Movie Review – Alice: Boy From Wonderland

Movie Review – Alice: Boy From Wonderland

What a surreal, moody, broody, twisted little movie.  I adored it, as I have always been a fan of ghost stories and haunted houses.  Especially with tragic tales (but aren’t they always?) as back stories.  This was a strange piece of work… definitely not a mainstream film.  It reminded me of Werewolf Boy (which is far, far superior in every way), in that it’s so odd, so touching, so horrible, that I know it will stick with me for a long time.  It’s basically about a young woman whose nightmares have become so thick they’re blurring into reality – and threaten to take her, and her family, to the grave.  With the help of her aunts, she goes to an inbetween-world, Wonderland, an estate that burnt to the ground but is, mystically, available to our Alice for a few precious days while she sorts out her past and the souls lost that are still pulling at her life.

Jung So-Min plays our lead female – and she was perfect as the surreal, beautiful, dreamy girl caught between worlds.  Hong Jong-Hyun was lovely as the tragic soul who clings to her side, helping her navigate the strange world she now inhabits.

Eerie.  Romantic.  Bloody.  Confusing.  A dream within a dream in a dream world.  Not a bad way to spend an evening.  If you liked movies such as… The Others, The Girl In A Swing, or Skeleton Key or even something like Virgin Suicides or The Dreamers, you’ll probably like this one.

Movie Reviews – Pure Love & My Annoying Brother

Movie Reviews – Pure Love & My Annoying Brother

I was on a Do Kyung-Soo kick… or maybe just a crying kick, I’m not sure… but I ended up watching two Do Kyung-Soo tearjerkers back to back yesterday.  They were both lovely films – full of outstanding performances from all the actors involved.  Pure Love was a story about a group of teenage friends who are home for the summer in 1991, enjoying their beautiful coastal village and the pains and joys of growing up.  One of the girl’s has a genetic problem with her legs and struggles to walk – while secretly hoping for an operation that will cure her.  The boys in the group all love her, in their own ways, but in particular one sensitive young man who follows her around like a lost puppy.  It’s a gorgeous film… a thoughtful, nostalgic piece about youth and also about the betrayal of coming of age.  I ain’t gonna lie… I cried.  A lot.  They really did not intend for anyone to leave this movie with dry eyes and I’m sure succeeded…. cause a lot of it tore my heart out.

My Annoying Brother was, in my opinion, even better.  I’m a total sucker for redemption stories.  The youngest brother is a Judo champion who looses his sight during an accident.  The eldest brother is a petty criminal who uses his brother’s misfortune to get out of prison on parole early.  The two have been estranged for years – ever since the older brother ran away from home as a teenager.  And yet, slowly, wonderfully, these two are able to come back together… and restore hope and meaning to one another’s lives.  Cho Jung-Seok was genuine and hysterical as the unruly brother (seriously, I laughed a lot over this guy and his ridiculous behavior… I have an older brother, and let’s face it… they’re kind of jerks most of the time but also your heroes)… and Do Kyung-Soo was outstanding as the young man struggling to find the will to live with his new disability.  This is also a melodrama… and it’s pretty freakin’ sad, too.  But I also felt good at the end, hopeful even… my faith in humanity restored a little bit.

Anyways, check ’em out if you’re in the mood.  Quality stuff.

 

Why Visit K-World? – A Beginners Guide to Korean Dramas

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KOREAN DRAMAS

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Korean Dramas from my friends, students and coworkers.  “What’s the deal?”  They ask.  “Korea?”  Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember there are people who have never watched a K-drama before.  I know, right?  (at this point I’ve convinced almost everyone I know to at least try at least one) So in order to help the newbies… here’s what you need to know.

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When K-World Loves You & Takes Requests

I’m on summer vacation – which means unlimited time to binge tons and tons of dramas.  I had just finished a rewatch of W – Two Worlds, and was thinking to myself… what next?  What next?

I texted my best friend.

Me:  “You know, I may watch some American stuff for a bit.  I’m in the mood for sci fi.”

Bestie:  “There’s no sci fi Korean Dramas?”

Me:  “Not really.  I mean… sorta kinda some fringe dramas, but nothing like Fringe, you dig?”

Bestie:  “Uh, no.  I don’t watch K-Dramas.”

Me:  “I’m in the mood for aliens.  Space ships and robots and futuristic worlds and such.”

Bestie:  “Ah.  There’s some shows on Hulu, I think.”

So I went to go dig around.  I poked about Hulu.  I looked around Amazon Prime.  I stuck my toes in the murky waters of Netflix.  But kept returning, like a faithful dog, to Dramafever.  I looked at my que of shows and sighed.  I rummaged around a few minutes then noticed…. like a beam of light from the very heavens of K-World…

SCI FI!  And aliens, no less.  And the show was almost complete, too… only two episodes haven’t been uploaded.

It was a sign!  K-World graciously smiled upon me and said, “You wanted what, super fan?  Oh… here you go, my little pet…”

Needless to say, I started it immediately.  Three episodes in and I am loving it thus far.  Full review to come.

But I just wanted to let you know that if you sacrifice your time to the K-World Gods…. sometimes they smile upon you and take requests.  So… just keep it in mind.

Movie Musings – Haunters

Movie Musings – Haunters

So, finished HAUNTERS – a movie about a man who can control people en masse with his mind, and the one dude who is immune and thus fated to stop him. It kinda reminded me of Unbreakable, in a strange way. And of Kilgrave from Jessica Jones… except even he didn’t throw a baby at a speeding subway train. Anyways, it was visually stunning and creepy but there really wasn’t much more to it than a showdown between two dudes. With some character development, this could have been stellar… cause if we knew anything about these guys, we might care a bit more who won in the end.

More…

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That’s Gay! – K-Dramas, Putting the Q in LGBTQ

Let’s face it – there are a lot of gay-questioning dramas out there.  Okay, sure, they’re not implicitly gay;  Only recently have dramas crossed the purebred gay border, though their feature films have definitely made some expeditions to gay town in the past few years.  But it doesn’t matter if they’re gay or just questioning.  We love it!  Whether it’s one sided or misdirected, for comedy or for drama, for love or for money… K-Dramas are sprinkled with the gay rainbow.  And no one can deny it.

gay

Korean dramas often depict variations in sexuality, sex roles, sexual attraction, and sexual fluidity.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition to their seemingly strict gender assignments and homophobia… and/or perhaps a direct result of them.  Because the rules are there, it’s more fun to break them.

crossdressing

Gender Bending is popular in Taiwan too.

Off the top of my head – there are three excellent examples of LGB with a large emphasis on Q in K-World.  Cross-dressing is the biggest culprit in these same sex shenanigans – and, if we’re honest, the reason these dramas are so frequently made. It’s not all LGB with Q, of course.  There are plenty of examples of the T within various shows as well but as of yet not as the lead romance.

Let’s run through the questioning dramas together…

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Best K-Drama Kisses of ALL TIME

There are a lot of great kisses in K-Land.  A lot.  Mostly because we wait so long for them, by the time they come we’re tightly coiled balls of anxiety and desire.  Then BAM, even the most chaste peck lights up our panties and sends us swooning.

kiss2   Caption:  OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD

These are just some of MY PERSONAL FAVORITES… so sorry, no Lee Min-Ho… he just does nothing for me, even though I enjoy most of his dramas.   And this isn’t exhaustive… there are plenty of great smooches not listed.

Description of Kisses may include slight (or maybe big, I dunno) spoilers, so weigh how much you want to know about smooching versus how much I might ruin a show for you.

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The Asian Shift – Trying to Watch American TV After a Long K-Drama Binge

The Asian Shift or Trying to Watch American TV After a Long K-Drama Binge.

I upgraded to premium on Dramafever this winter and have been firmly planted in Korean dramas for weeks.  I watch at least an episode or two a day, sometimes the majority of a show during the weekends.  I’m not proud of my obsessive drama-watching and am pretty sure it’s not how humans were meant to live – watching other people live exciting lives as I sit motionless on the couch – but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

I’m here to talk about how weird American TV is when you’ve been thoroughly saturated in Korean/Thai/Japanese/Chinese dramas.

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When Crime Pays – Romantic Dramas Involving Gangsters

My two favorite leading male stereotypes are the arrogant, self-centered types (for example the male leads in The Greatest Love, Master’s Sun, You Are Beautiful) and the hardened criminal with a soft spot for love.

When I say hardened criminal, I mean the type that you can count on to beat someone bloody on the street for you.  Cause… that’s a skill set you might need one day.  Especially if you inhabit K-World.  I do not mean the psuedo-criminal.  I do not mean the sensitive action heroes found in City Hunter or Healer.  I do not mean the men who thrill us with graceful acrobatics during a well choreographed fight sequence.  I do not mean white collar criminals or cyber criminals or dudes plotting their revenge.  I mean bloody knuckle criminals.  The ones that can be genuinely scary when they’re not romancing a lady.  My heart always goes wonky for the guard dogs, the yard dogs, the junkyard dogs of K-world.  The fighters.

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The Re-Watch – Why You Should Go Back

Every drama fan knows you can’t really rewatch your favorite shows too many times.  They’re just long enough that you can’t possibly remember everything – even with repeated viewing.  A lot of shows get better the second or third time around.  A few of them slip down your charts.  Not everything can stand up to the test of time.  But a good rewatch is needed to fully appreciate K-Dramas.  Especially if you’ve been watching mainly new dramas.

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