The Wedding Party Movie Review

The-Wedding-Party-posterI was immediately taken by how extravagant The Wedding Party looked on its poster. As a visual person, I respond favourably to pretty things and this movie poster was no exception. Plus, when  I heard that this movie was the highest grossing movie in Nollywood, my interest was further piqued. So one fine evening, my sister and I sat down to watch them movie. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Basically, The Wedding Party, is about that — a wedding party. The action all happens within a day and most of it is contained to the wedding party of the main characters, Dunni and Dozie (played by Adesua Etomi and Banky Wellington, respectively). Both leads are descended from rich families (although Dozie’s family is richer), hence the extravagance.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what to talk about because there’s a lot of stuff that happens. During the whole wedding day, we’re shown how the two mothers don’t really like each other. How one mother is so extra all the time (LOL). How an ex comes to try and sabotage the wedding. How a friend ends up almost ruining the wedding. How the wedding planner struggles throughout the day. And how the fathers try to keep calm on the wedding day. In other words, it completely lives up to its title.

And that’s actually something I did not expect. I’m finding it difficult to put into words (I’ve tried to write this over five times and each attempt refuses to stick), but basically, in romantic comedies in which leads are often faced with hurdles in their love, the movie generally contains its focus to the leads and their love. Usually in such movies, we’re shown how the leads persevere through the depth of their love. Yet surprisingly, in this movie, the focus doesn’t really remain on the two leads and their love story isn’t very fleshed out. We know Dunni and Dozie love each other, but we’re really only given hints to their love story (we’re never told how it started, their dates, what they have in common, etc.) and a lot of screen time is actually given to other stuff. We get many scenes devoted to various family members, friends, situations, etc. I mean, the two leads are *technically* front and centre, but rather than being the nucleus of the film, I felt as if they existed as supporting characters in their own film, vs. the main characters.

Similarly, despite each hurdle that cropped out, their resolutions weren’t necessarily very deep. In other words, the problem was handled and that was that. Again, in romantic comedies with hurdles, often times, the resolution of problems preaches a deeper underlying message (ex. getting through problems together, or how differences don’t matter, etc.). Yet, again in this movie, this doesn’t happen. Instead, the problems just get resolved and the movie doesn’t spend much time making any sort of statement.

So like I said, not what I expected at all. In fact, it was almost the opposite of my expectations. However, that doesn’t mean the film was bad. In fact, it was actually a pretty entertaining film and enjoyable to watch. And actually, I think that’s probably a highlight of the film — its just pure enjoyment. It doesn’t attempt to preach to the audience or show an epic romance. It literally just shows a couple’s wedding party and the shenanigans that happen during it. And I think it worked for the film. It was enjoyable to watch. If anything, I think my expectations for the movie’s genre are wrong. Rather than being a romantic comedy, I think it’s more of a pure comedy.

On a more technical note, supporting the movie, was the acting and directing. The leads were pretty solid actors and quite good looking too, especially Banky Wellington. The supporting cast was also good. The mother of the bride, played by Sola Sobowale actually stood out quite a bit. She was a little bit annoying, but always a scene stealer. Fantastic acting. Directing was also really solid, having been done by Kemi Adetiba. I enjoyed the way shots were framed. All in all, a decent entertaining movie.

My rating: watch it if you’re looking for an uncomplicated good time or if you’re a fan of the actors.

Phillauri Movie Review

phillauri-movie-1I’m a HUGE fan of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. In fact, I’d have to say that it ranks up among some of my favourite movies ever. So when I heard that a Bollywood film, Phillauri appeared to be a live-action Corpse Bride inspired movie, I was quite excited. For those of you unaware, Corpse Bride is a stop-motion animated movie. It’s about a man, Victor, who accidentally marries a corpse, Emily. The marriage in fact, sort of “revives” Emily from a deep sleep. Unfortunately, Victor is in love with the very-much-alive Victoria and in order to be “married” to Emily properly, he’d have to die. The rest of the film deals with the conflict.

Phillauri begins with a similar story. Kanan (played by Suraj Sharma) has recently returned from Canada and immediately, his parents set up his marriage with his childhood love, Anu (played by Mehreen Pirzada). Kanan has cold feet and due to his horoscope, must first marry a tree to ensure that he has a happy married life (?). As he marries the tree, in turns out, that he ends up marrying a ghost named Shashi (played by Anushka Sharma). While dealing with being married to a ghost and his cold feet, the movie also flashes back to Shashi’s past. Shashi was a young woman in an Indian village named Phillaur. During her youth, she used to write poetry and was in love with a singer named Roop Lal (played by Diljeet Dosanjh).

The movie actually played quite similarly to Corpse Bride, beginning from the male leads having cold feet, to the corpse/spirit bride having unfulfilled love stories preventing them from passing onto the next world. However, despite the unique premise, I felt that Phillauri fails to bring forth the heart and emotional depth that Corpse Bride did. There seemed to be a number of things off about Phillauri, for me at least, that prevented me from loving the film.

Firstly, the focus of the story. Phillauri focuses on two love stories simultaneously, those of Anu and Kanan and Shashi and Roop. However, the former story lacks any sort of warmth whereas the latter one is left too long. In other words, Kanan and Anu’s love story never really went anywhere. Anu was shattered with Kanan’s cold feet, but was willing to go through with the marriage anyway. Whereas Kanan’s cold feet never really got resolved, nor did the movie really divulge why he had them in the first place. It just felt so unresolved and void of emotions. On the other hand, Shashi and Roop’s story was definitely sweet. Theirs had a lot more emotion, despite the stereotypical aspect of it. And yet, the stretched-out scenes kept their story from fully impacting the audience. Instead of being enthralled in their romance, viewers just got bored and kept on waiting for one scene to end and another to begin.

Secondly, the acting was a little uninspiring as well. Suraj Sharma started out well. However, his scared act and high pitched squeal started getting grating about halfway through. I especially hated the high pitches squeals whenever he was caught unaware/ scared. Mehreen Pirzada, on the other hand, had nothing to do except look weepy. She was so boring onscreen. The only time where I liked her a little bit, was when she finally saw/ talked to Shashi; but other than that, I didn’t care for her. Diljit Dosanjh was also okay. He gave a respectable performance for sure, but again, it was nothing new or to talk home about. The only person who stood out for me, surprisingly, was Anushka Sharma and the actor who played her brother, Manav Vij. I had initially found Anushka’s looks to be a little too modern and urban for her to play a village belle, but she ended up winning me over. She acted really well. Manav Vij was also spectacular, probably the star of the movie for me. Not for a second did I doubt that he was an actor and not Shashi’s brother; again, fantastic acting.

Thirdly, directing was decent. From what I’ve been able to gather online, this was the directorial debut of Anshai Lal and I think he did okay. Nothing too amazing or standout, but okay enough. If anything, I think what killed this movie (at least for me), was the lack of editing. Some scenes just went on way too long (especially the end scenes), other scenes were just too stereotypical, and some necessary explanation scenes never appeared. A little bit of firm editing could’ve gone a long way. It could’ve saved the movie and move it into “decent” category vs. the just “okay” category.

My ratingwatch it if you’re a fan of any of the actors, but you wouldn’t miss much if you don’t.

Friends TV Show Review

159799           I feel like Friends is one of those tv shows that transcends its era. You know, the ones that are relatable and/or funny years later, despite looking and being dated. Kinda like the X-files. And the fact that some of its actors have become big Hollywood stars (wassap Jennifer Aniston), definitely helps keep it more relevant than it would be otherwise. As a result, despite having run for and over 10 years ago, it still remains in current pop-culture (or at least for my generation it does). Hence, I’ve decided to talk about it today.

Friends, for those of you unaware (seriously tho, is there anyone really unaware about this series?), is about a group of friends living in New York, New York USA during the 90s. The core group consisted of bossy cleanliness freak and mother-hen Monica Geller, played by Courtney Cox, her nerdy goofy and unlucky-in-love older brother Ross Geller, played by David Schwimmer, the fantastically ridiculous Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow, the sarcastic everyman Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, the out-of-touch fashionista Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, and the ditzy but loveable Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc. All episodes revolve around the situations the characters find themselves in, and/or about their lives and their general direction and how the characters adapt/ navigate. Nothing ground-breaking per se, but definitely enjoyable.

For me, the biggest plus point among this series, is the friendship shown between the main characters. They all just get along so well and the interactions among them are fantastic. Each character is so different and has a different viewpoint. But they all respect each other and listen to each other and just hang out. Honestly, Friends has one of the best descriptions of friendship shown on television (living up to its name I suppose LOL). It’s super fun to watch. Adding to the entertainment, is the comedy in this show. Some of the dialogue in this show is hilarious. Like laugh out loud hilarious. And a huge credit to that, not only goes to the writing, but also to the actors. I strongly believe that this show is a testament to the fact that good writing and good actors can create an absolutely great pair (both elevate each other).

And coming to the actors, David Schwimmer in particular comes to mind. I’ve yet to see someone with as hilarious physical comedy as him as Ross. Ross’s physical comedy is absolutely top notch. Whether it be the “unagi” or the leather-pants-with-lotion scenes, he just kills it and always brings the laugh. Another really reliably funny “friend,” was Chandler. His sarcastic one-liners and general wittiness really livened up the show. In fact, each character had stand-out lines and scenes that still remain iconic. Whether it be Joey’s “How you doin?” or “Joey doesn’t share food,” or even Pheobe’s “Smelly Cat” song or “phalanges,” they’re all super entertaining. However, what was also great, was the way how the show could also be so relatable. I mean, we’ve all probably suffered through crappy jobs, heartbreaks, unexpected situations, etc. And the shows funny take on them was great (that said, not all of the situations are relatable or even realistic LOL).

That said, there are definitely a few things about the show that definitely make me side-eye it and are not so flattering. One that immediately comes to mind, is the flanderization of Joey’s character. When Joey initially started out in the show, he was ditzy, there’s no doubt about that. But even with his ditziness, he had some knowledge. It was believable that someone like Joey could exist: ditzy but with some understanding of how the world/ things work. However, as the show went on, the writers end up really dumbing down Joey, to the point where it just became unbelievable, and I mean that literally. He became so dumb. While I found his dumbness enjoyable at some times, it was often annoying because of how unrealistic it was (and what a drastic change it was from the earlier seasons).

The second thing that I really dislike, is the lack of any people of colour. The show features a predominantly white cast. Which, I guess while not ideal, is ok. Yet, even then, there are literally no POC characters. It was so rare to see any POC, not just in side character roles, but even as bystanders (extras). I mean, NYC is not just filled with white people you know. There’s people of all different races and yet Friends made it seem like NYC was just populated with white people. It was kinda jarring to realize and definitely made me side eye the show.

And finally, some story-lines were not enjoyable. In my opinion, to the point where they actually brought down the quality of the show. Case in point: the Ross-Rachel will-they-or-won’t-they relationship. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am generally a fan of will-they-or-will-they-not relationships. I reviewed Bones a while ago, and in its earlier seasons, Bones was exactly that! Especially when it came to the relationship between the main leads. But in Friends, this plot was stretched way beyond the limit. To the point where I honestly did not care and just wanted it to end. Plus, it didn’t help that the two characters also behaved in some pretty unlikeable ways (Ross accidentally said Rachel’s name during his wedding vows to another woman…yikes!). And coming to Rachel, there was also an absolutely ludicrous “relationship” between her and Joey that made no sense whatsoever. Seriously. I’ve yet to meet a single person who doesn’t see that storyline as ridiculous.

However, despite its fault, Friends still remains pretty watchable. It reminds of me comfort food in some ways. Its certainly not the best show around. And there’s definitely been better shows made. Yet, even then, there’s just something so welcoming and comforting about it. If you’re sad, it makes you happy. If you’re bored, it gives you something to do. If you need to escape from life, it lets you. It’s just so consistently reliable, that you cannot help but get drawn into it.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a funny and likeable show, despite the fact that it has some faults and is quite dated

Suddenly Seventeen Movie Review

suddenly-seventeen_poster_goldposter_com_17.jpg@0o_0l_800w_80qWatching this movie was one of the most spur-of-the-moment decisions I have ever made. Literally, I discovered this movie around 1pm while browsing youtube, and come 3pm, I was already watching it. On youtube, it’s titled 17 Again, while google claims that its title is Suddenly Seventeen. I’m gonna go with google on this one and use the title Suddenly Seventeen my review. As the youtube name and general title suggest, this movie involves the main character going back in time to when they were seventeen. It’s actually pretty similar to the American 17 Again movie. But personally, I much enjoyed this take on that trope, rather than the American version.

Instead of writing out a huge summary post (which I actually did LOL and then deleted), I’m going to write a smaller summary and focus on what I specifically liked about this movie. The whole large summary thing, while fun to write and read, take up a lot of space. Space that I believe I could use to actually review things, as this is a blog about reviews.

So anyways, the basic gist of the story-line is this: When she was 18, art student Liang, played by Ni Ni was proposed by Mao, played by Wallace Huo, to be his girlfriend. She accepted and for the next 10 years, she put her career on hold for Mao. Instead of working, she decided to play the role of the perfect wife for Mao. After 10 years, she’d been expecting him to propose, but when he did not, she got sad and ordered some chocolates that promised to bring happiness to peoples relationships. When she decides to take things into her own hand and propose to Mao, he ends up breaking off their relationship. She’s distraught and eats a chocolate, thereby transforming, at least mentally, into 17 year old Liang. 17 year old Liang doesn’t know a thing about 28 year old Liang and the two exist as separate people in the same body. Once a chocolate is eaten, the 17 year old Liang returns for a maximum of 5 hours. Basically,  28 year old Liang “employs” 17 year old Liang to paint things for her, as 28 year Liang was offered a job to paint designs but has forgotten her painting skills. While 17 year old Liang paints for 28 year old Liang, she also goes out and lives her own life, which includes flirting with and almost-dating rebel biker Yan, played by Darren Wang. The rest of the movie deals with Liang coming to terms with herself and the way her life moves forward.

One things I really, really, really enjoyed about this movie, was the character-centred aspect of it. Unlike the American 17 Again, this one focused more on Liang and her relationship with herself. As we see in the movie, 28 year old Liang put her life on the hold for her partner, because it was what she thought he wanted. She let herself go in order to conform to her illusion of what Mao wanted in a wife. Slowly, not only did she pause her career, but she also ended up changing her personality, loosing her spunk and zest to be proper and bland. It was only as she got to know herself, recognize all that she had done in the name of the relationship, and come to terms with herself and her skills/dreams/past/present, that Liang learned to love herself and in the process, reinvent her life. She got a job she loved and finally began becoming the version that she wanted to be, not the version she thought her boyfriend wanted. She realized that her feelings about herself mattered much more than Mao’s feelings about her. There’s a really great scene where Mao apologizes to her for ignoring her throughout their relationship and she tells him that he doesn’t have to apologize; she was at fault too and she finally realized that she didn’t want to stand in the back waiting for him to turn around anymore. She lets go of the relationship and understands that she’s much more than that. It’s an extremely beautiful message and portrayed quite wonderfully as well.

I also really liked how 17 year old Liang was just that, a 17 year old. She wasn’t a perfect character and had flaws, thereby signifying that her 17 year old was not the best version of her. For example,  18 year old Liang ended up putting her dreams on hold to follow Mao and his dreams. And when it came to 17 year old Liang, she was also willing to put her dreams on hold to follow Yan. I just thought it was so smart of the writers to show that. In essence, the 17 year old Liang was not much different from 18 year old Liang. Despite the vast difference between 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang, you could totally see how 17 year old Liang would’ve ended up 28 year old Liang. And the way 28 year old Liang handled 17 year old Liang was great too, showing how Liang had indeed matured and come to terms with herself and life.

Similarly, I also quite enjoyed the friendship shown between Liang and Bai, played by Ma Su. It’s so rare to see such positive, fun, female friendships. Bai fully supports Liang and helps her. Although its not anything major, I still quite liked it. Plus, Bai’s scenes were generally hilarious.

Which brings me to the actors. Ma Su was absolutely hilariously good as Bai. She imbued within Bai just the right amount of weirdness and love. It was easy to see how the two were friends. However, the stand out star in this entire movie, has to be Ni Ni. Ni Ni was absolutely phenomenal as both versions of Liang. Her body language, mannerisms, etc. were all so on-point when it came to both versions of Liang. You (or at least I did) literally believed that you were seeing 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang. Ni Ni carried the entire movie on her shoulders. Her acting completely elevated the movie I think, as the time travelling trope is old, but Ni Ni’s vigour and acting managed to make it feel fresh.The other actors were good as well, but none shone as brightly and wonderfully as her. The only actor I was a bit iffy about, was Wallace Huo as Mao. Wallace just came across as too stiff and stoic for me. Maybe Mao’s character was written that way or maybe Wallace didn’t have enough material? I don’t know, I just thought he was the weakest link, at least from the main cast.

And coming to the directing, I’m a big iffy on that as well. While there’s definitely quite a few beautifully shot and symbolic scenes, there’s also a few stereotypical shots. Idk. It’s not anything bad and I guess I’m just being nit-picky. Apparently the movie was the directorial debut of Zhang Mo. And I guess for her debut, she did a pretty decent job. Cinamatography was also quite top notch. I’m a fan of lighter, brighter movies and thankfully, this movie fit right into my preference. All in all, a beautifully light movie about the importance of self-love.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a fantastically cute character-focused movie with a nice message!

Life in Pieces TV Show Review

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Life in Pieces had been on my radar for quite some while. However, it also wasn’t really quite high on the list of things I wanted to watch. So it sat there for a while. Recently, my friend watched the show and reviewed it (here’s the link!). She thought it was a decent enough comedy show. I figured, if she liked it, then I’d probably like it too. So on December 30th, my siblings and I sat down to binge watch the show.

The format of a show, showcasing four different stories within a larger connected family, was one that I immediately associated with Modern Family. As such, my expectations, going into the show, were that it would sort of be like Modern Family, wherein each individual adventure would eventually be tied up into a larger adventure with the entire family. Surprisingly, Life in Pieces didn’t go down that route. Instead, the show stuck of showing four, unrelated ‘pieces’ (LOL) of the various family member’s lives. In other words, we just got like little shorts of their lives (ironic because the name of the family in the show is Short). On that note, the show revolves around the members of the Short family, consisting of the retired former pilot father, John Short, the therapist mother, Joan Short, the oldest daughter and stay-at-home-mom, Heather Hughes and her doctor husband and three children, Tim Hughes, Tyler, Samantha, Sophie Hughes, the middle son, struggling artist Matt Short and his girlfriend Coleen Ortega, and the youngest son, Greg Short and his lawyer wife and newborn daughter, Jen Short and Lark Short. Also, unlike Modern FamilyLife in Pieces isn’t filmed as a mockumentary, its filmed as a general tv show.

Each episode deals with an issue the various family members face. So, for example, one of Greg and Jen’s ‘shorts’ dealt with them coming to terms with childbirth and the changes that result, such as sex. On the other hand, one of Heather’s shorts focused upon her family and her having a contest to see who generated the least amount of trash. However, the shorts also aren’t just limited to nuclear family members, as the individual stories do include a mix of members. In one of Heather’s shorts, she is angry at her son’s decisions to forgo a college education and Matt plays a pivotal role in reconciling her to that fact. Similarly, in one of Matt’s shorts, he is forced to invite his parents to his valentine’s day dinner with Colleen. Sometimes, like Modern Family, the show also has shorts that include the entire family. Hence, the mixup is always kept interesting.

That said, the show does have its fair amount of drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks for me, is the consistency of the comedy. This criticism actually also relates to one of my biggest likes from the show as well. Life in Pieces has some incredibly, incredibly funny scenes. I mean, there’s scenes that had my siblings and I rolling on the ground from laughing too much. However, there’s also a fair amount (far more than the funny scenes) of boring scenes where nothing happens. Well actually, stuff does happen, but its not funny or that enjoyable, just passable. Secondly, sometimes the show has a tendency to use cliche tropes, such as the protagonists forgoing an event in order to spend time with a lonely person. They don’t really detract from the show too much. But considering what a stellar cast this show boasts of, I think the show should aim higher and terminate cliche usage. I mean, Colin Hanks, James Brolin, Betsy Brandt, Thomas Sadoski, Dianne Wiest, Zoe Lister-Jones, Angelique Cabral and Dan Bakkedahl are hilariously talented. There’s so much more the writers could be doing with them.

On that note, their characters themselves aren’t also something new. They’re quite recognizable cliche types in quite a few aspects. Also, the content matter of the show also ranges. Some stories are definitely rated R (there was a scene where Greg has to insert a cold ice-filled glove into Jen’s vagina to sooth her post-childbirth) while others are a solid G (there’s an episode dedicated solely to Sophie’s inner monologue). Personally, I didn’t quite mind it, but if there are younger kids around watching, I’d definitely be a little cautious. On top of that, the stories themselves also range, from being somewhat realistic and believable to being completely weird, random, and unexpected. Though that might be more of a positive than a negative.

Personally, I quite enjoyed the show just because of the sheer strength of the comedy scenes. I mean, there’s not a ton of comedy scenes, but whenever there is one, it always kills (in a good way!). That’s actually one of the main reasons my siblings and I continued watching. Similarly, I actually quite enjoy watching the more outlandish moments that happen in the show. For some reason, I think they work really well for the show. Although, that might just be because the cast is so good at acting and pulling off even the most weirdest scenes. Nonetheless, I’m happy that the show has been renewed for season two and quite excited to see what happens next!

My rating: Watch it if you’re bored and want a decent-enough comedy show to watch.

Beating Again/ Falling for Innocence TV Show Review

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As some of you may remember, I recently began my K-drama journey with Descendants of the Sun. As my initial experience was positive and led to such high expectations, I had been on the prowl for another K-drama series to devour. However, my search took longer than expected because a) Netflix’s selection is not that big, or at least I do not know how to navigate it and b) I only looked for k-drama’s on Netflix for convenience’s sake which limited my pool. Enter Beating Again/ Falling for Innocence. The show is referred to on Netflix by the former, but is titled the latter on many other websites. Hence, I’m going with both titles. Anyways, truth be told, I was quite hesitant to begin the drama. I wasn’t a big fan of the general summary plot-line because I felt like the potential for exploitation/ manipulation of characters would be really big. In short, the show was about the male lead undergoing a heart transplant and falling in love with the girlfriend of his donor. In other words, ick. However, since the show was rated so highly and because I had really been craving a K-drama, I just swallowed all my feelings and put on the show. Although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was still pretty good.

The show begins with an introduction to Kang Min Ho, played by Jung Kyung-Ho. He’s shown to be this ruthless and rude businessman. He works for an American multinational corporation, Gold Partners, and part of his job requires taking over bankrupt companies and selling them to others. Through his work, he fires people daily without any regard for them, i.e. he doesn’t care how hard they work or how much they need the job. Due to his callous behaviour, he doesn’t have many friends or really care about acquiring friends. His company sees him as a huge asset and his employees are terrified of him, to the point where they nickname him the ‘serial-killer.’ In other words, he fits the archetype of the ruthless businessman with no care for others. He’s willing to do anything and he just doesn’t give a damn about making money as his motive is something else.

At the same time, we’re introduced to Kim Soon-jung, enacted by Kim So-Yeon. She works as a secretary to the Chairman of a huge beauty company called Hermia. She’s an extremely efficient worker, incredibly loyal to her company, and cares for the well-being of all employees, even those working in the warehouse/ factories (her work is mostly within the headquarters). She’s a super nice woman and seems to enjoy her work. She’s engaged to a police detective, Ma Dong-wook (played by Jin Goo from DOTS!). Childhood sweethearts, the two adore each other and share a loving relationship.

The two leads interact when Min-Ho comes to take over Hermia. His goal is to destroy the company. Soon-jung halts his initial entrance to the company and after learning her name, Min-Ho makes it a goal to punish her/ ruin her life. This is also where his backstory comes out. Apparently, Min-Ho’s father had founded Hermia with the noble goal to have a company that would serve its employees and put them before the boss. However, due to a heart disease, Min-Ho’s father died early. Taking advantage of Min-Ho’s dad’s soft nature, his brother, Kang Hyun-Chul (played by Park Yeong-Gyu), forged some papers, making it seem like Min-Ho’s dad committed fraud and put Hyun-Chul in charge. Hyun-Chul, with the help of other headquarter employees, quickly take over, effectively betraying Min-Ho’s dad on his deathbed. Hyun-Chul also cuts off Min-Ho and his mother, making them penniless. Stunned by the events, Min-Ho’s mom commits suicide, leaving the 10 year-old Min-Ho an orphan. Hyun-Chul doesn’t care and just abandons the boy. Min-Ho swears to be a hard and strong businessman (unlike his father) and to destroy his uncle and Hermia, along with the other employees who betrayed his dad. Hence, he grows up, excels and gains employment with Gold Partner’s. However, in a sad twist, Min-Ho inherits his father’s heart disease, giving him only a few years to live. As a result, Min-Ho rises to the top quickly and acts ruthlessly in order to complete his revenge before he dies. By the time the show starts, Min-Ho is around 35 years old and has only a month left to live. Along with Soon-yung blocking his efforts, he also hates her because her father was one of the employees who betrayed his father and helped Hyun-Chul usurp the company.

As the show continues, we’re also introduced to Hermia’s Director of Legal Affairs,  Lee Joon-Hee, played by Yoon Hyun-Min. Joon-hee is friends with Soon-jung and Dong-wook and managed to rise to the position of Director at such a young age, because he was seen as Hyun-Chul’s lapdog. In other words, Joon-Hee did Hyun-Chul’s dirty legal work. For example, he handled felonies committed by judges, or the family members of judges, in order to get the judges favour’s when it came to handling legal conflicts against Hermia (aka biasing the judges and bribing them). Recognizing that his position as Director would be gone as soon as Hyun-Chul stepped down, Joon-Hee teams up with Gold Partners as a double agent, to bring down Hermia and become its next CEO. Having secretly been in love with Soon-Jung since childhood, he believes that once he becomes a rich and powerful man, he’ll be able to gain her love.

Anyways, in the plot-line, one of Hermia’s products is discovered to have unapproved ingredients, causing the company’s stock to fumble. At which point Min-Ho steps in, claiming that Gold Partners had bought most of the stocks and would shut down the company. Hyun-Chul refuses to give up Hermia and claims that they’ll pay back their investors (they’re bankrupt I think, or at least close to it). Min-Ho agrees, while secretly attempting to sway the investors to his side through secret meetings (as he only has one month to live). He enters Hermia as a Director, in order to ensure that they don’t do further illegal stuff to pay back. He also spitefully takes Soon-jung as his secretary and makes her do a crap load of things and stuff that makes it seems like she’s betraying the company (she’s not). Joon-hee helps Gold Partners secretly but pretends like he’s fighting against them in Hermia. Seeing Soon-jung stressed, Dong-wook finds out about the unapproved ingredient case and begins investigating, despite Soon-jung asking him not to. Meanwhile, Hyun-Chul figures out that Min-Ho only has a month to live and is able to take back all the investors Min-Ho had swayed. Angry that his revenge is falling, Min-ho yells at Soon-jung (thinking she ratted him out) and begins throwing things around in his anger. His heart starts acting up and he collapses into a table and is taken to the hospital by Soon-jung. Meanwhile, Dong-wook figures out who was responsible for the unapproved ingredients case and then gets killed in a hit-and-run case. He’s taken to the hospital and his heart is transferred into Min-ho. Min-ho awakes from his surgery and discovers some new habits/ thoughts of his. For example, he gains sudden urges to suck on lollipops (a habit Dong-wook had, to prevent himself from smoking) and tapping people on their noses (something Dong-wook also did). He also finds himself attracted to Soon-jung and having a greater moral compass. However, he’s also incredibly weirded out and worried by these changes.

The rest of the drama is about what happens to Hermia, how Min-ho changes/ his character development, the relationship between Min-ho and Soon-jung, the love triangle between them and Joon-Hee, and various other small side plots.

I had originally thought this drama to be a comedy and put it on. To my dismay, it’s quite melodramatic. There’s a lot of twists and turns and surprising suspense. That said, there is some comedy in the form of Min-Ho and his secretary/ friend, Oh Woo-Sik, played by Lee Si-eon. Min-Ho is HILARIOUS. There’s a scene where Soon-jung is taken captive by a thug and Min-Ho tries negotiating with the thug. He uses the same technique of distracting thugs using expensive watches that Dong-wook did, to the surprise of the police colleagues who are friends with Soon-jung and a part of the kidnapping situation. However, the thug doesn’t fall for the trick and instead the watch breaks. Min-ho, being Min-ho, FREAKS OUT and starts yelling at the thug about how expensive his watch was, etc. Somehow the thug lets Soon-jung go and gets into an altercation with Min-Ho. Dong-wook’s fighting abilities are somehow transferred to Min-Ho and he dodges and defeats the thug, to his own surprise. Min-Ho literally pauses and goes like, “holy shit, I dodged that!” and then once the thug is on the ground, Min-Ho screams again, takes off his shoe, and begins spanking the thug for ruining his watch (lmfaooo). And then while in the police station for questioning, he begins trying out more fighting moves, feeling cool (LOL). It’s seriously hilarious. His comedic moments literally MAKE the drama in my opinion. He’s amazing.

And the growth journey his character goes throughout the show is wonderful. One of my fears about the show was that his character would completely change to be like Dong-wook and that the reason he’d love Soon-jung is because he had Dong-wook’s heart. But he actually doesn’t change all that much. Sure he adapts some of Dong-wook’s habits and sayings, but he also remains Min-Ho. He remains the smart businessman, he remains the easily excited and angry guy and still acts rudely sometimes. But he also changes. He begins to feel empathy and sympathy. He realizes that the way he was living wasn’t sustainable anymore. He lived with the belief that it didn’t matter he didn’t have any friends or a personal life because he was going to die soon anyway. However, now with a new, prolonged life,  his old ways no longer applied and the loneliness got to him. Similarly, he recognized that in his greed for revenge, he was turning out to be the exact same person his despised uncle was. Also, when it came to his love for Soon-jung, once he realized he had Dong-wook’s heart, he tried to rationally sort out his feelings. He tried to figure out if his feelings toward her were from him (mind) or Dong-wook (heart). However, as his ‘experiment’ keeps failing, he realizes that it doesn’t matter because ultimately, both belong to him and that love is irrational itself. I really liked that message because a) I hadn’t expected it and b) it’s quite true. Love doesn’t always have a definite starting point and that there is no rational way to define love. It’s awkward and confusing and ridiculous and even absurd at times.

I also really enjoyed the relationship Min-Ho had with Dong-wook’s father, the Hermia Factory Chief, Ma Tae-Soek. It was kind of like a surrogate father-son relationship. Tae-soek lost his real son, but gained a new sort-of son, same with Min-ho except vice-versa. Tae-soek also shared an incredibly warm relationship with his ex-daughter-in-law-to-be Soon-jung. In one touching scene, he goes to Soon-jung and tells her to let go of Dong-wook and move on. He makes her understand that life goes on and she can’t shut herself off from love. I just, I found that so moving and sweet. He does the same for Min-ho and gives him ideas on how to woo Soon-jung. The trio had all lost people (Soon-jung was also an orphan) and ended up making their own family of sorts.

On that note, the acting was also really good in this show. Kyung-Ho was ridiculously good in this show. He emoted so well and shined in all of his scenes. He was so good as the ruthless businessman. There’s a scene where Woo-sik asks Min-Ho why he sleeps on the sofa despite being so rich and Min-Ho replies that lying down in the bed aggravates his heart and that he’ll only lie down once he’s dead and finished his revenge. It was kind of chilling how softly and resignedly, but determinedly Kyung-Ho enacted that scene. A very layered performance. And his comedy scenes where hilarious! He’s not afraid to make unattractive faces or anything and as a result, his comedy scenes are so funny! He just acts up so much, you cannot help but laugh at his ridiculousness. Here’s a screen-cap of his antics after a breakup (LOL). And his little bromance with Woo-sik was hilarious as well. The two acted really well across each other. So-Yeon also acts really well as Soon-jung. It’s very easy to see how everyone falls in love with her. I liked how So-Yeon kept her reined in and didn’t make Soon-jung too happy or positive. She felt like a real person, as far as K-dramas go LOL. Plus, she was a really great female lead, you really (or at least I did) root for her to get her happy ending because she deserves it so much. And the side actors/ characters were great as well. Woo-sik’s character actually had his own little love story with one of Dong-wook’s detective friend, Na Ok-Hyun, played by Jo Eun-Ji. Although they regrettably didn’t have that many scenes together, I enjoyed their scenes together immensely! Everyone acted very well!

Along with acting, the soundtrack for this show was really great as well! There’s this ringtone/ song by Toy called “Whenever,” that played a large role in the show as it was the song Dong-wook used to propose to Soon-jung and was the song that Min-ho couldn’t stop listening too after his surgery (I’m in the same boat as Min-ho, it’s so catchy and I can’t stop listening to it!). It was super catchy and worked really well with various scenes. There were also other songs, like this guitar song, that were quite pleasing to the ear and helped amplify situations. Really enjoyed it.

Similarly, the cinamatography was top-notch as well. I’m beginning to think that its a constant of all k-dramas. As I’m still a newbie, I cannot say it for sure. But as my k-drama journey continues, I’ll keep this in mind.

What I didn’t like, however, was part of the storyline. It was actually pretty dark with quite a few deaths and dramatic moments. And the whole Hermia plot was extended too much. I mean, the story does move along pretty fast, but problems keep cropping up. For example, Min-Ho eventually takes over Hermia with the goal of restoring it, but then has to face the exact same strategies he used to bankrupt Hermia. I mean, in theory it sounds like a good idea. And I did enjoy the scene where Min-ho breaks down and feels like Hermia being attacked by Gold Partners again is like his karma. But it just stretched on too long. And to be honest, some of the business stuff was kinda confusing and even boring at times. I would’ve much rather had a more concise business battle, rather than a rehash of similar things. I also was a little confused on how Joon-Hee’s character became the main antagonist. He always had a crush on Soon-jung and believed that if he became rich, he could get her love. Actually, no his turn did make sense, but not the extent he went through. He ended up becoming absolutely ruthless in his quest, and after a while, it just didn’t make sense to me. Why was he going to the extent he was? What was his goal? His original goal was to get Soon-jung but she already said no to him. And then his goal was to make Min-ho go down. But in that goal, he was ready to sacrifice everything? In Min-ho’s case, it made sense because he was going to die so he didn’t have anything to lose. But Joon-Hee was still living. He was being promoted when he was with Gold Partners. Was it just a self-esteem issue? Was it because he needed to justify his dad’s death? I guess what I’m saying is, his turn to the antagonist made sense. But his actions, namely his intent and fervour to destroy the company didn’t quite.

Also, I really wasn’t a fan of the way Min-ho behaved around Soon-jung, in terms of physicality. When he hated her, he had the tendency to jerk her around by grabbing her hand or whatever and dragging her to where he wanter her to be. When he fell in love with her, he would often try to hug her forcefully. Soon-jung wasn’t really appreciative of the jerking around and she did get annoyed by it, but she never said anything either. As he was her boss, I guess she thought if she complained, she could get fired. But even after the two get together as a couple, she doesn’t necessarily say anything. And Min-ho is the same. He never apologizes for his forceful handling of her. I just, I really wasn’t a fan of it. It ruined some of their sweeter scenes. For example, when Min-ho realizes that Soon-jung needs to cry and grieve for all that she’s lost, he forcefully hugs her in an effort to get her to release her feelings. She tries pulling back and asserts that she’s fine. But Min-ho just grips her tighter and claims that he needs the reassurance. It’s after that, she finally lets herself go and begins to cry and mourn for everything that went down in her life. I mean, it is a sweet scene. But just the forceful hug sorta ruined some of the sweetness of it.

Similarly, the ending of the show was lukewarm as well. In term of logic, it just sucked horribly. There was no real resolution to the Hermia conflict or Min-ho’s plot. All we got was Min-ho in the hospital, when the screen fading to the sky and then an epilogue where Woo-sick and Ok-Hyun got married with Min-Ho and Soon-jung as the best man and bridesmaid respectively. I wanted a more real resolution. The only reason the ending was somewhat warm (good), was because of the end Min-Ho and Soon-jung scene. It was incredibly cute and saved the ending from being absolutely horrible. But even then, it was an incredibly unsatisfying ending to what was an enjoyable drama.

My rating: watch it for the comicalness that is Min-ho and be prepared to enjoy his character growth, along with witnessing the wonderful acting of Kyung-ho and So-yeon, but remember that this is not a comedy show and so expect a lot of deaths and dark scenes.

No Tomorrow TV Show Review

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My goal for this blog was to only review things that had finished or when I had completely finished them. So for example, I haven’t reviewed the show X-files on this blog yet, despite being a HUGE fan, because I have still to watch the last movie and the recent revival episodes. Which brings me to this post. I’m breaking tradition (well, it was a burgeoning tradition at least) and reviewing a show that is currently still airing. I’ve decided that I can always write more reviews on the show as it airs, if that makes any sense. So today’s topic of review, is the TV show No Tomorrow.

No Tomorrow actually popped up on my Netflix and seemed curious. I googled it and was surprised to discover that it was actually rated quite highly, both among TV critics and normal viewers. With nothing to lose and a bit to gain (I had been lacking in having a show to watch when bored or eating), I decided to take the plunge and watch it.

Broadly speaking, the show is about a woman named Evie, played by Tori Anderson, who discovers that her dream man is an end-of-days nut. Xavier, played by Joshua Sasse, is convinced that the apocalypse is “nigh” and that in about 8 months, an astroid will hit Earth and the world will end. He claims to have done the math and in an effort to live life to the fullest, before everyone inevitably dies, he lives his days fulfilling his “apocolyst.” Basically, the list contains everything he’s ever wanted to do (which includes both having adventures but also owning up for his past regrets). Although Evie is rightfully initially kinda creeped out by Xavier, she eventually comes around and gets inspired to create her own apocolyst. Which, as she points out, doesn’t necessarily mean that she believes the world is going to end. Along with Evie and Xavier, the show also features an ensemble of unique, funny and great supporting characters.

There’s Hank, played by Jonathan Langdon, who is Evie’s best friend (along with being the best friend of Evie’s ex-boyfriend) and is himself an end-of-days paranoid. Except, his end-of-days theory doesn’t involve an astroid; it involves the Russians bombing the world and the world leaders saving themselves (in a bunker in which Hank is determined to get into). There’s Kareema, played by Sarayu Blue, who is Evie’s co-worker and friend and lives a very exciting life (consisting of partying wildly, having her own pansexuals group, and generally being cool). Kareema, doesn’t believe in the end-of-days either, but she is intrigued by the idea of an apocolyst and starts her own (although her’s contains stuff like helping others LOL). There’s also Evie’s ex-boyfriend Timothy, played by Jesse Rath, who is a published columnist and has a difficult time with getting over Evie and entering the dating pool again. And finally there’s Deidre, played by Amy Pietz, who is Evie’s boss who has a major crush on Hank but has difficulty expressing it because of corporate rules (Hank works in the same place).

Firstly, I actually really like the diversity in the show. It could definitely be more diversified through the inclusion of more people of colour, but in general, it’s actually nice to see. You have three white characters and then three people of colour (Hank is black, Kareema is South Asian I think and Timothy is mixed). And the best part, in my opinion, is that their race doesn’t significantly alter their characters. In other words, their characters are completely normal and not stereotyped; you can easily imagine them being a different ethnicity. Often, I find that when shows include people of colour, the characters are stereotyped to an extent. So for example, within The Big Bang Theory, you have Raj, who is stereotyped as Indian through the usage of an exaggerated Indian accent and shown as having the least luck with women. Similarly, in Glee, the token black girl (Mercedes) was characterized as being sassy while the asian characters (Tina and Mike) were depicted as nerds. These stereotypes are harmful, annoying, and over-used. Not all Indians have an accent or have trouble with dates. Not all black girls are sassy and not all asians are nerds. People of colour are people, normal people like everyone and No Tomorrow makes that clear.

On that note, the characters themselves are pretty interesting and dimensional, for the most part. Evie is incredibly relatable. A nice girl trying to get through life, but who also keeps strict boundaries for herself. For example, she doesn’t party often, doesn’t interrupt people and sticks to the status quo. However, through the help of Xavier and her apocolyst, she grows and learns to let go of some of her boundaries while keeping others and recognizing their importance. In other words, she doesn’t completely change herself for or because of Xavier. She does it for herself, through a little pushing from other characters sometimes. Similarly, Xavier isn’t just some maniac, free-spirited, fun loving guy. He’s more grounded than that. He realizes that the world sees him as crazy and that not all of his ideas are really great ideas. That said, due to the limited amount of screen time for the other supporting characters, their characters do have the tendency to come across as one-dimensional at times. For example, Evie’s boss Deidre sort of fits into the box of the intimidating boss lady who struggles to be vulnerable; key word being ‘sort-of.’ Similarly, Timothy comes across as a sort of typical insecure geek at times. He writes for a tech magazine and is a published columnist but still struggles when it comes to asking girls out. Although, I do think it’s necessary to point out that he’s only like that sometimes. In other words, he doesn’t always easily fit into the mould of an insecure geek and actually goes out and does other stuff as well. Kareema and Hank fall into similar categories as well. The characters are pretty dimensional, but suffer from a lack of screen time in developing their dimensionality (is that even a word LOL?). Yet, they are still understandable and enjoyable to watch

And finally, I quite enjoy the story. It definitely has it’s cliche romantic-comedy moments, but it also goes in other unexpected directions. For example, after being broken up, Evie and Timothy end up matching on a soul-mate app. Both of them wonder if this is a sign. In other sitcoms, you can easily expect to see three scenarios: 1. Evie and Timothy take this as a sign and end up together again 2. Timothy rejects Evie which makes her reconsider their relationship 3. Evie rejects Timothy again which sends him downwards. All three are common tropes I’ve witnessed in other shows. However, they don’t happen in the show. Instead, the show subverts a cliche moment and then undergoes a different one. In other words, it has some cliche moments but not others.

On the whole, I’m quite enjoying watching this show. The only thing that sucks, is that currently only 5 episodes have aired and hence the story and characters are still developing. Well actually, the latter isn’t that bad at all. It’s just the limited amount of episodes that sucks. I’m very excited for the show to resume and for more episodes to be produced and to see what happens next!

My rating: go watch it for a fun, light hearted romantic comedy with a twist!

Don’t Trust the B– in Apt 23 TV Show Review

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What’s this? A picture prefacing my review? Whaaat? Don’t worry, it’s still me, Guptasaab, and not some other poster. I realized (SUPER belatedly) that it was ironic that despite being such a visual person, I hadn’t posted any pictures on this site. Visuals are what attract me in the first place, so what was I doing posting without any visuals? How did I even attract any readers? Any who, I’ve decided to remedy my mistake and hence the huge picture of the show I’m reviewing today.

Anyways, onto the show! I had heard about Don’t Trust the B– in Apt 23 (DTtB) way back when it first premiered, in 2012, but I never watched it simply because it didn’t seem like my cup of tea. I never really watched Dawson’s Creek and the other actors were unknowns for me as well, so it just never really pinged on my to-watch radar. However, a few weeks ago, my co-worker discovered this show on Netflix and recommended it to me. So I decided to take her advice and watch the show.

Briefly, the show is centred around three characters: June, the lead who rooms with the B– in Apt 23, Chloe, the B– herself, and James Van Der Beek, playing a fictional version of himself. In the introductory episode, we’re introduced to the three characters and the basic story-line. June is a small-town girl from the Midwest (Indiana) who moves to New York for her job, which she ends up losing in the first episode itself. Needing a place to stay, she answers Chloe’s ad for a roommate, and hence ends up rooming with her. Naive, positive, and nice, June is basically your average nice girl-next-door. She’s only been with one guy (her fiance), was top of her class in grad school, believes that everyone has some good in them, likes helping people out, and lives a very scheduled and responsible (somewhat boring) life. In other words, she sorta fits into the archetype of the naive, country girl coming to the city for the first time and realizing that there’s more to life than just being honest, trusting, and kind. On the other end of the spectrum is Chloe.

Chloe is actually a little difficult to describe. When the show first started, I thought she was a literal psychopath. As the show continued, I grew to like her and sorta understand her and realize that perhaps she wasn’t quite a psycho. However, in the true grey fashion of life, Chloe is quite the grey character herself (in other words, she’s more of a sociopath than psychopath). Chloe lives a party girl lifestyle that she finances through scams, which often involve a lot of lying and messing around with people’s lives. As you can surmise, she’s also portrayed as being a little immoral, being a fan of unbridled drinking and irresponsible partying 24/7. In other words, she’s not the most virtuous character or your typical protagonist. Yet, despite these traits, Chloe is also very loyal to her friends and does try to help them out in her own way. In the first episode, it turns out that Chloe’s ad for a roommate was a scam in itself (a scam she had apparently pulled off numerous times successfully), as she intended to scare June into leaving the apartment, while keeping all her extra rent money (she over-charged June purposely). However, when June outsmarts her, she grows a soft spot for her and in a show of loyalty and ‘kindness’, she has sex with June’s ex-fiance in order to show June what a serial cheater her ex-fiance is. That example kinda also perfectly summarizes Chloe, nice, in her own way, but also very selfish with sociopathic tendencies.

And finally, we have James playing himself. James character is hilarious. He’s very self-obsessed, desperate to revive his career, but also a good friend to the girls (best friends with Chloe in fact).

The rest of the show is about the adventures the two girls and James have. Throughout the show, Chloe teaches June to live a little. June goes on many adventures with Chloe, learns to let loose from time to time, be a little more confident, and accept that life is more than a little grey. And June, for her part, teaches Chloe to be a little bit more caring and self-aware. Written down, it sounds pretty cliche and I guess the show can be a little cliche. But, in my opinion, it’s still pretty fresh just because Chloe still remains such a bitch and June still remains a strict good girl; the two never manage to change each other completely and accept that.

Which brings me to the characters and actors. June is perpetually trying to look on the positive side of things and believes in being honest and seeing the good in others. Predictably, she gets a little grating to watch. I’m not a fan of super goody-good characters in the first place, so June could get a little too preachy for me at times. That said, there were also some really enjoyable and nice things about June. For one thing, I loved her passion over getting a job. Too ashamed to go back home to her parents, June begins working as a barista in order to finance herself in New York, but also never leaves her dream of working on Wall Street. She sends her resume everywhere, goes to companies to try and talk to people, and even attempts to network using Chloe’s methods. No matter what happens, she remains focused on getting her dream job. As a recent grad whose had some difficulty in the employment arena, watching June’s struggle and hustle was kind of inspiring. And I also really liked how June was unapologetic about who she was; well, sometimes she was. She was a dork and she almost embraced it. There were a few moments where even I felt embarrassed for her, but she never did and sorta just owned it. She was also a good foil to Chloe’s craziness (often being the only one who literally saw and pointed out the insanity that was Chloe and her ideas/ lifestyle). That said, June was also really annoying a lot of the time. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was just the actor or if it was the character. Which is why I’m also torn on my view of the actor. June was portrayed by Dreama Walker. I have never seen Dreama Walker in anything before and so this was my first introduction to her. I just, I find her kind of annoying. Maybe it was the way she was styled? Or the way she spoke? Or just the way June was, but I just found her so incredibly annoying. I actually forwarded quite a few scenes of June’s, to be honest. But, as mentioned earlier, I’m not sure if my annoyance stemmed from her as an actor/ person specifically, or if it stemmed from June. You know what they say about actors who portray negative roles so brilliantly that people begin sending them hate mail? Maybe that’s what happened with Dreama and I? Maybe she played June to be such an annoying do-good-er that I actually ended up finding her, Dreama, annoying? Or maybe Dreama is just an annoying actress? Like I said, I have no idea and I’m torn. Either way, June was annoying but with glimpses of inspiration. So either Dreama was annoying with glimpses of great acting, or she was a really good actor in general. I’m leaning toward the latter but not sure since my annoyance of her blocks me from thinking objectively.

Yet, no matter how indecisive I was about June/Dreama, I wasn’t nearly as confused when it came to Chloe/ Krysten Ritter. Chloe, as a character, is literally insane. And I mean literally, she actually went to psycho-camp as a child and resents her wheelchair-bound mother for never taking her horse-back riding or to dancing classes as a child (?!?). I mean, even written down, it’s easy to spot the insanity that characterizes Chloe. While June can be compared to an angel, Chloe could be termed a demon. But, despite that, as the show goes on, Chloe is actually pretty inspiring as well and super fun to watch. Out of all the characters, I never forwarded through any of Chloe’s scenes. She was definitely crazy (constantly sub-letting James Van Der Beek’s apartment behind his back when he was out of town so she could make some extra cash, and making most of her income through entertaining UN Delegates during the United Nations meeting), but she was also nice and loyal to her friends and not completely crazy. I just, it’s difficult to describe her. She’s definitely a bitch, but she’s a nice bitch, if that makes any sense. And I think a lot of the credit for her coming across as this nice crazy person vs. this insane bitch, goes not only to the writing of the show, but also to the actress portraying her, Krysten Ritter. Krysten Ritter does a really good job at making Chloe be this girl you want to be friends with, rather than being this girl you hate for being so mean. She plays Chloe effortlessly and in such a fun manner. I really think she was the shining beacon in this show. Had there been any other actor, it would’ve been really easy to hate Chloe and/or dislike her for how immoral and insane she could be. But Krysten Ritter played Chloe on such a fine line between crazy bitch and fun friend, that you couldn’t help but like her. That said, my review on Krysten Ritter may be tainted due to my previous awareness of her. I had actually heard of her and have seen her acting before in other things (wassap Jessica Jones!). So, I could definitely be playing up just how amazing she was as Chloe, but I do wanna reiterate, she was really good in DTtB. Many of other critics have praised her as well and my friend liked her too. So while I am biased, I’m not that biased.

And finally, coming to James. James was just something else. I had never watched Dawson’s Creek (have no desire to do so either) but I had heard of him. So seeing him play himself in this show was definitely quite the experience (in a good way!). He played such a self-obsessed person, it was actually hilarious. For example, when talking to a homeless kid while volunteering at the soup kitchen, which he only does to get a photo-op in People magazine in the first place (LOL), he only thinks about how the food he’s eating at the soup kitchen is disgusting, while the kid talking to him is telling him his sad story about being homeless. It’s actually hilarious in how self-obssessed he is. And to be honest, seeing him do such a role actually made me appreciate the real James Van Der Beek. I think it takes courage to play the worst version of yourself on TV. But then again, I think he also got lucky in that the writing for the show always shied away from making him completely horrible and instead made him horrible in a funny manner rather than in an insulting manner.

Which I think is a good segue into talking about the writing for the show and it’s storyline. I’ve already discussed the storyline and it’s nothing really ground-breaking. But despite its simplistic outline, I think the writing in the show is pretty good. Despite the cliche and over-used trope of two opposite characters living together, I think the show managed to keep it pretty fresh (probably because it was written by a woman!). The writing was pretty witty and the twists put on some cliche situations were hilarious. It’s a different type of humour though. Rather than laugh-out-loud funny that was Community, DTtB’s humour is more subtle. Not every scene was hilarious and not every funny scene managed to elicit real laughing, but it was still really enjoyable to watch and I definitely snorted, rolled-my-eyes, and smiled throughout each episode. And I really enjoyed the side characters that supported the cast. Luther, James’s assistant, was just absolutely hilarious. And Eli, the girls’ perverted neighbour was definitely interesting and funny. And the various cameo’s by various actors were definitely comical as well. Much like James, they all played fictional versions of themselves. It was super entertaining.

However, I would definitely caution people before watching it because I think it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I know others have not found the show as funny as I did. And even I did not find the show to be especially humorous. It was just a really nice little show to watch when bored. And while I think the show could’ve gone on for a season or two more, I think it’s also okay that the show ended after two seasons. There’s only so many things you can do with such a concept and I feel like the character’s would’ve eventually become stale or at least their pairing would’ve. Even as I was watching the show, Chloe was consistently the draw for me, even over June and James (Chloe and James together were especially great). So I wasn’t too put off by the fact it ended after two short seasons. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the show for the little cute thing it was.

My rating: watch it when you want to have a quick tv-show binge session and want to watch a cute, little, fun show, and to witness the fun crazy life of a fun crazy sociopath.

Family Planning Book Review

Unlike my previous rant about book covers, I wasn’t really attracted to the cover for this book. What caught my attention, was the fact that the author of Family Planning, Karan Mahajan, was apparently only 24 when he wrote the book and the reviews on the back of the book claimed that it was amazing that the author managed to write such a well-written and humorous book, considering his age. As a 20-something who is still wondering where her life is going, the fact that a 24 year old had his life so put together and had managed to write a best-selling book, was simultaneously awe-inspiring and bitter. Feeling a bit down and depressed, I attempted to walk past the book and shrug off the feelings it inspired, but I couldn’t and succumbed to the temptation to read. And as always, here’s the spoilery review.

The book is about the Ahuja family, situated in New Delhi, India. It runs through the life of three main characters and features only their POV’s. The father, Rakesh Ahuja, is the Minister of Urban Development and has over 13 kids with his wife. The mother, Sangita Ahuja is the perpetually pregnant, tv-obssessed, placid wife. And the oldest son, Arjun Ahuja is a 16 year old with a lot of feelings. Simply put, the book captures a slice of their normal life, between some monumental moments.

While the book goes through each POV in an alternating manner, for the purposes of this review, I’ve decided to separate the alternating POV and instead focus upon the individual stories of the characters. Hence, the book begins with Arjun walking-in on his parents having sex and begins fantasizing about having sex with his crush, a girl who rides the same bus as him, Aarti. In order to impress Aarti, he lies and says he has a band. He then quickly forms a band with his friends. After a particularly uninspiring band practise, his friends decide to find a new place to practise and accidentally hit a girl with their car. The boys are scared but Arjun’s father comes to the rescue and uses his clout as Minister to make sure that no charges are laid and that the girl is taken care of. Arjun tries to act out in attempts that his parents will notice him, but things don’t go exactly as he hoped. He finds out about his parent’s past and begins training under his father, presumably to enter politics (despite his young age). In other words, the typical sort of boyhood story mixed in with some different elements.

Rakesh’s story is a bit different. In addition to worrying about Arjun, Rakesh has to contend with idiotic Indian politics. It turns out that despite his civil engineering degree, his idea of constructing flyovers to deal with Delhi’s traffic backfired and the city’s traffic is worser than before. Within his political party itself, he has to deal with increasing isolation from of his party members along with an enmity with a fellow Minister, Yogiraj. Rakesh attempts to double-cross his party members and party leader (the two are at logger heads) and ends up resigning and ending his political career. Along the way, we’re also introduced to his past. Turns out, Arjun was bourn from his first wife, Rashmi, who died while the small family was living in America. Unable to handle her death alone, he moved back to India with his son and began his descent into the world of Indian politics. Feeling he needed a wife for his political career and wanting to exasperate his parents, he meets a beautiful, busty woman and decides to marry her. On the marriage day however, he ends up marrying a more plainer bride and decides to stay with her, in an attempt to spite his parents and rebel against their expectations. The catch is, he is only attracted to his wife when she’s pregnant, hence the 13 kids.

Coming to the wife Sangita. Unlike what Rakesh believed, Sangita herself was seeming ‘tricked’ into the marriage. Growing up with a mother who abhorred her skin colour/ looks, Sangita always wanted to impress her/ gain unconditional love from someone. Rakesh was always wrapped up in the memories of his previous wife and so in her sort of ‘revenge-ish/ placid’ manner, Sangita decides to become an impassive statue. She remains calm to all of Rakesh’s outbursts and refuses to react (aside from when giving birth). She adores Arjun but fears that he’ll separate from her once he learns that he isn’t her biological son. In addition to that, she also spends large amounts of time watching television and having her kids help her with the younger kids. The book ends with her giving birth.

From the summaries, it’s pretty evidential that there isn’t anything sort of ground-breaking in the story. I mean, you could totally imagine some boy lying to impress a girl. A father trying to keep it together/ failing and saying the wrong words instead. Or even a tv-obsessed mother who bottles things up and never mentions how she feels. The three are stories that are easily imaginable and seem quite typical. But I think that’s actually where the ingenuity of the book lies. Despite its seemingly simplistic content, it actually provides a really interesting look into the psyche of India and it’s citizens and highlights the contradictions that make it up.

For example, for a country where talking about sex and being a sexual being are abhorred, the characters spend a lot of time talking and thinking about it. In fact, the whole Mr. Ahuja having 13 kids also seeming calls attention to the insane population boom India is going through. Of course that issue also has to do with lack of available birth control, but sexual desire is still a huge factor. Similarly, politics is also made into a joke through the mixing of money and entertainment. In the book, one famous tv character dies and people begin rioting in the streets. In fact, the reason Mr. Ahuja’s party (at least one reason why) is feuding with their party leader is due to the tv character’s death. The MP’s, people elected into government in hopes that they would improve the lives of ordinary Indians, focus their time and efforts into reviving a stupid soap opera character. This apparent mixing of entertainment and politics also signals to how many Indian bollywood actors use the entertainment industry as a stepping stone for politics. In an ironic twist, the killed tv character (in the book) actor actually ends up becoming the a new Minister in the government. And going back to politics, it also signals to what a joke politics can be in general. Of course, a lot of this is hyperbole and satire, but it still works very well. And finally, I thought the bit about the traffic problems was pretty spot on too. Despite the city being plagued with traffic problems, the people remain content because they believe their suffering will end with traffic efficiency, despite evidence proclaiming the opposite. Again, the story is actually quite riveting for what it reveals about its motherland than its characters.

Diverging from the deeper analysis, technically speaking, the book is also written in an alright manner. The writing is simple and easy enough to read. That said, I actually didn’t find the book to be as comical as other writers did. I read a few reviews online and a lot of people stated that they found specific lines in the book funny. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same. I think the book is funny in its satire and ironical content, but I didn’t find specific words or phrases funny. I don’t know, maybe I have a different sense of humour but I found a few of the jokes to be more gross than funny. However, I think its still important to point out, that this doesn’t mean that the book was bad. As far as things go, the book was decent. Not laugh-out-funny, but still light-hearted and enjoyable.

My ratingRead it if you’d like to learn a little bit about India and its people in a more simplistic, light-hearted manner and/or if would you’d like to take a break from reading heavy (literally and metaphorically) material.

American Ultra Movie Review

Although I’ve been doing book reviews for the majority of this blog, I think it’s time to switch it up and put out some movie reviews. As such, let’s talk about a movie I watched recently, American Ultra. To be completely honest, I’ve never really been the biggest fan of Kristen Stewart or Jesse Eisenberg. I remember first seeing Kristen Stewart in Zathura and finding her annoying. This annoyance grew and morphed into dislike after I watched her in the Twilight movies. I just found her so incredibly awkward and lifeless and her acting came across as so one dimensional and flat. With Jesse Eisenberg, on the other hand, I initially really enjoyed his acting, but over time, I began to grow bored of his roles. It seemed like that he always played some awkward, neurotic person, although that may just be because I haven’t seen much of his filmography, only a few select films. Hence, when I first saw my Netflix suggesting American Ultra, I found it really amusing. Netflix would suggest a movie that contained two actors I didn’t really like. However, with nothing else to do and no inclination to spend more time choosing a movie, my sister and I decided to take the plunge and watch American Ultra. So imagine my surprise as I wound up enjoying the movie and actually improving my view on the two actors. Therefore, I decided this movie was worth a review, spoiler-filled of course (as is my style LOL).

The movie begins with an introduction to Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart’s character’s, Mike and Phoebe. Mike is a seemingly low-functioning stoner who has major travel issue, i.e. he finds it incredibly difficult to leave his small hometown and travel anywhere else. Phoebe is his supportive and loving girlfriend who understands his struggles. The movie actually begins with Mike and Phoebe attempting to travel to Hawaii, only to miss their flight after Mike begins experiencing intense panic attacks at the thought of leaving. Phoebe is understandably upset but tries to cope. The next day, the two continue on with their life together as normal; Mike goes to work in a convenience store and Phoebe goes to work at a travel agency. It’s quite apparent from this initial introduction that while the two do share a really loving relationship, their lifestyle is also incredibly mundane with no real prospects of improving.

The movie then switches to Connie Britton’s character, Lasseter, a CIA agent. She gets a call informing her that her last surviving ‘super-soldier’ will be killed. This super-soldier, it is revealed, is Mike (go figure LOL). Feeling a duty to protect him, she goes awol to try and protect him. The person in charge of killing Mike, is her rival CIA agent, Yates (played by the hilarious Topher Grace — I think he excels at playing asshole-who-gets-his-butt-kicked roles). Yates, it turns out, has created a successful super-soldier program (Lasseter’s program had failed and Mike was the sole surviver) and believes that killing off any remnants of Lasseter’s program is necessary for his success. Anyways, Lasseter goes off to find Mike and tries to warn him and activate him, using a bunch of words. Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t seem to work and she leaves.

After she leaves, two of Yates men come into the store to kill Mike, but his training kicks in (the words did activate him!) and he kills them. Mike, who has no idea about his past as a super-soldier, is horrified and quickly calls Phoebe. She comes to the store to try and figure out what to do, only for the two of them to be arrested by the local police. Thinking that jail would be an easy place to complete a kill, Yates sends in two of his super-soldiers to kill Mike. But of course he and Phoebe escape from the soldier, although one soldier does die and so does everyone else at the station. The two then run to the house of Mike’s supplier, in order to hide and evade capture. Yates becomes annoyed at his soldier’s failure and decides to place the city under quarantine, using the excuse of a virus and places Mike and Phoebe’s pictures on the news as wanted fugitives. Mike’s supplier watches this and freaks out and locks Mike and Phoebe in his trippy basement. Yates quickly tracks them down and tries to kill them by incapacitating the two with a gas while his men kills Mike’s dealer and his friends. Instead of Mike coming to the rescue, this time, it’s Phoebe who comes to the rescue and gets them both out of the gas and injects Mike to remove the gas from his system. And the truth comes out.

Turns out, Mike was a delinquent kid with not much going for him. Lasseter found him and made him a deal, in which she’d turn him into a super-soldier and his previous charges would be dropped. The program, called Ultra, functioned as a sort of mind control program wherein subjects would basically become mindless, trained, soldiers who could be relied upon to finish jobs. This is the reason why when Mike’s training kicks in to rescue him from the killers, he’s able to evade, overpower, and kill them in a manner of minutes. It’s all like second nature to him. But after the program failed (the other subjects killed themselves I think), Mike’s memory was erased. This is the reason why he is slow-functioning, because the mind erasing drugs dulled his brain. Phoebe, it turns out, was a CIA agent assigned as Mike’s handler. Mike is crushed by this revelation, allowing one of Yates soldier’s enough time to kidnap Phoebe.

Lasseter meets up with Mike again, saving him after one of Yates men tries killing him and Mike decides he wants to go home. Lasseter also reveals to Mike that while Phoebe was initially assigned as Mike’s handler, she fell in love with him and left her job with the CIA to come and live with him. Mike feels a bit better and after a fight out with some of Yates men, he communicates with Yates to get Phoebe back. Meanwhile, on the other side, Yates attempts to get a drone to completely wipe out Mike and Lasseter, but Lasseter’s former assistant at the CIA reports Yates actions to the Director of the CIA. The drone doesn’t work out and thus begins a huge fighting scene wherein Mike takes on many super-soldiers in order to get Phoebe back. The movie ends [SPOILER ALERT] with Mike and Phoebe living happily as CIA agents/ operatives. Some other stuff happens too before this ending, but I think it’s important to leave at least some things for movie-goers to watch, instead of me spoiling LOL.

Anyways, while the movie isn’t a great masterpiece or anything, it’s definitely quite fun to watch. Director Nima Nourizadeh actually had some great shots and I really enjoyed some of the trippy sequences. I especially thought the fight sequences were interesting, as Mike literally just fights with whatever he can find, i.e. using a spoon as a knife. And while the script wasn’t award-winning, it definitely had quite a few lines that I just found hilarious. For example, when Mike is talking to Yates in order to get Phoebe back, Yates demands that Mike surrender and Mike agrees. He then wonders how he’s supposed to surrender and proceeds to ask Yates if he has to wave a white flag (he actually does wave a white tissue paper in one fight LOL) or if he has to sign something to make it official (LOL). Of course I realize that not everyone would find such humour appealing, but my sister and I quite enjoyed it. However, I think it’s also worth while to point out that the movie did have some drawbacks. Some of the fight sequences were gory to the core, and kind of disgusting at times. And while there were definitely some really, really funny lines, there were also some lackluster moments in the movie. The script wasn’t necessarily buzzing with laughs. And the plot-line of the movie is fairly predictable. So I caution against watching this movie with high expectations. My sister and I watched it without any expectations. Actually, if anything, we watched it with extremely low, perhaps even into negative territory, expectations. And maybe perhaps that’s why we enjoyed the movie so much; we found it to be much better than expected. Which brings me to the actors.

The best thing about this movie, in my opinion, was probably the acting, especially Kristen Stewart. She was really great in this movie. She presented a wide array of emotions and emoted so well. There was none of that awkward, lifeless performance I expected of her, which it a bit surprising since her character was definitely presented as a little bored and tired. I found her so engaging on screen and despite the small-ish role Phoebe occupied, I always enjoyed seeing her on screen. My view of her as an actor has definitely improved after seeing this movie, she’s quite good at comedy (and personally, I think comedy is one of the hardest genre’s to master acting in). Even Jesse Eisenberg was pretty good. The stoner, anxious parts of his character were enacted well by him, but that’s to be expected. He also did surprising well in the action sequences. And the rest of the supporting cast was good as well. Connie Britton and Topher Grace were great, as was Walton Goggins who played one of the super-soldiers. If it wasn’t for them, the movie probably would’ve bombed harder than it did.

My ratingWatch it with no expectations in order to have a decent time and to discover that Kristen Stewart has legit acting chops.