Summer Friday Movie Nights: Red Carpet

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Okay, listen. I had dreams to be a consistent human being and write one of these movie reviews every Friday, but apparently I’m not good at those things so here we are after not posting last week with a new review. It’s been a week since watching this one, so while it isn’t super fresh in my mind I might miss some things that I could have expanded upon. I try to jot down notes while watching things, but even in the best situations I miss stuff.

Today’s movie is Red Carpet - 레드카펫
Release Date: 2014
Director: Park Bum Soo
Starring: Yoon Kye Sang and Koh Joon Hee
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Platform: Netflix

Director/writer Jung Woo has dreams of producing his works in the film industry, but ends up working for porn films to pay the bills and to stay in the field while he tries to find his way in. Eun Soo is a former child actress who is trying to find her way back into the world of acting away from her former self. The two meet one night and develop a relationship.

Non-spoiler review: When going into the film, I didn’t expect it to turn into the movie that it was and was surprised how much I ended up enjoying it. The movie’s premise is simple: it’s about finding what you love to do and not letting the world’s assumptions tell you that you aren’t worthy of having your voice heard just because you went about it a different way. It has some funny moments, and a great supporting cast of quirky characters and I overall enjoyed it.

Now onto the more in-depth spoiler filled review!

There is one reason, and one reason only that I decided upon this specific movie when I was searching for a movie to watch: I saw Chansung from 2PM in the thumbnail.

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I am a weak person and sometimes I only pick things because it has a Kpop Idol I like in it. If you think you can outgrow some things, I’m here to tell you friends it doesn’t matter what age you are. You can revert back to a 13 year old in an instant. However I am pleasantly surprised to have actually given this one a shot, because I came to like the movie much more than I ever would have if I had gone by the synopsis or even the very few reviews that are out there. The movie is admittedly a little silly, and has it’s moments that aren’t the best, but has such a great heart and message that I just really got into it. It also has Yoon Kye Sang from g.o.d in it. Double the idols!

The two leads meet because of the good old “renter-got-both-our money-for-the-same-place-and-bailed” switch. I should say at this point in the review: this film is pretty good at subtly smashing the assumptions you make based on things that are happening, and also within the world of that characters itself. This scene kind of kicks off that by playing up a standard trope right off the bat so that you are forced into an assumption of how things are going to play out. The two became close as she learns he is a screenwriter and enjoys his work, and he starts to fall for her as he learns that she is a pretty decent actress (they also have to do that share the same place thing for a while, so that kind of helps with the tension). They share a night together, and she ends up getting a gig after all of his coaching.

She goes to give him a gift as a thank you, but ends up visiting him while he’s shooting. She doesn’t know he’s shooting, nor does she even know he works in the porn industry, and assumes he’s cheating on her. She leaves him there, without saying a word and without him even knowing that she showed up. I kind of love this plot point as it relates to the assumptions theme in the movie. She leaves because she thinks he’s cheating on her. When she leaves you realize that the porn director - who one might assume is fine with one night stands because of what he does for living - is pretty devastated by it. Assumptions!

The second act of the movie is spent with him slowly crumbling, while she’s flourishing. She gets her break, while he starts to slip out of the sight of what he really wants to do. He stops trying to find someone who will take his script, and while we had seen previously that working in porn and the fallouts of that wasn’t too hard on him, the negatives start to hinder his ability to continue his journey of his dream. He finally gets the courage to meet her again, and she agrees. While they meet at a coffee shop it is only then that she finally learns that he works in porn because her director for her current film (drama? I can’t remember. Thing she’s acting in) is at the same place.

At this point, you the viewer might assume that she might be disgusted by this revelation of news. Or decide that she can’t be seen with him because it will ruin her reputation as an actress and that its going to become the new obstacle of the movie…but that’s not the case. She actually doesn’t care all that much finding out what he does for a living. If anything, it just makes her finally realize what was actually happening the day she left, and she’s ok with it. Oh, if people would just talk then we wouldn’t have these assumptions! They form a friendship again, and she agrees to work on his film, the one he’s been writing, because she believes in his work. She goes into this knowing what it can do to her career and the way that she is perceived, but she believes enough in him and his work that she doesn’t care. For her, she’s never actually cared about those things.

There is a scene where Jung Woo is at Eun Soo’s agency to talk about what they are going to do with the bad press that’s coming out after she’s been spotted working on this movie with a porn director. Jung Woo is having a hard time, as he knows that because of who he is Eun Soo is getting the negative outcome. As Jung Woo is leaving, there is a painting behind him. It is of three people, nude from behind. It’s abstract enough to be a little less visible, but still clear enough to know what it is. The blocking played really well with what they were trying to accomplish for this movie. Here he was, the porn director who’s work is deemed morally wrong and not artistic, in the same room as this other work of nudity in a different medium that is fine and acceptable art.

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The movie ends how you kind of expect: the movie they are working on is finally finished and ends up getting picked up at a tiny film festival where the reaction to it is positive and genuine. Eun Soo leaves a major film festival to visit the small one and Eun Soo and Jung Woo are finally together.

I didn’t talk about them, and don’t really have the time, but I do want to touch quickly on the minor characters in the movie. I’m a sucker for good minor characters. I love an array of background characters that aren’t just there to hold up the mains but to have their own life and heart and this movie has that. You genuinely start to love this group of colleagues that have become friends. Their roots all tied to the porn industry gives the laughs, but they really hone into the insight of people being made to feel bad about themselves. We see this in the fight scene at the bar where the girls are reduced down to just beings the patrons think they can grope; but you also see the rise of them becoming their own and defending who they are as people and standing up for each other. They fight for and support Jung Woo’s vision of his movie. I really loved them. They were quirky and fun and really added to the movie.

One of the things that I dislike most of the time about dramas, or really any entertainment for that matter, is the use of overplayed tropes. They are used as a crutch. A way to get the viewer into the script with familiarity, and a way to write something a little bit easier with those prompts. I understand why they are done, and I’m not one to hate something because they happen to be used, but sometimes they can be exhausting when you just want something a little bit different than you expected. This movie kind of took me on that journey. Albeit, it still has it’s tropes and the ending is very predictable, I really enjoyed seeing the movie start to pick up on these overused plots and were aware and ever so slightly change them to something you may not have expected. In a way, that was my own assumption of the movie on whole when I started to watch it: I assumed the movie about a porn director would be campy and cheap humor and in the end it wasn’t about that. In fact it had very little to do with that. It was about people who were being ostracized because they were doing something they loved in a different way than society assumed they should be doing. And in the end, I really liked what this film did to focus on assumptions that are made, and I loved that they went about it in such an off-the-wall way of telling that story. This movie isn’t going to be for everyone, and has it’s share of campy and not so great writing and acting, but in the end the movie had heart. It was funny and enjoyable…and isn’t that what a movie should be?

Here's the trailer if you are interested. I couldn't find an English sub, but I think you can pick up on things fairly easily:

Summer Friday Movie Nights: Sunny

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It’s Friday, so lets talk about another movie!

Today’s movie is Sunny - 써니
Release Date: 2011
Director: Kang Hyung Chul
Starring: The cast is pretty large, check out this link for the list
Genre: Comedy Drama
Platform: DramaFever

Sunny is about a woman (Im Na Mi) who finds her old school friend (Ha Chun Hwa) while visiting her mother in the hospital. After finding out that Chun Hwa is suffering from end-stage cancer, Na Mi helps carry out the wishes of Chun Hwa to find their old group of school friends (who call themselves Sunny) before she passes. The story focuses on the current day lives of the 7 girls, and their past selves in school during the ’80s.

My quick non-spoiler review: This is one of Korea’s top grossing movies, and it is really easy to see why. The small bits of story of what happened during their school days and where the girls ended up was set up really well. It has some really great funny moments that are just meant more to make you feel good, and how you felt with your friends in school before life gets in the way. If you like the movie Now and Then this has the same sort of feel, and I think you’d like it.

Read more for a more in-depth spoiler filled review!

I originally picked this movie to watch purely because it was always on the top lists of movies to watch, and figured that if I was going to watch a Korean movie that watching from the top movies was the most useful. I didn’t know much about the movie itself besides the small snippet that I had read, so I went into the movie not knowing much

Sunny is Korea’s version of the movie Now and Then. I really love the format of seeing people in the present time, and showing them in the past. Especially in aspects like this where the characters are middle aged, and the past is from when they are in high school. It’s always more interesting when it’s a time period that I haven’t experienced, and with Sunny being Korean it was nice to see the snippets of what life was like for a high school female in ‘80s Korea.

Unlike Now and Then, there isn’t a huge event that the story is circulating around, just a glimpse of the girls as a group and where their lives had eventually taken them. They all shar one common theme: they weren’t doing what their younger selves had wished for. Chun Hwa had a sense of that (especially when she saw Na Mi), and that is why she persisted that she needed to bring back together the group, even at the last stages of her life. Throughout the movie during the flashbacks you see her in the leadership role and she played that till the end.

As I said, there really aren’t many events to talk about, although the part where the group goes to beat up Na Mi’s daughters bullies was probably one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It was funny, and worked with what had already been established with the group dynamic when they were younger (as they were constantly getting into fights). The moments in the cop car were hilarious and felt genuine. It reminded me of when I got together with friends when younger and how it was just about having fun with each other. I loved that it had that moment with some of the group as they are older, especially when they hadn’t been together for such a long time, that they were able to come together and click like nothing happened.
Another scene that I loved, and have to mention just because, is the scene where Na Mi is giving her mother the handbag and all the other patients in the room are watching a drama (you see them watching the same drama in a previous scene as well). The whole room is so into the drama, that when the major trope happens everyone erupts with anger. It was a funny little scene that was just perfect.

I would have liked a little more look into the character of Su Ji, as she was always brought up in ways that made it seem like there would be something more. I was worried at the end that she wasn’t going to show up, so I was happy that she was there and didn’t mind her coming in at the very last minute and the movie ending, but I felt her character just had more depth to her. I loved the moments we had with Su Ji and Na Mi, but it just felt like something was missing. Especially when you find out through the investigator that she was the one that was hard to find. Why was that? Even those that were really down on their luck and basically had no where to live they were able to find. It didn’t break the movie for me, but it did leave me with some questions.

In the end, the movie is pretty simple. There isn’t super ground breaking events that happen that are outrageous or keep you on the edge of your seat, but I think it serves the movie well. The cast is so huge, considering the group has 7 in it, that you can’t focus too much on one person because it feels like you are missing out on the others. I loved that really in the end, nothing groundbreaking happened: It was just a group of friends finally getting back together after years and reminiscing about what they were and coming together where they are. The simplicity of that was what made the movie. When we are younger, we spend most of our time with friends not doing much anyways, and we still perceived it as a fun time. I think the movie really tried to hone in on that aspect of relationships with friends.

This is a great movie, and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a good movie to watch that will make you laugh out loud and want to call your friends.

First Impression: Are You Human Too?

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Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the first two episodes of the show, there will be spoilers for those in this review. Also, understand that my opinions can change of characters and plots as the show progresses forward. This is just a first impression, not the end all be all of if I like the show or not and my overall opinion of it once the show ends.

Release Date: Started June 4 2018
Episode #: 18 (released every Mon and Wed)
Platform: DramaFever
Director: Cha Young Hoon
Writer: Jo Jung Joo
Starring: Seo Kang Joon, Kong Seung Yeon
Genre: Romance/Sci Fi/Android

I haven’t been watching dramas that much this past week, I tend to do that sometimes especially after doing a major marathon of a specific show, which for me was Something in the Rain. I don’t normally watch that much melodrama, and bingeing it made me just want to spend some days catching up on variety shows that I have missed, and watching other things not Korean (sometimes it’s nice not to have to read everything!).  So today I decided to catch up on some of my currently watching list, specifically those shows that I knew had higher potential for me to be spoiled once they were aired, and landed on Are You Human Too as it had just premiered last night. I wasn’t going to pick up the series, but I was intrigued and after seeing the thousandth ad for it I decided to watch it.

And I’m hooked.

I’ve never really been drawn to the android/robot theme. The only other show that I’ve watched that falls into that (excluding anime where I’m 100% into the meccas) was I’m Not a Robot. Which is in the category only slightly, so I’m going to say that this is probably my first true drama with an android theme.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first two episodes, and how the premise is set up. I’m always for a woman in a high position and super smart, especially one who also embodies compassion and empathy and Oh Ro Ra - Shin’s mother - is perfect. The little snippet we see in the very beginning with her and Shin during her presentation is adorable and I fell instantly in love with the character. The little things she specifically programmed into the robot version of her son are so sweet and great and naturally set up a really nice plot device that can help the character going forward with the series. Shin was great, both human and robot version of himself. Going to the Czech Republic to find his mother after all those years, the robot version noticing that he’s being followed and in danger and immediately responding to it was great.

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I also like the set up of the grandfather that we’ve already gotten. Although there is not much known to him - powerful rich guy who (maybe?) killed his son and stole his grandson from his mother is pretty cliched and kind of expected, but their was a nice added element to his character as you find out he is showing signs of developing Alzheimer's. I’m really excited to see how this is going to be played moving forward and where it will take that character. It’s a different angle and I love when dramas throw you off from the normal plot devices.

Of course there is other corruption not just with the family (because what show with a powerful and rich family doesn’t have that?), but also the staff around him with Jong Gil being the one to set up the hit on Shin. I’m interested to see how it plays out with his relationship with his daughter, Ye Na, as she is set to marry Shin and seems to actually like him as opposed to just doing it for the money. I’m not normally one to like the second female lead or really care much for them, but compared to what we have for the first lead (So Bong) I actually like her. I kind of hope there is more to her leading up.

Speaking of the female lead…I just. I want to like her, but I don’t. At all. I want to say that it’s just the first two episodes so she’s acting this way because of that, but I just don’t know. I’m holding my breath that she will get better. I mean, it’s going to be really hard for me to watch this series without wanting to skip through any part that she is speaking if she stays this way, but she is stereotypically the female lead we always get: supposed to be outgoing and strong but is just annoying and there for the male lead to save. I know, this is a drama with romance so that needs to be there. I just want better.

There are a few other characters that are minor at this point that I don’t want to talk much about but am interested in what they will be as the episodes move on. David, the boyfriend of Ro Ra and I guess a scientist as well, is interesting because there really isn’t much known and seems to be someone that may or may not have a greater impact moving on. I also am really interested in Young Hoon, the secretary of human Shin and how he’ll play out.

I’m sure I’m missing more on things that I want to talk about, and probably could add a lot more (will the human Shin ever wake from the coma? Will we see snake tattoo hit man again?), but I’ll leave it at that and maybe add to it in a longer review of the series once it’s finished. I am looking forward to the next episodes and to see how the show will progress.

Summer Friday Movie Nights: Spellbound

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I had two goals this summer, and one of them was to watch more movies and thought it would be fun to have a series this summer where I review a movie every Friday. Coincidentally, this is my first review on the site!


Today’s movie is Spellbound - 오싹한 연애 (also known as My Girlfriend Can See Ghosts)
Release Date: 2011
Director: Hwang In Ho
Starring: Son Ye Jin and Lee Min Ki
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Jo Goo (Lee Min Ki) is a street magician who notices Yeo Ri (Son Ye Jin) in the crowd during a performance and is drawn to her because of how miserable she looks. He decides to approach her, and develops a horror themed magic show because of their interactions that is successful and he hires her to help with the trick. Trying to get to know her, Jo Goo finally gets Yeo Ri to attend a team dinner. She gets drunk, and the next day doesn’t show up to work. Jo Goo calls her to find out what’s wrong and is worried when during the phone call he hears a weird sound. He goes to check up on her and then learns that she can see ghost is and is constantly haunted by the ghost of a dead friend.

My quick non-spoiler review: Even though this movie had it’s downfalls with rushed storyline and lacking plots that could be developed a little better, I liked it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a cute romantic comedy. Or if you are a fan of Son Ye Jin and Lee Min Ki, because they are adorable together. It’s also just a fun rom-com to watch when you have a free moment. Sometimes its fun to watch something that you don’t have to invest a lot into, and this is the movie.

Read more for a more in-depth spoiler filled review...

Coming off of a binge of Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food and an accidental start of a re-watch of Because This is my First Life (I can’t help it, that show is just so good!), I knew when I was searching through the movies list on DramaFever and saw Spellbound that I was going to have to add it to my watch list. I’m really glad I did, because the movie was cute and a great way to spend my Friday afternoon. I really love the two leads, and it was fun being able to see them in roles so drastically different than the shows that I had watched recently with them, it made the movie more enjoyable.

The movie itself isn’t the best, but in that way that it’s still enjoyable. It wasn’t horrible by any means, it just wasn’t something I would say has the best writing or run to tell people. It’s one of those romantic comedies that you see while you’re scrolling through TV guide on the weekend and you end up stopping to watch and stay for the end.

There were some parts of the movie that jumped around too much, in an effort to get everything they wanted out of the story in the movie’s timeline. This made the main storyline of why Yeo Ri’s character was so actively pursued by the ghost of her dead friend feel rushed and not thought out. I wanted more from the storyline, especially because the entire time I kept on questioning why she was so mad and not more mad at say the paramedic who first responded, or the bus driver. When we finally got the explanation it just didn't live up to a ghost so bent on destroying this girl’s life to the point of actively trying to kill the person she loves.

There was also a lot of question about the fact that despite the title, and what they implied in every synopsis I read, everyone could see the ghosts - not just her. I thought going in that it was supposed to be a special thing for her, and then eventually Jo Goo’s character comes to be able to (maybe because of being a magician or maybe ghosts make themselves known to specific people). That aspect of the plot just didn’t make sense, and was a little weird.

I really wish that we had more time to spend with the relationship between Jo Goo and Yeo Ri. What was shown was so great, and I loved it (the ending when he’s telling her that he’s scared but then what she must be going through is even worse, ugh!). It just was so rushed from their first meeting, to him adorably trying to find her a boyfriend, to him actually falling in love with her despite of the fact that everyone around her had been effected negatively being close with her because of the ghost. I think this movie would have been better as a episodic drama, so that those story lines really could develop in more than just a two hour block.

And speaking of other relationships, the relationship between her friend and the writer was really sweet. I wanted more from that as well, there just wasn’t time to add that. I liked the banter they had, and the self aware dialogue they have about what makes a relationship in dramas. It was a lot of fun, and even though the three really spent most of their friendship on the phone they played off each other really well.

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think of it? I’m sure I’m missing more, lets discuss it in the comments.

hi.

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This is just a temporary intro post to welcome you to my blog!

I'm smack in the mix of putting together things, so it might look different from one day to the next while I sort out things, and content scarce, but I promise you can look forward to more posts all about Korean (and sometimes Japanese) dramas and variety shows :)

So grab a glass of wine (or tea, I'm not picky) and enjoy

Oh, and happy National Wine Day