- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Here’s a look at a pair of movies recently released on the Blu-ray format.

Parasite (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 128 minutes, $45.99) — Director Bong Joon-ho’s multiple Academy Award-nominated, critically acclaimed, South Korean dark comedy arrives on high definition to appreciate a socially tinged plot and some impressive digital cinematography.

The quirky story finds the Kim family living in a basement apartment and folding pizza boxes for a less-than-meager living. A golden opportunity arises when son Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) poses as a college student and lands a lucrative gig as an English tutor for the wealthy Park family.

Now the scheming dad Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), mom Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin) and daughter Kim Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) begin to infiltrate  Ki-woo’s new employer’s lavish home by targeting and shrewdly replacing the chauffeur, caretaker and art teacher.

However, a secret in the house horrifically threatens the odd harmony of both families and the Kims’ best laid plans.

The film’s satirical look at the ultimate game of class warfare plays out nearly Tarantino-style, giving audiences laughs and a surprisingly thrill ride.

Worth noting for all multitaskers, the movie requires subtitles for those of us not fluent in Korean, so put the damn smartphones down and appreciate this clever and ultimately violent masterpiece.

Best extras: Best and only featurette is a 20-minute discussion with Mr. Bong during the Alamo Drafthouse’s Fantastic Fest 2019 film festival. He talks to a moderator, translated to English through an onstage interpreter, and answers selected audience questions.

He touches on the societal divisions seen in the film, the use of staircases, his views on the importance of the scholar rock (a gift given to Kim Ki-woo) and the non-sex scene, flooding a set and the production design of building the wealthy family’s house.

Last Christmas (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 2.00:1 aspect ratio, 102 minutes, $45.99) — It’s February and time to celebrate the holidays in home theater land with a romantic comedy from late last year debuting on Blu-ray and loaded with forced charm and good cheer and thoroughly enamored by its own existence.

The guy who nearly ruined the “Ghostbusters” franchise for hardcore fans, Paul Feig, directs the tale of bumbling singing actress Kate (Emilia Clark sans any dragons) who has a penchant for making bad decisions while looking for love and a place to live in London.

Resigned to playing an elf in a year-round Christmas shop for the rest of her miserable existence, Kate runs into a shining knight named Tom (Henry Golding) to potentially rescue her.

They take viewers on a twinkly light-loaded journey of flirty shenanigans infused with George Michael songs (including the title track) and sprinkled with Christmas lights and snappy British repartee.

That is until a plot twist delivers a gut punch and sucks the romance and fun right out of the comedy.

A strong supporting cast led by Emma Thompson as Kate’s overbearing Yugoslavian mother Petra and Michele Yeoh as her boss nicknamed Santa helps spread the laughs early and often built on Kate’s misery.

Well, it’s no “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and not as enjoyable as “White Christmas,” but it’s certainly a serviceable dose of festive fun that one might find on the Hallmark Channel in December.

Best extras: A whopping 15-minute gag reel, introduced by the director no less, leads a lavish collection of bonus material that one might expect to find in a director’s cut of “Citizen Kane.”

In fact the amicable Mr. Feig hangs around to introduce much of the extras such as the collection of 11 short featurettes highlighted by a 10-minute personal production diary from some of the cast and crew on the often-cold streets of London.

He also comments on an alternate opening and ending to the film as well as 21 minutes of deleted or alternate scenes.

The best of all the stuff is a pair of optional commentary tracks — one solo with Mr. Feig and another with Ms. Thompson, a co-writer as well as an actress — that unload more good cheer as both tracks dive into production details mixed with plenty of back patting and laughs.

The track with Ms. Thompson is the most fun as the pair drink gin while she pines philosophically and compliments cast, crew and studio while Mr. Feig concurs and embellishes but often listens.

Overall, this is the exact bounty of extras that fans should expect when purchasing a Blu-ray version of their favorite films, and compliments to Mr. Feig for taking a very hands-on approach to the home entertainment version of the release.

I just wish “Last Christmas” had been more satisfying.

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