By accident, I saw two brilliant films back-to-back last week. The first was Queen and Slim, which I’d not heard much about and which didn’t seem to have been getting rave reviews. I wasn’t even that keen to see it but allowed a good friend with great movie taste to twist my arm. I’m so glad I did – wow, what an amazing journey it is, in all ways. It would be too simplistic to say it’s the black Thelma and Louise, it would be missing the point to say it’s the worst Tinder date ever, and it’s much too funny to be a tragedy. It’s a very poignant and well-crafted story and I loved every second of it. It’s also deeply, deeply cool. It doesn’t seem to have attracted nearly the respect it should have received, but I predict it will be a massive cult hit for years to come.
Parasite, meanwhile, is the sort of film which usually hits all the cult buttons, but for mysterious reasons has been clutched to Hollywood’s bosom and won all the mainstream Oscars instead. Don’t get me wrong, it, too, is a great film, with endless twists and turns between genres and moments of huge tension. It’s also a terrific contrast with Queen and Slim. Queen is mostly outdoors, a parody almost of the American road movie, the nation’s love affair with cars and its exaltation of restless exploration – think of Easy Rider and On The Road, but with a plot. Parasite, meanwhile, is almost entirely a film of interiors, claustrophobic even when dealing with the wonderfully chic minimalist house owned by the rich family.
Parasite struck me as a film about incompetence – the poor family can’t even make pizza boxes without, tellingly, producing lots of crooked edges. The rich family can’t spot intruders in their midst; the mother is an appalling judge of character and the father is the usual patriarchal absence allowing havoc to have its day. It is down to the young son to sniff out the truth.
Queen and Slim, on the other hand, is full of competence – Queen in particular is clearly a very polished lawyer, while Slim seems a good, home-loving boy. One mistake is all it takes for their house of cards to come crashing down, in a world where the system is stacked against them. Admittedly it’s a big mistake… but the Parasites’ lives are nothing but mistakes and near misses from beginning to end.
I’m confidently expecting these two films to be the best I’ll see all year. See what you think.