TV Love

K-Drama Love: Hwarang

When we decided to switch to sageuks after watching contemporary K-dramas since last year, one of those I had been favorably considering was Hwarang. A fictional adaptation set during the reign of King Jinheung, it tells the story of how an elite group of young men rose among the existing factions of Silla to become the royal family’s fiercest ally. Throw in a love story or two and you’ve got yourself the perfect formula for a compelling K-drama. So why did the ratings reflect otherwise?

For a series that highlighted six young men in its promotional materials, the plot was heavily focused on three people only. Had they fleshed out each guy’s backstory it would have shown how effective the cast were as an ensemble. You also had unresolved plot lines (fainting spells and paternity, to name a few) which the writer failed to address as the series concluded. Simply put, there were a lot of wasted opportunities to polish what was otherwise an entertaining pre-produced K-drama.

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Phone-less… almost.

First off, I just had to post this cake we got for my Mom on Mother’s Day. Red Velvet is ❤! It will always be one of my favorites next to any variant of cheesecake and moist chocolate cake.

While Mercury retrograde ended last May 3, mine is simply off to a late start. This explains my writer’s block, the sort-of chaos in terms of projects endorsed at work (incomplete assets!) and how my phone barely survived water exposure at our company outing. The latter gave me quite a scare because it was a lapse of judgment on my part for bringing a gadget while we were running around the resort during our team-building activity. But my phone is a survivor. After being rejected for warranty by Power Mac, volume and charging port miraculously worked again when I got to the office. Relief was an understatement because it saved me from being phone-less. I couldn’t very well afford the unit replacement cost that the service center suggested, noh!

That said, I’m glad I can cross those off the list of things I’m worrying about these days. All that’s left is winging the Dumaguete trip next weekend for my passport renewal.

TV Love

Remembering the magic of Meteor Garden.

News of the Meteor Garden remake and the show’s 16th anniversary had me thinking how little I know of Taiwanese entertainment these days. Heck, I might not even recognize whoever they’d cast for the 2018 version! The original had nothing but good memories for me. It kick-started my interest in Asian dramas and while there have been bumps along the way, I’ve been introduced to a lot of great stories ever since (mostly K-dramas, however). Torrents and streaming sites have made it easier for viewers to get their drama fix these days but who else remembers fan-subbed copies and DVD9s?

For someone who was barely out of college, the F4-era allowed me to indulge in my fangirl tendencies. While I never splurged on that insanely prized concert ticket, I do admit:

  • Spending a thousand bucks for VCD copies of Season 1 episodes, courtesy of a suki online who burned copies of fan-subbed Asian dramas.
  • Calling the local network to complain of the show’s schedule. We were one day behind in terms of episodes, no thanks to regional programming, so I raised my concern with the network (blindly calling a number on the directory — not even knowing which department it was) and even emailed a showbiz columnist about it. Perhaps a lot of viewers felt the same way because several weeks later, they changed it to a 5:30PM time slot.😂
  • Setting aside a portion of my allowance to buy F4’s Fantasy Forever album. Five hundred bucks was a big deal then so it was quite a sacrifice to part with it all because of a CD.
  • Pulling an all nighter to finish Season 2 episodes. It was a struggle to finish 31 episodes but we persevered and finished half overnight. Still, nothing beats the magic of Season 1.

All for the love of a show that started the Asian drama craze in the country. If there’s a show who can strongly anchor the return of Taiwanese dramas on Philippine TV, perhaps this reboot might be it. Here’s hoping they do right by the original material.👍 No tweaking for the sake of fan service, please!

Flick Pick

Flick Pick: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

It’s hard to top a much-loved classic. With the live-action remake of 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, Disney was wise to play into the nostalgia of its source material. They spared no expense in recreating scenes from the animated film, with a nod to the fairy tale’s French origins, and gave the OST a much-needed boost albeit it wasn’t without any criticisms (filed under: “TELL as old as time”).😂

How is it that Celine Dion does wonders for any song she interprets? Her haunting rendition of “How Does a Moment Last Forever” is easily my favorite track. Together with “Evermore”, both songs are on loop in my playlist these days.

The all-star cast themselves were a delight (Ewan McGregor’s French accent!). Luke Evans was born to play the effortlessly charming and boorish Gaston. Kevin Kline nearly had me bawling so early in the movie before I completely lost it during the ballroom scene. Emma Watson was even surprisingly likable as Belle. The chemistry between her and the Beast wasn’t as palpable as I expected but it played out well onscreen. I do not get the indifference towards Dan Stevens though. I loved how he voiced the Beast and thought he was the right fit for a noble blood from 18th century France. Were they expecting someone hunky who’ll sweep Belle off her feet?

Negative comments aside, fleshing out some of the characters’ backstories gave the movie something that sets it apart from the animated version. It’s a lovely tribute to my childhood years and I couldn’t be happier that Disney stayed true to a movie I knew by heart. We may know how the story ends but it’s the stuff peppered in between that makes it something to look forward to.

Flick Pick

Flick Pick: La Belle et la Bête

Ask me what Disney film OST I first listened to and I will tell you, without batting an eyelash, that it was 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. I fell in love with the tale as old as time re-telling of how true love allows you to look beyond appearances in seeing the beauty of a person’s heart. Of course, I knew the story was adapted to suit their target audience. La Belle et la Bête, however, is a more adult approach to the story of our childhood.

The thing with French films, unlike their Hollywood counterparts, is that they’re very straightforward. No subplots were inserted if they weren’t necessary to the story. Even Belle’s siblings each served their purpose in the narrative.

Léa Seydoux’s interpretation of a feisty Belle was such a delight. She was no pushover and certainly gave the Beast a challenge in winning her affections. Can anyone say, girl power?

Vincent Cassel, however, was clearly the most unusual yet perfect choice to play the Beast. Feel free to contradict me otherwise but had this been a Hollywood production, the role would’ve gone to some actor more well-known for his good looks than his acting chops. Christophe Gans and the casting director gambled on Cassel which made the Beast’s vulnerability more heartfelt after his backstory was shown. Oh and yes, he and Léa certainly had chemistry despite the age gap.

Aside from the characters, the cinematography itself was one for the books. The castle scenes alone, especially during the battle part, were a visual feast. I’ve seen the film twice and it gets better for me with each viewing. Do not be intimidated by the subtitles nor be discouraged because the leads don’t conform to Hollywood standards. For being an unconventional yet impressive take on a childhood fairy tale, that alone makes La Belle et la Bête worth two hours of your time.

* Reposted from my old blog – original entry dated October 19, 2014

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