Movie Review: Minari (2021)

Title: Minari
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Production Company: A24 | Plan B Entertainment

It’s a familiar story: A man with a dream leads his family to a strange place to pursue his vision.  In this case, the man is Jacob Yi (Steven Yuen, who was great in tv series like The Walking Dead and Tuca & Bertie), a Korean immigrant in the early 1980s who moves his family from California to Arkansas where he buys land he can turn into a farm and raise Korean vegetables for growing immigrant communities in nearby cities.  His wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) is less than pleased about giving up the comforts and community of the city for a double-wide trailer in “hillbilly” country.  She’s especially that their younger child David (Alan Kim), who has a condition, is too far urgent medical care he may need.  In order to provide child care for David and his sister Anne (Noel Kate Cho), Monica arranges for her mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) to move from Korea to live with them.

The movie explores the dissolution of Jacob and Monica’s marriage as their individual hopes and dreams lead them in different directions.  It also does an amazing job depicting Soon-ja’s fish-out-of-water experience among fish-out-of-water and her tempestuous relationship with David with whom she shares stubbornness and mischievous behavior.  A lot of the movie is told from David’s perspective which lends it a sense of child-like wonder.  The movie offers a lot of intimacy and heart-wrenching details of  family dealing with crises and the struggles of everyday life. Every in this movie deserves an award, especially Alan Kim and Youn Yuh-jung, and the movie itself is definitely one of the best of recent vintage.

Rating: ****

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 19

Dolly Parton’s America :: Sad Ass Songs

This is a new podcast about possibly America’s most beloved living person, Dolly Parton. The debut podcast focuses on issues ranging from murder ballads to feminism.

99% Invisible :: Unsure Footing

The story of how soccer changed the backpass rule leading immediately to an embarrassing period for goalkeepers, but ultimately to a more exciting game.

Hub History :: Race Over Party

The history of African American politics in Boston in the late 19th century.

This American Life :: We Come From Small Places

The immigrant experience explored through stories from the Labor Day Carnival and the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn.

Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Resistance Mixtape: Immigrant Songs

We are a nation of immigrants, although some like to act like we’re not, but our musical heritage is rich in songs of the travails and contributions of immigrants.
“Thousands Are Sailing” by The Pogues tells the first person stories of generations of Irish arrivals on American shores.
“America” by Neil Diamond is a cheerful ode to the ideal that’s not always realized.
“Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)” by Shad is a Canadian hip-hop exploration of the same theme.
“Paper Planes” by M.I.A documents the red tape and paperwork needed to cross borders today.
“Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” by Cisco Houston reminds us that not everyone who makes it here is allowed to stay, and often human live are treated as disposable
“Esta Tierra Es Tuya” by Sones de Mexico Ensemble. But, all the same, “This Land is Your Land,” no matter what language you sing it in.
There are hundreds of songs I could share here, so please let me know some good ones I left out in the comments.
Previous mixtapes