In Minari, a father’s (Steven Yeun) great American dream is to have his own farm and grow Korean produce in Alabama, and not to have to sort chicklets by gender until he dies. It’s a beautiful dream of fertile soil and hard work, the kind that the dream says should be rewarded greatly – but here it stumbles over the way that life sometimes can, without any substantive catastrophes (there are hints of racism, but nothing too explicit, and no violence). The well runs dry, the piped water is too expensive, his wife’s mother – an absolute character, a lively joy – suffers a devastating stroke. Minari isn’t so much a cautionary tale about focusing on the small happinesses, or the smaller things (like growing minari, which is easy and plentiful, instead of water-intensive plants on a large scale) as it is the portray of a family, seen mostly through the eyes of the young son, who is trying to understand his parents’ struggle while finding his own home (within his own struggling body – he suffers from a heart condition that limits his ability to play freely). This is a beautiful, substantial film, en par with great director Kelly Reichardt’s portrays of American lives.
Miss Juneteenth (2020), directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, featuring Nicole Beharie, Alexis Chikaeze, Kendrick Sampson, Lori Hayes.
Minari (2020), directed by Lee Isaac Chung, starring Alan S. Kim, Yeri Han, Noel Cho, Steven Yeun, Youn Yuh-jung, Darryl Cox.