Day ten of the list of my favorite things of the year is a movie that represents the plus side of new platforms like Netflix emerging as a genuine alternative to the traditional movie studios.
It's also a movie reminds you that all the best fairy tales should be both scary, disturbing, and strangely optimistic at the same time
Okja is a movie that is centered on the relationship between a young Korean girl and her pet mutant, giant, pig. It then proceeds to use that as a platform to not just tell an interesting well paced story, but also pass comment on modern society. That is familiar territory for director Bong Joon-ho, whose previous effort Snowpiercer was a masterpiece of sci-fi allegory.
Here, he again uses the fantastical to explore all too human failings. It is a fantastical rooted in a possible reality. That's part of the power of it. If we could genetically engineer such creatures, this is exactly what you could imagine happening.
It's brilliantly cast. The young lead is genuine and endearing while everyone else strays into the same characterful territory that has defined Bong Joon-ho's work. From Tilda Swinton, through a peculiar turn from Jake Gyllenhaal, to the various members of Paul Dano's animal activist cell.
If you care for animals at all, this can easily be classified as a horror movie. It's disturbing in places, yet also has that kind of special feeling I mentioned at the top that all the best fairy tales have. It is using a well told story, with interesting characters, and a central premise you can relate with (the bond between person and animal), to deliver a message it wants you to hear.
I'm not sure I can imagine the pitch meeting that this movie was born from. If Netflix exists for films like this to get made and released then I'm glad it does.
This movie is a gift that we should cherish