200 Pound Beauty

To be honest, when I sat down to watch this, I really didn't expect to like it. I'd seen a Chinese movie awhile ago that sounded very similar in plot (Love on a diet) which I absolutely hated. So I really didn't have very high expectations for this movie... but since it was a quick download, and my internet had been acting up, I figured, why not?

And actually... I ended up really liking it.

The main character, Hanna, was very likable and easy to sympathize with. You really want her to be happy, and it doesn't take long to realize that plastic surgery is really the only answer for her--the moment she goes into the doctor's office and proclaims, "I died yesterday," my heart just broke for her. In her eyes, she really did have nothing to lose. The whole thing came off very realistic to me--the obvious psychological strain something like that would take on a person--and the different ways in which they're treated, based solely on how they look. Even though I expected it, it was still a bit of a shock...

The one problem I've always had with these type of movies though, is that the overweight person always looks really fake to me. In this movie it was a little better--in Love on a diet, the fat people just looked ridiculous--but still, the entire time I'm watching it, I can't help but think, "it's so obvious they're not really that fat." For once, I wish they'd use an actual overweight person, instead of just dressing up a beautiful girl, and trying to make her look like something she isn't. But alas, I fear it's never to be.

SPOILERS

One other small complaint I had, was with the romance. I REALLY wanted to be able to cheer whole-heartedly for her, and to see her end up with someone who would love her, despite the fact that she used to be fat. And the male lead seemed like the perfect guy--until they threw in that wonderful little scene in the bathroom. After that, no matter how likable and nice they tried to make him seem... I just couldn't get that one scene out of my head, and desperately wanted her to find someone better. Even though I realize it was probably necessary, I still thought it was a great waste. For a second there, they actually made me believe he was a sweet, decent (if not rare) male who was capable of looking beyond someone's physical appearance.

They should have either made him not be a lying, selfish, jerk, or else had Hanna fall in love with someone who wasn't exactly conventionally handsome, or skinny.

Instead, after breaking her heart, over and over again, she still loves him. I really didn't want her to...

END OF SPOILERS

I really loved the music in this movie too, especially when she was performing the song, Maria, for the first time. It's that moment--when she's up on stage, looking nervous, scared, and insecure--and then all of a sudden it's like you can see the exact second when she comes to life, when her voice awakens, and it's simply incredible...

And wow, she can sing!

haha, if that really was her singing! Wouldn't it be ironic, if there was somebody behind the stage, and she was really only lip-syncing...? That alone would undermine the entire purpose of the movie, lol.

Another thing I loved, was the fact that everything didn't magically fix itself, the second she got skinny. She had a whole new set of problems to face, and they were just as difficult and real as the ones she faced when she was overweight. Even though I was condemning her for some of her decisions, it was easy to see that every wrong move she made, she realized and instantly regretted. And what's more... she made up for them. The ending, I thought, was perfect. Although the concert confession was a little over-the-top... even if it was necessary. ^_^

Overall, it was a very realistic, and touching movie. The comedy was well placed, and didn't feel inappropriate or forced. I really enjoyed it!

My Rating:


Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru (Heavenly Forest)

I love how I ended up watching this movie, because I misread the synopsis and thought it was going to be a cute, sweet, romantic, feel-good film... and it was... if you don't count the bits of lovely angst that were thrown in. But still, it was an excellent movie. Great acting, great story, great characters... great everything. I loved it. ;)

One of my favorite things about this movie, was watching the relationship between Makoto and Shizuru grow and change. And I just have to say, I love the way they first meet. The cross-walk scene really did an excellent job of establishing their personalities right away, while showing just how different they are from one another. Of course, the more we watch them interact, the more we realize that they really aren't that different after all... each has something to offer the other, something they have trouble finding elsewhere.

And I love how Makoto isn't your typical male lead. He's shy and self-conscious, and just really a very sweet guy. And I can't believe how well Miyazaki Aoi was able to transform herself into Shizuru! From the beginning of the movie, to the end, it's really hard to tell that they're the same person--and I adore the fact that she was being honest, and was actually able to carry though with her threat: "You'll regret it." Wow. She wasn't kidding! Poor Makoto...

You can't help but feel for every single one of these characters.

And without giving anything away with the ending: I thought it was beautiful. The twist was a little cliche and has been done to death... but the way they did it was very powerful. And once it's happened, I was hitting myself over the head for not guessing it sooner. They definitely hinted at it enough times throughout the movie... but like I said, I misread the synopsis, and assumed it was going to be a different kind of romance.

But still, you can't deny that the ending is very beautiful just the way it is. I doubt it would have had this much of an impact if it had ended differently. And I love that last little touch with the bird landing on his mailbox. Ahh, great film!

Oh! I also liked the fact that the "other" woman, I think her name was Miyuki, was actually a very likeable character. As was the rest of the group who were nice enough to befriend him--the only way I would have liked them more is if they'd invited Shizuru to join! That scene overall though, was very cute: when they invited him to sit and eat lunch at their table, and he's really nervous, and shy... it's amazing how different he seems when he gains a group of friends, and becomes a little less reclusive and loner(ish). But still, the person he feels most relaxed and comfortable around is Shizuru. ^_^

Plus, I loved the actor who played Makoto, since he also played the main character in the awesome (I gave it 5-stars) drama, Nodame Cantabile. The character he portrayed here is such a drastic change from Chiaki, it took me a while to recognize him!

Overall, another fantastic film. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars, was because the pace was a little slow at times, and because part of the twist was due to a very cliche plot element that seems to be VERY popular in Japanese entertainment. But still, I loved the way they handled it here a lot more than in most dramas, or movies with similar themes. And yes, I cried. But then again, I ALWAYS cry...

My Rating:


형사 (Duelist)

Before I begin, there is something I should probably let you in on: this is the type of movie you'll either love or hate. I loved it, as shown by my glowing review and 5 star rating... but this is due to my own personal taste, and not much else. Whether or not a film critic would see this as a brilliant film, I have no idea... but for me, the movie addict, that's exactly what I thought this was.

This movie was amazing. The acting, the story, the directing, the setting, the costumes, the fight scenes, the visual effects—seriously, I could go on and on. I was constantly amazed while watching it. Like I said, I'm not a film student or anything, and I normally only watch movies for entertainment... but I also love a movie that is willing to go beyond the standard edge-of-your-seat mentality, and use actual film techniques in order to tell the story. It's movies like these that remind me that film can be more than just entertainment--they can be a form of art too.

That’s one of the reasons I love watching Period movies and dramas—I’m so rarely disappointed with them, and they’re always entertaining and engaging. Duelist was no exception: everything was so vivid, so entrancing, and so surreal. I just couldn’t get enough.

As usual, one of the main things that drew me to this movie was the fantastic chemistry between the male and female leads. Every scene they appeared in together had me captivated—I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away. All they had to do was just look at one another, and you could literally feel the sparks flying off the screen; watching them duel was like watching an intricate, beautiful dance. Whatever it was, it sure wasn’t fighting!

I love how on the surface they seemed very different: the man, known only as Sad Eyes, a lonely, tortured soul, nearly unrivaled in combat; the woman, Nam-Sun, a bad tempered detective, who half the time, acts like a wild, untamed animal, and yet is capable of holding her own against this highly skilled sword-fighter. Despite their apparent differences, there seems to be an unspoken kinship between them... as if they're connected in a much more basic, primitive way... but the only way they know how to express it, is through fighting.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been this impressed with a movie couple in a long time. Usually, because of the time constraint, I have trouble getting as emotionally invested in the pairing as I'd like to--something that comes easily when I watch dramas and anime's. But here, I felt they got it just right—not too little, not too much. I was hooked from the moment their eyes met. Heck, even when she was freaking out, and casually tossing food at him, I was thinking what a cute couple they make, lol… yeah, I’m a little messed up, but I don’t care. J

One thing's for sure: Kang Dong-won and Ha Ji-won are amazing actors. To be fair, I've seen them in many other movies and dramas (actually Kang Dong-won was in Temptation of Wolves, which I reviewed earlier), and there isn't a project of their's yet, that I haven't enjoyed. Plus, this movie is very reminiscent of Damo which I absolutely loved (and which Ha Ji-won also starred in) so that could be another reason why I loved it so much!

Oh! And the music in this movie was beautiful… it fit each scene perfectly, and really added to the tension. I was very impressed—same goes with the directing. In a movie like this, if you don’t notice the varying camera angles, freeze-frames, and brilliant use of colors… then you’re missing out on much more than you realize. This isn’t just a typical action/martial arts movie. It’s a form of art.

The only problem I had with this film, was that there were several parts towards the end that were a little confusing--but even then, I was too interested in the character interaction to care. They could have stopped a climactic fight and started singing 'I have a lovely bunch of coconuts' and I would have sat there, enthralled.

Wow. I really have it bad for this movie, don't I?!

In conclusion: this is a movie you really need to see. If you can't make it past the first 10 minutes, then consider yourself one of the haters, and resign yourself to the fact that we'll probably never have similar tastes in movies. If, however, you loved it, and sat on the edge of your seat from start to finish... you may show me your gratitude in the form of cookies and flowers. ^_^

My Rating:


올드미스 다이어리 (Old Miss Diary)

This is a great movie! It's funny, realistic, and the comedy is top-notch. All of the characters are extremely likable (although Mi-ja can be a little frustrating at times), but they're all very easy to root for. You really want them to succeed!

Of course, the real draw for me was the love story between Mi-ja and Director Ji. It was cute watching them bond over their hatred for their mutual enemy. And her interpretations of his actions was very funny... the fact that she was actually right, made it even funnier! Even if their romance wasn't the sole focus of the movie... it was really sweet. I really wanted him to turn you to be a nice guy, and for her to finally prove her statistics wrong.

On another completely unrelated note, I had no idea that this was based off a Korean sitcom. Now I really really want to see the television show. Please! Someone sub it!! ^_^

The three old woman were hilarious. One of my favorite scenes was when they were shopping for colored underwear, and then after buying it, they started strutting down the street. LOL. Such a funny scene! And the older guy, who lost his money to the bank, and kept returning, intending to rob it... who would have thought something like that could be so funny?! I laughed every time he was on the screen.

My only complaint is that the transition from comedy to drama happened way too fast. It happened so quickly that I hardly even realized it was happening! I kept waiting for the joke to come, for the character to just start laughing... but it never did. And it wasn't like it was just one huge dramatic element that hit one of the main characters--it was like a bunch of separate problems hit each of them individually! I never really had time to recover from one depressing situation, when another one would come cropping up.

Luckily though, it managed to deal with the problems swiftly, and return to the comedy that most of the movie is known for. In the end, it was like none of the bad stuff even happened, and we're just left, smiling and happy, knowing that most of the characters will be happy.

Another thing that bugged me, was the fact that I had trouble figuring out how Mi-ja and her family were all related. They mentioned it in the beginning of the movie, but I had trouble following what the old woman was saying, since at the time, I didn't know who any of these people were. Then, when I did, I had forgotten how she said they were all related. I know that the three older women are sisters, and that one of them is Mi-ji's grandmother... but I still have no idea how she's related to the other men in the house. I think she called one of them an uncle...

I guess people familiar with the sitcom, would already know, so they didn't feel the need to dwell on it. ^_^

Also, I just have to say: every time I watch a movie now, it's like I recognize someone from the K-drama, Bad Family. I had no idea they had such popular actors in that show!!

Anyway, to recap: very cute movie!

My Rating:

구미호 가족 (The Fox Family)

Wow. This was a very messed up movie, lol. Luckily, I expected that, but still, I must say I was disappointed. I really didn't like this movie that much. I suppose I was expecting something more like The Happiness of the Katakuris--an extremely funny musical, that combined horror and comedy. I thought that this may be the Korean equivalent... but it wasn't. There were only two songs I really liked, and the humor was more perverse than laugh-out-loud funny.

Plus, there were just so many things that didn't make sense: the motivations of several characters, the "love" story, the history of the foxes (although that may be something that the intended audience would already know). And the ending was so very disappointing... it made me wonder why I wasted time watching this if nothing was really resolved. Not only that, but the big "mystery" was obvious: the killer was easy to spot right away.

That's not to say that there was nothing good about this movie. There is. The characters, with their naivety, is endearing... and watching them try to "fit in" with the humans is really funny. And I liked the young fox girl--her character was very cute. Also, it was cool how they made the youngest member of the family, the one who seems most indifferent to becoming human... she continues to act the most like a fox, and never quite fits into the human role she's been given. Then again, it's often normal for the youngest generation to "rebel", and since all the others were consumed with the idea of becoming human, I guess, in a way, her behavior makes the most sense. But really, it was the only part of the movie that I wasn't able to call ahead of time... which is probably why I liked it.

And their hunt for human victims was amusing... even if there were hundreds of better ways they could have gone about it.

Overall, it was amusing, and the story was interesting enough to keep me watching till the end. But I was expecting much more, so I'm still a little disappointed... it seems like they could have done a lot more with this story and these characters, than what they did. And most of the (perverted) humor, just wasn't in my taste.

I walked away knowing one thing: The Happiness of the Katakuris this is not.

My Rating:

Whispering Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs

This movie was awesome! It had a fantastic story/plot, lots of interesting characters, and tons of creepy, scream-worthy moments! The acting was terrific--the girl who played the over-weight student in particular, was amazing. That must have been such a fun role to play! It really made me wonder what else she's acted in.

The two main girls, of course, were great as well. I was surprised to realize I recognized Jin-sung's actress from Goong (where she also played a ballerina!). haha, I hated her in that too! Maybe some day she'll play a character I don't quickly grow to despise. ^_^

One thing I really liked about this movie though, was the way friendships were portrayed--not just between two friends, but through groups as well. Bullying becomes almost psychological with girls, and here it was used very effectively. And the way they depicted the misfit was very realistic: the quiet, strange girl who yearns to fit in, secretly idolizing those she wishes to befriend but doesn't have the courage to approach--it made the characters very pitiful, and their motivations very human.

Honestly, I really felt for So-hee's character. Everything that happened to her was so unfair, and she didn't deserve any of it. So I really didn't blame her for her actions... even if they were a little extreme. (okay VERY extreme, but I don't care). Heck, several times, I even cheered for her! Err, I'm not crazy or anything. Don't worry. I just like seeing people get what's coming to them--which is always acceptable in a movie. ;)

Another thing I really liked about this horror film, was the fact that many of the death scenes were unpredictable. Usually, it's really easy for me to guess how someone is going to die... but here, I was fooled almost every time. Maybe I just got lucky, and wasn't at the 'top of my game', but I love when a movie exceeds my expectations, and does the unexpected. I was surprised from beginning to end. ^_^

And yes, I was jumping and screaming like crazy. I got more than a few weird looks from my boyfriend while I was watching it, lol.

Plus, the whole idea seemed very original to me. I'm not sure if this is a common legend in Korea, or Asia... but I'd never heard of anything like that before! Of course, even if I had, I wouldn't be stupid enough to go through with it!

Overall, a terrific horror movie. The director definitely knew what he was doing! The only thing that's stopping me from giving it all 5 stars, is the fact that this is a horror movie, and I don't feel like I've seen enough good ones to accurately gauge what would deem it a 5. Once I see a few more good ones, maybe the rating will go up a bit.

(It did: it went from a 4 to a 4.5).

My Rating:


Whispering Corridors 4: Voice

The only reason I'm reviewing this movie here, is because I just finished watching Whispering Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs, and I wanted something to compare it against. It seems like I'm watching the Whispering Corridors movies/sequels backwards, lol. I guess next in line is the second movie. ;)

But first, let me just say that the fourth movie in this franchise was a HUGE let down for me. I'd been wanting to see it ever since I saw the cover (which ironically enough, I didn't even use here). But keep in mind that I had not seen any of the previous films before this one, and so had no idea what to expect. Seeing that it was number 4, simply led me to believe that it must be good--why else would there be sequels?

And honestly, at first, I really did like this movie. For one thing, it wasn't your typical horror film. Instead of relying on cheap horror tricks, the first half seemed more focused on the story and the mystery behind Yeong-Eon's death. It was like watching a puzzle being put together--a creepy, strange puzzle--but an extremely entertaining one. And I really liked the fact that the movie was told from the ghost's perspective, and not from the victim's...

The second half, however, is when it started taking on the typical horror movie role. I was kind of angry, to be honest. Here they had this great idea, but instead of following through with it, they took the easy, predictable way out. It's like watching a really great drama, and then at the end, having the main character get hit by a car. She survives, of course, but only to learn that she has cancer and will die anyway.

It's like... what the @#*$#!!

And truthfully, some of the "killing" techniques were a little ridiculous (see above capture). The directing and acting, however, were top-notch, and the musical score was also great. Now if only they'd redo the ending!!

I'm giving it a 3.5/5 only because I thought it had so much more potential...

My Rating:

Madeleine

I may be having a tiny bit of trouble deciding if I liked this movie or not. It was cute, and sweet... and I loved the main actors. But when all is said and done, I didn't really come away with anything after the credits rolled. I just kind of shrugged, and was ready to watch something else.

I think the main problem was the plot. It was believable, but it was very very typical. While watching it, I couldn't help thinking that I've seen this before in a variety of other Korean movies. Usually, that's not necessarily a bad thing... but for some reason, after watching this, I found it very forgettable.

I did however love the chemistry between the main couple. Shin Min-ah is one of my favorite Korean actresses--I just loved her in Punch. And though I haven't seen Jo In-sung in anything, I've heard of almost every drama he's been in, and only lack of time has kept me from watching them all. And here, he really seemed to embody the role.

I especially liked the contrast between their characters--they were so different, and yet when they're together, they just seem to fit. And I like how they included the flashbacks (the notebook-incident, and the gelled hair). And of course I loved the rain scene! (probably because I love rain in general, so I could completely understand the appeal). ;)

Also, I thought using Madeleine for the title was very clever. It was interesting how they worked it into the story... although I do wish they had included it in the ending somehow. They could have done a lot more with it, than what they did.

One thing I must comment on though, is the music. The soundtrack was AWESOME. My favorites were actually the songs their junior high classmate sang (her name escapes me)... I really liked her voice. (Which is saying a lot, since I usually despise any character who gets in the way of the main couple). And in movies, it's always nice to hear a variety of music, and not the same song sung over and over again, which is usually the case in dramas.

Overall, I'd say it was very average, but still enjoyable. It wasn't depressing, and nobody was dying of an illness or incurable disease (which is always a plus). It is very forgettable though, and I doubt I'll remember its plot or characters from all the other movies I've seen. But while I watched it, I enjoyed it. And I guess that's all that really counts. ^_^

My Rating: