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Minari (2020)Minari (2020)

Just when you despair that there's hardly any movies worth watching, along comes a film like Minari that's enjoyed a universal consensus among both the professional critics and everyday fans. The movie premiered at Sundance, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, then went on to win a boatload of awards (six Academy Award nominations). It was on nearly 70 (!) "best of the year" lists. The movie is a semi-autobiographical drama written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung that tells the story of a young family of South Korean immigrants in the 1980s who move from California to rural Arkansas (as did Chung in real life). The father Jacob dreams of making it big by growing Korean produce on his fifty acres that he can sell to fellow Koreans. His wife Monica is in a state of shock at their "hillbilly" environment, their "house on wheels" (a trailer), and mounting debt. To make ends meet, they sex chickens at a local hatchery. They also argue constantly. Their marital pressures mount and so they bring Monica's mother over from Korea to watch the two children David and Anne. That makes their family dynamics even more complicated, and leads to a movie-ending catastrophe. Or was it? If there is a unifying theme here it seems to be the tension between Jacob's dream of farming success and Monica's longing for family harmony.

Dan Clendenin:

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