Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Flight Films Fail... or Win?

I recently went on a trip to Northern Europe and flew with SAS Scandinavian Airlines.  It was a 9 hour flight from Chicago to Copenhagen on the way up and an 8.5 hour flight from Stockholm to Chicago on the way back.  Besides the long cramped flight time (and weird beans they made me eat for dinner on the way up- they put them in the salad and the main dish!  I think they were Lima Beans...) there was the problem with their movie selection.  I'm there for 9 hours, at least they should give me something good to watch!

Ok, I did enjoy watching Captain America 2 on the way up, but other than that the movie options were weird and the same both times.  You'd think that after two weeks they would have some new movie selections.  Nope, same weird collection of foreign films, including less than exciting American films that I had either no desire to see or had already seen.  Result: I ended up watching every Asian film on those flights.  Also, don't try to watch Grand Budapest Hotel on a flight, it just doesn't work even if you are interested in watching it.  Wes Anderson on a plane just isn't compelling enough.

Summary:  Chinese comedies which were hilarious with plenty eye rolling moments of ridiculousness and Japanese dramas that left me thinking either "wut?" or "hmmmmmmm.... k"  So here we go.  They were actually pretty good, not the worst thing that I watched, and some I would actually recommend.

The Little House (2014) Japanese- Drama
I only got to watch the second half of this one and it was plenty.  It was basically just a film which followed the happenings of the occupants of this little house in Japan in the 1930s.  It was narrated by the girl who worked at the house as a maid up until the depression and WWII when she had to leave.  It was her memories of what happened written in her journal, being read by her nephew or great nephew or something.  It was interesting, but on the slow side.

Reading up on it later, it seems like it is much more complex and maybe I should have watched all of it.  I knew there was cheating going on, and a bit of a love triangle going on, but maybe I got it backwards.  It wasn't the housemaid jealous of the wife over the young art student, but maybe the other way around with the maid liking the wife... oh Japan.  But anyways, it's based on Based on the 2010 Naoki Prize winning novel "Chiisai Ouchi" by Kyoko Nakajima.  None of the mens in it were very hot, so that's probably what made me just watch the second half of it and not start it over.

Personal Tailor (2013) Chinese- Comedy
This one was probably the best out of the four that I watched.  I actually tried to start at the beginning and watch all of it, but still missed the first part, but I still liked it.  It was better the second time though, when I actually knew what was going on.

This film reminded me a bit of Dating Agency: Cyrano or Ouran High School Host Club in the fact that it's a bunch of amazingly talent people forming a company that makes other people's lives better.  In this case Personal Tailor is a company of four people who help people live their wishes for a day, to get away from their normal lives.  They help an official prove himself incorruptible by testing him with all sorts of corrupt temptations as if he were a higher up official, let a little fishing lady live like a rich lady for a day, help a blockbuster film director find highbrow art, etc.  It is very witty and clever as well as goofy at parts, and is very tongue in cheek.  Also it leaves you with a good message.  Also the men are very good looking, even if one is old and bald.  He's like Yul Brynner classy.  But the younger guy was obviously hotter.

Chart of Love aka Kamisama no Karute 2 (2014) Japanese- Drama
I wish I had known this was a part 2 movie.  Now it makes so much more sense!  I was wondering why they didn't bother developing somethings, such as him and his wife's relationship.  Haha.  Now I gotta see the first one.

Doctor drama, and probably one of the better ones as it was focused on the meaning of life and what does it mean to be a doctor.  In a culture that is already overworked, doctors lose their identities as people as they become doctor machines who put work first.  Sakurai Sho is the lead, Dr. Kuriharai, a workaholic doctor who is more interested in helping people at this rural hospital than in being a famous doctor or even in taking care of himself.  He is also really hot, in a Yoochun cute type way.  He's also in the boyband Arashi, which also has Matsumoto Jun (the Hana Yori Dango dude). Then his med school friend (Fujiwara Tatsuya) moves to his hospital.  He is super hot like in a more Lee Joon Ki way.  (He's also going to be in the new Rurouni Kenshin films, as the yucky gross bad guy.  I hope we get some shots of him before he got burned and gross cause rawr.)  Only he's changed from being the super conscientious hardworking doctor to one who leaves work at six every day and can't be reached at night.  Naturally he's looked down on and misunderstood for behaving that way, but Kuriharai find out its because he has to take care of his daughter and doesn't want to become a robot who puts work before his family, like his wife chose to do.

Then then question how to balance work and family as their senior at work collapses from exhaustion and some cancer type deal.  It also talks a lot about treating patients as people, instead of business.  It's a statement on the system and working so hard that we forget to be people.  It's got a message of hope and stuff.  Plus both necks are an A+.

From Vegas to Macau (2014) Chinese- Comedy
This one is the eye roller.  It's super silly.  It's kinda like Austin Powersish in the spoof on cool gambler spy types.  Looking it up after I found that it is the fourth in a series of films about this same dude- Ken, the god of gambling- all played by Chow Yun Fat, who is pretty awesome.  It's also got Nicholas Tse, who is pretty good looking- at least an A neck.

This film is the epitome of a "vulgar film"- a phrase used for blockbuster crap as described in Personal Tailor.  It has the mass appeal.  It has ridiculous puns, a hero with fantastical powers that defy possibility who is always one step ahead of the bad guy no matter what, martial arts that are silly, cool and very crowd pleasing, lots of hot girls who are smart as well as sexy, horrible puns, tons of special effects.

It made me laugh, I loved it, but it is definitely not quality highbrow art.  It's cheesy, goofy comedy.  Best of all, it had a G-Dragon reference, which made me forgive everything else the movie threw at me.  But, probably because it was a fourth movie, it had a lot of running jokes that I didn't get.  Especially the ending.  I was like "wut?!?"  I watched the ending first and then restarted it and it made even less sense to me after I watched the whole film.  After looking it up it was a inside joke that I didn't get because I hadn't seen the earlier films... but probably still wasn't that funny.

This film is absolutely ridiculous and very, very entertaining.

So win for me, I guess.  I enjoyed all of these films.  The rest of them weren't so interesting (besides Captain America 2, which was only available for part of the time on the first flight).  I guess I could have watched Robocop and it wouldn't have been the end of the world... I guess.  But I actually recommend most of these films.  Especially Personal Tailor, I really liked that one because it's funny and it also makes you think.  I really liked Chart of Love even when it had it's slow or "hmmmm... k" moments.  I think I need to give The Little House another watch, from the beginning, to see what that one's about.  Also if you need some cheap entertainment, then From Vegas to Macau is perfect, cause it's just that cheap "vulgar" entertainment.

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