Thursday, August 31, 2017

K-Con Concert Day: Trip Day Three

The day that we're all waiting for, Saturday, the day that we'd go to all our artist engagements and eventually the concert.  We would have loved to have gone to both concert days, but that was a lot of money for groups that we had less investment in.  We're not made of money.

We like those groups, but we LOVE Vixx and Super Junior.  Let's be honest, I also love Girl's Day.  So it worked out that they were all going to be a part of the Saturday Concert.  We had to prepare well, because this day was going to be an all day thing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

270. I Order You 당신을 주문합니다 (2015) Korean

Jung Yoon Ho, Kim Ga Eun, Jang Seung Jo, Baek Jung Won, Jo Yoon Woo 

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A-

I never thought I'd live to see Yunho out acting anyone, but he was way better than our female lead in this.  He wasn't amazing or anything, but he was decent.  The show was just fluffy, but that is what we wanted.  Nothing better than a web drama when you want fluffy, because they can't afford to waste time on anything, although they still managed to do it.  We burned through the first like 12 episodes in one night, and let me tell you they were the best episodes, full of her falling in love with his face and cooking over and over, and him falling in love with the way she appreciated his food, over and over.  He was on the teasey side, which was generally cute.  He could also be a bit of a butt.  She was generally smart and nice, although she was not great at acting.  The flowerboy coworkers were the best.  It was literally The Flowerboy (who is in all the flower boy dramas) and this tall oppa that we liked.  He was smiley.  Also, her younger brother is pretty cute and awesome too.  Just saying.  The second male lead was a cutie too, I called him Diddy Kitty (like the Diddy Kong of Kitty- aka Kim Jae Joong) because he looked a lot like Kitty.  This, of course lead to much TVXQ jokes.

The last four episodes were needlessly dramatic and mopey and since we saved these for the next day, we were even less able to pay attention while the shiz hit the fan and the girl literally became the worst person in the world.  She was even worse than the last minute bitca they added.  So it ended.  Like I said, fluff.  But while it was mostly enjoyable, it had way more drama then say Wednesday at 3:30, which is a comparable web drama full of fluffy Beanie.  So, this is still good if you want a bunch of cheesy fluff and happen to like Yunho (which I not so secretly do now, how did this happen!?!?!) but be warned, it is also ridiculous and mopey in spots.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Korean Movie Night: Battleship Island 군함도 (2017) Korean

Hwang Jung Min, So Ji Sub, Song Joong Ki, Lee Jung Hyun, Kim Su An

Movie rating: 7/10     Neck score: A+

This was definitely set up as a wartime/survival/underdog movie.  We have a bunch of Koreans forced into a labor camp on a coal island off of Nagasaki.  Tricked and then forced into slave labor.  So naturally, since this is a WWII movie, the Japanese are going to be super demonized.  Just letting you know.  They're basically the worst in this.  Not just kicking the puppies, they're outright killing the puppies.  The other worst is that it's a fight to survive in this camp, so Koreans are turning on Koreans, especially the ones who kiss up to the Japanese to get favorable treatment.

So we're following a musician (Hwang Jung Min) and his band, and his daughter (Kim Su Ah), who get forced into going, along with a boatload of "drafted soldiers" and a bunch of women who were brought to "help".  They're just trying to survive, but even with their letter of recommendation, they are forced into the camp.  So Ji Sub is one of the drafted.  He's a gangster with authority issues.  He starts a fight on the boat over, and has an awesome run in with Lee Jung Hyun who is basically boss and can hold her own, which is great because she can help protect the daughter, who's like 10, but is still separated out with all the women.  They all get forced into the coal mine labor camp, forced slavery or indenture, since they force them into debt along with everything else they do to them.  Once in the camp, it's basically just survival.

It's funny because this one was a lot more action packed, but because of that it felt less harsh than the brutality that was in A Taxi Driver.  There was plenty of violence and fighting, but it was the kind we were used to?  Not all of it, just in general.  There was still plenty of shuddery violent scenes, and anxious ones, such as the bathhouse fight, which was awesome as it was scary because fighting almost naked in a bathhouse, so in and out of the bathtubs.  But that was the way to do a bathhouse fight (cough cough The K2 cough cough).  As they were coal mining all the time, there was plenty of almost naked men, which could go both ways depending on who the man was.

I always felt the most anxious for the daughter the whole time, because she was just a kid and had to face some pretty nasty stuff, but that's the reality of that time, so they weren't pulling too many punches.  It's a good thing that she was super smart along with everyone else, or there is no knowing what could have happened.  Shudder.  It was a little bit like Life is Beautiful, the Italian Holocaust movie, if you've seen that, but much more action packed and a whole lot less tear jerking, which is not to say that it isn't tear jerking, because it's a Korean movie, but nothing makes me cry like Life is Beautiful.

I kind of like how ambiguous Song Joong Ki's character is.  I'll just leave it at that.  He's special forces, but what is his mission?  Duh duh duhhhhhhh.  That's one of the things I liked about everyone.  They're all on their own side, which might be the same side, if they could figure it out, but the number one objective for everyone is survival, and then they have to figure out how and with whom, etc.  I liked it a lot.  I probably liked A Taxi Driver more, because it was more sentimental, but I did like both.  I'd recommend it just for that cool three screen deal.  I'm not a fan of 3D, so this was a much cooler alternative for me.  I felt very surrounded, which was awesome in those mine scenes.

Day Two: First Official Day of K-Con LA 2017

So starts day two of our K-Con adventure, this one is focused on exploring, since we had some flexibility.  It started later, so we got there later, and miraculously missed all the traffic.  Our hotel was farther from the convention center, but still situated so that we would miss the bad traffic if we left at the right time.

No one died while I drove in LA.  In fact, I was once again pleasantly surprised at how decently everyone was driving, not that I loved the traffic, it was just more predictable than freeway traffic where I'm from.  People know how to merge a bit better, haha.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Korean Movie Night: A Taxi Driver 택시 운전사 (2017) Korean

Song Kang Ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hae Jin, Ryu Jun Yeol, Park Hyuk Kwon

Movie rating: 9/10     Neck score: B

I guess this wasn't really a movie night, because we went to see this at 11:15am.  But I'll count it anyway.  Omo, seeing it in a theater is just another experience.  It was us and a bunch of halabeoji and halmeoni, and we were definitely feeling outnumbered.  The halabeoji sitting next to Lizabreff was probably texting his friends that he was sitting next to three weird white girls.  We also had random people talking in Korean in the middle of the movie, probably louder than they thought.

It was so good!  It made us feel all the emotions, it did such a good job of taking us back to 1980, and seeing all the different sides of the issues.  I also love that they got a German actor who could actually act, in German and English, and it was just great.  We felt all the emotions.  From sweet to sickening, to outright tears (of course).  It's funny because we saw Battleship Island as well, which is much more action packed, but the brutal police/military violence of this one was some how more horrifying.  There was no discrimination in who they beat, it was awful.

With such a heavy topic as the Gwangju massacre, it was nice that they were able to add some sweet moments, and some comedy, bringing out the humanity and the love, which of course made the awful terror and brutal violence all the worse, as well as all the sacrifices of the people for their friends and colleagues that much more touching and tear jerking.

We got to see them all grow as well.  Each of the characters has a story.  Our taxi driver Kim Man Seob (Song Kang Ho), who is just a working man trying to support his daughter, whose seen a lot and doesn't really want to get involved.  He is such a tender hearted man who is trying to be tough and mercenary, who doesn't want to rock the boat to protect himself and his family.  He ends up taking a German reporter named Peter to Gwangju, which is blocked off by the military because of rioting.  Peter knows what to expect to a certain extent, and Man Seob to a different extent, because the government is falsifying reports about the riots, but he knows his people.  They end up getting help from a local taxi driver, reporter, and college student, who of course all have stories that make us love them as well.

So there is a lot of everything.  laughter, tears, military brutality, rioting, saving, and you just feel everything right there with them, because they did a really good job of giving a face to these people, so we know who they are, what they felt, and why they did what they did.  I cried a lot and laughed a lot, and it was so, so, so, good.  I am super happy that I got this chance to be in LA when it was in theaters, so I could watch it.  Absolutely no regrets, it was awesome.  I highly recommend it.

K-Con LA 2017: Day One of the Trip

My one vacation this summer was K-Con, and though it was ridiculously expensive to go, and the most inconvenient time to go (I work at a university and the first day of school was the Monday after K-Con.  Did I also mention I'm in charge of training all the new hires?), I do no regret going at all.  I normally get super drained and traumatized after going to conventions full of people and too many people, and spending too much money.  As far as I know this was not the case this year, and I had a really good time.  From horror stories I heard from years past (2014 to be exact) this year seems pretty decently organized, and I'm glad.

Because this was a longer vacation, with four days to cover, I'm just going to give you a play by play of each day and tell you everything we did and what we ate and everything.  So here is Day One of My K-Con LA 2017 trip with Lizabreff and Curdy.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Korean Movie Night: 19 나의 19세 (2009) Korean

TOP, Seungri, Huh E Jae

Movie rating: 6/10     Neck rating: A-

We've been meaning to watch this show for ages because TOP and Seungri.  It's the typical coming of age movie with a twist, because it's about three 19 year old kids who are suspected of killing this girl.  They panic and run, and are naturally forced to come to terms with themselves and grow up.  TOP is a bit of a punk, who of course dreams of being a rapper, but is a loser in his family.  Seungri is a little rich boy who can't even talk to girls and is pushed around by his parents.  Huh E Jae was a poor girl whose mom was dying and so she dropped out if school.  They all had ties to the girl and had to come to terms with how they could have helped her, but didn't, so they weren't blameless.  It's got coming of age oozing out of it.  Seungri was so cute being an awkward kid.  Also, I loved how Big Bang promoting it is, and I could just watch TOP rapping all day, so I loved that it was super Big Bangy.  It was cheesy and dramatic, but pretty funny and fun to watch.  So good, if you like Big Bang.  PS, that minus is for TOP's bad hair.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Korean Movie Night: My Sassy Girl 엽기적인 그녀 (2001) Korean

Cha Tae Hyun, Jun Ji Hyun

Movie rating: 8/10     Neck score: A

We had another movie night, but rather than watching something new to us all, Lizabreff and I decided to show Curdy the classic My Sassy Girl.  It's probably the third or fourth time that we've both seen it, and it was interesting to see the different perspectives.  If it was funnier the second time, it definitely was the third as well.  It was also interesting to see Curdy's reactions, as a relatively new viewer.  It is a show you need to pay attention to right through to the end.  So, I will share my initial review and then add my later thoughts.

First review:

Wow, that was a really long butt scene, Cha Tae Hyun.  Just saying.  There is a reason why this show is famous.  It's good.  Like funny, ridiculous, and completely setting stereotypes for years to come.  I feel like all the tropes came from this, but since this one was first, it is better.  I love how many times it tricked us.  Like, setting it up to make you think a million years had passed when it was maybe one.  Also the irony of the punch line.  Also, Cha Tae Hyun was perfect for his role, as was Jun Ji Hyun.  They deserved to become famous from this, because they both did a good job.  Basically this is the kind of movie that leaves you grinning at the end.  Although I am glad I saw it way after I started watching K-dramas, because it was that much funnier because of that.  Lizabreff watched it way before me, when she was still a noob, and she said it was way funnier to her the second time.  But by that time it was like watching it for the first time anyway.  Because you have to understand Korean dating culture a bit, and the humor.  Also, you will see all the cameos of baby peeps you love.  PD Joo!!!!

Second Time Additions:

I pretty much stand by the first review, because seriously guys, it is a great movie.  I love how much more I am able catch the second or third time around.  The subtle clues behind her inexplicable behavior, the subtle humor in the different situations, and even just the humor in general, when you understand the dating culture, etc.  Curdy, seeing it for the first time, took everything at face value and was slightly horrified at the abuse that Cha Tae Hyun's character went through as they sort of dated.  This is nice, watching it the first time, especially if you understand more of the jokes.  It is supposed to be ridiculous, because we don't understand the motivations of the characters.  We only know what Cha Tae Hyun knows, and he thinks she is crazy with what he knows, but he still helps her and falls for her, and then when the pieces fall together it's cute.  Watching it multiple times gives you the advantage of noticing the little things that give it away, the little clues.  Anyway, it's just a really fun and great movie, and there is def totes a reason that it is a classic.  Done.  PD Joo!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

266. Ode to Joy 2 欢乐颂 2 (2017) Chinese

Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Wang Zi Wen, Yang Zi, Bridgette Qiao Xin

Drama Rating: 7/10     Neck Score: A

As a continuation of the same story, this one definitely had a darker tone.  It was especially noticeable as I started this one immediately after finishing the last season, because even the filter was much darker.  Also, it went back from the seemingly happy ending implied at the end of season one, and showed that things were much more complicated than they seemed.  People who we thought were getting along weren't yet, and people we thought got back together still had stuff to work on first.  That was confusing, but maybe if I had had a year to wait like everyone who watched them on time, then it might not have been as stark a difference.  It definitely focused on the darker, more complicated sides of everyone's issues.  I actually liked it more for that.

As always, I love how raw and imperfect everyone is.  They are so human and flawed, but that's why it is so nice to see them take care of each other and grow.  Making mistakes, making the same mistake over and over, taking responsibility for their decisions, whether good or bad.  The focus is still on the girls and their personal growth and not necessarily just their romance, although I feel like that was a larger portion of this one, since the relationships all reached new levels in this one.

Can I just say how much I love Bao?  I might have started this whole show, both seasons, because of the spoiler clips I saw of Andie and Bao, which totally explains why I was having none of Bofu... that old Mr. Wei guy who looked 50.  He just wanted to "fix" Andie, while Bao just thought Andie was the best thing ever and already too good for him.  What a difference.  I also just loved the teasing little way he wormed his way into her life and into her heart.  His sexy little dimples!  So unabashedly awesome for her.

As always, Xiao Qu was my favorite little demon, and I liked how she grew in this one.  We saw a much more vulnerable side of her in this season.  She matured a lot, and her relationship with all the girls on the 22nd floor grew a lot as well.  They were on good terms more often.  I did, of course, appreciate how her and Dr. Zhao's relationship took off, became serious, went through the wringer and ended up adorable.  It was a good arch for both of them.

I was really impressed with Ying Ying as she probably grew the most from season one to the end of this season, she really progressed from being immature and complacent, to being a strong power woman who stands up for herself in love and manages a store.  She went through a lot of rocky in between.  I'm not sure how I went from liking her IT boy, to hating him, to liking him again.  I guess I was able to understand their progression as well.

Guan Guan definitely made some improvement as well as she became a more active participant in her own life, as well as these stories.  Darn it, if I didn't relate to her the most this time around, because she was dealing with things I have to deal with daily.  She is just the cutest.

Fan, man slow clap for her.  She really took some big steps in all aspects of her life.  She made me cry the most, but she also grew the most.  Her family drama and personal drama, as always, was dramatic, but she actually progressed this time, instead of just leaning on her man.  She started improving herself and realized that she has to become independent as a person if she is going to be in a happy relationship. She started taking the power woman steps too, and I was so, so proud of her.

So much growth and so much drama.  I really love how this show, in both seasons, is about women.  Normal women who are learning to support themselves and each other.  This is about their growth and mistakes, and success too.  I love that, and I am going to miss watching my girls everyday.  Wah.  I miss them already!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

250. The Perfect Match 極品絕配 (2017) Taiwanese

Chris Wu, Ivy Shao, Ben Wu, Xiao Man, Nylon Chen

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A+

This started out really cute and fun, but like most dramas, it got really weird half way in.  Well, actually it started out so cheesy that I couldn't even watch it at first and I had to give it a second chance.  But for Chris Wu and his amazing chin, I did.  It got better for a bit, and then it got crazy.  The typical build of a Taiwanese drama seems to be a series of short but ever increasing dramatic episodes that just build up until you don't even remember how the show started.  Each problem gets resolved quickly enough that you don't hate it too much, but each problem is more ridiculous than the last until you are just watching it to see how the crazy will end.  Fall In Love With Me is the most extreme example of this.  The Perfect Match was no where near as bad, but certainly went full circle in crazy.

**Probably too many SPOILERS ahead, but these are really just how the plot goes.  You can still watch and enjoy if you're into this kind of crazy.**