Friday, January 24, 2014

You From Another Star: You remind me of someone

I got a snow day this week, thanks to the Head Weatherman Upstairs, and spent part of it re-watching Miss Congeniality. Anyone else remember, “I’m GLIDING here!”? When I later watched You From Another Star, it struck me how Sandra Bullock-like Song-yi can be. The girl has a gift for comedy. I never got around to posting about last week’s episodes. (Well, technically, I got around to the screencaps and typing out a few words on the computer. It was the finishing that never happened.) So I thought I’d pull from last week and this week to showcase several moments where our lovable egomaniac was the most Sandra-esque.

Roly-poly Princess 

This bit went on and on. But it never got old! The way she shuffled around in her vinyl cocoon. Min-joon flipping her over his shoulder and dumping her on the couch. And who could hate her doing a ninety-degree new year’s bow to her host’s “father”. I hope Jeon Ji-hyun isn’t claustrophobic. She probably spent hours wrapped in that full body straightjacket to get all those shots. For which I am ever so grateful!

I’d like to be a fly on the wall 

Let’s just ignore the fact that her outfit is lemon yellow. That might be the latest trend in South Korea, and I have never been what you would call a fashionista. But this posture! Watching Jeon Ji-hyun play this role makes me realize how prissy a lot of the K-drama actresses are. If they kick off their designer heels to chase after the guy, that’s a big action scene. But JJH climbs on furniture and sticks to the wall like a piece of silly putty. She hobbles around in sleeping bags, and careens across the ice like a five-year old. I wonder if she runs marathons or something? Where does she get all that energy?

Nutty as a fashionable fruitcake 

Again, let’s ignore the fact she’s wearing a primary color, striped poncho. Maybe it’s supposed to represent the bars on the cell they’re going to toss her into when she’s declared legally insane. Cause Song-yi is giving new meaning to the phrase “crazy love”. Her eyes bug out as she compares love to chicken legs and designer handbags. And the doctor wastes no time in upping her meds. I admit this scene felt a little over the top to me. But I’ll take over-the-top slapstick over unbelievable-amnesia-twist-makjang any day of the week.

Lock up the liquor cabinet 

On second thought, please don’t! Cause drunk Song-yi guarantees all sorts of funny-bone-tickling good times. Props to the writer for revealing her descent into Plasteredville bit by hilarious bit. I love the little things, like the way her body went straight as a board as she slid off the couch. Or the giant clip just dangling from the ends of her hair. And I REALLY love the big things. Like her screaming DO MANAGEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRR over and over. And Song-yi trying to buy Min-joon’s love with her sparkly heels. Remember, he has super-hearing. Did he have to listen to her drunken ramblings all night? Pfffft. Serves him right!

A little goes a long way 

You could feel the heavy in episode 12 as our leads spent most of the time unconscious or apart. Min-joon pushes Song-yi away knowing that every card in the universe seems stacked against them. But there’s always that glimmer of frenetic funny that our heroine brings, no matter how dire the situation. How about her faking tuberculosis as she hobbled to her front door, in an attempt to keep someone from buying Min-joon’s apartment? And who didn’t guess what was in her head the moment she glanced at the giant flower box separating her balcony from his? It was only a matter of time before she’d be scrambling up there. Thank goodness he called when he did, or he might have had to pull another Superman when she fell off the skyscraper, screaming DO MANAGEEEEERRRRRRR all the way down.

I saw Jeon Ji-hyun in The Thieves, but this drama has opened my eyes to what a well-rounded actress she is. She rips your heart out one minute as she faces her former “best friend” telling her their relationship was a fake from the beginning. Then she’s pure comedy gold as she flops around in a t-shirt and shorts with mascara streaks running down her face. If she ever gets together with Sandra Bullock for a movie, that is one ticket I will be lining up to buy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Golden Rainbow: Mining the good stuff

I am loving 20% of this show. I don’t have any quantitative results to back up my statistics. This is just an estimation of how much is squee-inducing rom-com. And that 20% is so worth fast forwarding through the other 80. Believe me.

Golden Rainbow is one of those 50 episode weekend family dramas that throws every kitchen sink cliché in there: birth secrets, noble idiocy, separated first loves, wrongful imprisonment, scheming chaebols, backstabbing second leads, etc. But the hilarious push-and-pull relationship between Do-young (Jung Il Woo) and Baek-won (UEE) keeps me digging for more, more, more. Allow me to offer some choice nuggets for your inspection.

She started it 

So . . . the GIRL grabs the GUY, on the STREET, and kisses him. FIRST. Unbelievable, right? This is a Korean drama. Isn’t she supposed to stand there like a wide-eyed, block of ice? The wide-eyed one is actually Do-young. But he recovers quickly and grabs her back for one passionate po-po. You may ask what brought on this public display of affection? She pushed him away emotionally for a few episodes. (I’m not sure why since I fast forwarded through that part, but I think it was a misunderstanding involving the evil second lead female.) They finally have it out and she tells him to ignore her and look after himself. But he replies that he can’t even see himself, because he loves her so much. I find her response quite natural. Grabbing him by the collar and laying one on him. And I find her response to his return kiss even more natural. She runs away in complete embarrassment, while the hero (and me) grins like an idiot.

You aren’t getting off that easy 

Jung Il Woo’s character cracks me up. (Think Cha Chi-soo from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop minus the entitlement issues. He’s completely cuckoo for our heroine, but not in the unhinged stalker way of Secret Garden or the violent, revengy way of Secret. He just flat out adores her.) Any other guy might give a girl a chance to process, but not him. He beats her home, and is waiting there to tease the life out of her. Being a prosecutor, he says he’s arresting her for sexual harassment unless she compensates him. They end up at a cafĂ© where he strikes an aegyo pose while she hems and haws. He relentlessly cross-examines her for why she kissed him until she finally whispers meekly, “I like you.” Again, any other guy might be happy with this. But not our cheeky Do-young. He declares that you “like” dukkbokki and coffee, but you don’t kiss them. And she yells back, “I love you. I LOVE YOU. Satisfied?” I bet I’m not the only one who assumed they were in some quiet, out-of-the-way place, but we find that’s not the case when the camera pulls back to reveal this:

Yes, the room is FULL of diners who burst into applause. If I heard a conversation that interesting at the table next to me, I’d be eavesdropping too. What does our heroine do? Runs away for the second time. And Do-young (and me) is once again left grinning like an idiot.

This guy is relentless 

You know those K-drama heroes that take 10 episodes to confess their feelings and then backpedal immediately afterwards. Yeah, well that’s not Do-young. Now that he’s got the advantage, he’s gonna work every angle he can. Baek-won, like any normal girl, is reliving the glorious liplock that night in the safety of her room, when she gets a text-pic from Do-young of a kissy-face. He follows this up with a call saying it was the most intense kiss he’s ever had. She calls him a player and hangs up. And then he texts her an audio file of a heart beating, saying he won’t be able to sleep because his is pounding so fast. *Sigh* I must have the wrong service provider, cause I never get texts like that.

Why does feeding always equal love?

Is it a Korean thing that feeding someone is a sign of affection? When Baek-won prepares lunch for her new beloved, he opens his mouth with the cutest “aaaaaaaaah.” She, of course, refuses to comply. Keep in mind that her Oppa is sitting right across from them, but Do-young has no shame. He then tries a variety of “Aaaa-eee-aaaaah?” and “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” until she chopsticks the sashimi into his mouth. I know it’s a little thing, but again, it just makes me smile.

From 0 to 60 

After their lunchtime shenanigans, Do-young remarks how fast they’re moving when they haven’t even held hands. He offers his for Baek-won which she hesitantly accepts, and then he pulls her into a full-body bear hug. And remarks that after hands and hugs it must be time for another kiss. Sadly, we don’t get it. I like how he always pushes for more with Baek-won, but not in a randy, player kind of way. He teases and twists and gently bullies affection out of her, and you can see that she doesn’t really mind.

Lest you think I’m overreacting to the cuteness of these two, I’d like to point out that all of the above moments happened in only one episode (22). Girlfriday wrote a great review of the show over on Dramabeans if you want to check it out ( Golden Rainbow begins when they are teenagers and skips ahead after episode 11. So if you really don’t want to commit to 50 episodes, just start with 12 and then only watch the parts with our dynamic duo. It’s working for me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

You From Another Star: Hero Supersized

I must not be the only one noticing the Superman resemblance. Apparently, SBS ran a mock poster contest and the Boyscout in Blue made several appearances. Not that I'm complaining. I love the superhero vibe permeating this show. The swoony, save-the-day moments keep piling up, and this week only added to the ever-growing list. Let's check-off our snobby alien's other-worldy attributes, shall we?

Faster than a speeding fishbowl

Why the motorcycle stalker chose to throw a giant fishbowl at our heroine I'll never know. Wasn't it uncomfortable lugging that thing down the street? Didn't he get any weird looks? Anyway, Min-joon swooped in to pull Song-yi out of the way and then carried her off to safety, like a good hero should. And our leading lady wasn't too shook up to notice that he was in the car, and then he wasn't. Deny it all he wants. She's on to him.

More powerful than a runaway sports car

Did they rip this moment out of a DC comic? It was classic, damsel-in-distress being pushed off a cliff. But I don't mind. Him flying in from the sky and slamming his hands on the car as it screeched to a halt. *Sigh* So good. But how heartbreaking was poor, disoriented Song-yi crying for him to come back? Left all alone in the middle of nowhere. I understand why he had to protect his identity, but it was still a little cold.

Able to leap over the moon in a single bound

I suppose this answers the "Can he fly or just levitate?" question. If he can take his Joseon horse on a drunken joy ride across the sky, I think he can support his own weight just fine. I wish we could see more uninhibited smiles like that from our prickly professor. Is a full-on Superman-cradling-Lois-Lane-as-he-rises-above-the-clouds moment in our OTP's future? A girl can dream.

Standard Superhero Equipment: X-ray vision, Super-hearing, etc.
The superpowers keep piling up. He scanned Song-yi's teddy bear, no problem. And picked up on her cries for help from across the city. But there's one thing that's even sexier than super-hearing. Super-listening. She tells him to buy a cell phone, and he asks the salesman for the one with the best reception and saves her in his call list as #1. She mentions Udon, and he buys two servings. Because she previously said she doesn't like to eat alone. He pretends he doesn't hear her, but his ears are tuned to only one channel and it's all Song-yi Show, all the time.

You're my Kryptonite

Talk about an important epilogue. What could possibly top the kiss? How about Min-joon's confession that he regrets how he spent the last 400 years. He finally sees the value in a human life well lived: eating meals with another person, sharing your days with someone you love, and being remembered when you're gone. And it's the 15 Second Fairy that led him to this revelation. His heart is no longer invincible. But what can he do about it when he only has two months left on the planet?

What other superhero tropes await in the second half of the show? I'm hoping a cape will somehow make an appearance. I'll probably clap my hands together in glee if that happens.

*Thanks to Soompi for the top picture and their article on the poster competition. If you want to check it out, just cut and past the following address:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Together: When Yoon Shi Yoon stole the show

I worried for darling Yoon Shi Yoon as he sat at the end of the fake, wooden sauna bench. Three co-stars separated him from the funny hosts. He looked awkward, like a fourth-cousin at a family reunion. Drat. He was going to get no screen time on this episode of Happy Together.  Shows you how much I know.

Even if you don't care for this interview-cooking Variety show, you should check out this episode with our darling puppy. Study his restrained humor. It's like a class in how to monopolize the room without being loud or pushy.

The funniest thing he said all night

When asked about his recently canceled show Barefoot Friends and whether the cast cried at the end, he denied it. Then said honestly, "We had no idea what was going on." Did anyone else suffer through most of those 31 episodes like I did? I had two excuses: Yoon Shi Yoon and Kim Hyun Joong. But even these 2 K-hotties couldn't save the Adventure Travel turned High Diving Class turned Cooking Show trainwreck that was BF. I don't think the writers, producers, or anybody knew what was going on. 

Oh My Word, he IS Enrique!

YSY first hit my radar as the fast-talking, hyperactive, hug monster that was Enrique in Flower Boy Next Door. And according to one of the Happy Together cast members, this isn't so far from reality. He described how YSY walked into the salon chatting away, and kept on non-stop even when his hair was being washed. This shocked me since he spent most of Barefoot Friends as a pretty face in the background with nary a syllable. I'd begun to think he was the shy, quiet nerd type. Later in the HT interview he also talked about being class president almost every year, and how he liked to play MC on bus trips. I guess he just couldn't get a word in edgewise on BF with Kang Ho Dong around.

Not just another pretty face

South Korea is seriously obsessed with things like skincare, plastic surgery, ramen bloating, etc. So it was nice to hear YSY freely admit that he packs on the pounds in between roles. According to him, he gets nice and plump the way his grandmother likes him. Awwwwwwwww. I know from watching Barefoot Friends that he's got stacks and stacks of books at home. And he revealed on HT that he once appeared on The Golden Bell Challenge. I'm not sure what that is, but from the hosts impressed reaction it must be something like Jeopardy.

Pretty Boy vs. Porkchop

One off-the-wall hijink occurred when they asked Yoona to choose her ideal man from those sitting at the show. Her choices included the nation's MC Yoo Jae Suk, her onscreen husband from The Prime Minister and I Lee Bum Soo, Yoon Shi Yoon, and a few others. But then they threw in the show's Director Seop just for fun, whom they affectionately dubbed Mr. Porkchop. The poor guy got so tickled as he beat out one after another, even trouncing babyfaced YSY in the fight for Yoona's heart. He eventually lost in the final round to Lee Bum Soo. But I think he felt pretty good about himself when he went home that night. 

Gross, but memorable

HT is a strange show that combines celebrity interviews with a late-night snack, cooking competition. The guests bring in their cheap and wacky creations to vie for a spot on the cafeteria menu. Unfortunately, YSY's creation will not be hanging on that wall anytime soon. His combination of seafood flavored ramen with a tuna-mayo kimbap is about as disgusting as it sounds and the judges were not impressed. But the best part was his eloquent defense of how the rice triangle looked like an iceberg tip poking up from the soup, and his explanation of the proper way to unwrap the kimbap by tab 3, and NOT tabs 1 and 2. It was all very detailed, and serious, and kind of hilarious.

This guy's really funny

The hosts looked surprised at YSY's deadpan humor. He delivers a line so straightfaced and sincere that it makes it all the more funny. Like when he was talking about his first love, and said she was so perfect that he didn't even think she went to the bathroom. Yoo Jae Suk seemed to find him especially hilarious, and I have my fingers crossed that YSY will soon show up as a guest on the most awesome of all Variety shows, Running Man.

I find this guy adorable, and hope he gets a killer leading role after The Prime Minister and I which proves he's not just a one-hit wonder. I'm including the link to the KBS World subtitled Youtube video of his Happy Together appearance in case anyone wants to watch it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

You From Another Star: And he's down for the count

After a round of kisses, co-habitation, and fake eyelash shopping, our touch-me-not teacher is finding it hard to stay on his feet when love keeps knocking him for a loop. Let’s count the chinks in his emotional armor, shall we?

Mr. Passive-Regressive 

Is it jealousy season already? This week the green-eyed crop was in full bloom. Never has a purple hair tie caused so much conflict. Min-joon just HAD to mention that Song-yi left it when she slept at his place. And he just HAD to mention that she was stone, cold sober at the time. This sequence played all the better intercut with the lecture our Passionless Professor gave on how childish and regressive the emotion of jealousy is and how he’s NEVER felt it. Welcome to the human world, Sir. It’s petty, but amusing.

So what’s the deal with Saliva, anyway? 

Has spit ever caused so much discussion with a drama before? Our strange visitor from another planet made one mention that he couldn’t mix blood or saliva and our imaginations ran wild. Was it poison? Could he get drunk off it? What was the deal? But then came the kiss. And now a shared meal. Seeing Song-yi grab his food with her own cootie-laden chopsticks kind of puts the final nail in the speculation coffin. Is it possible that there are no evil aftereffects at all? Maybe he just has a serious case of Extraterrestrial OCD.

400 year-old issues

Now we know why Min-joon feels sorry to the girl from so long ago. She traded her life for his. Whoever this young actress is, she’s just killing it. She makes you forget the age difference. And there’s already ample evidence that Kim Soo-hyun is an excellent crier. But that didn’t lessen the impact when he sobbed like it was the first time in his life. It looks like Min-joon truly loved Yi-hwa, even if his future self tries to deny it.

The Reincarnation Wrinkle 

In the real world – past lives? Give me a break. But in the drama world, it adds up to all sorts of interesting twists. I doubt it was accidental that they kept emphasizing Yi-hwa’s wish for her protector to see her all grown up. It’s like her dream is finally coming true in the person of Song-yi. But do they just look alike, or are they the same person? The scene in the museum points toward the latter. When Song-yi stared at the ancient hairpin, I expected them to turn it into a joke. Like when she got so nostalgic at the first snowfall, then she says she’s craving chicken and beer. But not this time. Out of all the exhibits in the room, she zeroes in on the pin. And then admits it makes her feel sad. Poor Min-joon’s frozen heart doesn’t know what to make of it, as it melts like a polar icecap.

Every centimeter counts

The epilogues are like a box of those mixed candies where you never know what you’re going to get. One moment it’s a good-natured nougat with Song-yi biting her manager on the head, then they suddenly drop the bitter, dark chocolate that she refuses any Sageuks because she hates the Joseon period. Even though she doesn’t know why. And I loved the sweet, cherry cordial extension of the balcony scene where Min-joon orders his reluctant houseguest to stay at least a meter away, then silently steps closer because she went too far. The poor guy tries so hard to keep his guard up, but fails every time.

I feel a little like Min-joon when I watch this drama. I know I should keep it at arm’s length because there’s a strong chance I could be huddled in a weepy little ball at the end. And then I take one step closer, because it’s just too beautiful to ignore. Whatever the ending, happy or sad, I'm in too deep to turn back now.