Monday, May 16, 2011

First Impressions: 내게 거짓말을 해봐/Lie to Me

SBS's Monday/Tuesday romantic comedy 내게 거짓말을 해봐/Lie to Me starring the lovely Yoon Eun Hye and dashing Kang Ji Hwan is off with a bang. In this instantiation of the K-rom-com we've got ourselves a bud and an onion. Yoon Eun Hye's character Gong Ah Jung is the flower waiting to bloom and Kang Ji Hwan's Hyun Ki Joon is the onion waiting to be peeled.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World

I started reading this book a while back, and I've only just finished it. I've been reading it on and off during my limited commutes on the metro. It's the first book I've finished reading in 2011. It's really unfortunate that I haven't been reading with the voracity that is befitting of a young, intelligent, knowledge-seeking woman, but what can one do when there are so many things that are worthy of time and attention?

When I first picked it up I found it to be easily engaging. The language is straightforward. The philosophical topics are also addressed in much the same way. I liked it for its simplicity and at the same time I was bored by it. Maybe it was because it's a translation, but the language is very flat. Dialogue is the predominate method of information transferral, and since it is dialogue it can only be as engaging as the characters and the topic. The characters were pretty normal and the topic more informative than dramatic. I guess I felt like I was missing a bit of linguistic dynamism. It definitely was not a piece of lyrical prose, and nor was it a fast plot driven story.

On the other hand, it was very informative as it was a history of philosophy, and there was a lot of material presented that made you think. At least it made me think, considering I am more of a fancier of philosophical thougth than the average passerby. At the end of it I think I learned a lot about what I want to learn more about. (Kierkegaard's philosophies as well as the existentialist philosophies of Marx and Sartre in particular piqued my interest.) All in all, Sophie's World was a fairly enjoyable read and very informative. I would recommend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Impressions: 최고의 사랑/The Greatest Love

MBC's new Hong Sisters' drama, 최고의 사랑/The Greatest Love?
I really really want to like this drama.

Gong Hyo Jin?
I love Gong Hyo Jin.

Cha Seung Won?
I love Cha Seung Won.

I want to like it, but we're just not hitting it off.

Now, I've only seen the first episode, but, gawd, there's just no pull. I got to the end of the first episode and I felt really no compulsion to move onto the next even while it was at my disposal. I instead chose to play Mario Kart on my DS.

That isn't to say that the episode was totally void of entertainment. There were plenty of parts that were fun and funny. It was light and comedic in classic Hong Sisters style, but I think that's the problem. I'm just not a big fan of the Hong Sisters' work.

I've only watched and enjoyed two Hong Sisters' dramas, 쾌걸 춘양 and My Girl, and that was back in 2005. One during the last part of my senior year in high school, and the other during the first part of my freshman year in college. So those two dramas do hold a prominent place in my mind and memories, and that might in part be the problem. That mood so indicative of a Hong Sisters' drama is so tightly associated with my youth that it's hard to enjoy it now, given that I feel like I've "grown up" and moved passed it. It's like thinking back on your high school self and cringing at all those things you thought and felt were cool, knowing that they just don't work for you in your present grown-up situation. That's how I feel about the Hong Sisters' dramas.

I mean, I couldn't even watch Gumiho for Shin Min Ah, and I love Shin Min Ah

Hong Sisters aside, I'm just not feeling the premise of the show. A fake marriage reality show? A spoof of 우결. I really really don't like that show. I find it almost unbearable. To go meta with that... I just don't think I can handle that kind of shit. I can't. I can't. I can't. Even thinking about it makes me want to scream.

So, I know this drama will do great with the audiences as it is a Hong Sisters work, but I'm not sure I'll be watching it. I'll try the next episode sometime this weekend and we'll see what happens, but I have serious doubts about being willing or able to keep with this one.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Impressions: 동안미녀/Baby-Faced Beauty

Comeback veteran star Jang Na Ra and new-kid-on-the-block Daniel Choi star in KBS2's new Monday/Tuesday drama Baby-Faced Beauty. Jang Na Ra plays the role of Lee So-Young a 34-year-old woman who winds up in some interesting situations as a result of her extremely young looks - that's the setup and hook at least. K-dramas are always marketed with a hook, and it becomes that ridiculous drama-driving force, the penultimate secret that is always on the verge of becoming known, the thing that creates the tangled webs of relationships between people who are there to be used, abused, played and betrayed. 

I've watched the first and second episodes and I'm finding it pretty entertaining. It reminds me a lot of the K-dramascape of the early 2000s, and I think it might be in large part due to Jang Na Ra who plays the female lead, chipper and persevering despite her unfortunate circumstances. It also has a goofy man-child type leading male character that was so popular in the early 2000s. Unfortunately he was left by the wayside with the coming of the 까도남. That together gives the drama a light, bright and goofy tone that's generally enjoyable. Plus the drama has the fashion industry as a backdrop, and hopefully this tone will do better for it than that of Style or Cinderella Man.

Anyway, it's good to see Jang Na Ra back on the K-scene although she inevitably brought with her her mediocre acting skills. Honestly, she does cute, cheeky and indignant to a T. Her huge eyes and squeaky voice are good for that. Where she fails is in her inability to fall far enough into that pit of self-pity and again to boil up into a fit of rage that would make her character come to life. Her sad is not sad enough and her anger is not angry enough. She needs more irrational ajumma fire, that spectacle of over-the-top pyrotechnics, especially for a character of 34. Maybe my biggest grievance with the character Lee So Young, which is not really the sole fault of Jang Na Ra, is that she is very flat. The production team just hasn't been able to capture visually the disheveled and downtrodden look that that character desperately needs to convey the depth of emotion turmoil.

Moving on to Daniel Choi who I had the pleasure of watching in Cyrano Dating Agency is an actor that perfectly portrays the agreeable bumble dolt. Choi Jin-Wook, Daniel Choi's character, is just fun and quirky and imbued with such innocence that it's like watching an over grown kid. Kids are fun. 까도남s and irreverent 재벌남s have had their share of the spotlight. I think it's time for a change, and Daniel Choi's character is pretty refreshing.

I think Baby-Faced Beauty has potential to be an easily watchable and entertaining show. The plot seems pretty predictable. Lee So Young, mistaken for 25, will be forced to endure the being treated as a lesser for being poor, young, and unexperienced. Withstanding the humiliation with her tenacious and optimistic attitude she will rise above to showcase her yet unleashed skills and talents. Specifically her sister will trip her up. Her supervisor will hate her. She'll win the respect and loyalty of her co-workers. The big-boss will fall for her, but she'll ultimately end up for the the young'in. I think the cards are stacked against the big-boss seeing as he older, a divorcee with a child. The ultimate symbol of success for the character would be being able to nab a younger successful man, and from what we can tell so far bumble dolt is also from a rich family. So, we'll see what happens, provided the show doesn't end up in the weeds forcing me to quit on it, but that's also left to be seen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

아메리카노 좋아 좋아 좋아

아메 아메 아메 아메 아메
아메 아메 아메 아메 아메
아메 아메 아메 아메 아메
아메 아메 아메 아메 아메

I've had this 10cm song on loop today and I've realized the more I listen to it the more I love it.
아메리카노 좋아 좋아 좋아

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Long-Haired Male

One thing I've noticed over the many many years of visual media consumption is that I'm a total sucker for long hair on guys. There is something about long locks on males that speaks to me on a level that transcends mere aesthetic appeal. It's the hair. It's the kind of man that wears the hair. But mostly, it's the concept of the long-haired male that has me in a tizzy. I'd liken him to the majestic and mythical unicorn - just because you stick a horn on a horse does not make it a unicorn. (Yes, I have just taken long-haired males to a new level of specialness by introducing a whole host of connotations associated with the unicorn, but I'm okay with that.)