Random comments on stuff I’ve seen in the past week or two:
Hormones: The Confused Teens (Thai drama)
I got curious about this Thai drama because I’ve been seeing it being mentioned at one of the forums I go to. The fact that it was often described as something that will never be allowed to be shown on Philippine primetime TV piqued my curiosity even more. Thankfully, English-subbed episodes have been uploaded on YouTube and that’s how I was able to watch it.
Hormones is actually a spin-off of a movie of the same title which was released in 2008 and is one of Thailand’s biggest hits, both commercially and critically. It is created by the same director and features some of the same actors as the movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I read that while it revolves around the same plot as the drama, the story and characters are not the same.
The plot is very basic: a story about high school students and how they cope with issues surrounding young people of today. It’s a plot that’s been done and redone in so many dramas, but I’m not sure if any TV drama in Asia has been gutsy enough to present it this way. They openly discuss sex – they even have a couple of main characters here who does it so casually, your Asian sensibilities might be appalled at the fact that the character’s age is only 17 – and other vices such as smoking and drinking, and even violent gang fights over the most trivial matters. But we all know that things like these are happening in real life, but very few are willing to discuss it openly on TV. Well, in Asia, anyway.
The amusing part is, the drama openly talks about issues on sexuality, school bullying and the like, but in scenes where the young characters were seen smoking or drinking, they blur the cigs and booze out. And here I thought the censors in our country are the most ridiculous kind. However, it’s interesting to note that this topic – scenes of smoking and drinking being censored on TV even if kids can see it in their everyday lives, anyway – was actually tackled on the drama. They dared to show what’s really happening in the minds of most kids of today.
One might think that Hormones is for kids because of the high school set-up, but really, it’s not. I found myself getting engrossed with it. I did find the ending a bit too bitin (I actually blurted out, “that’s it???” when it ended) but I read that there will be a Season 2 (there should be, because half of the characters still haven’t resolved their issues) that will air in February 2014. I’ll just have to wait for it, then.
PS: For those who watch dramas mainly for visual reasons, you will be delighted to know that there is enough eye candy here to keep your attention. They might be too young, though.
Rough Play (aka. An Actor Is An Actor)
Rough Play is the first Korean full-length movie of MBLAQ’s Lee Joon (whose first movie, as we all know, is Ninja Assassin). The movie is written and produced by acclaimed director Kim Ki Duk.
From the moment I saw him as the young Raizo in Ninja Assassin, I knew that Lee Joon is a good actor. I’ve always wondered why he hasn’t been cast in more dramas and movies. His eyes alone can do the acting for him. His character here, Oh Young (which kinda distracted me because Oh Young is also Song Hye Kyo’s name in That Winter), is an actor who experienced instant success due to his acting chops but wasn’t able to handle it well. The role calls for a young actor who can really act, and Lee Joon delivered. The movie, itself, can be tedious to watch and it screams, “this is a serious movie, and is meant for viewing by serious moviegoers”- it is a Kim Ki Duk film, after all – but shallow viewers like me will still be able to enjoy it because… Lee Joon got naked and has several bed scenes, and he didn’t disappoint there, too.
I bet the sentence in italics would be more than enough to sell this movie.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I’m a huge fan of the books. I was not disappointed with the first movie, but as a book adaptation I wasn’t completely satisfied, neither. With Catching Fire, I was left speechless. I have no complaints at all. The movie was about 85% faithful to the books, but the diversions were cohesively done that I didn’t have any objections towards them. The addition of President Snow’s granddaughter, for example, was a nice touch. Catching Fire is definitely better than the first movie, although non-book readers who only depended on the movies for continuity might not completely appreciate it. When I saw the movie, I was seated in front of a group of people who didn’t read the books, and I was thisclose to answering their questions whenever they get confused. But I loved it when they gasped “oh no!” when, [SPOILER] at the hovercraft after Katniss was taken from the arena after it exploded, she opened a door and found Haymitch and Finnick with Plutarch Heavensbee. It was the exact reaction that should be elicited from that scene, at least for non-book readers. Glad to know that it worked.
Jennifer Lawrence is just too, too awesome as Katniss Everdeen. I could never imagine any other actress doing that role with such passion and precision. And her onscreen chemistry with Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is so amazing, even with the height difference. They made it work.
Can’t wait for Mockingjay!