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Film of the Week - Minari

For this week's film recommendation, I’m talking about my favorite film of the 2020 Oscar Season: Minari. It isn’t a foreign film, but it is mainly in subtitles. And despite the heavy use of a foreign language, it’s one of the most American films I’ve ever seen.

A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Minari was widely released in early 2021. The pandemic was fresh in everybody’s minds, and film pundits were looking at Godzilla vs. Kong as the box office’s savior. I’d been looking forward to watching this film for a few reasons. One, it was a movie I could actually watch in theaters. Two, Steven Yeun is an actor I admire; I’ve followed him since I saw him get horrifically killed in The Walking Dead. And three, this film’s composer is Emile Mosseri, a name you should remember and keep track of. I was first aware of this composer's work when I saw The Last Black Man in San Francisco, another A24 film that pairs well with this one. Mosseri’s film scores feel so intimate that I always deeply empathize with the film's characters whenever I hear them. I know little to nothing about music composition or the craft of film composing, but Mosseri’s scores always catch my attention because they make me feel exactly what the characters are feeling.

Aside from Mosseri, director Lee Isaac Chung does a wonderful job of carefully showing these characters' lives, insecurities, and personalities. I can recall this movie so vividly, not only due to its beautiful cinematography but due to the moments Chung captures between the family. It feels more like a documentary than a narrative feature.

I can’t find where it’s from for the life of me, but Chung described making this movie and dropped a quote that I’ve carried with me close and consistently use myself now when thinking critically about film. He said (probably paraphrased), “The more specific a story is, the more universal it resonates.” I feel that great films always have an aspect of that, and I can’t think of another film that showcases it better than this one.

You can stream Minari on fuboTV or rent on VOD.

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