It’s time for some mini-reviews.

Random comments on stuff I’ve seen in the past week or two:

Hormones: The Confused Teens (Thai drama)

hormones1

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. :hihihi: 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. :naughty: They might be too young, though.

===

Rough Play (aka. An Actor Is An Actor)

lee-joon-movie-poster-092313

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. :thumbup: 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. :naughty:

I bet the sentence in italics would be more than enough to sell this movie.

===

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

TheHungerGamesCatcingFire

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. :clap: 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. :thumbup:

Can’t wait for Mockingjay!

Mini-review: Secretly, Greatly.

Secretly-Greaty-4

1. My main reason for watching this is Kim Soo Hyun. You might think it’s not worth watching because he looks like a dork in the movie but I tell you, you’ll be missing a lot, eye-candy-wise, if you miss this movie. There’s quite a bit of abs-flashing going on in a couple of scenes. :drool2: And Kim Soo Hyun in military garb looks absolutely dashing. :wub:

2. That abs-flashing scene actually reminds me of Raizo in Ninja Assassin, and the fact that they have very similar hairstyles certainly helped.

3. Warning to those who are planning to watch this: unless you have guts of steel, never watch this while eating.

4. I don’t know if I’m just not seeing enough Park Ki Woong dramas/movies, but he seems to be playing similar roles in nearly all of his acting projects. He has already mastered the happy-go-lucky character.

5. The first part of the movie is hilarious, but it made a sudden turn to being a straight-up action-drama towards the middle until the end. It’s a bit off-putting to me. I literally dozed off and had to pause to take a nap before I finished it up two hours later. But that’s just me because I’m not really fond of action movies.

6. The movie’s premise basically rode on what we have observed when we listened to the North Korean defector’s story during our Panmunjeom tour last year: North Koreans were conditioned to believe that they are living under the best conditions possible. Once they experienced how it is to live outside of their home country, they realized that there could be something better.

7. The ending is a bit of a puzzler. Is it open-ended or not? I’ll keep it under wraps so as not to spoil future viewers. :smile:

Random Thoughts No. 84.

I haven’t seen my Voltes friends for quite some time now – I think the last one was during 2PM’s concert? – so last night, we found some time off our busy schedules (well, THEIR busy schedules :razz: ) to have a movie night.

it_takes

We saw today’s hottest movie, It Takes A Man And A Woman, the third installment of the hit movie series starring John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo. Everyone has seen it except me and Thet (Charity and Lou have seen it multiple times by this screening) so it’s one of those “we must see it to see what the fuss is all about” kind of things.

Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The script is witty and has so many laugh-out-loud moments without being slapstick, and at the same time there were so many scenes that will make you cry, mainly because John Lloyd Cruz will absolutely make you cry no matter how cold-hearted you are. On a personal level, I especially love the New York scenes because (1) NYC has always been my dream destination; and (2) nice shout out to Ricky Martin. :thumbup: I only have one complaint about it and that is: Sarah Geronimo’s wigs were so hideous and so distracting. :ayaw: I understood why she had to wear a hairpiece in her other scenes, but it’s totally unnecessary at the wedding scene where she had her hair up. And even with her hair up, the wig was still badly placed on her head. Her stylist on this movie should be :bop: unless it’s really their intention for the Laida character to have bad hair.

===

After the movie, we looked for a place to hang out so we can update ourselves with what’s happening with our lives as well as celebrities’ lives. :hihihi: We were supposed to drive all the way to Tagaytay to get some cool air but it has become too late and our driver is already sleepy, so we ended up at a 7-Eleven instead. That 7-Eleven is located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, but it’s still a 7-Eleven. :P That is where we discovered that a convenience store like 7-Eleven is actually a good place to hang-out, for the following reasons:

1. It’s literally everywhere (unless you’re in a remote area, of course).
2. It’s cheaper to hang out there than at a coffee shop like Starbucks. An equivalent price of a tall cup of coffee will yield you a sandwich or a rice meal + drinks at a 7-Eleven. There’s a much wider variety of food to choose from, as well.
3. In the age of mobile internet and with most malls and ‘gimmick’ places now on WiFi, hanging out at an expensive coffee shop for the internet has become moot and academic.

Basically, most people only splurge for expensive coffee only to be ‘seen’. But for people like us who hang out to be with friends and not to be ‘seen’, we’d choose 7-Eleven over Starbucks any time.

===

The things you find on the internet…

I was randomly surfing around and found this photo posted on one of the forums:

song-hye-kyo-makeup

One glimpse of it and I was like, “that signature on the lip conditioner looks so familiar…” So I clicked on the accompanying link and it turns out, Song Hye Kyo’s stylist used the limited edition MAC Viva Glam Ricky Lip Conditioner by Ricky Martin for the “Oh Young” style in That Winter, The Wind Blows. :eek:

Talk about my fandoms colliding without meaning to…

===

The big news in Korea today that has nothing to do with war is, of course, Psy’s new single Gentleman.


credits: officialpsy at YouTube

The song itself is a little too ‘techno’ for my taste and it didn’t have the same hook that Gangnam Style has, but even Psy knows that Gangnam Style can never be matched so let’s just avoid comparing them.

Aside from the song, the other thing that people were anticipating with this new release is his follow up to the Gangnam Style horse dance. Which turned out to be… the Brown Eyed Girls’ Abracadabra dance. :neutral: It won’t be noticeable to those who are new to, or basically don’t care about K-pop other than Psy, but those of us who have been following K-pop for almost a decade now would immediately recognize it. We certainly did the first time we saw the Gentleman MV.

I just wonder if Psy or YG bought the rights to the routine from BEG? Is BEG’s GaIn being in the MV part of the deal to acquire permission to use the Abracadabra dance?

Mini-review: Gwanghae (Masquerade).

Today, April 1st, I am writing something that is full of praise towards Lee Byung Hun.

No, that is not an April Fool’s joke.

gwanghae

Mini-review: Gwanghae, The Man Who Became King (aka. Masquerade)

This is one of those files which took me almost a week before I was able to finish downloading. I actually found it a bit strange that did something like that for Lee Byung Hun. Normally, I would just wait for my usual ‘suppliers’ for the file.

The good news is, it’s worth the wait and agony. Gwanghae is a terrific movie. :thumbup:

While Gwanghae has historical basis (it is an interpretation of the missing 15 days from the Joseon dynasty annals), the basic plot is very similar to the movie Dave starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver where a look-alike was commissioned to temporarily replace the King. All similarities end there. Despite the obvious plot, the screenplay was so engrossing that I didn’t mind the two-hour running time. The screenplay is fast-paced and there were no boring scenes. Every scene is, in fact, essential to the story and character development.

Story aside, this is a Lee Byung Hun movie through and through. I’ve always been a fan of LBH as an actor and he definitely did not disappoint. As an example, take a look at this screencap showing both the real and fake King in one frame:

gwanghae_cap

You can totally tell the difference between the real King and the fake King just by looking at Lee Byung Hun’s face. Any actor with lesser skills would fail to deliver it effectively. Moreover, I was delighted to discover that Lee Byung Hun is very effective as a comedian. :clap: There were so many LOL moments in this movie, and quite a smattering of Adorable Lee Byung Hun, as well. (Yes, you read that right. I described Lee Byung Hun as ‘adorable’. I swear, this is not an April Fool’s joke.)

To be honest, when I first saw the promotional stills for Gwanghae, my initial reaction was, “Lee Byung Hun looked so sleazy in period costume with the facial hair.” While watching the movie itself, I was surprised to find myself not minding the costume and the facial hair at all.

Aside from LBH, Ryu Seung Ryeong was also very good as the Chief Secretary. I’m not sure if I’ve seen him in non-historical roles, but I do remember him in Hwang Jin Yi (the Song Hye Kyo version) and he was very good there, as well.

I wouldn’t describe Han Hyo Joo, who plays the Queen, as a good actress, but she thankfully didn’t falter opposite Lee Byung Hun. I was afraid that it would be weird and she would look like LBH’s younger sister instead, but surprisingly, they have chemistry together. (It helps that LBH is dating a much younger woman in real life for me not to find the Han Hyo Joo pairing as icky.)

I won’t describe the movie much further in order to avoid spoilers. All I will say is: WATCH IT. You won’t regret it. ;)

2PM in Manila, Part 3.

(Note: Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.)

Aftermath report: “What Time Is It?” 2PM Live in Manila
March 2, 2013 – Mall of Asia Arena

As I have mentioned in Part 2 of this aftermath report, Lou and I missed the first 10-15 minutes of the show. 2PM was already delivering their opening spiels when we arrived. Since we have no idea about the setlist, we’re not sure exactly how many songs did we miss. It didn’t matter, though, because we’re not exactly fans of 2PM. In fact, I personally know only five of their songs so don’t ask me about their repertoire because I really don’t know anything. :razz:

IMG_6035

The great thing was, despite not knowing most of their songs, I actually enjoyed the concert. :thumbup: I really wasn’t expecting anything from them based on their previous work that I’ve seen so I was pleasantly surprised to find that 2PM are competent performers now. Sure, none of them are excellent singers nor super-excellent dancers, but they gave just enough to make an entertaining show even for non-fans. I personally thought that I got my money’s worth, and I think I’d still feel the same way even if my seat wasn’t upgraded from Gen Ad to Upper Box.
Continue reading