I was supposed to review Baby Driver this week. But I put off seeing Baby Driver for days because I could not picture buying a ticket to something called Baby Driver. Because the name Baby Driver infers that the main character drives a baby around. He does not. Baby is his first name and he is a driver of criminals. And I don’t care if Edgar Wright directed Baby Driver. I hate the title Baby Driver. I just think Baby Driver is the stupidest name for a movie. So I stayed inside my Freon-cooled apartment – instead of seeing Baby Driver.
Matters certainly were not aided by my voracious consumption of Sugar Bear, a fabulous Indica strain that kept me locked to my screen all July 4th weekend re-watching the entire Twin Peaks. This foresty bud smokes down clean, rosy clouds hanging as I consumed joint after joint, marveling at Sheryl Lee’s repeated ability to unhinge her jaw.
Then I remembered that Bong Joon Ho’s Okja had just been released theatrically – and on Netflix. (You can view the excellent film right now.) I had not expected to encounter the stoner’s perfect storm – an air-conditioned room with a large screen and a lot of weed, watching a sci-fi movie by a guy named Bong.
Working like a nightmarish reimagining of Dumbo, Okja follows a young girl’s friendship with her superpig, a rare genetically-created creature whose meat a hammy Tilda Swinton wants to harvest. An intoxicating mix of Korean surrealism, CGI social commentary, and blockbuster sentimentality, the film is a queasy allegory about how humans decide which animals are pets – and which become dinner.
It’s a feat of filmmaking that every moment between the fabricated digital Okja and eleven-year old actress Ahn Seo-hyun works. A seamless integration of a stellar kid performance with impeccable computer wizardry, the opening stretches of Okja are a breathless and heartrending depiction of how children bond with animals.
And though this sweetly hallucinatory picture may initially feel like a live-action Miyazaki, Bong slowly twists the visuals so that the final scenes seem straight from a horror movie. It’s the kind of film that makes you rethink your decision to eat meat.
Earlier this year, I attended a Q&A with Bong. The director himself admitting to switching to veganism for three months after finishing Okja.
“Then I went back to Seoul,” Bong said, “which is BBQ paradise.”
With the long-lasting Sugar Bear still swirling in my head, I went into the kitchen, where I was slow-roasting a chicken. I pulled off a thigh, eating the hot meat to the bone.