First Impressions: Secret Boutique

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Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched the first two episode of this drama, there will be spoilers for those in this review.

Native Title: 시크릿 부티크

Release Date: September 18, 2019 (released every Wed and Thurs)

Episode #: 32 half hour long episodes (Kocowa combines two eps into one)

Platform: Kocowa

Director: Park Hyung Ki (Scent of a Woman)

Writer: Heo Seon Hee (Life Tracker Lee Jae Goo)
Genre: Melodrama/Revenge

Starring: Kim Sun Ah, Jang Mi Hee, and Park Hee Bon. Rest of the cast can be found here.

I think one of biggest obstacles that came from this drama going in was not knowing much more than what Twitter had been talking about. I watched the drama days after most of the people who were already going to watch it did, and didn’t bother to mute the name to avoid spoilers. I was expecting much more makjang. Situations that were heightened with drama, still felt grounded in the world. Backstabbing felt real and never to an over exaggerated state where the characters became comical or go into the absurdity that is makjang. This is much closer to a thriller/melo, which is something I really enjoy. I was worried I was going to have to deal with a lot of over the top elements, and while this drama does have those it’s in the normal “heightened because it’s a drama” sense, not going that step overboard is what keeps the show grounded in it’s element and keeps you guessing with a lot of the character’s intentions.

I’m not going to lie, during most of the first episode I was hesitant about my opinion of this drama. I was finding myself liking some parts okay, and being completely bored with others and was having issues keeping up interest. But as the show progressed I started to get more involved and by the last 10 minutes of the first episode, and all through the second I was completely hooked.

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The other big thing that I noticed about this is that it just doesn’t feel like a kdrama. The tone shifts a lot, and while not in a terrible way or one done without merit, it’s strange when you start to really focus in on it. In the beginning it’s very much set up like an old Hollywood film. Characters walking through doors, filmed from below with high beam light from behind. Even the style of the costumes and set represents this. Then it shifts. I first noticed this when it went to Hyun Ji and her mother and became more like a normal crime drama where the shadows and darkness are played up to represent the family being poorer. After a while the drama shifts again, becoming much more like a normal political melodrama that NBC would 100% pick up. Even so, parts of the second episode felt like I was watching a con/action drama. I think what makes the tone shifts so strange is that they are integrated pretty well, at least I never actually noticed them until well into the scene that they were using it. It sort of blends a British crime drama with a Western one.

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I really like how they’ve started to assemble this team. Hyun Ji’s involvement because of her mother, the sister who doesn’t seem to mind to go behind her family’s back. Sun Woo’s connection with Jenny. They start to fall into the rag tag team that I personally love to watch.

One of my favorite parts of the episodes was the last part of the second episode. Again, I had no clue what I was getting into when I started this drama. I had fallen in love with the posters, and watched some teasers (un subbed) and became interested through those. I knew that it was going to be a revenge drama, and assumed that it was going to deal between Jenny and Jung Hyuk’s relationship. Even during the drama you felt it was just going to deal with the politics of the family that she was in, and be more of revenge from power abuse. That is why I was caught off guard by the family secret and how Jenny’s revenge is mostly centered on Yeo Ok which is fascinating and great. I would have expected a birth secret from this type of drama, I just would have figured it happening later on and not being the sole plot or it involving one of the other main characters. Yeo Ok has already been set up as a super interesting character., which just adds a level of my love for this because it means more time with her. She is evil, but in that silent way that keeps you always guessing her motives. You fear her, but also want to hang out with her. I love that this is the focus of the revenge, and not from a love interest.

Also? The cat.

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I’m actually really excited to see more of how the story is going to progress. I don’t have a lot of airing shows that I have on my list, and wasn’t sure I’d actually pick this one up past these two episodes.

There is already a ton of unanswered questions, and elements that I want to see more of. I’d like to see more of Jenny’s business and really get a sense of what she does and how she hides it. I want more of the younger sister and how she relates to all of the players. I’m also really excited to see more with Hyun Ji. She’s played by Go Min Si, and I really loved her acting in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and am excited to see how she’ll pull off a main role. She has a lot of interesting ties that they’ve already set up that could play out really nicely as the story progresses. The women that her mother let stay in their house, specifically the one with the son seemed fascinating. I hope that with the death of the mother that doesn’t go away. It was so interesting to see a cop character do what she did and be as compassionate as she was towards the women, that I hope we see glimpses of them later and Hyun Ji realizing her mother’s intention with that compassion. Definite add to the watch list!

Four Episodes: In Time With You

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I’m starting a new series that is much like the First Impressions posts, but dives a little farther into the drama’s episodes without it being a full series review. While I’m not the type of person who subscribes to the “Four Episode” rule, I understand it’s merit for others. With these reviews I will talk about the first four episodes of a series (or first quarter if it’s a shorter one) and discuss whether I will or won’t be continuing on in with the series.

This first review is on the Japanese version of this particular show. I will only be talking about the first four episodes of this series, as I have not watched any of the other versions. Please be kind and not spoil this show in the comments by talking about the other version or past these four episodes.

Native Title: 僕はまだ君を愛さないことができる (also known as I Don’t Love You Yet)
Release Date: July 15th, 2019 (2 episodes a week)
Episode #: 16 45 minute episodes
Platform: Viki
Director: Couldn’t find the information
Writer: Couldn’t find the information
Genre: Friendship/Romance/Life
Starring: Adachi Rika, Asaka Kodai, Shirau Jin, Matsumoto Kiyo. Rest of the cast can be found here.

I’m starting this series off with a drama that I had not originally knew much about before watching, sans a non-subbed trailer I watched with my limited Japanese skills. Viki picked up it this month and since that is a a rare occurrence that they picked up an airing one, I knew that I was going to be trying it out. I love jdramas and I will jump at any chance to watch them legally. Bonus points that it’s a new show. I generally like more realistic and life based stories that deal with romance as opposed to the standard romcom-esque vibe that’s more common in the romance genre, and this one seemed like a good fit because of that.

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The drama follows two best friends, Mitari Yo and Ishida Ren. They’ve been friends since high school, and have kept up their relationship as they’ve gotten out of school and into the workforce. Yo is about to turn 30 and single, having just come off of a somewhat horrible relationship, and the two decide to bet on who is first to get married before officially turning 30. Yo works at a shoe company, and is very heavily drawn to shoes and the different styles. Because of this and the need for Yo to find her love, the show plays on the Cinderella story. While it is used pretty regularly throughout the show, I do find that it is integrated in a way that isn’t annoying. They don’t try to make this any sort of a forced retelling or use every point as a tie in. It’s cute, and adds a sweetness to her character and the drama.

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The series started off a little slow for me. The set up for the relationship history between the two leads was a little jarring, as it used flashbacks to their time in school. The actors played themselves as younger versions, and the editing made those scenes feel abrupt, with little filter to decipher when we were back in present day. However as the story moved on and those scenes diminished, the pacing got better and a lot more easier to immerse myself into the story. By the end of the second episode I was really invested in the show.

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I favor friends not becoming lovers, but am not opposed to it especially when it is not a sudden realization on both parts. The relationship has already been set up that at least Ren does have feelings for Yo, so this will be a constant element throughout the drama and I’m fine with that. Partly, because I really do love the two of them together. They share very sweet and simple moments effortlessly and there are points in the drama you see them interacting as if they already in a relationship. I’ve seen other dramas play up the relationship as the girl finds the guy more of a brother, but this drama doesn’t take this stance. For the most part they are played more as friends than siblings and it’s not off putting for the plot. We do get to see some of the elements that make them very much a part of each others lives. Ren is a part of her family, as Yo is his. Their moments aren’t forced or pushed, and they show how simply the two enjoy each other’s company. They are comfortable with each other and are able to let their guard down when together. This is in parallel to their other relationships, specifically Yo’s. When she is with Ryusei, she is uncomfortable and always worrying about what to say and how to act.

I talk a lot about found family because it is one of my top dramas tropes, but I also love caring and quirky families. The way that this drama portrays both Yo’s and Ren’s families fulfill that for me. They are funny and weird, but in the realistic way that most families are. Yo’s brother is delightfully odd and obsessively into insects. Though the family doesn’t share his love, they accept him fully. Her Mom and Dad are loving and kind and there are moments you see how they ejoy each others company. Ren’s family is the same way. He lives with his mother and sister who are free spirited and fun. The odd man out in a house full of girls (I either missed or it wasn’t discussed where his father is) he still is kind and respectable. With both families you never not feel the warmth and love from them.

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As of right now, the only thing that is really concerning me is the two love interest characters. This is not because they are rivals. While an unpopular opinion, I would not be upset with the drama if it veered in a direction where the two main leads went their separate ways. I’m just hoping that the characters stay consistent in that is more realistic to come to that decision more than just a divergent to keep the viewer anticipating what could happen. The fourth episode ends with us finding out about Ryusei having a family at home, with his intentions more to advance his career than genuinely liking Yo. While it is a bit cliched and would have rather that story line play out a little differently, he does not worry me as much as Maki. She is verging on a bit of a too heightened character that seems to not fit the tone of the drama. I’m hoping that at this point it is more that the drama is playing up the fact they we, as an audience, aren’t understanding her true motivations. She can just very well be immature and too young to handle her emotions in regards to her feelings for Ren that it is carrying out in less than ideal ways. I just hope it stays that way and she doesn’t become more of an unstable, almost comical character. It would not fit the tone.

I was also worried in the beginning how much the main character would be harping on her age. While they showed that internal conflict several times, the drama has evolved into that not being a central theme. The two do make this bet with an age limit, but there are already moments where we see Yo’s character slowly looking into why she is fearing it and if it is warranted. It’s the moment in time when you don’t know where you are going in life. Finding what you do and don’t want to do as opposed to what is thought to be the norm. This uncertainty in the character has left that plot much less contrived. I was glad to see that.

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I think it’s pretty clear that I will be continuing on with the series. While I worry about Maki and hope that it doesn’t lead into the direction I fear, it’s not enough to make me worried about continuing on. There are just too many good moments for me between the leads and the lead’s interactions with their families that will keep me more than enough entertained. I’m invested in the characters and story and genuinely enjoy watching it. In fact it’s one of the few dramas that I’m currently watching that I try to watch the moment it’s fully subbed. Even with the Cinderella theme and it being more of a romance with some standard tropes, it is not drastically over the top. I appreciate the quietness and more realistic tone of the drama, and I’m enjoying watching the story unfold and seeing where the characters go.

Have you been watching In Time With You? What do you think?

First Impressions: Watcher

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Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched the first two episode of this drama, there will be spoilers for those in this review.

Native Title: 왓쳐
Release Date: July 6th, 2019 (released every Sat and Sun)
Episode #: 16 hour long episodes
Platform: Viki
Director: Ahn Gill Ho (Stranger, Memories of the Alhambra)
Writer: Han Sang Woon (The Good Wife)
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Starring: Han Seok Kyu, Seo Kang Joon, and Kim Hyun Joo. Rest of the cast can be found here.

Fitting to be firing back up the first impressions posts with this drama, as the last one that I wrote was for another Seo Kang Joon drama, Are you Human Too. Watcher was high on my watch list out of the new crop of dramas for the month because of two reasons: this is an OCN drama and I tend to enjoy their dramas more than the other networks, and because I very much enjoyed Seo Kang Joon’s performance in Are You Human Too. I was excited to see him in another drama that was in a genre I much more preferred than his last drama, Third Charm. The kid has talent for his age, and I enjoy watching it.

Crime dramas, in general, are what I gravitate towards the most as far as a specific genre. I like stories that involve puzzles and require the audience to be figuring out the clues with the characters to find out what is actually happening. In general, this is mostly seen and done better in crime dramas as opposed to any other genre, and it’s why I tend to favor them most. If the crime drama doesn’t have that element, I’m much more likely to not get invested and drop it all together. For this drama, however, that was very much not the case.

The drama captured me from the very beginning. I was very much intrigued by what was going on and what was happening with the storyline. I’ve noticed there are a lot of times in dramas that I tend to be slightly bored, or let my mind wander, and this was not the case for this one. From the very beginning when we see Young Goon as a young child sitting wrapped in a blanket at the police station with headless adults asking him questions about his father and flashes of his helpless mother dying, it sucks me into the story and the why’s.

I’ve always enjoyed stories where there is the “competent underdog” of sorts, the mistreated when they are in fact good at what they do. You see glimpses of that in Chi Kwang. He is banished to the basement where there’s not even a working water cooler, no other staff to help because of the position he is in. And yet, he is known by others for his work. He has the basement office because there are higher ups that know his worth in the precinct, he is there because he hasn’t been entirely written off and this is all they could do. The Internal Affairs department is by default a department (whether it is liked or not) an essential one, and highly important especially while police corruption cases are at a high. The series touches on the public perception a lot and although it can be said he was put there because it was a much hated job internally, things can be said for allowing him to be the one calling the shots there.

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Corruption in police is a trope that I don’t tend to enjoy as much. It’s on par with the “bumbling idiot” cop, as I start to really empathize with the innocent on how those in power and that are there to help them are clearly failing them. However, with this drama I did not mind it. I wonder if it is because of how closely of a tied connection it is for all the characters that there is a sense of the victims taking back the power that pushes me through it? Whatever it is, it’s working.

One of the elements that this drama does well, and is highly effective is it’s use of flashbacks. Every drama has them, it’s something we can’t get away from, but in this drama it is used to pull you into the mind of the characters. The flashbacks aren’t really for us. On the surface, yes - they help you fill in the clues as to what’s going on especially with a drama that has a lot of story that shaped what it is today from the past, but the flashbacks are really to drive the mentality of the character and to understand why they are doing what they are doing. They are haunted by these memories of the past, and the flashbacks are set up to be abrupt almost debilitating reminders. Attorney Han’s hands being drenched in blood as she is watching them (a literal washing the blood off her hands, perhaps?), Young Goon not being able to stop the corrupt cop as he watches on from his past turmoil as a child, frozen. It plays nicely in the show and never once did it not make me even more curious of their past storylines.

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Out of all the characters and plots of the story, I find Attorney Han to be the most intriguing. I love a character that is presented in a way that makes the audience second guess every motivation, or in turn every feeling they (the audience) have for them. We don’t know what she is doing or why for the most part, we can only guess and even with those guesses the show makes you question everything you thought and make you believe that you could be wrong. She also sets up a character that I enjoy the most: the morally grey character. So many times characters are presented as cut and dry, especially in kdramas. If they are a villain, they are a villain: an almost caricature of what a villain actually is. We don’t see the characters that are neither extremely one way of the other. Not every villain is a villain all the time, not every good guy is good all the time. Having her presented as a character that is neither and both at the same time is intriguing, and honestly what I find most fascinating about the entire drama.

I do enjoy how all the characters are starting to come together and are intertwined. I find it fascinating the glimpse you see of how Attorney Han is remorseful towards Young Goon. I especially enjoyed that even though Young Goon’s father is a corrupt cop, it is only brought up a handful of times. They don’t make as big of a deal out of it as another drama would. Chi Kwang has a such a strong relationship to Young Goon, as he is not only the one to investigate his father but you find out that Young Goon’s father was a mentor to him, and yet that doesn’t stop Chi Kwang from distrusting him or using that as a means to get vengeance. So many normal tropes that could have happened, didn’t and that’s refreshing. It also helps keep you on your toes and that is essential in this drama as it is part of the overall tone itself. In the end, it is only really Soo Yeon’s character that is underdeveloped. I don’t know if this is because her connection has yet to come into light, or that because she doesn’t have a connected storyline she will be pushed to the side as filler. Either way we’ll have to see how her character plays more as the series progresses.

All-in-all this was a great start for a drama for me. It left me wanting more after the ending of the second episode. I thought about all the puzzles that needed to be fit together for a while and I’m excited to see how this one progresses. As long as it doesn’t lose steam as the four work together and focus on the bits and pieces of the puzzle and try to skew away from that in trying to come up with content to fit the amount of screen time they have, I think this could end up to be a solid drama.

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