tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: Master of None Season 2

Image result for master of none season 2 poster

Title: Master of None

Season: 2

Created by: Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang

Episodes: 10 (S2)

Starring: Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandro Mastronardi

Rating: A

MILD SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1

 


I’ve never seen a comedy quite like Master of None. I don’t even know if comedy is the right way to describe Season 2. It still feels like a comedy albeit in a very dry and sometimes satirical way but it’s barely even funny. However, it was definitely not afraid to push the boundaries of TV style and combined with its incredible sense of intimacy and its wise notes on relationships and connection, it comes out all the more unique and better for it.

We left Season 1 when Dev and Rachel ended their relationship and Dev makes the split second decision to go to Italy to learn more about pasta making. Right off the bat, we see a unique change in TV style. The entire first episode is shot in black and white, lending itself to old vintage films and the stereotypical romance of Italy. And subsequently it follows him as he goes back to New York to resume his acting career and his search to find a connection with someone. What continues to strike me about MoN is how much it meanders. There will be several scenes in one episode of him sharing good food with good friends. It’s most likely just them saying how good the food is. Usually, I hate it when shows lack focus and have no sense of where they are going but that aspect was oddly charming in MoN. It felt authentic and confident. It felt like a coming-of-age that just shows you how much you can grow and change even when it seems you’re a 30 some year old man who is adulting and suppose to have all your shit together.

Dev gets a gig hosting Clash of Cupcakes (a satire of cooking shows) and while it pays the bills, he struggles to find emotional fulfillment from it. Similarly he tries to find fulfillment in his relationships as well even when dating in the social media world is messy, weird, and overly complicated for its own good. In the first episode he meets someone who he has a connection with but unfortunately gets his phone stolen and cannot contact her again. In a standout episode with a wonderful editing style, Dev is on a date with someone he met on a dating app and he asks the question “How many siblings do you have?”. She answers and then the scene seamlessly cuts to several other first dates he’s had answering the same question conveying the rote dryness of first dates but also the feeling of euphoria when you have found someone you have an automatic connection with.

Many of the episodes focus on Dev’s pursuit of love but it also doesn’t gloss over his friends’ lives as well. In another standout episode and probably my favorite one of the entire season, was “Thanksgiving” which chronicles some Thanksgivings in Dev’s life from 1990-2017 which he always happens to celebrate at Denise’s house with her mother, aunt and grandmother. The growth that Denise goes through in this half hour is something else. Her relationship between her mom and grandmother, her relationship with Dev and her relationship with her girlfriends are all flawlessly woven throughout this episode. They have definitely shown an original coming-out story. When Denise comes out to her mom, it is so intimate and emotional but it is not an all consuming event. It does not feel like an ultimatum, a do or die, but an expected confession made in a diner. Even if you don’t like this show, I guarantee you will like these two episodes.

As with Season 1, Season 2 eventually starts focusing on Dev’s relationship with this one woman that he has a connection with. It does deal with infidelity and I was worried it was going to fall into cliche territory but, without giving away spoilers it didn’t. I think most of that has to do with how Dev’s and Francesca’s relationship progresses. It wasn’t obvious, at least to me, who Dev’s “Rachel” was going to be this season. I think it sometimes veers into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory but it’s still respectful to its characters and their point of view.

Still from Master of None's season 2 on Netflix

I love the show’s ultra dry humor that you sometimes can’t tell is suppose to be funny or not. The show also an ode to the place he resides in which is the one and only New York with all the celebration of the diversity that exists in NY. These 10 episodes span from half an hour to an hour and a half flawlessly stylizing its cinematography to match the tone of each episode.

He has made so many relatable observations about what it’s like to live in the modern world. It’s really the uncertainty that Dev feels that really carries this show. The uncertainty of his feelings for Francesca and when he knows it, the uncertainty of how to continue a relationship with her, the uncertainty of his friends’ romantic lives (shouldn’t they be married by now? they wonder) and this uncertainty over this need for a connection with someone amidst the superficiality of small talk and the like. At the end of “The Dinner Party”,  Dev and Francesca are taking an Uber back to their respective places and after Francesca departs, we spend 3 minutes just on Dev as the Uber takes him home with only the sound of the car as noise and a curt “bye” as the only piece of dialogue. It is instantly relatable and fiercely intimate at the same time.

MoN was, if anything, even better than Season 1 because it was discusses the same topics of Season 1 but expresses them in riskier ways that just work. It’s a must watch.

sig

movie reviews · tv review · Uncategorized

Mini TV/Movie Reviews: Animation

So I’ve noticed I’ve been watching a lot more animation lately. Usually, animation is not something I normally gravitate towards especially animated TV and anime but there are always exceptions (See Voltron: Legendary Defender). I do tend to like animated movies more just because there are studios like Disney and Pixar that are always making really good content but even then I usually they don’t have quite as much emotional impact on me as they seem to on other animated fans but again there are exceptions (See Zootopia). And the ones I’ve seen recently are as expected a hit or miss.

Tangled Before Ever After (TV Movie) & Tangled: The Series

Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi|Disney Channel | Currently 4 episodes released

Image result for tangled the seriesI’ll admit I was pretty excited but also really hesitant about watching these two. I didn’t know how well the 3D CGI would translate to 2D. The movie animation was absolutely stunning and I was worried the TV show would lose a lot of the feel of the original. But I was totally surprised. At first look, the 2D looks juvenile and a little sloppy but after watching it, it is absolutely stunning in its own way. The background and scenery are so bright and vivid but really detailed at the same time. They look like drawings in a picture book. It also helps that the voice actors for Eugene and Rapunzel are the same as in the movie and they do an equally good job in this one. The TV movie and TV series take place after the events of the 1st movie but before the Tangled short film where Eugene and Rapunzel get married. The first few episodes that have been released follow Rapunzel as she learns how to be a princess after being locked up in a tower. The relationship between Rapunzel and Eugene is just as cute and cheesy but there are worse things to show in a relationship than being cheesy. It is very healthy and respectful and I do like that they are getting separate storylines as they each figure what they want to be. There’s also a new character that’s introduced, Cassandra, who is Rapunzel’s lady-in-waiting and she’s awesome. She’s fearless and adventurous and a great foil for Rapunzel. She has an interesting hate relationship with Eugene which is fun. The storylines aren’t terribly original and I can forgive that because the show is very clearly targeted towards very young children (8-12) but they are refreshing in many ways and just solid storytelling. Fun and easily bingeable. I have a feeling shows based on popular Disney movies are going to continue being a thing in the upcoming years. I am particularly excited for the Big Hero 6 show coming out this Fall (again 2D) and the voice actors for most of the original cast will be the same which is exciting.

Trollhunters

Created by Guillermo Del Toro | Season 1: 26 episodes | DNFed: Episode 7 |Netflix

It’s very clear to me from seeing Pacific Rim and now Trollhunters that Guillermo Del Toro has such an imaginative and epic visionary style but I wish he paid as much Image result for trollhuntersattention to his stories. The world of the Trollhunters is riddled with interesting trolls and troll lore. The city that the Trolls reside in is beautifully animated (in the same CGI as Tangled) but as beautiful as the animation is, the story is lacking soooo much. It is overly cliche with by-the-book humor and one-note characters. It has the bare bones of an underdog-turned-hero story. Our hero, Jim Lake, is living in the suburbs with his doctor mom. He is kind of the outcast of the school and is bullied by the blonde-haired jock at school. His best friend, Toby, is the fat and lovable sidekick who is obviously fodder for a bunch of fat jokes. And to add on top of this mountain of cliches, he has a crush on one of the girls at school but of course does not think he is good enough for her attentions. But he’s a special snowflake so he finds this jewel and turns out that he is the savior of the trolls. Do you see where this is going? Much like the Kaijus and the Jaegers, the Trolls are extremely well-designed and varied. I really wanted to like this show because it seems like a show that I would like but 7 episodes in, I just couldn’t get past the bland storytelling. I’ve heard it gets less cliche as it goes on with the side characters getting their own development separate from their association with Jim but I don’t have enough patience to stick around.

Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name)

Directed by Makoto Shinkai | Based on the manga: Your Name by Makoto Shinkai

This is one of those unfortunate instances where I’m wondering if everyone is watching the same Image result for your namemovie as me. I won’t deny that the animation and directing is beyond gorgeous. Much like Hayao Miyazaki’s films, the animation is hyper realistic and detailed especially in its scenery. But the storyline falls so flat for me. I think my biggest problem with the story is the fact that they were trying to insert 3 whole storylines into 1 movie which was too much and each storyline suffered because of it. What I thought I was getting was a body swapping storyline and eventually a romance but then halfway through, that sort of changed and went into more fantastical explanations for why this was happening that felt contrived. And to be honest, I didn’t really need to know why the body swapping was happening. And because of this deviance in plot, the characters never get past the stage of typical high school teens. In fact the things that happen when Mitsuha and Taki switch bodies are completely forgotten the next time they go back to their own bodies which makes me wonder how the fuck they could fall in love. And the parts where the relationship is being developed is filmed in a montage which is just annoying. This might just be me, however, I don’t like “they are bound by fate” storylines but I still felt like these storylines were not integrated well enough and felt like they were totally separate storylines. And then that random plot point at the end??

Image result for why gif
And at the end, I just didn’t care about these characters and I was just bored. There are two reviews that explain my thoughts in a more well-written manner, however be warned they both contain spoilers.

Review #1 | Review #2

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought of them (especially Your Name). And if you have any animated recommendations for me, I’d love to know 🙂

sig

tv review

TV Review: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Related image

Title: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Written by: Yang Hee-Seung (Oh My Ghostess)

Directed by: Oh Hyun-Jong

Country of Origin: South Korea

Starring: Lee Sung-Kyoung, Nam Joo-Hyuk

Episodes: 16

My Rating: A

All gifs are not mine; most come from weightliftingfairykimbokjoo.tumblr.com


It was honestly a travesty to me when I was watching this beauty of a show that it had very poor ratings and didn’t do very well domestically most likely because it was up against Legend of the Blue Sea.  And honestly I have to ask, why?? It has its flaws but honestly, this show has so, so much to offer. Based on South Korean Olympic gold medalist weightlifter Jang Mi Ran’s personal life, it is essentially a coming-of-age (is anyone surprised, I love CoA) as Bok Joo navigates university and love and friendship. This drama just made my heart feel so full, there is no other way to describe it. It also sounds cheesy but I felt so happy as I was watching as if I was stuck in my own little world with these adorably genuine characters that I grew to love.

As light as it is, it is sad that this drama couldn’t have casted a heavier girl to play Bok Joo as this is a show about weightlifters for heaven’s sake. It especially hurts because throughout this drama,  Bok Joo is insecure about her being overweight, not because she thinks needs to change but because she feels she won’t get a guy because of her weight and people around her constantly tell her that she’s perfect the way she is but the fact that they casted a really skinny actress sort of undermines those statements, sincere as they are. It’s sort of like falsely complimenting someone on what they’re wearing and but then telling them you would never wear it yourself. However. However. I think this drama’s heart is still in the right place. These are the top five reasons you should be watching this lighthearted but hard-hitting drama.

  1. The OTP

Ladies and Gentlemen, this OTP. This OTfuckingP. Forget W. Forget Legend of the Blue Sea. This couple should have won that Best Couple Award on the MBC awards. On all the network awards tbh except kbs because ya know. But this couple is everything. And the reason they work so well together for me is because this is one of the few dramas that truly knows how to execute the hate to friends to lovers trope. Because long before they even realize an inkling of their feelings for each other, they already do so many of the things that lovers do for each other. They genuinely like talking to each other and can go out and have fun with each other but they’re also each other’s biggest cheerleader.

It always warmed my heart when Bok Joo would feel insecure about other boys not liking her because of her weight but Joon Hyung would always tell her, without hesitation, that she was pretty without any sort of romantic connotation. And when Bok Joo would pray for Joon Hyung to win his swimming competitions. Ugh, the feels <3. Usually when the hate to friends to lovers trope is used, drama writers will skim the friends part or skip it altogether to get to the love part. But allowing Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s feelings and relationship to progress organically, it just feels so much more believable and more importantly, gives me a sense as to why they are together. Not to mention, that Bok Joo and Joon Hyung have some of the best chemistry ever.

   

Their hugs and the way they lovingly and playfully touch each other, as friends and as lovers, are some of the most natural and realistic I’ve ever seen which only sells their love even more. Remember, writers, hugs can be just as swoonworthy as kisses if done right.

Their relationship is so interesting to watch and they’re always butting heads and there’s always conflict but their love and support for one another is so admirable and something that honestly, every on-screen and off-screen relationship should strive for.

2. The OTP’s family and friends

In a lot of Asian families, the concept of “tough love” is almost always practiced where harsh discipline equates to love. When it comes to a lot of parents in Korean dramas, it mostly consists of yelling and then when something tragic happens to the parent (usually dementia), the child will inevitably apologize for being a bad daughter or son. Even in Reply 1997, family dynamics usually consisted of the dad yelling at Shi Won nonstop only pausing for the more sentimental moments. Although I understand this is a cultural thing, I still found it really refreshing that WFKBJ detracts from that formula. Bok Joo’s dad and Joon Hyung’s aunt and uncle verbally show their love. Bok Joo’s dad would always defend Bok Joo calling her cute and even though she was a troublemaker, if anyone else said so, her dad would immediately shut them up. Joon Hyung’s aunt always showers him with smiles and harmless jabs. Maybe it’s the Western culture in me talking because usually Asian families don’t express their love so openly but nevertheless I still appreciated it because it felt like a combination of Western and Asian parenting. But the parents never felt like overly eccentric and cutesy parents that sometimes Western sitcoms have. You can always see that they will support their kid 100%, but they had their flaws and their “I know what’s best for you moments”. I think it’s always nice to see nice parental role models who aren’t constantly yelling at their kids even if it’s for their own good. We get to seem them struggle with parenthood and realize that they are people that make mistakes as well and so they are just as beholden to their kids as their kids are to them. And speaking of supportive network, there’s also two friends that Bok Joo spends most of her time with and they are such friendship goals. Nan He is fun and flirtatious while Seon Ok is no nonsense and practical and they both provide a humorous foil to Bok Joo.

I also found the dynamic between Jooh Hyung and his roommate so amusing and hilarious. Although I did feel bad for him because Joon Hyung kept ditching him and relying on him to make up cover stories. Even though this drama had a realistic quality, it still retained a certain magical/fairytale quality because even though this drama showed the deep-seated conflict behind every family you know that not everyone has such a supportive group of friends and family that love you so much. Sometimes it is just so nice to see TV friends and family unconditionally support Bok Joo especially when she is this age and she’s undergoing a lot of changes and discoveries about who she is. Not everyone has that and it’s nice to see that maybe this is possible. Joon Hyung’s brother is the sweetest and most caring cinnamon roll to grace any TV show and he gets his own little storyline and it was so cute. I also loved the interactions between the coaches and the weightlifting team.

3. The “bitchy” second love interest

I was watching Witches’ Castle last month (not by choice) and of course, there’s the heroine and then there’s Hee-Jae, the lady with the bright red lipstick, who has to fulfill the role of hysterical second love interest who will do anything to get the man she’s supposedly in love with. I’m sure long-time kdrama lovers know this trope well. There’s another love interest–usually pretty–who will do everything, legal and illegal, to get back with the main love interest. Usually this sexist trope just inspires a lot of girl-on-girl hate and is suppose to amplify how great the main leads are but instead just seems contrived and melodramatic. And in the end, she goes to jail or something so viewers can feel vindicated. I was afraid for a time that the writers were going to trap Si Ho into this despicable trope but I should have trusted them because the trajectory of Si Ho’s character was just beautiful.

   

And even the fact that she stubbornly tries to make Joon Hyung like her even though he clearly has no residual feelings for her is an extension of the way she wants to fit everything under her control not the fact that she just has to be that way because it’s needed for extra drama. She struggles with controlling the things that are uncontrollable in her life like her parent’s impending divorce so she turns to controlling what she can (like her eating habits). Yet she continues to compete in professional gymnastics even though she doesn’t even know if this is something she even wants to do. I truly felt for her. Throughout the drama, she struggles to find where she belongs, to be comfortable with who she is. Her last competition scene in the drama brought tears to my eyes. I was just so happy that her character was given the dignity and respect that she deserved.

     

4. ITS SO FUNNY AND THERE’S SO LITTLE ANGST

Surprisingly the thing that kept this drama from sailing off into a bubble of permanent happiness was how little angst there was. Everything happened so organically and plot twists happened at just the right time for it to feel hard-hitting. These characters felt so real because they weren’t dealing with earth-shattering drama but just your normal everyday school drama. And yet the everyday drama felt important from Bok Joo buying a hairclip to impress the boy she liked to the rivalry between the weightlifting team and the gymnastics team, everything really capturing that time in youth where these little things felt important. That’s not to trivialize them but to revel in them. Sometimes the best part of your youth was just spending time eating with your friends while your dad cooks really awesome chicken for you.

It’s also really funny and the humor mostly consists of the characters finding themselves in awkward situations but it just worked instead of coming off as forced. Yet as non-angsty and light hearted as it was, that doesn’t mean it shied away from devastating parts of a coming-of-age story from mental illness to filial duty etc. From familial relationships, where Joon Hyung reconciles with his mom who abandoned him to the struggle of finding what you want to do with your life but falling out of love with it and trying to find what you were meant to do instead. 

5. The visuals!!! The cinematography and editing!!

Despite the contemporary university setting, I found myself loving this world that Bok Joo was in. This was helped by the bright, saturated color palette and the solid, minimalist color blocking. It just gave the visuals a sort of airy feel.

I also never thought I’d say I liked watching eavesdropping scenes in a K-drama but here I am loving those scenes mostly because the camera was showing the scene as less of a plot device than a way to reveal character emotion. And the editing was so great. It effortlessly cuts from a happy, top-of-the-world scene to a more emotional, grounded scene that simultaneously makes you feel both happy and sad. I loved it. It never self-indulges on a particular storyline for too long and even the smallest side characters get a storyline that never feels intrusive. This is even more impressive because sometimes the side characters would get a small storyline in the middle of the drama that would still feel satisfying. Not to mention that the drama comes with such a sweet soundtrack ranging from rock to the usual piano. Listening to the soundtrack while writing this makes me so emotional already.

It probably seems to redundant to mention that all of the acting was so natural and impressive. Nam-Joo Hyuk is effortless in conveying multiple emotions in one look. And just to add a cherry on top of all this, mah bae Lee Jong Suk made a cameo as a character from W in one of the episodes ❤ and it was brilliant. It made me a lot happier than it probably should have.

This drama is quite literally the perfect pick-me-up for those days when everything is going wrong, but it doesn’t have fluffiness to recommend, it has a touching story about a weightlifting girl who tries to find her place in this world. As always, you can watch this drama for free and legally on viki.com or dramafever.com

sig

 

Book to Movie Review · movie reviews · tv review · Uncategorized · What I've Been Watching

What I’ve Been Watching: Winter 2016-2017

Because I always seem to do these in big groups, I thought why not just do seasonal wrap ups of what I’ve watched; winter meaning November-February (so far). As always, I will be listing all the movies first and then TV shows. I have links to my reviews. I decided to do something different this time and rank them from my least favorite to favorite of the season. So least favorites are at the top, favorites at the bottom of that specified list. I also added a letter rating to each. And sorry for being the most inconsistent person ever, these wrap ups always look different every time I do them. If anyone is interested in talking spoilers,  leave a comment tagging spoilers or hit me up on my Goodreads or email me at cqncarols@gmail.com or you can even message me on Tumblr =). 

Movies

Image result for ms peregrine home for peculiar children movie poster        Related image

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Fantasy, Family Movie, Book to Movie Adaptation | Director Tim Burton| Review

Overall, I was pretty disappointed; it was just so uninspiring. It seems that for every one great Hunger Games movie, we have to get at least 50 duds. D

Me Before You

Romance, Melodrama | Featuring Emilia Clarke, Sam Clafin | Review

I was also pretty meh about it. It wasn’t totally horrible thanks to the cinematography but I didn’t expect much and I got pretty much exactly what I thought I would get. No tears were lost in the process of watching. But maybe a good Valentine’s Day movie..if you have a bottle of strong liquor with you. C

        Image result for animated wonder woman poster   Image result for the dressmaker  Image result for fantastic beasts poster

Wonder Woman: Animated Original Movie (2009)

DC Comics adaptation, Animation, Children’s | Director Lauren Montgomery, Written by Gail Simone

Because I’m freaking obsessed with Wonder Woman now, I thought that I would try and watch some of the movies. Sadly, this was just ok. But Wonder Woman was so well-animated as a person like girl crush alert. And she is just so badass. Steve Trevor, however, was just weird and a womanizer in a creepy and annoying way. If you take away all the lines he says about creepily flirting with women, you’d only have around 3 lines left. It’s pretty good for a TV movie but nothing great to rewatch or seek out if I hadn’t already had a predisposition to WW. B-

The Dressmaker (Australia 2015)

Historical Fiction, Revenge, Comedy-drama | Featuring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth

This movie tries hard but ultimately does not sustain itself in my opinion, I mean this movie has won a bunch of awards. Kate Winslet is good in it and so was Liam Hemsworth but they are not enough to carry the whole movie. It also hosts a cast of quirky side characters that are not odd enough to be quirky and not interesting enough to be compelling. The story itself was also way too linear and simplistic to warrant such a long movie. It could have been cut in half. The ’50’s costume design was a feast for the eyes though. B-

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantasy, Family Movie | Director David Yates, Written by JK Rowling

So I finally got to watch this and honestly I was a little disappointed. I think it’s because there was no sense of urgency throughout. Grindelwald was mentioned at the beginning of the movie and then not again until really the end. There were just so many loopholes and inconsistencies in the magic system (why is everyone so careless about doing magic in front of Muggles, excuse me, No-Majs) it didn’t really even feel like the wizarding world sometimes. But it was so much fun getting to learn about the different creatures (can I please get a Niffler) and Eddie Redmayne is always great in whatever he does; he is such a precious cinnamon roll as Newt. I can’t really see anyone else as Newt. The other characters were good (how sweet is Jacob??) but the romances were kind of boring. I say that but the ending made me tear up a little. I did NOT think they would go there. Also, petition to open a Jacob Kowalski bakery please and thank you. And after watching this, I’m wondering how they have enough material to sustain 4? more movies. B

Image result for train to busan poster    Image result for mustang movie poster   Image result for wadjda poster

Train to Busan (Korea 2016)

Post Apocalyptic, SciFi, Zombies | Director Yeon Sang-Ho Featuring Gong Yoo | Review

Train to Busan lacks in anything substantial thematically but it was still a lot of action fun and the immediacy of the zombie transformation heightens the suspense into more good fun. B+

Mustang (Turkey 2015)

Contemporary, Drama | Director Deniz Erguven | Review

A quietly feminist movie about 5 orphan girls dealing with the restrictions of freedom and sexuality placed on them. A-

Wadjda (Saudi Arabia 2012)

Contemporary, Drama | Director Haifaa Al-Mansour | Review

Wadjda-A charming and feminist movie about a girl who wants to own a bike. A

Image result for la la land poster      Image result for the edge of seventeen poster

La La Land

Musical, Magical Realism, Romance | Director Damien Chazelle, Featuring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling | Review

Despite the simplicity of the storyline, La La Land boasts an inspiring color palette along with stunning technical visuals and two charming and romantic leads. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy and inspired inside and I love it for that. A

The Edge of Seventeen

Comedy, Coming-of-Age, High School | Featuring Hailee Steinfeld

I know this movie slipped under the radar among the giants of Oscar bait but that’s such a shame because it is a hilarious and honest coming-of-age movie. I know it seems like a teen comedy that doesn’t have much to offer but its authentic screenplay (these are things teens would actually say!!) and an amazing lead performance (Hailee Steinfeld) catapult it above the rest. The side characters have a kind of depth beyond their stereotype that is rarely seen in teen movies and the love interest is Asian!! Props to him for actually being a 30-year-old but looking like a 17-year-old. How is that even possible? It has a lot of heart and sincerity combined with really funny jokes. I love this movie and I’ll definitely be rewatching it again. A

Want to Watch:

Moonlight

Hacksaw Ridge

TV

Image result for seven first kisses      Image result for sherlock season 4

Seven First Kisses (Korea 2016)

Webdrama, Romance, Contemporary | Featuring Lee Cho-Hee, Lee Jong-Suk (aka bae), Lee Min-Ho, Ji Chang-Wook, Kai, Lee Joon-gi | Youtube | Finished

I’m going to be honest with you; I only watched this short webdrama (available on Youtube right now) because Lee Jong Suk was in it. He is too precious. And I loved his episode the most. But other than that, it was so cheesy and ultimately boring. I actually watched this in twice the normal speed which made it more entertaining lol.  Watch it if you have some eye candy you need to see more of. D

Sherlock Season 4

Mystery | Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman | BBC, PBS | Finished | Review

What even happened this season??? What even is Sherlock?? C

Image result for what the fuck gif

 

Image result for the abominable bride poster      Image result for w two worlds

The Abominable Bride

TV Movie, Historical Fiction, Mystery | Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman | BBC, PBS

Half of my enjoyment of this was due to the constant references to Sherlock’s hat and the ever cool transition and text scenes. The other half was due to the costume design. The rest was sort of forgettable. Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone that it couldn’t have been a ghost? And if it wasn’t obvious, it shouldn’t be so obvious to the audience. Also, the ending really rubbed me the wrong way. B

W Two Worlds (Korea 2016)

Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Romance | Featuring Lee Jong Suk, Han Hyo-Joo | MBC | 16 episodes | Finished | Review -ish

I mentioned this in my honorable mentions of my favorite TV shows of 2016 and all the reservations that I had about it after episode 9 came true. Awkward…It was so illogical, inconsistent, Oh Yeon Joo’s character just devolved into a pawn for Kang Chul’s emotional development, and the ending was so abrupt and unsatisfying. However, something about it still kept me watching though so I give props to it. And even at its messiness, I still found it to be incredibly enjoyable and suspenseful. B

Image result for the people vs oj       Image result for voltron legendary defender

The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Crime/Court Drama | Featuring Sara Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, Kenneth Choi, John Travolta | FX | 10 episodes | Finished | Review -ish

A compelling, bingeworthy drama worthy of its hype and praise. A

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2

SciFi, Children’s, Animation | Produced by Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos | Netflix | 13 episodes | Currently finished with Season 2 | Review of Season 1

Oh man, this show is so dear to my heart and makes me so happy. I think I liked the second season even more than the first. The animation is definitely better especially the landscapes. It also got more heavily anime in my opinion but that’s definitely not a pro or a con. It is the definition of fun at its most finest. I love each and very one of these characters to death and I will defend them till I die. I don’t think I can wait another year for the next season to come out.  For the record, I ship Klance and Shallura 😉 A-/A (for ripping my heart in shreds)

Image result for insecure tv poster       Image result for the americans poster

Insecure Season 1

Comedy, Contemporary | Created by Issa Rae, Larry Wilmore | HBO | 8 episodes | Season 1 Finished

I love Insecure soooo much. It’s about the friendship between two black women, their friendship, and exploring the realm of dating, jobs and everything in between during their late 20’s. It is funny with a diverse cast and so well executed. The humor is sarcastically dry which is just my type of humor. It slyly explores race, gender, and sexuality in a natural and underhand way. It was pretty steamy for a comedy but only in the last episodes and only sprinkled throughout as part of the narrative (although this is a show on HBO so what did I expect). It feels a lot like a Netflix show because one story arc will just bleed into the next episode to make the season one giant story and I binge watched in two days. Excluding the one distasteful Asian joke, I can’t wait for Season 2. A

The Americans Seasons 1 & 2

Spy Thriller, Melodrama | Featuring Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys | FX | 13 eps per season | Finished Season 4, Season 5 starts March 2017

Why didn’t I watch this sooner??? It is so amazing. An amazing combination of family drama and spy action and mystery during the Cold War. The main two leads are Soviet spies and was arranged to be married to keep up their spy covers. They move to the US where their next door neighbor is an FBI agent working for counterintelligence to capture spies.  I love it because so much attention is paid to character layering and the two main leads are fast becoming my new OTP even though their relationship so messed up. They often have to form relationships with other people, platonically or sexually or even romantically to get information they need. There’s definitely not as much action as I would like sometimes but it’s great anyways. A

Currently Watching: 

Tomorrow with you (Kdrama)

Powerless (NBC comedy)

The Crown (Netflix show on Queen Elizabeth)

Secret Love Affair (Kdrama)

As always if you think I would like something based on what I’ve watched, let me know!! I’m always down for recommendations. 

sig

tv review · Uncategorized

Spoiler Discussion: Sherlock Season 4

So as of the 20th of January, I have caught up to all episodes of the BBC Sherlock including the mini 7 minute episode on Youtube and The Abominable Bride. So unless there actually is a secret fourth episode (I wouldn’t put it past them) I’ll only be discussing Season 4, the three released episodes. SPOILERS.

I don’t know why the hat thing always gets me everytime LOL

sher2

Imagine my surprise when the show actually decided to focus on Mary this episode, a little bit out of the blue but interesting nonetheless. But I knew there was something suspicious about Moffat & co. suddenly giving a female character her own agency..and I was right. so Mary died and for what. Oh right, for more angst between Sherlock and John and for John’s angst. This was just poor decision making. We know that however sure and confident Sherlock was in thinking that he could protect John and Mary, it remains that Sherlock was not at fault for this. If Sherlock had done something himself to John like I don’t know, put him or Mary in danger purposefully for the “game” then John’s anger would make sense but it just feels anticlimactic. And, of course, this is also marred by the fact that John himself couldn’t confess his “affair” before she died so of course he felt guilty. Btw I didn’t even think that John could cheat. I don’t even understand why they put that plotline there. Plotwise, this episode was so plot twisty and not in a good way? Like the six Thatchers mystery was actually about Mary? It just felt like they wanted to add more and more plot twists on top of the other just for the sake of plot twists. Like a USB drive? Really?

Also, fanservice anyone?

Sidenote: I need more Sherlock babysitting Rosie. They are too precious together.

sher3

I’m kind of sad that Mrs. Hudson didn’t have a bigger role in this series because she is THE sass queen.
John: Can I borrow your car sometimes?
Mrs. Hudson: no
She is literal comedy gold. Sherlock just keeps getting better and better with their on screen transitions. It’s honestly a work of art. I loved the part when Sherlock and Eurus (apparently) are trying to deduce the mystery in a dark street and Sherlock is deducing it all from a worn note. That that part is my favorite scene should tell you how much I’m nostalgic for the old deductions of Seasons 1 and 2. Everything else was kind of just a mess. For one, Culverton Smith. He’s set up to be the mind blowing bad guy in this episode but he comes no where near as compelling as some of the villains of Season 1 let alone Moriarty. And the only reason why he was compelling was because Sherlock’s mental state was in a fragile state itself. And as the episode wore on, I found myself not caring whether Culverton had actually killed anyone. Maybe I just have no soul. Idk. And of course the fact that Sherlock even cares that Culverton is a despicable human being is kind of laughable because Sherlock has never cared how inhumane a villain is. All he cares about is if “the game’s afoot”. You can say he’s changed but has he really? Especially when you consider the fact that just last episode, he was considered as the godfather for Rosie and he was texting during the baptism and all these microaggressions. And then in the end, it turns out that John’s therapist is Sherlock’s secret sister?? I actually did not see that coming.
Sidenote: So do the CDs labeled “Miss Me” Moriarity’s? or Mary’s? I’m really confused about that.
sher4
So throughout the these 3 episodes, we’ve been teased with Miss Me? which by this point just felt like a gimmick, like the creators didn’t know how to hook the audience without Moriarity. I felt like screaming at the TV when Moriarty came to talk to Eurus and I assumed he was still alive but then the text said 5 years ago. And in the end, he didn’t even really have that big of a part in this whole scheme which completely ruins the point of teasing us about him all this time. I don’t get it.
I thought the tests themselves were really interesting. The sort of mind games that only Sherlock as a show can pull off. I actually really liked the whole Sherlock getting Molly to say I love You even though once again, the show decides to disrespect and emotionally manipulate Molly for Sherlock but it was interesting to see Sherlock break down like that.
Remember when everyone was freaking out when they saw this in the trailers? Good times.
It would have also been pretty interesting if he was forced to call Irene because I suppose she would have been far less susceptible although Molly is the far more emotional option.
It would have been really interesting to see Sherlock shoot Mycroft but I suppose that’s out of the question. I love it when Mycroft says “Brother mine” it is so endearing.
The ending was kind of anticlimactic. I just wanted more. The whole well thing was anticlimactic because obviously John was not going to die at this point. It’s hard to believe Sherlock feeling this gutted maybe because we never got to know yellowbeard and never really got to know SHerlock before he was an adult except for snippets from Mycroft. But the fact that Sherlock repressed these memories kind of proves that the creators didn’t know how else to fit the whole eurus storyline in without Sherlock knowing about it. And that ending felt a lot like a series finale. A very, very rushed one at that. So I’m not really that satisfied.
Sidenote: Sherlock’s parents that appear at the end were actually Benedict Cumberbatch’s real parents. I thought that was cute.
At this point, I don’t want a Season 5. I had a glimmer of hope that Season 4 was somehow going to improve on Season 3 but it actually regressed sadly. But Sherlock, despite its flaws, always manages to entertain me so I’ll always come back. I’ll just come back with a lot of reservation.
sig
favorites · tv review · Uncategorized

My Favorite TV Shows of 2016

Hi! I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas or holiday yesterday. I spent it with my family eating good food and just catching up with them. I hadn’t seen some of my cousins for a while and it’s interesting what time will do to someone both physically and personality wise.

The last week of December is always my favorite because I get to reflect on the things I’ve read and watched over the year and compile and talk about my favorites. And as you probably know, I never get tired of talking about my favorite things. 2016 was if nothing else a really great TV year for me. If you look at my 2015 favorite TV shows, I tend to gravitate towards the comedy and the slightly weird. This year was actually really different and here’s why: the inclusion of kdramas and shows revolving around crime. These two categories of TV have always been polarizing to me and I thought I would never really enjoy one enough to call my favorite but it just goes to show you that you shouldn’t judge a genre of TV before you’ve really dug into its many different facets. I have 4 honorable mentions and 8 favorites and at the end, I list a couple of shows that I would like to get to in 2017. The honorable mentions have no particular order however I have ranked my favorites but some my favorites can be interchangeable. Bear in mind that I have only included new shows that were new to me this year. So shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine will not appear because even though I watched the new season this year, the show itself wasn’t new to me this year. Also, if you would like to know more of my thoughts for a certain show, click on the corresponding banner and it will lead you to my review. As always, if you have any recommendations for me based on what I’ve mentioned, I would love to know, I can never have too many shows to watch. Actually I can but I would like to think that I don’t.

Honorable Mentions

Signal.png

It’s a kdrama and a crime thriller, so who would have thought it would end up on my list but it was an amazing surprise. This show is the near perfect melding of character and plot. You would be surprised at how many shows fail to find this balance, when plot fails to be the proper catalyst for the character’s development or when the characters don’t get enough choices to advance a stagnant plot. I loved the exploration of the concepts of idealism and corruption of the police force through episodes of tightly-woven suspense, a blend of magical realism, thrilling soundtracks, and heartbreaking characters at its core.

the-night-of

I’ve been loving my limited series this year mostly because they are so binge worthy. The Night Of is comprised of subdued, monochromatic blues and grays which is fitting for its gritty and brutal examination of an oftentimes flawed justice system. A system that would rather paint the picture of innocence and guilt instead of finding the truth. It’s less concerned with plot (although it still has a decent one) and prison life (like in Orange is the New Black) than its characters and ideas.  But what emerges is a thought provoking drama that actually doesn’t answer the whodunit at the end but by then, it doesn’t really matter.

voltron-legendary-defender

Voltron is the type of show that I naturally gravitate towards and it does exactly what it set out to do. It’s a really fun and entertaining animated show featuring a diverse ensemble of characters that play off one another in funny and heartwarming ways. It’s one of those shows that can reach a wide audience, kids, teens or adults and still be fun to all. The animation is expertly done (what did you expect from the team behind Legend of Korra) and it never seems to run out of action-packed fight scenes and adventure to keep you on your toes.

WTwo Worlds.png

As of the time I’m writing this, I’m currently on episode 9 but I cannot imagine an honorable mentions list without it. I have to admit at points, I was more in love with the concept than the execution. And what a concept, I mean a surgeon from the real world accidently gets sucked into the world of a comic and falls in love with the main character. Please. That shit is my jam. And while it does fall into some unbelievable territory and tension-sucking tropes and the old mistake of consistently making the main female character’s story revolve around the male main character, I continued watching because of the gorgeous production value (I particularly loved the transitions between the comic art world and the real world), the nonstop action and plot twists, and of course, the romance (That handcuff kiss though; I’m shook). And although there is just so many loopholes and logic problems, this show boasts main leads that are as smart and capable as they come which to me, is kind of a staple of the thriller genre second only to the horror genre.

Favorites

the-ladies-paradise-1

When I started watching this, I was expecting an angst-fest similar to the likes of Downton Abbey. What I got instead was a sweet and touching story about one woman’s ingenuity working at London’s first department store with a surprising commentary on feminism, how a woman’s ideas often gets credited as their male counterpart’s work. What it lacks in plot, it compensates with a (mostly) lovable cast of characters that get their own resolutions. This show also cemented my aesthetic love for period pieces set during the Industrial Revolution (the latest being Peaky Blinders). The set design of the department store is so intricate and aesthetically pleasing and Denise, the main character, works for women’s fashion so there’s a lot of gorgeous costume designs. I’m sad to see that this show only got 2 seasons but it was sweet while it lasted.

friends-1

This had to be included in here somewhere. I cannot believe this is the first time that I’ve watched this series from start to finish. It’s so awesome how this show has stood the test of time and I can totally see why. It shows a deft hand when writing about friendships and relationships and at the end of the day, it is just hilarious. Everyone probably knows or is some parts Monica or Chandler or Joey or any of the Friends cast. I can’t wait to watch these again and again. I suspect that when I do, it’ll feel like a cozy cafe ready to invite me back. And you do not want to know how many times I’ve referenced “We were on a break” in outside conversation. It’s embarrassing.

Stranger Things (1).png

Do I really need to explain why I like this show? I don’t think so. Although I have to admit I might have been predisposed to like it because my favorite movie of all time is Super 8 and guess what it features: an 80’s suburban setting, middle school aged kids running around having adventures, themes of friendship and coming of age, and a supernatural alien. You can see why I might like Stranger Things..

love-2

I watched this near the beginning of the year and it has stuck with me ever since. This show is so completely underrated. It’s a romantic comedy following two eccentric characters but unlike most romantic comedies, the end goal is not necessarily for the two characters to be together but more about how people meet each other, how they perceive others and how they interact with other people. Of course, this is all helped by an amazing screenplay and great acting from the two main leads. It also has just the type of humor that I love where the two characters get into bizarre, derpy situations that are just hilarious and both of them are really sarcastic and wry. I can’t exactly explain why I love this show so much because it might seem just like any other comedy but there’s just this level of hard hitting emotion and truth that undercuts the episodes that elevate it above other comedies I’ve seen. Whether you like romantic comedies or not, please give this one a shot, you will not regret it.

The People vs. OJ Simpson.png

This show is so, so deserving of its 22 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Limited Series. I guess, in 2016, I’ve become as crime-obsessed as every other American. But inaccuracies aside, there is literally no weak point in this show. It’s such a compelling story told with so much sympathy for its characters under a shroud of ambiguity and never ending tension. It’s clear that this is more than just the biggest celebrity crime case in America, it’s about how these characters manipulate the changing racial and gender politics to bend to their agenda and win the case. The reason why this crime show is on my favorites and not The Night Of is because it keeps such a breakneck pace and no scene feels unnecessary and each character (from both the prosecution and the defendant side) feels as fully realized as if they were all the main characters. Although I have to admit I cannot see David Schwimmer as anyone but Ross however he was brilliant in this one so it’s ok. I finally understand why this case is so interesting to so many Americans and to this day, this case has still not been solved which is kind of bizarre to me.

We’re getting to my top three now. DRUMS PLEASE

superstore

It feels like I’ve been watching this show but I’ve only started this year. It’s crazy. If you saw my favorite TV shows from 2015, you’ll know that I included Parks and Recreation in that list and this show is very similar to it in feel. It follows a cast of eccentric but loveable characters working in a big box store that looks suspiciously like Walmart. It started as a sweet but forgettable comedy that grew into such a funny romp that makes the most of its funny situations. I cannot get enough of these comedies so it’s only natural this show would end up on my list.

descendants-of-the-sun

Just from the things I read and the TV I watch, you can probably tell I have a huge, huge soft spot for epic romances. Don’t be fooled by my jaded and pessimistic exterior, in my cold heart of stone sometimes there is nothing more pleasing to me than to see my OTP exchange witty banter and give swoon worthy, angsty looks at one another. And holy shit, did this drama deliver that for me featuring, let’s face it, such good looking actors (Soong Joong Ki, you slay me) and magnetic chemistry. Oh and a really good ost. And the best part was that it was so blissfully unproblematic in the romance department. Aside from that, this drama was just pure escapism for me, logic and reason be damned. I also know that objectively speaking, Signal is far superior drama in almost every way but I also know that when there was a scene with Kang Mo Yeon and Yoo Shi Jin flirting together, nothing could tear my eyes from the screen. Obviously, I’ve got my priorities straight. It also reminds me of happy times when I was watching this with my roommates eating ice cream until 4am screaming at the computer screen.

age-of-youth-4

While Descendants of the Sun delivered in the feels department, it lacks in its plot objectively but Age of Youth delivers on both fronts. It’s true that it’s quite a niche drama seeing that it will probably only appeal to people in their 20’s (most likely women) but hey that’s me. Don’t let that deter you from watching however, it is so well-crafted and such a gift to the coming of age genre. Age of Youth is ultimately an ode to friendship more specifically female friendship. It is funny, inspiring, and hopeful in all the right ways but more than anything it is a quiet melodrama that resonated with me, with who I was, who I am, and who I will be. I miss these girls already.

TV to watch in 2017

The Americans (long overdue)

Homeland (political thriller)

Please Like Me (another comedy)

WestWorld (against my better judgement; the hype’s getting to me)

Narcos (show about drugs is all I know LOL)

Sense8 (Why haven’t I seen this yet?)

And that’s it! My top TV shows of 2016! I hope there is more good TV to come in 2017; I can’t wait to watch them all. Winter break is almost over so watch these before you’re too busy to 😉 Let me know what your favorite TV shows of 2016 were and if we have any of the same ones!

sigfinal

 

tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: Black Mirror Seasons 1-3

Image result for black mirror

Show Title: Black Mirror

Created by: Charlie Brooker

Seasons: 3 (Season 3 released on Netflix Oct. 21,2016)

# of episodes total: 12

Length of episodes: Approx. 1 hour

Original Country of Origin: UK

NO SPOILERS FOR ANY EPISODES 


I knew I was in for a weird experience when I first started watching Black Mirror. I mean the first episode revolves around the kidnapping of a member of a fictional Royal family and in order to get her back, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig. On live TV. That shocking premise was enough to get me to start the show but what kept me watching was its immaculate writing and its original commentary on modern technology to make it some of the most thought-provoking TV out there.

black-mirror

The format of Black Mirror is unusual in some aspects. It’s a science fiction anthology show where every episode is completely separate from the previous episode but all the episodes revolve around technology. Having that format allows each episode to take place in different worlds with entirely different characters, actors, rules and time periods. The first episode, “The National Anthem”, takes place in relatively modern-day Britain but the second episode, “Fifteen Million Merits” takes place in an alternate reality in an isolated facility where people ride exercise bikes to gain merit points to compete on an entertainment show and you are constantly bombarded by advertisements all day long. The worldbuilding sounds over the top but the great thing about Black Mirror is that its details and parallels to our modern world make it entirely plausible. And each episode spends virtually no dialogue in trying to explain what the rules are in this world. Instead it relies on visual cues to help the viewer figure it out, almost like a mini mystery in each episode. Each episode sort of plays like a thriller. You know something bad is going to happen and it’s not going to end well purely by the setup of the world but you don’t know how. In the last episode, “The Entire History of You”, people are implanted with memory chips so they can replay their conversations and never miss an appointment and things like that. The main characters are a seemingly happy couple but the suspense is expertly built up to make the most use of the technology described and how it leads to this couples’ ultimate downfall. I loved Season 1 and I think all the episodes were really strong.

Episode Rating (Worst to Best)

  1. Fifteen Million Merits
  2. The National Anthem
  3. The Entire History of You

black-mirror-1

Most Black Mirror episodes are really depressing and that was never more so apparent than in Season 2. However season 2 had my two favorite episodes out of this entire series (and there are only 3 episodes in each season so..). The first one is “Be Right Back” which follows a woman who is grieving for her boyfriend. She receives an AI from her friend that looks and acts exactly like her boyfriend using his past voicemails and online messages to recreate his persona. The use of technology in this episode or in any Black Mirror episode doesn’t feel like it’s from far into the future. We have or we are getting close to having these types of technology featured. It feels as though we could step inside this world the very next day and that’s what makes it really exciting but also really terrifying. And just because these episodes are self-contained does not mean it’s any less emotionally investing. It explores the human consequences of using these. You might think the main character of “Be Right Back” is crazy and a little creepy for using an AI to replace her deceased boyfriend. Who would do that? But the episode plays with a well of human insecurities and concepts like grief, memory and what separates us as humans from something that humans made.

Episode Rating (Worst to Best)

1.The Waldo Moment (I actually didn’t even watch this one lol..because it had unusually bad ratings for Black Mirror)

2. White Bear (The twist fucked me up)

3. Be Right Back (I almost cried)

black-mirror-2

Season 3 was the weakest out of all the seasons, series..whatever. In Season 3, this show was transferred over to Netflix and instead of 3 episodes, it now had 6 episodes. Binge-watching them felt a little impossible because the satire felt like it was trying too hard to make a point and a lot of the setup now felt predictable. The first episode, for example, is about a world where people’s statuses are  literally determined by how many likes they get on social media which turned a little too gimmicky to me. These episodes can be watched in any order but it was worth slogging through the first 3 episodes to get to the best episode, “San Junipero”, a story about two women meeting each other and falling in love in an ’80s era world and that’s all I’ll say about that because half of the fun is figuring out how this world works. If anything, I suggest watching Season 3 first and then going back and watching the brilliance that is Seasons 1 and 2.  None of the episodes bleed into the next, so each hour-long episode feels like a finished movie.

Episode Rating (Worst to Best):

  1. Hate in the Nation
  2. Men Against Fire (video gamers might like this more)
  3. NoseDive
  4. Playtest
  5. Shut Up and Dance
  6. San Junipero

Even through the bad episodes, I still completely adore this show. I think it’s a must watch especially for scifi junkies like me. People have compared it to the Twilight Zone. I don’t know how accurate that comparison is but if it’s compared to The Twilight Zone, I’m sure it’s a good thing. Let me know if you’ve seen this show, what your favorite episodes were, if you’ve heard it or if you’re planning on watching it.

sigfinal