the box-office.

It has since grossed nearly $150m (£115m) worldwide.

Movie aggregation website IMDB have scored it 8.6, based on over 140,000 user ratings.

Rotten Tomatoes say it’s 99% fresh, based on 350 reviews.

And what is #BongHive?

The movie has spawned a host of memes on social media, with fans of the film adopting the hashtag #BongHive.

Initially set up by three young writers, the film’s distributor Neon has wasted no time capitalising on the social following.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Social media has helped spread the movie far and wide. Pic. Studio Canal

Merchandise has followed, including T-shirts, hats and a ringtone.

Bong, who’s not on social media, says he’s grateful for the positive response.

Are they making a TV show?

HBO are planning to turn the film into an English language TV series according to Variety, with Bong and Vice director Adam McKay heading up the production.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Fans will be pleased to hear there’s likely to be a TV show to follow. Pic. Studio Canal

Bong told Deadline he wanted to cram in all the ideas that wouldn’t fit into the two-hour film.

It’s not yet known whether this expanded Parasite production will be set in America or South Korea.

Will it win an Oscar?

It stands a very good chance, and has been nominated for six Oscars – best film, best director, original screenplay, film editing, production design and best international feature film.

It’s made history as the first Korean movie to ever receive a nod for best picture.

Only 11 international films have ever been nominated in the Academy’s most high-profile category in its 92 year history.

Should it win – it will be the first foreign language film to ever do so.

It’s also the first Korean film to be nominated for best international film.

Bong is the only BAME filmmaker to make the best director category.

The Oscars are held in Los Angeles on Sunday 9 February.

What does Bong think of that?

Bong says he watched nominations at home on his tablet and was particularly anxious during the best picture category as Parasite wasn’t announced until last of a list of nine.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Bong’s wait was worth it, with Parasite getting six Oscar nods. Pic. Studio Canal

It was read out after 1917 and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood as presenters always reveal movies in alphabetical order.

He called it big event for the Korean film industry, and a rare and precious opportunity for Asian cinema as well.

Bong said he hopes it will serve as inspiration for a lot of people.

What other big awards has it already won?

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and was unanimously voted the winner of the Palme d’Or. It’s the first Korean film to win the prestigious prize.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
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Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal

It won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film too.

And Bong shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as taking best foreign language film.

Aside from Oscars, what else could it add to its haul?

It’s now in the running for four BAFTAS – best film, best director, best original screenplay and best film not in the English language.

The BAFTA ceremony takes place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 2 February.

When’s it out?

Parasite is out in around 150 UK cinemas from Friday 7 February, and will then be released in around 300 cinema from mid-February.

It will come to Amazon Prime Video in the summer.

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Syria: Turkey threatens Idlib military offensive as talks with Russia break down | World News

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Talks between Turkey and Russia over the conflict in Syria’s Idlib province have broken down as Ankara said it was only a “matter of time” before it launched a military offensive.

The two countries back opposing sides in the nine-year Syria conflict, but had promised to try to find a political solution to end it.

However, 13 Turkish troops were killed during a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, which borders Turkey, toppling the fragile balance.



Syrian dad teaches daughter how to cope with bombs - with laughter







How one dad taught daughter to cope with blasts in Idlib

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said no agreement had been reached on Wednesday but the Syrian government, which Moscow supports, is upholding previous agreements and also reacting to provocations.

He said militant attacks on Syrian and Russian forces are continuing in Idlib where almost a million civilians have been driven from their homes since December in Syria’s largest single displacement in the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his ruling AK Party the talks were unsatisfactory and “the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time”.

He said Turkey, which supports several Syrian opposition groups, was determined to make Idlib a secure zone “no matter the cost”.

“We are entering the last days for the (Syrian) regime to stop its hostility in Idlib. We are making our final warnings,” Mr Erdogan said.

“We did not reach the desired results in our talks. The talks will continue, but it is true that we are far from meeting our demands at the table.

“Turkey has made every preparation to carry out its own operational plans. I say that we can come at any point. In other words, the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an offensive on Idlib 'is only a matter of time'
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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an offensive on Idlib ‘is only a matter of time’

Ankara and Moscow signed an agreement in 2018 to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib which allowed both sides to set up military observation posts.

Since violence escalated in the region, both sides have engaged in a tit-for-tat over who is flouting the agreement.

Several rounds of talks have been held but failed to find a solution.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey has given the Russian-backed Syrian forces until the end of February to withdraw from Idlib.

Millions of people have been displaced in Syria, where  winters can be harsh
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Millions of people have been displaced in Syria, where winters can be harsh

“We will not leave Idlib to the (Syrian) regime, which does not understand our country’s determination, and to those encouraging it,” he said.

The UN has said a full-scale battle for Idlib could result in a “bloodbath”.

A Turkish soldier patrols the countryside in Syria's Aleppo province
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A Turkish soldier patrols the countryside in Syria’s Aleppo province

Over the past few years the province’s population has doubled to about three million, including one million children.

Several warring rebel factions control Idlib, with the dominant force the al Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance, Hayat Tahrir al Sham.

The group had between 12,000 and 15,000 fighters in Idlib and surrounding areas in January, the UN estimated.

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Japan: Passengers leaving coronavirus-hit cruise ship criticise quarantine ‘nonsense’ | World News

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After two weeks of coronavirus quarantine, today is the first day of freedom for more than 400 passengers who have been stuck on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The vessel was initially carrying about 3,700 passengers and crew from more than 50 countries and regions.

At least 621 people have contracted the illness.

In the port car park in Yokohama, hazmat-clad officials greet the slow trickle of passengers who have tested negative and are cleared to leave, loading them on to specially adapted buses.

Inside the driver sits behind a protective layer of bubble wrap, dividing him from the travellers who for weeks have been living in a virus hotspot.

Passengers can be seen disembarking the Diamond Princess
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Passengers can be seen disembarking the Diamond Princess
A bus carrying former passengers of the cruise ship is seen about to leave the port
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A bus carrying former passengers of the cruise ship is seen about to leave the port

Others are collected by relatives, overjoyed that their loved ones are hopefully out of danger.

Among the first off, a Japanese man who wheels his suitcase out of the dock gate.

He doesn’t want to give his name but says he is relieved to be going home and confirms his health is good.

An anonymous female passenger is also feeling confident.

A passenger leaves the Diamond Princess after spending two weeks in quarantine
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A passenger leaves the Diamond Princess after spending two weeks in quarantine

She said: “I felt totally safe, I’m that kind of person. I trusted everyone on the ship to look after me.”

But others are less positive, the ship they have been confined to has been described by some on board as a floating prison where the coronavirus infection rate keeps on rising.

Hundreds of passengers, including Britons still cannot escape. They’re waiting for evacuation but fearing infection.



Alan Sandford onboard quarantined ship.







Passenger’s guide to quarantine

At the train station, I ask a Japanese man, who has just disembarked and also doesn’t want to be named, if he feels enough was done to stop the spread of the virus on the Diamond Princess?

He said: “The ship’s quarantine didn’t work. It looked like a quarantine – but it was nonsense. It didn’t stop the spread of the virus. It was all over the ship.”

More than 600 passengers have now tested positive for coronavirus after another 79 cases were confirmed today, the highest concentration outside mainland China.

The Japanese government has again defended the way it has managed the quarantine saying “thorough action” to prevent the spread has been taken including using masks, disinfectant and keeping people apart.

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Yoshihide Suga, Japanese chief cabinet secretary, explains: “With the urgency of the current situation, Japan took full measures to ensure the prevention of the spread of the infection, taking into consideration human rights and humanitarian needs, cooperating with relevant nations and taking appropriate measures.”

But the professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, Kentaro Iwata, has been on board and is seriously concerned.

An expert who has worked with ebola and SARS, he wrote in an online blog: “Inside the Princess Diamond I was so scared. I was so scared of getting COVID-19 because there’s no way to tell where the virus is. No green zone, no red zone. Everywhere could have the virus and everybody was not careful about it. There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship.”

Some passengers were seen getting into taxis after being allowed to disembark the ship
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Some passengers were seen getting into taxis after being allowed to disembark the ship

In isolation in a Japanese hospital, I speak to coronavirus patient Jerri Jorgensen via Skype.

Like 68 of the recently diagnosed passengers removed from the ship she has no symptoms.

A silent carrier, she was contagious without even knowing it.

She said: “If they didn’t tell me I had the virus I wouldn’t have known. I’m hardly ever sick, but I think I may have had a cold that was worse than this. I’m experiencing no physical ailments at all, none.”

It raises the question, how many more people could unwittingly be spreading the virus.

With passengers, including Britons, still unclear when they will leave, the current focus is on getting people home, but huge questions remain unanswered about how a quarantine ship became a coronavirus breeding ground.

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Family including three children under 10 killed in ‘horrific’ Brisbane car fire | World News

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A former rugby player and his three children have died in what police have described as a “horrific” car fire in Brisbane, Australia.

Rowan Baxter, 42, and the children – Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey Baxter – all aged under 10, were found dead in the vehicle.

The children’s mother, Hannah Baxter, 31, suffered extensive burns and was taken to hospital where she later died from her injuries.

Officers were called to the scene at around 8.30am on Wednesday and found the car engulfed in flames.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson, of Queensland State Police, said: “It’s a horrific scene.”

He said officers were investigating the cause of the accident, which took place in Raven Street at Camp Hill.

“It is too early for me to say how the actual incident occurred, that would certainly be a critical part of the investigation,” he said.

“But I can say that the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon the emergency services arriving,” he said.

Four people, including three children, were killed in a "horrific" car fire in Brisbane, Australia, on Wednesday, police said.
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Police described the scene of the blaze as ‘horrific’

Mr Baxter, a member of the 2005 New Zealand Warriors rugby league football squad and the children, aged six, four and three, died at the scene.

Neighbour Murray Campbell told the Brisbane Times he heard several explosions from his backyard and ran to the front.

He said he alerted the emergency services, adding: “The rest is just horrible”.

Mr Campbell said the car was stationary, but then rolled across the street ablaze.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the news was “devastating”.

“My heart goes out to the families and community going through this tragic time and the emergency responders confronting what would be a shattering scene,” he tweeted.

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