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Okja
Year:
2017
Country:
USA, South Korea
Genre:
Drama, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
IMDB rating:
7.6
Director:
Joon-ho Bong
Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson
Jaein Kim as Young Mija
Sheena Kamal as Stylist 2007 / 2017
Michael Mitton as Make-up Artist 2007
Nancy Amelia Bell as Elderly Reporter (as Nancy Bell)
Colm Hill as Sarcastic British Reporter
Jose Carias as Señor Villacorta
Je-mun Yun as Mundo Park (as Yoon Je Moon)
Seo-Hyeon Ahn as Mija (as An Seo Hyun)
Hie-bong Byeon as Hee Bong (as Byun Heebong)
Kathryn Kirkpatrick as Epicurean Reporter
Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando / Nancy Mirando
Shirley Henderson as Jennifer
Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox
Storyline: For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (An Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja-a massive animal and an even bigger friend-at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija's dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja...while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home. Deftly blending genres, humor, poignancy and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises-the bond between man and animal-and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the...
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Reviews
A brave and beautiful delight.
Breathtakingly original. THIS is what I want in a movie. Takes you by the scruff of the neck and drags you non-stop, from lush Korean forests to dark and grimy torture chambers.

It snuck up on me. Lulled me into an understated, Disneyfied stupor. But there is so much more to this move. (I may even renew my Netflix subscription based on it).

I see many complaining about the ham acting of Tida and Jake... but their caricatures serve to emphasize the understated Mija. It is a cultural contrast as well as a social commentary on the all American way of greed is good and the truth is whatever the men with the deepest pockets say it is. Maybe these lampoons ARE how quieter cultures see Americans?

And there are no pretty platitudes to tie it up. We are left feeling helpless, hopeless and not at all happily ever after. Can we in good conscience, rejoice in the freedom of one giant pig (and piglet), while the rest are tragically left behind to be slaughtered?

Opens up many more questions than it answers. A conversation starter. A meat-lovers emetic. A brave and beautiful delight.
2017-06-28
Another distinctive film from Bong Joon-ho about wholesome values vs. society's self-interest
A teenage girl wants nothing more than to remain with her lifelong pet and companion – the super pig Okja – in Korean auteur Bong Joon- ho's latest film. Everything else is just stuff that gets in the way.

Bong delivers one of Netflix's better high profile original films in "Okja," a quirky yet topical yet big-hearted film. Similar to Bong's 2006 breakout film "The Host," a monster movie about a doltish dad who will do anything to rescue his daughter, "Okja" plays to family themes (a girl and her pet) but presents them through a mature, adult lens (corporate greed, environmentalism, genetic science).

So the context of "Okja" is complicated, but the story is quite simple and human. 14-year-old Mija (An Seo-hyun) has lived with her grandfather on a mountainside farm in South Korea for most of her life with Okja, a super pig gifted to the farm by Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) and the Mirando Corporation as part of a competition to develop the pigs as a non-GMO food source to help fight hunger. When the corporation and super pig judge Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) come to collect, Okja is clearly the finest of the super pigs in the world, and they endeavor to take her to New York City. Mija follows them to Seoul and attempts to get her friend back, coming up against the corporation and a group of animal rights activists, all of which have different agendas for Okja.

Hilarious and deeply disturbing, violent but also quite warm, Bong has created another distinctive film that makes him one of the most interesting filmmakers that not enough people are talking about. The mixed bag of tones will certainly turn off viewers who aren't sure what to do with a film that doesn't fit in any one neatly labeled genre box, those with an open mind will appreciate the way he tells extremely accessible stories that address complicated themes.

Okja means a lot of things to a lot of people: friendship and stability to Mija; money, science and reputation to the Mirando Corporation; injustice and corporate greed to the animal liberation group; and affordable food to the masses. The plot is essentially these competing interests sorting themselves out.

Part of what makes "Okja" distinctive is the caricaturized supporting roles that make everything feel just a shade unusual. As she did in Bong's last film, "Snowpiercer," Swinton so effortlessly creates a wildly larger than life character portrait that simultaneously feels grounded in reality. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, is infuriatingly grating as the eccentric loose cannon TV personality, but his character is a signal to the audience of how to look at and think of the world of the film.

Bong has such a specific perspective on society that comes through in way subtle and not in "Okja." He brilliantly whittles the story down to one pivotal moment at the end, and the outcome of all this chaos suggests he's neither pessimistic nor optimistic. Perhaps he would argue that it's not his business to come down one way or another, but simply to use a giant hippo-like pig to at least prove that our world is majorly – and maybe unnecessarily – complicated

~Steven C

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2017-06-30
You Won't Regret Watching This
Being a fan of the director's work, I built this movie a bit too much up in my head. But honestly -- it delivered on everything. It's funny, it's sad; there are happy moments, and deep emotional ones. But despite the drama and comedy going on in this, it also addresses problems going on in our world, and really made me think about these issues.

If you're a fan of the director's previous work, especially "The Host," then you won't be disappointed. Even if you're not familiar with his work, you won't be disappointed. If you can get past the slight weirdness of this movie (which might not fit everyone's taste), I can promise you that you won't regret watching this.
2017-06-28
WOW...a suggestion before you watching it (it's in the end of the comment)
that movie is just amazingly heartbreaking for me, and also probably for a lot of other people, because it's mostly reality, and if we even would have need another meat source and If we would have that high technology to actually to do this stuff, I know we would. anyway.. about movie: it's for some reason a lot like a little bit bright version of black mirror, and the shots are really beautiful and sure the story is very cool and also a little disturbing. it's just a really good movie. but I need to say, I am hungry and I thought I would eat hot dog afterwards before watching this but now I don't feel like I can eat hot dog right now, so... yeah. eat before you watch it.
2017-07-23
A Delightful Taste
Bong Joon-ho has done it again another excellent masterpiece. Thought for a second this will another melodramatic shot but after watching the movie I sure feel not wasting my time.

Highly humoring acts and the cast is perfect. After a long time, I watched something visually fascinating filled with nature and Bong Joon-ho filled the movie with tiny little details.

This is surely a must watch of 2017.
2017-07-08
Pigs on a Wing
Much like the concept behind Pink Floyd's "Animals" album, and with the great choice of music throughout this unsung gem, I was just waiting for the Song "Pigs" to start playing in the one of the scenes.

This film has great production, Acting and covers the rampant corruptness in many of our cultural accepted norms. (even the "Animal Liberation Front" shows some corruption, patterned obviously after PETA)

Great Film, Well done. (NETFLIX is competing with the big boys at a fraction of the cost) Glad to see films like this finding the light of day.

Go See It, especially if you are a animal lover and/or sympathizer
2017-07-06
All edible, except the squeal.
It's a classic story: girl meets gigantic super pig, they become best friends, tragedy separates them, only for the girl to undertake a heroic journey to find the captors and reunite with her animal pal. If you've watched the trailers for Okja, you'll be quick to point fingers at the antagonistic Mirando Corporation, the ones behind this genetic breeding of super pigs for mass consumption. And if you know the past work of director Bong Joon-Ho, you'll also be aware that his particular brand of didacticism is usually disguised within genre film conventions. In Snowpiercer, an action thriller on a high-speed train doubled as an allegorical tale for class inequality. And in The Host, American environmental recklessness materialised into monster form, chasing and swallowing innocent Korean citizens and dividing the nuclear family like an anti-Spielbergian fable. Far from being simply a jab at America's carelessness in dumping toxic waste into the Han River (based partly on a true event in Seoul), the latter had subversion built into its style, with sweeping slow motion moments crashing down on the heels of its terrified victims and misguided heroes (the grandfather, whose actor plays a similar role in Okja, dies a sudden, unceremonious death in sacrifice) until we are almost prone to laughter. There's a delightful scene in Okja along the same lines, a slow motion frenzy of cheap plastic and blood over John Denver's Annie's Song, as the villains with guns and tranquillisers come up against the masked rebels wielding colourful umbrellas. The result is enough to wring a wry smile out of almost viewer.

The bag of tricks that is Okja juggles rollicking action, low-brow humour and satire of farcical lengths as it follows little Mija in her quest to be reunited with her pet. Look no further than the opening sequence, in which Joon-Ho paints a striking portrait of a multi-national company interacting with the press. Mirando Corp's big news is less a press release and more a talent show, with spotlights, flashy animations and a garishly-dressed Tilda Swinton descending from above. This isn't the first time Swinton's bordered on the grotesque for Joon-Ho; everyone remembers her clicking, shivering Minister Mason, baring those misshapen teeth and just a dash of mania. You can spot a little of Mason in Lucy, robed and dusted in powdery white, trembling in excitement at Mirando's new breakthrough. This time her teeth are held in check by braces, but every now and again her words spill out from her mouth, and you can catch a glimpse of that unhinged capitalistic thirst behind it all.

But Joon-Ho isn't just content with exposing the big corporations for their underlying menace (the big gag revealed at the end is that Lucy has an identical evil twin who supposedly represents the more ruthless side of her corporate identity, and who makes the cut-throat decisions in the aftermath of the disastrous pig launch), he's also throwing haymakers at the opposing side, in this case being the radical animal rights activist group ALF. Aside from having succinct, wannabe-cool nicknames (Silver, Red, Blonde) and matching haircuts, they're also lead by Paul Dano's Jay, who is the right actor for the role. Dano exudes a polite righteousness that shadows the more outrageous principles and actions that the group seek to pull off, and even when the film is throwing them under the bus for the sake of comedy and trying to make a broader point, he still shines. So, as they swear off food, trying to reduce their already minuscule carbon footprint, and tell their foes to 'buckle up' before slamming their truck across the lane ("We're not terrorists", Jay proclaims), he maintains a thread of decency.

Yet even Jay knows that some of the horrors that Okja seeks to reveal could be too graphic for poor Mija's eyes. He tells her "Don't look back", lest she turn and see the inhumane treatment of the mating ritual that Okja has been put through at the hands of Dr. Johnny Wilcox. Jake Gyllenhaal reinvents the word hammy in his eccentric portrayal of the celebrity zoologist, buckling under the pressure of the ten year spotlight. There are early signs of promise for his character; you can spot the cracking of his persona in his first interactions with the CGI Okja, the wonder in his eyes at the splendid super pig, tentative hands reaching out for trust. But Gyllenhaal seems to have no off switch, but launches into an aggressive, over-elaborate caricature, hurling wine bottles and whispering dark secrets. There may be a satirical point underneath it all on celebrity culture, social media masks and overexposure, but it gets lost in the noise. Wilcox laments that he must be 'on' at all times, but his 'off' is merely a louder, more obnoxious version of himself.

If there is any scene that might turn viewers vegan it isn't the shaky, grainy, PETA-esque footage of Wilcox's abuse, but the penultimate confrontation at the super pig slaughterhouse, and the ensuing long walk past thousands of other specimens lined up towards the chute. The film achieves something striking and disturbing at this point; these are no longer fantasy creatures, but reminiscent of real animals being herded into metal machines to spit out our steaks and pork chops. Yet the overall sentiment of Okja is denial. Having gone through this whole ordeal, they are content to return to their idyllic mountaintop, with a cute little Okja in tow for an extra dash of adorable. Mija might have won the battle, but Mirando has ultimately won the war. And we are left scratching our heads at this warm feeling, even after all we have witnessed.
2017-07-02
No one wants to eat pets, we all agree. Say more.
Saw Okja. Such a predictable story line and such a missed opportunity to go beyond basic guilt tripping. No one wants to eat pets. Say more. Jake Gyllenhall would've not been in the movie and no one would notice. Tilda Swinton's caricature speaks exactly what you think she will. There is so much to say on the topic of how meat industries work and Bong said nothing we don't know. Not much to admire in the movie other than Annie's song sequence. Even that okay-ish sequence seems out of place in an otherwise bland movie. Good movie for kids I guess. They'll buy them Okja toys. Wasted opportunity.
2017-06-29
What an excellent movie
Very good movie with a good story line. Never gets bored even if it is simply written movie with a good theme.It just made it interesting from start to movie with perfectly caste characters. A true mix of animal's bonding and a bitter truth behind the scenes. Highly recommended for all types of age groups.
2017-06-30
Bold, Brilliant, and might just turn you Vegan
Bong Joon Ho is without a doubt one of the top five or ten working directors today. When it comes to juggling genre and tone almost no one is his equal. With an all-star international cast and its production by Netflix, this may be his most accessible movie yet; however, it may also be his most bizarre. It's the kind of movie that will leave you laughing one minute, crying the next, and then raising your eyebrows the next. It's so refreshing to see a film not conform to easy plot points and pandering like this film could have done so many times. Rather it takes tonal and story risks that consistently pay off. It helps that it maintains a solid satirical tone throughout allowing even the dysfunctional and reprehensible characters to remain interesting and some even likable. The actors are all terrific, particularly Ahn Seo Hung in her film debut. She keeps the emotional component grounded throughout the film and provides the most resonating moments. The only performer who may not resonate with everyone is Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal goes all out insane for his role and while I enjoyed the lunacy, many will not be fans. My only complaint was that some of the scenes with Tilda Swinton descended into too much exposition which hinders some of the pacing. Despite the familiarity of the story, it will consistently sneak up on you with wonderful unexpected moments. Its another example of the daring and beautiful films coming from Korea, the best country for cinema in the past decade. If studios don't want to lose out to Netflix, they need to be willing to back the same kind of talent and allow for the same kind of artistic freedom.

Pro-tip: Watch past the end credits
2017-06-28
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