Although I usually don’t post reviews on Tuesdays, the Heirs series review below is the best I can do this week. My blissfully long winter break starts Friday, though, so I’ll have lots of time for dramatic things soon.
And one of those things will definitely be watching the new drama you’ve chosen for me: You Who Came from the Stars. I’m excited enough about it to be scoping out the earlier work of Gianna Jun, its female lead. In an industry where everyone tries so hard to look the same, I love that she’s kept the dainty little birthmark on her nose. It gives her a lot of much personality; I really hope it isn’t hidden with make-up in the drama, as it is in the image above. So far, I’ve seen her in both The Thieves and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Both movies were good, and had one unexpected thing in common: they included a good deal of English dialogue, which she was great at.
From its light, capery beginning and huge cast, I expected The Thieves to be a Korean version of Ocean’s 11. This was true in some ways, but it was surprisingly heavy on the stakes and full of real violence. It was also grittier and much less light-hearted than the Ocean's franchise, spending a lot of time dealing with background relationships rather than just focusing on giddy, clockwork-perfect breaking and entering. An added bonus is that The Thieves gives a sneak preview of Jun’s chemistry with her love interest in You Who Came from the Stars—Kim Soo Hyun appears as a younger criminal with an incredibly cute crush on his noona.
I wasn’t as crazy about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It was gorgeously produced and told an interesting story, but I hate that it deviated so wildly from its source material, Lisa See’s novel of the same name. The book focuses on a pair of nineteenth-century Chinese girls and their powerful friendship, painting an immediate and haunting picture of the way women lived in that era. They spent their lives unwanted guests—at home, they were just another mouth to feed until they married out for their family’s benefit. And when they did marry and move into their husband’s homes, they weren’t even considered part of the family until they’d borne a son. The movie hits most of the emotional high points of the book, but they’re treated more like a music video than a cohesive narrative. This is mostly because the filmmakers—for some inexplicable reason—decided to shoehorn a modern twist on the same story into the movie’s running time, meaning they didn’t have time to really develop either story. The acting was good, though, and it was fun to see the clothes and settings described in the book.
Other big drama plans for my break include finally getting around to the 2011 short White Christmas, and yet another Coffee Prince rewatch. (Auto-correct keeps changing that to “rematch,” which might also be appropriate.) (Why is it that I’m more excited about these plans than the ones that involve other people?)
I also finally decided to abandon Blogger’s list widget for the random thoughts I post while watching dramas. This widget was never well-suited for the purpose (or any other, as far as I can tell). It only allows you to see a few words at a time, so I was always having to scroll back and forth to proofread. I’ve relocated these snarky tidbits to Tumblr. I find that I post a lot more often at this new home because it’s so much easier to use. Hopefully these latter-day random thoughts are still fun to read. Maybe someday I’ll even start adding screen caps so you can see what I’m talking about, but they’re a real hassle to create when I normally watch dramas on a television, not a computer. (Unfortunately, there’s no useful Tumblr widget, so I can’t include those posts on this page. The best I could do would be an RSS feed that would show only the titles. And what’s the point of that?)