Breathtaking, simply breathtaking movie: Shadow

From the moment I saw the trailer on the big screen I knew I would pay the exorbitant parking fees to go see it in the downtown Chicago theater (it’s in a very limited release, unfortunately). Shadow, the most recent work from Zhang Yimou, is one of the most visually stimulating movies I’ve seen in recent years.

There is nothing to fault in this movie; story, cast, costume, set direction, cinematography, fight sequences, soundtrack… it has it all.

The plot seems straightforward; a worthy general has taken the drastic step of challenging the general who represents an “allied” (usurping) kingdom that is holding the principal city of his king. This act has potentially serious consequences and sets in motion a number of plots and devices. There’s more to the story that the superficial political moves; the general is more than he seems to be. His story unfolds in a non-linear narrative, contrasting to the more straightforward conflict. He is the “shadow” of another, chosen in boyhood for his resemblance to another, trained to be his double and protect him from potential assassination and other threats. Deng Chao plays both characters and is so convincing that it seems that another actor plays his genuine alter-ego.

The one who must tread carefully between the two (especially now that her real husband is ill and cannot be seen publicly) is the real general’s wife, played by Sun Li. The above image would imply that she is emotionally close to the imposter, but the relationships are not so transparent. You could say that they’re as cloudy as the inky character banners, ink-wash drawings, and swirling layers of silken robes that provide the visual texture to every scene. And let’s not forget the rain… constant rain which plays its own role in the story.

The fight choreography is beautiful as well, especially the sequence in which Sun Li’s character tells her husband that she thinks that she can adapt his moves to find a way to defeat the opposing general’s deadly techniques. The others involve the use of the “umbrella” weapons; when unleashed en masse they made me gasp aloud in the theater!

Those of you who’ve seen Ever Night will recognize General Yang; it’s Hu Jun again as an imposing and difficult to beat fighter. And lovers of Nirvana in Fire will be surprised to see impertinent little Fei Liu now the muscular youth, the son of General Yang. Wu Lei has grown!

Official Synopsis:

With SHADOW, director Zhang Yimou (HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow”, a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

#dong-chao, #guan-xiaotong, #hu-jun, #leo-wu, #shadow, #sun-li, #wang-jingchun, #wang-qianyuan, #wu-lei, #zhang-yimou, #zheng-kai

Netflix has picked up another potential blockbuster

I saw this news on Soompi re: the air date for Arthdal Chronicals with Song Joong-ki and Jang Dong-gun and it’s coming very soon. And, Forbes has stated that Netflix has picked it up and it will air simultaneously with screenings in South Korea.

It has kind of a Tribes and Empires vibe from what I’ve seen in the trailer, and everyone looks interesting (cough, especially SJK).

I’m interested in seeing a different kind of historical drama from South Korea — fingers crossed it will be spectacular!

#arthdal-chronicals, #jang-dong-gun, #song-joong-ki

I had to take a peek – first impressions of Her Private Life

I know, I really should wait for this to wrap so we could all enjoy it together, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t wait to see how Kim Jae-wook would do in his first official turn as the male lead in a romance (nary a priest’s collar in sight). I couldn’t wait to see how much chemistry he would have with Park Min-young (who is the Kim Sun-a of her generation, able to have barn-burning chemistry with all her leading men). And I couldn’t wait to see how they would adapt the story of a serious fan-girl and her world. I just had to take a peek!

Let’s just say that after the first 6 episodes I’m very pleased with everything I’ve seen so far. Her Private Life should be called “My” Private Life because it captures both the squees and giggles of harmless fan-girl (and fan-boy) fantasy world and the more obsessive sasaeng side of things too.

Kim Jae-wook has got a few more miles on him than his glorious ‘Waffle Prince’ days but they serve him well. His Ryan Gold has issues, such as painter’s block, and more, so his wary, slightly care-worn face suits the role well. And yes, dear chingu-dul, he does have chemistry with Park Min-young, and she with him. You may have seen photos with the two in what looks like a romantic near-kiss pose… (from an early episode so too soon for spoilers) and yes, it does look like a de-lish moment. Plus, I want to know the paint color they used for his apartment… a yummy, rich mix of cadet and cobalt blues…

Park Min-young and her best gal pal, played by the ever entertaining Park Jin-joo, capture all the fun and enjoyment of having a rich fan-fantasy life, though we’ll all have to admit that they spend a little too much time and money on this pursuit. (Speaking of money, how does Park Min-young’s gallery curator Sung Deok-mi afford those lovely work outfits and Christian Louboutin heels?) Kim Bo-ra is the spoiled rich girl sasaeng side of things, and things get troublesome thanks to her machinations early on in the story.

Ahn Bo-hyun plays the torch-carrying best childhood friend who practically lives with Park Min-young’s parents – so much so that you think he’s her real oppa (and not an Oppa). But there’s a funny judo moment with him and Kim Jae-wook (you may care to watch on repeat) and more with him and Park Jin-joo’s little son.

The show has also managed to include thoughtful moments on alternative romantic preferences without being preachy, and some equally appreciated adult exchanges where feelings are hurt or inappropriate actions taken and thoughtful apologies are made and taken to heart. I am enjoying that aspect of the show almost as much as the funny and romantic moments. And yes, the fan-girling stuff makes me giggle as much as Sung Deok-mi and her pal Lee Seon-joo do!

 

 

#ahn-bo-hyun, #geunyeoui-sasaenghwal, #her-private-life, #jung-jae-won, #kim-bo-ra, #kim-sun-young, #kim-jae-wook, #one, #park-jin-joo, #park-min-young

Here’s the Netflix promo for “My First Love”

My First First Love tells the story of college students and their realization of first love as they meet new friends. The series will be written by Kim Min-seo, who wrote Little Black Dress, created by Jung Hyun-jung who wrote Five Enough and Discovery of Love, and Oh Jin-seok who directed Yong-pal and Goddess of Marriage will be directing the trendy romance story.

Jisoo, Jung Chae-yeon, and Jinyoung will join the cast of My First First Love. Jisoo who made impact in Strong Girl Bong-soon, Jung Chae-yeon who gained popularity not only as a singer but with her acting in Drinking Solo, and Jinyoung, known as an all-round entertainer and for his role in Love in the Moonlight, will join as the three main cast of the series.

My First First Love will be an 8 episode series and be available only on Netflix globally in 2019.

www.netflix.com/title/81026700

My First First Love tells the story of college students and their realization of first love as they meet new friends. The series will be written by Kim Min-seo, who wrote Little Black Dress, created by Jung Hyun-jung who wrote Five Enough and Discovery of Love, and Oh Jin-seok who directed Yong-pal and Goddess of Marriage will be directing the trendy romance story.

Jisoo, Jung Chae-yeon, and Jinyoung will join the cast of My First First Love. Jisoo who made impact in Strong Girl Bong-soon, Jung Chae-yeon who gained popularity not only as a singer but with her acting in Drinking Solo, and Jinyoung, known as an all-round entertainer and for his role in Love in the Moonlight, will join as the three main cast of the series.

My First First Love will be an 8 episode series and be available only on Netflix globally in 2019.”

And one of my favorite Instagram artists, Zipcy, has done some illustrations for it: BwZNwQqg

#ji-soo, #jinyoung, #my-first-love

While on a movie binge I saw this trailer for “Shadow”

This looks amazing, especially on the big screen, and I can’t wait to see the whole thing. And for those watching Ever Night, you might recognize the general with the smirk, Hu Jun!

More on the movies seen soon 😊

#deng-chao, #hu-jun, #shadow, #sun-li

The Consequences of Change and Time

I came across this article and it really hit home: “When the Web Loses It’s Memory.” For those of us here who have enjoyed and lost our old “Rincón Latino” and Telenovela World sites, where we poured many, many hours worth of thoughts, summaries, and snarky comments, and obsessed over telenovelas and their characters and actors, it reminded me of just how much we’ve lost. Not just the hours of effort represented by those posts, but the contacts and friendships formed as we poured our hearts into them are now just memories.

I don’t know how long this site will keep going, but I promise here that as its Administrator I will keep regular backups and do my best to keep these memories going. And, I promise simply to enjoy it today and know that things change, people change, and software and times and what not changes, and accept it.

Carpe diem!

Shorty J-dorama “Stay Tuned!” on Netflix – Impressions

You know how so many Japanese dramas seem like they’re more like training films than actual people-driven stories? Well, this short, 5-episode (ranging from 42 to 49 minutes each) offering now available on Netflix gets a pass from me for this ‘sin’ as it was produced as a 50th-anniversary special drama to commemorate a TV station’s founding. Of course they’re going to want to highlight the workings of a TV station! But in spite of that, Stay Tuned! is a pleasant diversion and time-passer (even if it’s a little light on content, too earnest at times, and a little amateurish in its production values).

It’s the cheery optimism of the lead character, a super energetic, well-meaning, somehow making things work out little bumbler of a country bumpkin that makes this work. She manages to stumble into stories, influence team members to get creative and lift everyone’s spirits (even if she makes them cringe more often than not).

If this is your cup of cha, why not give it a try?

#hiroki-iijima, #kanako-miyashita, #ken-yasuda, #kyoko-yoshine, #stay-tuned, #yo-oizumi