Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi has quickly risen up the ranks of directors that if they make a film, I will want to see it. I don’t even have to realign my values at any point. He already makes films that sound interesting to me, and then I find out he directed it and can get double happy! You know, like those rainbows!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, his last movie before Thor: Ragnarok, made my top of the year list for 2016.

Now this title of Jojo Rabbit doesn’t scream out anything on its own. Knowing it is about Nazis in WW2 does…not also make anything clearer. Those people going into this movie with a blank slate are going to be quite shocked at what they have picked, but lets be honest, how many people do you think would go into a movie with this title without any advertising?

dinner
This screenshot really just raises more questions than it answers.

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is 10 years old, it is 1945, and he loves Hitler! Oh, he is also blonde haired, blue eyed, and in Germany as a German. He has grown up entirely in the Nazi hype, and hasn’t known anything besides the Third Reich.

His mother (Scarlett Johansson) is basically raising him on her own, as his father was sent off for the war effort years ago and is somewhere in Italy. He hasn’t been heard from in a few years, so he might be dead, maybe he ran away, who knows. But with his mom working, Jojo is alone most of the time. Sure he has a sort of best friend, Yorki (Archie Yates), but his real best friend is Hitler (Taika Waititi). Or at least his imaginary friend version who tells him how to be a man and how to live his life so he can please his family and friends.

He joins the Hitler Youth war effort. He dons the uniform. He gets a job and volunteers the best he can do at home. And yet, is it enough? Is his mom pleased?

Oh, and eventually he finds that there is a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his house, with his mom’s permission. What is he to do? Turn her in? That would get his mom in trouble. No, he should study her, and maybe publish a book on his Jew findings.

Also starring Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, and Stephen Merchant.

Jew!
Ah! Jew behind you!

Jojo Rabbit is an unapologetic look at German youth during the final year of WW2. Why is it unapologetic? Well, it has nothing to apologize for. It should be noted first and right away this movie is not trying to glorify Nazi culture or upbringing in anyways. It isn’t trying to say there are fine people on both sides.

It does however highlight that people who were involved could be involved because they know nothing else, which sure, is true. It wants us to know about the German resistance groups who were killed trying to protect others, even when the country was clearly about to lose. Those in power wanted to “win at all costs” even if it meant taking out its citizens and throwing them in the path of the bullets.

Now obviously this is not a historical non-fiction story, but it does tell a unique story. The Jewish girl isn’t a magical other force to make Jojo see the wrongness of the actions, but just a piece of his own growth.

Every scene between Davis and Johansson was wonderful, especially the dinner scene, and one of the scenes in the middle. There was so much sadness in Johnasson’s character over her inability as a single parent to raise her boy the way she knew was right for fear of death for her and her family.

It is a powerful story about overcoming everything you have ever believed in, in the face of overwhelming evidence that you are wrong. It is a movie that tells us that people can change for the better.

And let’s not forget, Waititi is himself part Jewish, and that is why he decided to play Hitler. He figured it was the biggest insult he could give to an evil man.

3 out of 4.

Parasite

Bong Joon Ho is a pretty big deal right now in the Korean cinema world. His last two movies before Parasite were Okja (which was a big deal at the time to be on Netflix) and Snowpiercer (the best film about apocalyptic train rides ever made).

His film Parasite has been hitting big waves and, before I saw it, the word on the street was I needed to know as little as possible going into the movie.

And you know, so I watched it and wrote a review on it so I could tell you about it! For shame!

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Spoilers: It features Koreans!

The Kim family is living in rough times. Both parents (Hye-jin Jang, Kang-ho Song) are out of work. The two kids (So-dam Park, Woo-sik Choi) are adults, but haven’t got jobs either, weren’t able to make it to college, and they all exist in a shitty below the street house where they mooch off of free WiFi and find out ways to make money.

I mean, shit, the economy is tough. Hundreds of people are graduating and can’t get jobs, so what are the chances of an older couple? They can only do odd jobs or con people.

The good news is, our boy has a gracious friend who is about to study abroad. And he wants to recommend him for his job of tutoring a local family’s oldest daughter English. He is qualified, even if they have to flub parts of it, but it ins’t super bad at that point.

However, once he has an in with the family, he realizes he can lie and get his other family members into jobs for additional sources of income. And from then on? Well, things just get really weird.

Also starring Hyun-jun Jung, Myeong-hoon Park, Jeong-eun Lee, Sun-kyun Lee, Ji-so Jung, and Yeo-jeong Jo.

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Paper is for losers, give me the recommendations!

Parasite is over two hours long, and at times feels like it is way longer and shorter. I felt so hooked only 10 minutes into the movie, and at that point, very little had actually happened. By 30 minutes into the film, it is clear some bigger plot is afoot. After an hour, it was like a train wreck, and I was shocked. And after about 75 minutes, I couldn’t believe that there was still so much more movie to go.

Where could it go from the pits it dragged me to? How could this story ever resolve?

Parasite is an unpredictable romp through class warfare, cons, and dirty little secrets. It is about what lengths one will go to in order to protect their family. It is about the little things in life, and how people perceive events.

It is about so many things, it is so hard to define and feels like the sort of film people will watch for decades to explore various themes. I loved this movie, and it is hard to find any real thoughts with the wild story that is told. It is not necessarily a film we need now, but by golly, I will take it and run with it.

4 out of 4.