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Episode 125 - The Host (w/ Owen Shiflett)


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Poll: Episode 125 - The Host (w/ Owen Shiflett) (39 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "The Host" be admitted into The Canon?

  1. Yes (19 votes [48.72%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 48.72%

  2. No (20 votes [51.28%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 51.28%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 11:02 PM

Owen Shiflett of Shudder joins Amy this week to discuss the 2006 South Korean monster film “The Host.” They talk about how “The Host” helped launch director Bong Joon-ho into the mainstream and why it’s uniquely playful tone makes it stand out among the genre. Plus, they ask the hard questions about the monster’s physiology before assessing the artistic merit of the film’s messiness.

#2 Joachim L.-R.

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 05:41 AM

I usually stay away from these votings and the forum in general, but for this movie I had to cast my vote!

#3 mjeanes

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 12:47 PM

The grieving scene does feel over the top, but I never thought it was funny. People grieve in different ways in different cultures.

I love THE HOST and how it makes unexpected choices time and again.

#4 kapryor42

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 08:39 PM

I had to vote yes for this movie for a few reasons, first I think it's an excellent monster movie from a really masterful director who has shown through the variety of movies he has directed that he has can handle any genre. I watched The Host for the first time last week, and have now watched all of Bong Jong Ho's major movies as far as I can tell from his IMDB page, and I'm a huge fan of almost all of them.
A second reason I voted yes on this movie really goes in direct contrast to what Amy saw as a flaw, but what I see as a strength in Bong Joon Ho's work. I guess this might come down to a matter of taste, but I think that the way he handles tone is really incredible. I will admit that it is certainly pushing the edges of what audiences might be used to, but then again I think he keeps it just this side of causing the viewer tonal whiplash, and it works instead to keep you constantly on your toes. I think what Owen said in reference to the Coen's was right on.
In the same vein, the music really worked for me. I don't know that I would say it was constantly the complete opposite of what was expected as Amy was saying, but more that it wasn't what I was always expecting to hear- which I actually really enjoyed. I think too often in recent movies the music fades into the background, sort of generally adding to whatever tone the scene is already conveying, generally without bringing too much attention away from the scene itself. But in the case of The Host I often found myself specifically noticing and enjoying the added layer the music was bringing to the scene.
A small note on the FX, I'm not a 3D animator, but I am an animator, and while I will say that while the rendering of the 3D itself hasn't aged so well (it has been more than 10 years so I think we should cut it quite a bit of slack) the animation of the monster itself to me was excellent. The runs that they did for the character where incredibly cool and I loved the way it moved it's weight around and especially the way it moved like a creature that was clearly not really meant to be running on land.
And a third reason I wanted to vote yes is because I'm not entirely sure when Bong Joon Ho is going to come up for another vote and I think he certainly deserves to be in the Canon. While The Host may not be my favorite of all his movies -- if I had to chose just one from this director as is often discussed on the Canon I would probably go with Mother or Memories of Murder -- I still feel that this director should be in the Canon, and The Host is absolutely a worth candidate ( as would be any of his movies for the record).
I really believe that Bong Joon Ho is an amazing director who is hopefully going to continue making incredible work for years to come. He's doing things with pacing, framing, and tone that feel incredible fresh to me and he's takling all sorts of genres in the process. He's the kind of director who surprises me and makes me excited to watch movies. I voted yes for this movie, and I will continue to hope that one of his others will also be put up for a vote sooner rather than later.
In conclusion, I think this movie is an excellent update on the monster genre from a masterful director and is great example of how to keep your audience guessing when it comes to tone, pacing, and plot without losing them entirely. One final note, I recommend everyone to check out the video about Bong Joon Ho's work on Every Frame a Painting, , it's the video that first introduced me to him and it's an amazing breakdown of his style of framing.

#5 JAL2099

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 08:44 AM

I adore this movie, but I have to remind myself that I can just vote for my faves. There are better socially charged monster films, better Korean films and better Jong Joon Ho films.

The ability to put multiple genres in a single scene seems to be Korea’s forte, and an unconvention I really adore. I beg everyone to check out 1999’s phenomenal Nowhere to Hide. (there is no trailer that does this film justice..the “Cannes promo” may get close)

#6 jmhimara

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 02:15 PM

While I do enjoy this movie, and while I voted yes (because who knows when a Bong Joon-ho film will be next), it is my second least favorite of the director, with Okja having the honor of being my absolute least favorite (why people like Okja is totally beyond me). But speaking of The Host, I agree with many of the things Amy said. The tone is off, the music is out of place, and the special effects don't really hold up. Luckily, the monster doesn't appear that often in the movie (something that I noticed on my last watch) and therefore the bad cgi is tolerable.

Despite it's shortcomings, however, the movie is never boring, and the acting in it is superb (Song Kang-ho is the lead, so no surprise there).

I really hope the canon considers "Memories of Murder" at some point, Bong Joon-ho's previous movie, as I do think it's one of the best crime thriller ever made.

#7 DrEricFritz

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 04:48 PM

This was the first Korean film I ever saw when it was first released and I really didn't like it. All the weird tonal shifts, the inappropriate music, the bad CGI (and I thought it was bad then), all led me to not understand why the movie seemed to be well liked. Having seen many Korean films since then and then revisiting the Host for the first time since its release, I have come to a slightly different conclusion.

To be transparent, I voted yes. Not a resounding yes, but a solid in-the-camp-for-this-movie-yes. I think the movie is too long: as an arm chair editor, maybe 20 minutes less would really help. The music stinks. Definitely. The monster is not that interesting in its design and oh boy that CGI is bad. But I think the movie is not about strange writing or directing choices, but rather the movie is not so self-serious. Every serious moment is undercut by comedy in some way. The over acting when the family thought Hyun-seo had died was a way to defuse the seriousness. Which, in the next scene, gets to what I think the message of the movie is.

In that scene, those who came into contact with the monster are isolated and have to deal with the government. The government pretends it knows what it is doing but it has no idea. The guy in the yellow hazmat suit tries to turn on the news to give the people information. To me, this scene and others, say that this movie is about government incompetence. Frankly, I think the monster has little to do with what I see in the movie. The monster is merely a device to make this message in an entertaining way. Everything the government does, Korean or US, does not help anyone but makes it look like they are doing something. Sure the environmental message is there, but I feel like it is really a backdrop to the larger theme of incompetence. Snowpiercer is a direct successor to this critique of government (though the scale of that critique is much larger).

Which leads to The Host's other primary message: it is all about family. Government, bad and will not be there for any real assistance; family, difficult but reliable in the end. Also, do not take any of this too seriously. That is my two cents.

And thanks kapryor42 for posting the Every Frame a Painting video - it is an excellent essay on Bong Joon-ho's directorial abilities. I really like that youtube channel.

#8 rickyssofake

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 05:23 PM

While I've always liked this movie, I voted no. While it's certainly entertaining, I just don't know that there's anything particularly special about it that warrants it being in the canon.

For the most part, whenever I hear people's opinions on this movie, people always say it's good for a monster movie, or it's a good take on a monster movie, or something similar. If you think about this movie without comparing it to the genre it plays with, I don't know that it's anything particularly special.

And interestingly, what makes it good for a monster movie? That it's primarily about this family, and NOT the monster. Which then begs the question, do we need to represent monster movies in the canon, if one of the main contenders we can think of is not representative of the genre itself? To be fair, I don't really know too much about the genre, so they answer could be "yes," but I can't help feeling that even if it is yes, it shouldn't be The Host, a movie that barely fits in the genre.

Also, Shiflett made much of the political aspects of the film. I don't doubt that Bong Joon Ho has insightful opinions on Korea-U.S. relations, but I don't think this movie goes enough into this to warrant calling this a "political movie." For me all of the plot points about the governments' handling of the virus feels kind of wedged in, because it doesn't really go anywhere.

Also, Amy was right, the music was distractingly bad, and I don't think it goes far enough in being dissonant to feel like it was on purpose, as Shiflett was saying.

One more thing: when hyun-seo hides from the monster in a sewer, she goes into a hole that the monster can't get into. BUT, in other scenes, the monster uses it's long tongue to grab people/things. So why didn't it just do that to reach Hyun-Seo?

#9 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 05:54 PM

I heard a lot of hype for this movie and was disappointed when I eventually saw it. Not because of the CGI, which I had no problem with (I actually think the creature looks cool & unique), it's just that the film as a whole was merely good rather than extraordinary. I find Snowpiercer even more overrated, while I like most of Okja EXCEPT Jake Gyllenhaal's performance. Memories of Murder is excellent, though it seems to belong more in a cult canon for people who like Zodiac. Perhaps I'm just too ignorant of Korean cinema, but I can't think of other movies The Host has influenced, and if we wanted to include a giant monster movie there are plenty of them more canonical. If someone asked me if they should see it, I'd say sure, but it's not essential.

#10 Riot71

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 03:38 PM

I agree with Amy that the humor was out of place and the music was goofy. However, I didn’t mind the special effects. For a low budget movie they were pretty good (except for the fire scene). Also, the movie was beautifully shot. In fact there are a lot of gorgeous scenes in this film. With all that said, I don’t believe this movie deserves to be canonized. But it does deserved to be watched.

#11 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 09:35 PM

I don't believe that outdated CGI effects should necessarily fault a great film from consideration, and that's a good thing because we're going to be faced with that quandary more and more as years go on. However I still can't quite vote to allow THE HOST into The Canon. Upon its initial release, I was really into the film. I had only seen it once before watching again this week, but I remember recommending the film to all my friends. It was a fun and unique take on the Kaiju genre. But watching it again made me see it as a thinner, more melodramatic experience than I remembered, which I think is not uncommon with Bong Joon-Ho's films. I also really liked SNOWPIERCER the first time I saw it, but when I tried to watch it again I couldn't imagine what had initially attracted me to it. (i did quite enjoy OKJA though, and hope that sticks) I appreciate what this film attempts to do, and parts of it, (particularly the opening sequence), are great fun. But I felt rather empty at the end of my recent viewing. I also think that since this is a riff on Kaiju films, then perhaps we need to induct a true Kaiju film into The Canon before we allow knock-offs. GODZILLA or GAMORA would get easy YES votes from me. I think that THE HOST is a film that's waffling between so many genres that it never settles into one. It's not quite a Kaiju movie, it's not scary enough to be a horror movie, it's never quite a comedy, and the social messages don't quite play as either sincere or satiric. This is a fun flick to watch once, but I can't see myself calling it an essential film that everyone must see. A disappointed NO vote for me.

#12 killertapir

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 04:29 PM

Recently I've discovered something important about my personal taste in films. If there's a film that gets criticised for it's wild tonal shifts or for not quite fitting in any particular genre, it's almost guanteed to be one of my favourites. It's a pattern I've noticed time and time again when I fall in love with a movie and go check out what other people are saying about it. This seems to crop up a lot with Korean movies in particular.

Which leads me to what I think is my main point: South Korea is not known for it's kaiju films. But despite that, The Host manages to be a very distinctly South Korean movie. It has those tonal shifts and genre blends. It's set in a very specific location. I can't imagine it being remade in any other country. It certainly deals with South Korea's relationship with the US and shows a unique perspective on that front. There's something impressiveand admirable about that. Plus it also happens to be a fun, cool little monster movie as well. The world could always use more of those.

Is it an essential film? I think the only way I can honestly answer that question is to say... it's essential to me.

#13 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 04:43 PM

Tough vote for me this week. I do like this movie a good deal and found it just as entertaining this time as I did upon my original viewing in 2007 (U.S. release).

I disagree with a lot of Amy's take on the aesthetics. I would argue that a lot of the atonal choices in The Host are intentional: the music acting in counterpoint to the content of the scene, the tone swinging wildly from high-stakes drama to broad comedy, etc. This is a film about confusion and incompetence in the face of existential terror. Bong doesn't want you to know exactly how to feel at any given moment, so he's keeping you on your toes. I'll admit that it's a risky high-wire act to make a film this way, and I won't say it's 100% successful in every scene, but in this case the director also flashes so many impressive formal chops in terms of shot selection, editing, framing, and the actors' performances that I come away with the impression that he largely got what he wanted.

The only thing I do think they'd do better with a remake are the effects. Even for a 2006 film I thought the effects were sub-par (just compare this to War of the Worlds or something), but I also largely forgave this element because of The Host being a foreign film with a much lower budget than the typical Hollywood blockbuster. I'm surprised the budget wasn't brought up at all in the podcast episode, given all the carping about how the monster looked. They made this thing for only about $11 million! The effects don't look that bad when you think about it having about 1/10th the budget of a Spielberg movie.

So anyway, I like this movie a lot and would easily give it a recommendation to most filmgoers. Does that make it Canon? Not necessarily. The Host is very good, but I don't think it's an OUTSTANDING movie clearly at the top of its craft. Nor do I think The Host is particularly influential; it's a riff on classic monster movies more than an influence on future ones. I'm also not entirely certain it's Bong Joon-Ho's best film. It is, however, one of the most popular films to come out of South Korea and make a sizeable dent with Western audiences, and it's extra impressive that it does so while delivering a fairly scathing criticism of the U.S. government and its foreign exploits. Given all of that, I'll say The Host is a major milestone for Korean cinema and a solid gateway for appreciating filmmakers from that country. For that reason I vote a soft yes.

#14 daustin

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 10:05 AM

Very soft no. I quite like The Host, though I think it's by no means Bong's best film. I think the initial attack is really well done, and does a fantastic job of upending the tropes of typical monster attack films. And I think the following bit with the family competing to show grief and making absolute fools of themselves is great as well, really undercutting the normally somber tone of such a scene. The problem is that after those two outstanding set pieces, the film really loses steam, and fails to establish the brother and sister as characters in their own right.

#15 Lawbster31

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 06:44 PM

THE HOST is a good film and I'm glad I saw it. But it is by no means a Canon film. Crazy that it's even this close.

#16 Dale Cooper Black

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 07:20 PM

See, this is why I love the Canon. I had less than zero interest in this movie when it came out, and promptly forgot it even existed. I only watched it as a Canon homework assignment, and to my surprise I enjoyed the shit out of it. I'll definitely be checking out Memories of Murder as well.

A solid no for The Host, but glad I watched it nonetheless.
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#17 JAL2099

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 04:49 AM

View PostJAL2099, on 24 October 2017 - 08:44 AM, said:

I adore this movie, but I have to remind myself that I can just vote for my faves.


Meant to type, "can't just vote for my faves"...obvs.

#18 dancingmarine

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 08:51 AM

I like this film very much. I saw it at the Arclight in 2007 and was quite impressed. It's scary, exciting and moving. And I disagree with Amy re the effects, especially for their time. I rewatched the film this week and, while I think the effects are uneven, they're overall just fine. There are far more egregious examples of cruddy CGI out there. While I do like this film, I had to vote NO as I truly don't think it's great. Frankly, there is another Korean horror film that is far more deserving of being voted into the Canon: TRAIN TO BUSAN. I rewatched that film as well this week, and I liked it even more this time. I found myself weeping by the wrenching finale -- it's a masterwork.

#19 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 10:21 AM

This is only the second Bong Joon-ho film I've seen, the first being Okja. Not really interested in seeing any others at this point. The bad CGI takes me out of it. The pace and tone is wildly uneven. And yes, I'm talking about both films. I'm a hard no.
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#20 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 12:30 AM

View PostNathan Roberson, on 28 October 2017 - 10:21 AM, said:

This is only the second Bong Joon-ho film I've seen, the first being Okja. Not really interested in seeing any others at this point. The bad CGI takes me out of it. The pace and tone is wildly uneven. And yes, I'm talking about both films. I'm a hard no.

You'd be robbing yourself of Snowpiercer, and, more importantly, Memories of Murder, which is among the greatest mystery films ever made.