Sunday, December 27, 2015

Answer Me 1988: My thoughts on all the love angles and story so far

This drama's just such a breath of fresh air in a landscape filled with love-centric, cliche and melodramatic plots. It reminds me of In Time With You in that sense, as a drama that feels like it's populated with people that could truly exist facing real-world challenges. Similar to ITWY though the main weakness lies in the many varied lovelines, which are convenient at best and mind-numbingly drawn out at worst. But overall the series possesses this sense of authenticity and enrichment factor that I haven't yet found in anything else this year. It's a drama that makes you feel like you come out of each episode as a better person for having seen it. I don't recall having felt this way about either 1994 or 1997, perhaps because of their central focus on the younger generation and their mysterious, blood-pressure inducing romances. Here, I actually do feel invested in all of the characters, young and old. Note that here I'm only discussing what I've watched through episode 14.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Beauty Inside: Movie Review

The Beauty Inside has probably the most original premise I've ever seen a movie take on, which is why I decided to give it a shot. While there's no doubt that it's well-produced and acted, it ultimately fails to deliver the heft of emotion promised, and winds up feeling more like a montage of pretty scenes rather than a cohesive story. I suppose that's almost the inevitable result of combining a story about a body-changing main character with a director who's only worked on commercials - yes, it's prettily shot and perfect for screencaps, but there's little density of story and the moments remain no more than fleeting and superficial.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sassy Go Go: Series Review

Sassy Go Go (odd name aside) was a surprising win as a drama. It has all the feel-good elements needed for a relaxing, casual watch, with an absolutely adorable high-schooler romance that really overshadows all else. I'm generally not a fan of high school dramas, which can often feel too frivolous and plot-thin. While the storyline here is in fact relatively cliche and uninspiring, the lead characters are so charming and sweet that you're willing to endure the less exciting elements of the story to see them together. I'm referring specifically to Kim Yeol and Kang Yeon Doo, who had some of the cutest, most chemistry-laden scenes I've seen all year.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Marry Me or Not: Episode 1 Review

This is apparently the week for good cross-border premieres, what with From 5 to 9 giving a strong showing on the Jdrama scene and now Marry Me or Not doing the same for the long-empty Taiwanese drama field. I watched the 5-min MV for this show on a whim yesterday, and was happily struck by how good it looked. I never got Office Girl's appeal, as I personally found that show boring and the lead's chemistry tepid at best, but Roy and Alice just smoke up the place in Marry Me or Not. If they can sustain this for the dramas run, then this will be the show to watch this year.

From 5 to 9: Episode 1 Review

I've found a new Jdrama obsession, which comes as no surprise as you can't just put Yamapi and Ishihara Satomi together in a rom-com and not get great results. My last Jdrama was back over a year ago with Shitsuren Chocolatier, which also starred Satomi. But that drama was less fluff and more odd angst, which thankfully isn't the case here. For those Itazura na Kiss fans, you might also care that the guy who played Naoki is one of the (apparently several) second-leads here. I personally think this is a perfect fit for him, as he never really gave off what I felt was the charisma needed to lead a show, but he does make a pretty picture and is fairly likable. It also makes you realize what a small world the Jdrama acting space is, as fans of Rich Man, Poor Woman may recall he played one of the leading lady's friends in that show (before he hit it big with Itazura).

Episode 1 of 5 to 9 was generally quite well-done, with enough cuteness and sparks to get me excited for what's to come.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Yong Pal: Finale Thoughts

My mind is still finding it hard to keep up with all the craziness that happened in the last four episodes of Yong Pal. What a confusing and disappointing conclusion. I wonder if it had to do with trying to find a plot point to fill up the extension, because I can't think of any sane writer planning that poisoning nonsense from the start. Yeo Jin clearly has the world's strongest body ever, to have endured all of these surgeries plus a three year coma, yet come out alive and looking great. Spoilers ahead.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Yong Pal: Episodes 1-10 Review

I've really missed seeing Joo Won on the big screen. He's one of those rare actors that I find talented, likeable, as well as impossibly adorable. Interestingly, since the last show I watched him in was Good Doctor, it feels like a carryover to see him once again as a surgical genius, executing those unnecessarily graphic (and probably medically inaccurate) surgeries on the screen again. He's the essence of this show, which I, as well as what seems to be the whole drama watching community, am completely loving at the moment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pinocchio: Final Thoughts

Getting behind on the drama train is a mixed bag, in that you get to avoid the whole waiting game for episodes, but also just lose a lot of interest in these shows, making it difficult to reinvest in the series. Nonetheless, I've tried to power through some of the long-ago aired shows and wanted to ring in my final thoughts on Pinocchio. I know I was a major fan of this show when it first aired, but feel that it fell far short of its potential in the latter half.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Movie Reviews: Inside Out and The Avengers: Age of Ultron

For those thinking of going to theaters, I wanted to weigh my thoughts on two recent Disney productions, one of which I really enjoyed and the other which I loathed.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mask: Episodes 1-8 Review

I hadn't realized Mask came from the same writer as Secret until after I watched all the aired episodes. It makes complete sense, as I can see plenty of similarities in the dark, twisted tone, the intense romance, and the generally assured, suspenseful pacing of the story. Secret remains one of my favorite dramas, as for all its flaws I loved its raw intensity and was blown-away by all of the performances. Mask so far isn't quite to that level, though I find it one of the better and more addicting shows that's aired so far this year.

Angry Mom: Not Impressed as of Episodes 1-4

This drama was long on my list of must-sees, as the premise sounded so fun (a mom going back to high school to beat up bullies!) and featured what I thought would be an interesting OTP of Kim Hee Sun and my beloved Ji Hyun Woo. But wowza have I been disappointed with the end result, and four episodes in I'm deciding to call it quits. I feel like they totally committed false advertising with this show, as all the previews (including those I saw while in Korea) featured a cheery, fun vibe with Kim Hee Sun yelling and kicking those young guys into submission. But what this drama actually turned out to be is a depressing education-system political thriller. No, this does not work for me as a drama and I'm still irritated at the bait-and-switch pulled here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

20 Once Again: Movie Review

Miss Granny is one of the few K-movies that I've enjoyed over the past few years, so of course I was interested in checking out how the Chinese remake, 20 Once Again, would compare. To put it straight, this film's a no-qualms copy-cat of the original, with line-by-line similarities. In some ways this was frustrating as I would have liked to see some original twists rather than feeling like I was watching the exact same movie over again with different faces, but I suppose in some way this fulfills its goals as a true remake. Overall I would rank the two films on about the same level, but giving the Korean version a slight upperhand for how it dealt with the final story resolution. Spoilers included for those who haven't seen Miss Granny.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Trip to South Korea: Seoul Part 2 - Shopping, Mosque, & Art

Moving on now to all the other miscellaneous places I visited in Seoul. We started with the KT & G Sangsang Madang pictured above, which was one of the places featured in the TripAdvisor art tour. It's located in Hongdae, and features a very interesting exterior. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Get It Beauty 2015: Episode 1 Recap

Honey Lee is probably one of the classiest, loveliest ladies in the Korean entertainment space (those dimples!). So despite not being a fan of the variety scene, I had to check out this year's season of Get It Beauty, which is essentially a beauty-centered advice show with her as the main host. Although I'm not generally a recapper, I wanted to try my hand at it here, as the topics covered are actually quite interesting for skincare lovers like myself. It won't be exorbitantly detailed, but will instead highlight what I felt were the more interesting tidbits. 

As a whole, I find this show follows the typical Korean talk show format, featuring a group of hosts with different backgrounds, some on-show challenges and demonstrations, and the occasional bit of gag humor. The hosts include Honey Lee, idol group SISAR's Soyou as the fresh young face, a lady named Kim Jung Min who I'm guessing is a former host, and a surprisingly knowledgeable though quirky guy named Hwang Min Young, who was obviously strung in to inject a necessary bit of self-deprecating humor. I'm not yet taken with any of the supporting hosts, and since I'm really only watching to learn Honey's beauty secrets, I'd almost rather we just had a shorter episode that only focused on her rather than bothering to give screentime to all the ladies (and random man). This show is centered around beauty though, and I was satisfied to find episode 1 informative and light-handed on the jokes. I came away with some valuable knowledge, and for that alone I might just keep watching. Also, who can say no to Honey's request to "watch so you can become prettier"?  

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Trip to South Korea: Seoul Part 1

As promised, I wanted to share some of the photos I took from my trip to South Korea, in hopes that it may also be useful / interesting to some of you. I'll begin with a few highlights from Seoul and do further posts on Busan and other specific sites. I spent a total of nine days in South Korea, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and overall it's a destination I'd recommend to anyone (and especially drama lovers). Just don't expect to run into a celebrity :P 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Outlander: Season 1A Review

Outlander's a show I pretty much knew I'd enjoy from the moment I read the synopsis. It features a post-World War II era army nurse who travels back to 1743 Scotland, where she meets and falls in love with one of the Highlanders (who's also one of the sweetest, hottest guys in TV show history). It's the epitome of an epic time travel romance, but what I like is that this time the woman gets to travel back and apply her modern knowledge and values. Even better, it's set in the visually gorgeous Scottish Highlands and features sexy (though at times incomprehensible) accents galore. I'm happy to report the end result of the first half of season 1 delivered on my expectations, and in fact it's been a very long time since I've been obsessed with a series to the degree that I am with this.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I'm Going to Korea!

First off, I apologize for the sporadic blogging recently. I have so many shows on my to-finish list now that I'm not even sure where to start. The reason I'm not up-to-date isn't really anything special, just that I was tired of the whole week-by-week waiting game and also just needed a brief break to freshen up my mind. 

In very exciting news, I will be going to Korea for the first time next Saturday!!! This makes me ridiculously happy, and while I sadly don't anticipate any celebrity sightings, I do expect plenty of food, some cultural events, and of course good shopping (those product placement CFs totally work on me). I'll be there for over a week, and will be visiting Seoul, Busan, Yangsan, and Ulsan. Not to worry, I will take photos and blog as much of it as possible, so keep posted here! Click down to see the specific destinations on my itinerary as well as my food wishlist:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Bachelor Season 19: The Women Tell All Reaction

I know there's a lot of judgement associated with those who watch this show, and trust me, I get it. But that hasn't stopped me from tuning in since I marathoned Sean Lowe's season a couple years back, and last night's episode Women Tell All was so high-strung and anger-inducing that I feel compelled to react. As for the franchise itself, I actually don't care much for the romance aspect, which is unarguably hammy and unrealistic. What I enjoy is the fashion and the house drama, which can impart some valuable lessons on how you should and should not behave in society. This season was probably the best yet for this sort of learning, and here's a summary of my key takeaways for each woman:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hyde, Jekyll, Me versus Kill Me, Heal Me

I thought episode 2 of HJM was a solid improvement over episode 1, and it sealed the deal on my excitement for this show. I actually find HJM to be more addicting than KMHM at this point, and it's risen to the top of my to-watch list for currently airing shows. It's mainly a function of tone, as I'm much more swept into HJM's dreamy, thoughtful ambiance than KMHM's more intense but exaggerated comic book feel. I'm also expecting HJM to give a more equal split in screentime between the "master" and the second personality, unlike KMHM's central focus on (the dreary wet mop) Do Hyun. Hopefully this means Robin will be with us as much as Seo Jin, and that we'll actually build up a true love triangle.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kill Me, Heal Me: General Impressions as of Episode 6

I must say I'm really enjoying the multiple identities trend right now, and Kill Me Heal Me is a fascinating and fresh contributor to this category. I can't yet compare it to Hyde, Jekyll, Me given the newness of the latter, but I really like that we're not limited to two personalities here. I could just watch Ji Sung play the different identities all day long. In fact, my biggest complaint is that I wish they would give more screentime to the other personas, especially Shin Se Gi, rather than focusing so much on Do Hyun. At any rate, I'm looking forward to continuing to meet all seven identities, and can't wait to see what Ji Sung will bring to each.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hyde, Jekyll, Me: Episode 1 Thoughts

I generally enjoyed the premiere episode of Hyde, Jekyll, Me, although I agree with most of the criticisms that have emerged. This isn't a home run start by any stretch, but it's engaging and showcases a unique premise that I can't wait to dig further into. The whole crux of this story is that leading hero Seo Jin has Dissociative Identity Disorder (which I know is also tackled by Kill Me Heal Me, which I haven't seen yet), whereby his gentle alterego Robin will emerge anytime his heart rate surpasses 150. It's an interesting twist on the traditional Jekyll and Hyde tale, and I'm curious how the romance will play out given the conflicting men in one body.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healer: Halfway Review

Even after having watched all the episodes to date, it surprised me to suddenly realize that we're already halfway through Healer's airing. For some reason this story feels so much farther from complete, and similarly my opinion remains unformed. I thoroughly enjoy many aspects of this show, including the secret identity, the intricate backstory, and the light-hearted yet ardent romance. Yet I can't deny that I'm still far from being in love with any of the characters, and many of the scenes (e.g., anything involving Moon Shik / Elder) bore me to tears. So this isn't either a rant or a rave, but something in between, much as I both love and dread viewing each new episode.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Quick Movie Reviews: The Interview, One Day, Penguins of Madagascar

These past few weeks have been dedicated to movie days with family and friends, and I thought I'd try to spare you some lost brain cells by warning you clear of the following three: