Pass The Time Players’ The Witch and the Wizard! My Zoom-children’s theatre debut?

View VIDEO here: https://fb.watch/1SYpY39sn7/

Thank you, Pass The Time Players and Debbie DeCeco Lannen, for letting me play a benevolent wizard in quarantine! If anyone’s ever desired to see me do Zoom-enabled children’s theatre, here’s your chance! It’s a sweet little story, and an unlikely parable for these fraught times in which we are currently living. A little bit of kindness is magic and can overcome the worst bullies in our midst.

The Witch and the Wizard!
Narrator: Debbie Lannen
Atlas: Roy Sexton
Magnus: Michael Micheletti
Dante: Joe Lannen

View VIDEO here: https://fb.watch/1SYpY39sn7/

Diversity in Legal: Profile of Yours Truly by Wonderful, Legendary Julie Savarino #lmamkt

Thank you, dear Julie Savarino! This is so darn sweet. And put a much needed smile on my face this crazy week. Love you ❤️

Original post: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/juliesavarino_lawfirm-diversity-legal-activity-6730084647503507456-eQDY … she writes …

Meet Roy Sexton — Roy and his husband, John Mola are two of the most multi-talented, community-minded, and kindest professionals I have ever met!

Roy is the Director of Marketing at Clark Hill Law, a 650-attorney #lawfirm with 25 offices across the US, Mexico, and Europe. He also serves as a board member for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and Legal Marketing Association – LMA International.

Roy is a non-stop giver who regularly uses his social media platforms and reach to raise awareness and money for the various charities and causes he supports.

He holds a degree in Theatre from Wabash College, a Master’s Degree in Theatre from The Ohio State University, and an MBA from University of Michigan-Flint. Roy continues to entertain audiences with his acting and singing, and applies those skills as an emcee for various charity events across the Midwest.

Increase #diversity in #legal and follow or connect with Roy on LinkedIn! https://lnkd.in/eN-RBJC

I’m a little less clean-cut in quarantine! Shirt from the amazing Detroit Dog Rescue – available for purchase here: https://detroitdogrescue.com

#LadyGaga liked my tweet … #vote!

My social media life is complete. This “trumps” (pun intended) when Cosmo quoted my musings on Jason Momoa.

While I’m riding this high … and being followed by an army of her “little monsters,” here are my glowing reviews of A Star Is Born and her ArtRave tour.

I’ll be passed out in the corner now …

(Original Entertainment Weekly article which I tweeted … a tweet liked by Oscar winner LADY GAGA!!)

Your quarantine streaming talk show raconteur.

Live from … YouTube? Rob Kates of Kates Media writes: “Today on Legal Marketing Coffee Talk, we enjoyed a heartwarming chat with Roy Sexton, Director of Marketing at Clark Hill, who talks about #StayHome and offers some words of wisdom for marketing a law firm in these challenging times. Join us daily for Legal Marketing Coffee Talk with Stefanie Marrone, 2pm EST daily on Facebook.” ❤️ Thank you, both.

VIEW HERE: https://youtu.be/9ascOkR1Rm8

Our producer Rob apparently is moonlighting politically … and forgot who he was dealing with today 😂

POSTSCRIPT… In less than 24 hours, I’ve become quite the quarantine streaming talk show raconteur. 😂 I feel like Richard Dawson or Bert Convey. #genxjoke – thank you, wonderful Brenda Zawacki Meller of Meller Marketing, for this (just received) invite! 🥧

SAVE THE DATE 4/30 – register: https://facebook.com/events/s/facebook-live-discussion-w-two/213792010050094/?ti=icl

Thank you to my dear friend Nancy Myrland for this – she is FAR too good to me. ❤️ Ain’t nobody wantin’ any MORE of ME runnin’ ‘round. 😂😂😂 #beNOTaRoySexton

Notes from the war front

Back when life was (sort of) normal …

VIDEO: Do you love Sinatra, Bennett, Darin, King Cole? Journey into a night club where every musical era is represented – swing, jazz, big band, lounge, Rat Pack and more. Enjoy this video of “Live from the Starlight Lounge,” our event this February that raised $23,000 for American Cancer Society.

View here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke1Pv65DwTY&feature=youtu.be

ABOVE: Me with dear Legal Marketing Association friends and fellow international board members Brenda Plowman and Cynthia Voth

I wrote the below for wonderful friend Jennifer Simpson Carr of Furia Rubel Communications (and a fellow Legal Marketing Association leader) who was drafting this piece on coping during this present crisis: https://www.furiarubel.com/what-were-up-to/25-ways-to-maintain-positivity-and-mental-health-in-uncertain-times/. I wrote too much – per usual – but she was kind enough to include an excerpt. Here’s the entirety of what I sent to her…

I am offering this list of tips that I myself may be failing to follow. I’m putting them in writing in the hopes that they will become a script for me to hang onto my sanity in these troubling times … as we all suddenly find ourselves in the strange predicament of feeling trapped in our own homes, working remotely, uncertain of how long this will last and what effect it will have on the future:

– switch off social media – connection is important. A steady diet of anxiety, judgment, and fear? Not so much.

– tune out that competitive spirit and any voices (real or imagined) saying you aren’t doing enough. Right now staying healthy and taking care of one another? That is PLENTY.

– avoid people who are using this crisis as a platform to further their own ambitions. ‘Nuff said.

– turn off and disconnect. Keep reasonable hours. Yes, you may be saving on commuting time by working in your basement, but that doesn’t mean putting in 12 hour days. Turn work off, read a book, watch a movie, walk the dog, recharge. 

– don’t get in arguments with know-it-alls. None of us know how this story ends. Be calm, be gracious, walk away from trolls.

– from a work perspective, be sensitive to the burdens everyone is carrying. We need to stay the course on projects that will need our attention when this crisis has passed, while communicating information that our colleagues and clients actually need in this moment. We don’t need to be the source of ALL information on this crisis. There are a lot of other people who are doing that better than we are. Share information that is relevant and appropriate.

– most of all. Be kind. To yourself. To others. To this world.

ABOVE: Danny Wallace, me, Susan Ahern & Megan McKeon (Clark Hill) and Cameron Ireland (BoardEx)

Very proud of the below recognition… happened before all hell broke loose …

Managing Partners’ Forum Awards

– best marketing initiative

2020 winner: Clark Hill

More here: https://www.mpfglobal.com/awards/awards-2020/best-marketing-initiative.aspx

Clark Hill has grown from a regional US firm, to an international firm with 25 offices. Marketing and Business Development was no longer fit for purpose.

They embarked on an ambitious initiative to completely re-imagine their marketing function and make the most of their global potential, through a very clear and comprehensive design of the department and how it has impact as a cohesive central function for the firm.

The judges were particularly impressed by the scale of their research and project commitment, how they achieved buy-in at every level and how they have creatively used data and technology in the delivery and measurement of marketing success, and achieved remarkable results.

Winner’s quote: “We are thrilled and honoured to be recognized by Managing Partners Forum for the strategic and operational transformation of the Marketing and Business Development Department. This initiative was achieved by incredible multi-stakeholder collaboration, the design of an innovative technical infrastructure; and the implementation of a flexible, defined process. A key focus was the capture, organisation and analysis of data which brings a new layer to our firm’s competitive edge.” – Susan Ahern, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, Clark Hill

Counterpoint: “A movie is a movie until they go to odd extremes?” My mom takes on Oscar-winner Parasite

By Susie Duncan Sexton (my ma)

Viewed PARASITE…what do I think? I dunno? At all. But Academy Award winner? WTF? Beyond me how that happened. Gonna take me three days to forget it?

I think I kinda hated it to pieces? I’d like to feel happy now and then? Or at least englightened and hopeful? This was uneven and tricksterish and grim and odd… I see a point to it all, but I already am just bright enough to have known the point without sitting still for three hours reading dialogue stream underneath humans attempting to act out some message or other? Naughty me?

The tried and true theme of class collisions and the very worst of humanity and its general cluelessness and victimization and nuttiness and self-centeredness. Who needs to wallow in it? Bad enough on a daily level. It exists everywhere even in living rooms across the globe if people are lucky enough to have living rooms? JOKER got the message across much more provocatively and, hopefully, meaningfully and artistically? How in the world this incarnation of misery bounced onto the scene and into consciousness and got multiple film awards is totally puzzling.

ReelRoy…occasionally he and I disagree, and that is rare but choice! (Spencer Tracy word there!)

Some of the stuff I have loved over a half century does not always hold up I admit…but hey, slop is slop…manipulation I resent from young film makers, and I felt manipulated? And I would have if this thing debuted years ago…and it could have…sorta? How about THE GREAT GATSBY which I do NOT adore…but it serves the purpose fine?

Hallelujah… I do not feel so nuts now that I think I hated this thing? I am usually not this critical. A movie is a movie until they go to odd extremes?

P.S. James Corden said the week after the Oscars he was enjoying listening to all the people who pretended to watch it. I thought that was cute. I forgot to share that. I damn near gave up on it early on…and later on as well? Ha!

“She just publicly updated her relationship status.” Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a shotgun blast of pure pop riot grrl anarchy. Just the slap in the face “bro culture” has needed. And will continue to need.

Director Cathy Yan and producer/star Margot Robbie, working from a script by Christina Hodson, have crafted a beautifully forward-leaning day-glo antithesis to the retrograde sludge that was Suicide Squad (the precursor to Birds of Prey wherein Robbie’s “Harley Quinn” made her scene-stealing debut). One could even argue that Birds of Prey is a razor-barbed bookend to the exquisite existential angst of DC Entertainment’s Oscar-winning Joker.

The set up of Birds of Prey is that Harley has finally broken up for good with her boyfriend: yes, The Joker. Not Joaquin’s superior “Mistah J,” but Jared Leto’s inferior one – the tattooed, gold-toothed, overacting, “Hot Topic” fever dream one from Suicide Squad. Their breakup involves blowing up a chemical factory because, you know … comic books. As Rosie Perez’ world-weary and whimsically hard-boiled Detective Renee Montoya observes, “She [Harley] just publicly updated her relationship status.” Robbie is divine as Harley. Full of madcap poignancy, unencumbered by the cinematic fetishization she and the character suffered in Suicide Squad.

Alas, freeing herself from one hotbed of toxic masculinity just throws Harley into the deep end of a pool of abusive, egomaniacal, swaggering male bullsh*t as every thug in town now sees Harley as fair game. Leading the pack is Ewan McGregor’s sadistic Roman “Black Mask” Sionis and his sleazy, murderous, codependent wingman Mr. Zsasz (a fabulously glowering Chris Messina). McGregor literally gnaws at every splinter of scenery in one of his best performances – all fluttery hands, gritted teeth and coiled self-loathing.

Eventually the film adds a serpentine plot line about a diamond and a hidden family fortune, tied to a mafia family entirely gunned down years ago with only one “lost” survivor. Think Anastasia by way of The Jersey Shore. As Birds of Prey gathers momentum, like a pinball careening through a Rube Goldberg contraption, Harley partners up with Detective Montoya as well as a scrappy street thief Cassandra Cain (charming Ella Jay Basco), sonically superpowered club singer Black Canary (sparkling Jurnee Smollett-Bell of Roll Bounce and The Great Debaters), and socially maladjusted but utterly a$$-kicking Huntress (dynamite – as always – Mary Elizabeth Winstead of Fargo and Sky High).

There is a buoyancy to the entire film that is utterly infectious. The sheer joy these actors seem to be having playing women in command in a world out of control is a delight. I’m not one to care much for fight scenes or action sequences, but the balletic, athletic choreography on display here is Gene Kelly meets Sly Stallone, Bob Fosse meets Jackie Chan, if filmed by Vincente Minnelli. When a climactic car chase involves one of the characters on roller skates, you may be in for a treat.

The film reminded me of Drew Barrymore’s reboot of Charlie’s Angels, now 20 (!) years old. A film by women and about women, reclaiming a genre (action/superheroes) which has been far too long dominated by men (and, worse, by men of a certain stunted emotional development). Go for the hijinks, stay for the surprising depth of character development, and linger for the final scene as the women celebrate their victory over tacos and margaritas, sharing camaraderie and conversation and honest appreciation for their common humanity. Far too few films – let alone comic book epics – end on such an affirming note. Keep ‘em coming.

P.S. Spoiler alert for my animal loving friends, but Harley’s hyena “Bruce” makes it to the end of the film just fine. 😉

I leave you with these lyrics from one of the songs in the film, the lyrics of which I think encapsulate the flick nicely. From Birds of Prey soundtrack cut “Smile” by Maesie Peters: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X0exh-UHsjg

[Chorus]
Got bridges to burn and places to run
Yeah, this smile is a loaded gun

[Verse 1]
It’s my party, my body, my business
It’s my town and my crown on my hitlist
It’s my world and you’re just living in it
Did I, did I, did I finish?
They are my girls, and it’s us who’s deciding
It’s our door, did we say you’re invited?
Leave your name and we’ll call if we like it
If we, if we, if we like it

[Pre-Chorus]
No more Mrs. Sweet and Miss Nice
No more Mrs. Fuckin’ Polite
Time for Mrs. Takin’ What’s Mine
You don’t need him

[Chorus]
Got bridges to burn and places to run
Yeah, this smile is a loaded gun

[Verse 2]
It’s my party, my body, my business
If he tries to control me, he’s finished
Won’t be crying, there’s plenty of fishes
And I, and I, and I’m fishin’
You should know that you won’t find another
Who will ruin your life then your brother’s
Who will take what she’s owed when she wants to
Did I, did I, did I stutter?

From fSquared: Top Trends for Law Firm Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

Read or download the full document here https://fsquaredmarketing.com/blog/2020/01/30/legal-marketing-trends-2020-law-firms-expert-predictions/#PPC_advertising

Honored to be included in fSquared Marketing’s “Top Trends for Law Firm Marketing in 2020 and Beyond.” Thanks to Lynn Foley for the invite. Looking forward to diving into the insightful contributions here from Lynn, Lloyd Pearson , Jessica Jaramillo , Darryl Cross , Trish Desilets Lilley , Derek Jones , Meghan Spradling , M. Ashraf Lakhani , Pamela Foster , Gordon Donnelly , and Bree Buchanan .

From the publication’s introduction: “The truth is that the core principles of legal marketing have not changed: client service, personal connections, lawyer-lead thought leadership, relationship building, interpreting the available information and using those insights to drive action. As Roy Sexton writes in his article: ‘The new trends in legal marketing remain the things we should have all been doing in the first place.’ … The best way to predict the future, and succeed in the present, is to understand why the fundamentals of the past worked. You’ll find plenty of ideas for how to build on that foundation in this year’s Trends.”

Read or download the full document here https://fsquaredmarketing.com/blog/2020/01/30/legal-marketing-trends-2020-law-firms-expert-predictions/#PPC_advertising

Everything Old is New Again

By Roy Sexton Director of Marketing, Clark Hill

Don’t throw the past away/You might need it some rainy day./Dreams can come true again/When everything old is new again – lyrics from the song “Everything Old is New Again” by Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen (performed by the latter)

Perhaps it is a function of my age as I barrel toward the mid-century mark, but the new trends in legal marketing remain the things we should have all been doing in the first place. Prior to entering the legal space in 2011, I spent over a decade in a consumer-facing industry – health care – that, like legal, sells a human “product”: in healthcare’s case, the wit and wisdom and technical proficiency of doctors and other clinicians.

Healthcare is not necessarily known for its progressive approach to messaging, branding, advertising, or sales, and, yet, I find it gobsmacking that, in legal, we still don’t speak in some very basic marketing terms that I learned on day one in healthcare: for instance, presence, reach, awareness, leads.

We don’t measure these things the way other industries have (for decades), and, too often, our KPIs still feel reactionary in nature. Checkbook accounting if you will … or laggingindicators to borrow from our Six Sigma friends. For example, we tout proposals and pitches generated, won, lost, or simply flushed down a well, or we throw every resource but the kitchen sink at collecting outstanding revenue. Yet, the ideas of audience growth, developing a following, and true lead generation still appear to be a glorious mystery to much of our industry.

Heavens, I sound like a cranky neighbor throwing rocks from his front porch. I don’t mean to sound so cantankerous. Truth is, I’m as much of the problem here as anyone else.

So, with that said, what trends do we need to embrace in 2020? Well, this won’t sound very sexy as I’m not about to push for new tech or shiny new toys. We need to embrace storytelling. We need to understand the brand narrative. What does your firm believe in? What is its commitment to community? To clients? What is your unique value proposition? And, nope, that can’t read as “great service, smart people, at a fabulous price.” Everyone is saying some version of that.

Get specific. Be real. We have amazing tools at our fingertips in this digital landscape (ok, maybe I am getting a bit tech-y) to pull back the curtains on our respective organizations and let clients – existing and prospective – see the inner workings of our firms. And polish and panache won’t seal the deal. Authenticity, relatability, immediacy, outcomes will. Grow an audience, develop a following, and measure the heck out of every touch point those people have with your marketing content and with your practitioners.

Those organizations with our business in their sights have a very clear brand narrative: Deloitte. EY. KPMG. PwC. Everyone knows who they are and what they do. Long ago, with basically the same business model as legal, these companies were able to overcome the confederacy of voices that derail and dilute most firms’ market voices. They clearly articulate value, competencies, and brand, and they run themselves as businesses, not as wobbly democracies. They realize that a cohesive brand does not detract from but rather enhances the visibility of individual practitioners and, more importantly, their ability to win business.

The firms that can borrow from that playbook, march in lockstep, and land a coherent and, I repeat, accessible brand message will ride high through what is likely to be a tumultuous path for the legal industry.

I’ll be sitting on my front porch with a pail of stones.

From Michigan Lawyers Weekly … “Mapping success: Make your marketing plan agile, adaptable”

Leveraging social media, creating authentic content is key

By Kelly Caplan

Originally published here: https://milawyersweekly.com/news/2020/01/30/mapping-success-make-your-marketing-plan-agile-adaptable/

New clients can appear at any time, and once-promising prospects can disappear just as quickly. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all marketing plan, there are steps that will generate results.

The time to plan is before your business slows, according to John Reed, consultant, strategist and founder of Rain BDM.

marketing-main

If you don’t have a plan in place, “prepare for another lawyer to come along and eat your lunch,” he said. “Unless you are absolutely certain your clients will be clients for life, you can’t afford not to invest in business development and personal marketing activities.”

Roy Sexton, director of marketing at Clark Hill PLC, said attorneys need to build a plan instead of waiting until the roof caves in.

“Sit down with a blank page with your marketing team first, and map out a plan together,” he said. “Setting two or three top-line annual goals, and then figuring out the quarterly activity to accomplish is the best blend here.”

Mark Winter, president and founding partner of Identity, agreed, adding that marketing is a process, not an event.

“It takes discipline, commitment and continuity in execution,” he noted. “Build a five-year vision, a one-year plan, and set quarterly goals that pulse towards those longer-term objectives.”

reed-john-main
Reed

Reed said smart attorneys and firms manage and update their plans often so they can be properly positioned when new business emerges.

“Make a date with your plan at least every month, modifying and pivoting as needed,” he said. “Don’t just keep it on your computer — print it out, mark it up, and keep it on your desk or pinned to your wall to ensure you refer to it regularly.”

Winter added that effective marketing plans are those that can scale up and down based on the attorney’s or firm’s capacity.

“There is no shortage of well-thought-out marketing plans on shelves and in drawers in firms big and small,” he said. “But it should never go dormant. We know how the pendulum can swing.”

Content is key

Key to developing your marketing plan is creating — and strategically sharing — content, which enables attorneys and firms to have a much larger, yet targeted, focus.

“Get interviewed for articles or write thought leadership and distribute that content to local media outlets, to clients directly, and on social media,” Sexton said.

However, some attorneys may find it challenging to post regularly, or even to develop their social media “voice.” When sharing content, it’s important to be mindful of exactly what message you’re sending.

“No matter what content lawyers share, they should make sure it reflects their brands — what they want to be known and valued for,” Reed stated. “Social networks give anyone a microphone to criticize, vent, or rant. Lawyers need to resist that temptation.”

When sharing content on social media, know your audience.

“The area in which we have seen professional service providers get into trouble is when they post or comment on controversial or polarizing subjects,” Winter said. “You need to weigh how important it is for you to use a public tool to share or reaffirm your personal values.”

Branding yourself

Because content plays such a large role in legal marketing, it should be tailored for different audiences, whether they read, view, or listen to it.

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Sexton

“Video will become an even larger component of firm branding and attorneys’ personal marketing efforts,” Reed said. “Also, look for corporate social responsibility — lawyers and law firms giving back — to become a cornerstone of their marketing plans.”

Sexton added that demonstrating corporate responsibility and community engagement is essential for any successful campaign.

“Clients assume you’re a good lawyer, but they also want to know you’re a decent human being with whom they will have a good working relationship,” he said.

Younger attorneys may have an advantage when it comes to leveraging modern methods of connecting and communicating.

“As we continue to see the positive influence of millennials on the corporate conversation, it is increasingly important to embrace our common humanity,” Sexton said. “Regardless the platform you use to share that information, the basics of good storytelling and marketing still apply.”

Winter said firms should pay attention.

“The challenge and opportunity will be for the older lawyers running the firms to listen, lean in and let their younger counterparts integrate new tools into older firms,” Winter said. “If you do, you will see great results. If you don’t, you will not only get passed by, you may lose your young superstars to firms that will.”

Social media savvy

Social media, be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, is an important part of every attorney’s marketing toolkit.

While each platform has its selling points, too often, they aren’t being used to their full potential.

“LinkedIn is the best platform for lawyers but not for the reason that most attorneys think,” Winter said. “LinkedIn is a massive search engine, but most lawyers look at it simply as a newsfeed. If leveraged correctly, it is by far the best prospecting and referring tool available to a service professional today.”

Sexton likened social media to a “mixer that never ends,” noting that attorneys can engage with the people they want to reach. He added that social media interactions should be no different than sitting in a boardroom or hanging out on a golf course.

“Courtesy and social etiquette should always apply, regardless the venue,” he said. “For everything you promote about yourself, comment on someone else’s work, acknowledge them, or share their accomplishments. You’ll be surprised how far that will get you.”

Authenticity

Marketing and business development are like any other skills: they may come naturally to some but are dreaded by others.

winter-mark-main
Winter

The best approach, Sexton said, is the simple one: Be authentic.

“Don’t try to be all things to all people,” he said. “Too many attorneys make the mistake of thinking their bio has to represent any possible task they could take on. At worst, it gives the impression you will say or do anything to land a client. People don’t respond well to that.”

Perhaps the best way to present your authentic self to potential clients is through relationship building.

“Building relationships with prospective clients, referral sources, and other influencers should always be at the top of a lawyer’s business development activities,” Reed said. “Fostering connections is still the best way to become top-of-mind with those who may hire or refer you.”

Winter agreed, adding that while he uses a blend of old-school and new technologies with his clients, he keeps this simple adage in mind: People hire and do business with people they like.

“No ad or marketing tool can replace the ability to connect at a personal level,” he noted. “Nothing beats building and maintaining strong relationships with decision-makers, connectors and influencers.”

If you would like to comment on this story, email Kelly Caplan at kcaplan@mi.lawyersweekly.com.

“With no plan, nothing can go wrong.” Parasite (2020)

Parasite. Saw it. Liked it fine. Not sure how those who found Joker “dark and disturbing” don’t see that both films are two sides of one coin. Both movies offer a sobering continuation of ONE timely theme: deep-seated disparity between the “haves” and the “REALLY-have-nots” yields countless flippantly delivered daily cruelties which, left unchecked, will escalate into full-on class warfare. Both movies are bruise black satires seething with heartbreak. Both films even feature a character who laughs uncontrollably at discomfort and sadness. Art as a funhouse mirror, reflecting a society increasingly fragmented.

Writer/Director Bong Joon Ho is a South Korean Hitchcock with progressive sensibilities. Previous films Snowpiercer and Okja used sci-fi and thriller tropes to address, respectively, the horrors of global warming and factory farming/animal experimentation.

Parasite leaves open the question of who and what is actually “parasitic” in today’s go-go, digitally interconnected, utterly self-absorbed world. Is it the down-on-their luck family earning pennies to fold pizza boxes, stealing WiFi for their precious cell phones from their upstairs neighbors? Is it the fact that this clan cleverly insinuates itself into the superficial, postmodern lives of a wealthy family that can’t get through a day without being swallowed by their own neuroses? Or are the true parasites the wealthy elite themselves, viewing lives of others as disposable/consumable in servitude to their “higher end” desires, whims, and needs? (And don’t even get me started on the fired housekeeper, deathly allergic to peaches, who has a few secrets of her own.)

Parasite is a clever puzzle box of a movie – plot lines never quite resolving as expected, coiling one into another, crafting a clammy sense of escalating dread (and dark comedy). In other words, an accurate portrait of life in the 21st century. As one character observes toward the film’s conclusion, “With no plan, nothing can go wrong.”

It’s a worthwhile film, and one that hasn’t left my mind in the week since I viewed it. Parasite’s cast is exquisite, the consummate ensemble with fabulous timing (comic horror this good requires it) and an empathetic approach that is beautifully immersive. The staging is divine as well, with tight, confining quarters – some elegant, some grotesque – contributing to the haunting and claustrophobic nature of the enterprise.

Parasite and Joker are companion pieces: entertaining, horrific, and essential in the cold light they shine onto man’s inhumanity to man. In fact, both are positively Dickensian. In each film, the grit and grime of hardscrabble living is visceral, palpable, convulsive. The scars such life leaves on one’s soul, particularly in the face of the shallow and callous indifference of the wealthy, is a tragic parable all of us would be wise to heed.