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Parasite and Marnie

While these are both crime thrillers, there isn't a lot that is thematically common between these movies. They do both share two exceptionally suspenseful scenes of main characters trying to escape undetected. Marnie is a 1964 Alfred Hitchcock movie about a woman that travels from town to town, job to job, getting jobs without references beyond bosses' admiration for her figure. At these jobs she learns where the money is stored, gaining combinations or other means to the company safe, steals the money then movies on to the next town. She is scared by thunderstorms, like a dog and the color red like a bull, as they bring up dark memories from her childhood of her mom killing Bruce Dern.

Marnie Poster, 1964.

Parasite is the most recent Best Picture Winner, directed by Bong Joon-Ho about a poor family that cons their way into working as tutors and servants for a wealthy family in a fancy house. There's a lot of spoilery stuff with this movie so it's probably better to see it before reading. The family finds a man, the husband of the former maid) has been living in the hidden basement to the house to avoid creditors. When the new family of parasites collides with the old and the wealthy family returns, the family of con men clean the house, violently dispose of the sub-basement couple, hide so close to the wealthy couple that they can smell them, sneak out the door and down the hill to the poor part of the city that is flooding, destroying their home and all of their belongings. This sequence is about a half an hour long and the suspense never lets up.

This is a kind of hide-and-seek suspense set piece that director Bong Joon-Ho has made a bit of a signature in his films. The mother in Mother finds she has to sneak out of a house where the occupant has fallen asleep as she is trying to protect her grown son. In Barking Dogs Never Bite, the scene is more of a pursuit where one character is chasing a man who has thrown a dog off of a building, yet she never sees his face. These scenes aren't limited to the crime thriller side of Bong's filmography, one of the most intriguing aspects of his monster movie The Host was the characters hiding and trying to escape the monster... I have to admit that before seeing Parasite for the first time I kind of assumed it would be related to The Host and have more of a science fiction theme to it than crime thriller or social commentary.

Parasite Poster, 2019.

The first hide-and-seek sequence in film that ever brought my attention to phenomenon happens to be in one of my least favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, Marnie. The titular character knows that her boss is too forgetful to remember a five number combination to the safe so he locks the door to his office and leaves the safe open. One of Marnie's co-workers straight out blabs that she and one other person are the only other people with keys to the office and pretty much shows her where it is hidden. Marnie waits in the bathroom until everyone has left the office for the night, then comes out, goes to the safe and loads up the money. All the while we are treated with a wide shot of her and the safe through the open office door, but also down the adjacent hallways where a cleaning lady is obliviously hunched over cleaning the floor. The scene is practically silent, no score, much as Hitch had originally intended the shower scene in Psycho before Bernard Herrmann won him over with his iconic slashing of violin strings. This was Herrmann's final film working with Hitch and the score is quite good and the decision to keep this scene quite is a great use of restraint as well. As Marnie is leaving the office she notices the cleaning lady facing away from her, realizing that she must get out of the office rather than wait out the cleaners, she takes off her shoes and puts them in her pockets. as she sneaks past with light footsteps one of her shoes falls, landing on the hard floor. She looks up in shock that he will be caught to see that the cleaning lady has not reacted to the loud noise. Marnie gathers her shoe and hurries down the stairs just as another member of the support staff comes down the hallway in her direction, just passing without noticing her. The other member of the staff then sneaks up behind the cleaning lady, loudly yelling a greeting and informing the audience that she was hard of hearing this whole time.

Scene from Marnie, 1964.

While I really enjoy this scene from Marnie although it is fairly early in the film, the rest of the movie is pretty much a melodrama of psuedo-psychology between Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren. It's a pretty problematic movie, too. The first screenwriter was fired because he refused to write in the honeymoon rape scene between the main characters that appears in the book. Connery's character is the perpetrator in the scene, yet he is the protagonist of the movie. It's pretty messed up and doesn't work with storytelling. The second screenwriter who ultimately wrote the scene claimed that she never considered it to be a rape between the characters that Hedren's character is saying "no, no, no" and Connery rips her clothes off of her and it's played in a pretty creepy manner. It is pretty interesting that the plot of the movie is pretty damn close to the Stephen King movie Dolores Claiborne, a story that's also about a grown daughter learning her estranged mother had killed a man in self defense when the daughter was a small child.

Marnie has a lot of the parts that could make up a great Hitchcock movie, the opening credit sequence on beautifully printed pages, the score, the safe robbing sequence and some very beautiful aerial shots of horse ridding. Unfortunately the story isn't interesting and the tense relationship between Connery and Hitchcock seems to have resulted in Connery being shot to look more like a villain than a protagonist either through a little anger in his eyes or unflattering angles. Parasite, on the other hand, is an instant classic. It will be considered one of the very best movies of the 2010's, and was the consensus favorite of fans, critics and Oscar voters from a very loaded lineup of great movies from 2019.

Letterboxd reviews for Parasite (2)

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