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Magnolia Pictures/Photofest

Brought to Light: Recent Acquisitions to the PFA Collection

Friday, June 18, 2010
9:15 p.m. The Host
Bong Joon-ho (South Korea, 2006)

(Gwoemul). Though he demonstrates the sort of pyrotechnic flair Hollywood usually lays claim to, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho is far more interested in storytelling than in explosions. Make no mistake: his brilliant third feature, The Host, is a monster movie. But it’s also an exquisite drama that dissects familial messiness with humor and poignancy—and shows how tragedy can strengthen bonds while avoiding sentimentality. The tragedy in question is precipitated by the arrival of a mutant creature on Seoul’s Han River, and the family is the Park clan: patriarch Hie-bong and his children—bumbling son Gang-du, daughter/champion archer Nam-joo, and bad boy Nam-il. When the monster snatches Gang-du’s daughter, the Parks set out to save her, showing remarkable determination, resourcefulness, and capacity for bickering. A massive success at the South Korean box office, The Host echoes recent history in a manner both respectful and satirical. It is a twenty-first-century blockbuster that’s one for the ages.

—Jonathan L. Knapp

• Written by Bong. Photographed by Hyung-ku Kim. With Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Du-na Bae. (119 mins, In Korean with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, PFA Collection, permission Swank Motion Pictures)