Watching Bing Joon Ho's "Parasite," I kept thinking I'd seen this movie before.
Oh, yes, Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters."
The deadbeat South Korean family in "Parasite" was the doppelganger of the deadbeat Japanese family in "Shoplifters."
And "Parasite's" vacuous upper-class family, with the fetching Cho Yeo-Jeong as the beautiful airhead Mom? Not that much different from the vacuous upper class family in Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma."
The acclaimed "Parasite" combines the plots of "Shoplifters" and "Roma."
"Shoplifters" received an Academy Award nomination, and "Roma" won the Best Foreign Film award last year. This year, "Parasite" is enjoying similar Oscar acclaim, including a best film nomination.
The critically acclaimed movies share themes of the rich-poor class divide, and how the lower classes in their desperation show more intelligence than the decadent wealthy. Each of them takes a satiric, sardonic view of social inequities.
Perfect parables for the Trump era, "Parasite" and "Shoplifters" examine how South Korea and Japan's economic power have left the working class behind. To survive, those in the lower classes create a shadow criminal economy that exploits cracks in the dominant legitimate one.
Unlike the other two, Cuaron's "Roma" takes place in a "developing nation." While exploited, the housemaid Adela truly loves the family she serves, and she is beloved by its children, and eventually its mother.
In contrast to Adela's commitment to her family, the con artists in "Parasite" seek to destroy the upper class family who believes them honorable care-givers. The two movies turn on themes of parental anxiety about their children.
In "Parasite" and "Shoplifters," the lower-class fathers show more commitment to their families and children than the wealthy ones. The caring lower-class Dad in "Shoplifters" is not even the true father of the young people who live in his house, but he shows concern for them.
The rich fathers in "Parasite" and "Roma" are distracted by work, leaving family care to their wives, who're dependent on housekeepers and tutors.
In "Roma," the lower classes are involved in a mass revolutionary campaign against the wealthy and powerful. But in "Parasite" and "Shoplifters" the anger against the upper classes remains on a personal level. In Japan and South Korea, the capitalist system is too entrenched for organized revolt to develop.
South Korea and Japan are considered "First World" countries, if that term has any relevance these days, but "Parasite" and "Shoplifters" make them seem more like "Roma's" Mexico than the United States.
But the United States is growing more like less developed countries with its increasingly desperate underclass. So far, American filmmakers haven't examined the carnage of class warfare like Kore-Eda, Joon-Ho and Cuaron.