Reviews written by Why be normal
WILD LIFE (Taiwan Version)July 4, 2011 Inspiring video for budding musicians
First, my two cents worth about the music itself. The song that caught my attention the most was “Blue.” It’s one of my favorite tunes and I was a little disappointed that Hikki did not include it in her 2006 Utada United concert tour. Although I felt that the studio version of this song is among the best of her electronic/synth work, it was a pleasant surprise that she chose to have it played with an acoustic drum kit in concert. It sounded much better than I could have imagined. Of course, the drummer himself deserves due credit; however, it also shows one aspect of Hikki’s talents not only as a singer and composer, but also as a producer and arranger.
Second, the videography. Compared to her previous concert DVDs, I appreciated the increased attention given to her musicians throughout the video. Being a hobbyist musician myself (and currently trying my hand at drum machine programming and VST synths), I just about drooled over seeing close-ups of the Yamaha Motif and Arturia synths used on stage—and these synths aren’t cheap, at several thousand dollars (USD) each. It was great to see keyboardist Matt Rohde working with Hikki again, as well as seeing the Pro Tools software platform receiving some exposure. (And I have to admit that the Pro Tools operator looked so cool up on stage with headphones on working with his setup instead of toiling in the shadows.)
Third, a word about the musicians. Did you notice that the string section consisted of plain, regular-looking people like you and me? If Hikki acted like a diva (or belonged to the Avex record label), she would have been more concerned with image than ability, and perhaps used only people who looked like models. I have a lot of respect for Hikki because of that.
Combined with the bonus “Behind the Scenes” DVD, Wild Life makes for great watching if you’re a gearhead and/or you want an introduction to the technical side of concert production. Also, maybe there is a lesson to be learned from all of this. If you’re still young and absolutely hating your piano/violin/cello lessons, stick with it. You may not get into a symphony orchestra, but you’ll never know where your path will take you—perhaps some day in the future you’ll find yourself playing with Hikki in a recording studio or on a stage.
Delicious Proposal (DVD) (End) (English Subtitled) (MBC TV Drama) (US Version)(1)Our Price: US$24.99List: US$99.99Save: US$75.00 (75%)April 20, 2010 Funny...and King Jungjong on a blind date?!?!
Overall, this drama is pretty funny, and it's something that an entire family can enjoy watching. It's got comedy, cooking, drama, and nothing that would give it anything worse than an American "PG" rating. The English subtitles are very good. I don't recall seeing any grammatical errors, and the word translations were appropriate to the context of a scene. (Unfortunately, the translation quality of many English-subtitled Asian movies and TV shows leave much to be desired.)
The first episode of the series, which gives an overview of all the major characters, is perhaps the funniest episode. My favorite part of this episode was the "blind date" scene, because the actor playing Hee-Ae's date is the same guy who played the part of King Jungjong in Dae Jang Geum. Although this drama was filmed a couple of years before DJG, we got a good laugh out of seeing him in a completely different persona.
Sophie's Revenge (2009) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)1 people found this review helpful
January 19, 2010 A delightful change of character
Zhang Ziyi playing the buffoon??? You bet! If you are used to seeing Zhang Ziyi only in dramatic roles (i.e., The Road Home, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha), then prepare yourself for a huge surprise. This film surely turns the old practice of typecasting upside-down and then some. I still cannot believe my eyes seeing her in such a comedic role. Her pratfalls, mannerisms and facial expressions show her remarkable acting range. Just one of many examples is her sinister laugh in one of the gym scenes...understated, yet so...familiar, like when your best friend tries to pull a quick one over you. The production quality is a real cut above the typical Chinese comedy; even my American friends remarked at how "Western" this movie was, including the music soundtrack. The spoken Mandarin is very clear--great for those of us learning the language. Guys, even if you're not a fan of rom-com "chick flicks", trust me...not only will you impress your girlfriend/wife with your taste in cinema, it has enough comedy to keep you laughing throughout. (And for you ladies, having Korean heartthrob So Ji Sub in there doesn't hurt either.)
A Moment to Remember (DVD) (Japan Version)2 people found this review helpful
June 30, 2009 Before watching this movie...
...Bring LOTS of Kleenex. You're going to need it, especially at the end. The emotional content of this movie and its underlying theme of being loyal to the one you love makes it worth watching repeatedly, but the downside of that is...you're going to end up buying Kleenex by the case. Even if you're a guy. Don't say I didn't warn you...
If you're still too sad after seeing this, then watching Son Ye Jin in the romantic comedy "Delicious Proposal" will cheer you up a bit.
Utada United 2006 (Japan Version)October 31, 2008 What, no 5.1 Surround sound track?
The video and audio quality of this DVD was a letdown after watching the previous concert’s DVD (Budokan 2004). For one thing, there was no 5.1 Surround audio track, and the stereo track sounded rather harsh. I attended 2 of the concerts on this tour (not the one on this DVD), and although the LCD panels in the background were not exactly blinding, sometimes it bordered on sensory overload, such as on “Traveling” and “Movin’ On Without You”. As for the concert itself, I can’t really give an unbiased opinion, since it was a dream come true just to be there.
Also, this DVD does not do justice to her performance of “Be My Last”, accompanied by only a cello. I never really cared for this song, but after listening to it live in person, it changed my mind, and it was way better than what the DVD could convey. It was a shame that there were hardly any shots of drummer Forrest Robinson. I can’t understand why they didn’t showcase him during “Passion” because of the distinctive drum pattern on this song.
Utada Hikaru in Budokan 2004 ' Hikaru no 5 ' (Japan Version)(1)Our Price: US$44.491 people found this review helpful
October 31, 2008 Excellent video/audio production quality
Compared to Hikki’s other 2 concert DVD’s (Bohemian Summer & Utada United), the quality of the video and audio on this one is the best, provided you play it on the right equipment and not on a puny laptop computer. I played this on a flat-screen TV using an upconverting DVD player at near-HD quality, and the way her individual hairs stuck out and the sweat glistening off her face (especially at the end of “Letters”) was…well, you get the idea. If you are a musician, you will find it fascinating to watch the strobes (electronic metronomes?) along the front and side of the stage, and in front of the musicians keeping time to the rhythm so everyone stays in sync. (If you’re not a musician, the strobe flashes red on the first beat of each measure.)
The 5.1 Surround audio track is also excellent. There is a good balance of crowd noise coming from the back channels—but what will blow you away is the front center channel—that channel is wired only to Hikki’s microphone! If you go right up close to the front center speaker (or better yet, cut off the rest of the other channels), it’s like she’s right there singing right into your ear. Very clear. And there was virtually no background noise either. Also, Hikki sung her first two songs, “Hikari” and “Traveling” in a different key, and I personally liked it better.
The quality of this DVD more than makes up for the lack of pizzazz and special effects during the concert. It would be awesome if the the producers can release this in Blu-Ray.
Bohemian Summer 2000 (Japan Version)October 31, 2008 True to her R & B roots
This is a good video to watch in retrospect (after watching videos of her later concerts in 2004 and 2006). Her music had slowly morphed from R & B to Pop over the years, and if you miss hearing the former (mainly songs from her First Love and Distance albums), then this is the one to watch. Of course, since this concert took place in 2000, that was all the songs she had anyway.
Video and audio production quality was average, although the audio does have a 5.1 surround track, but watching the 2 drummers (John Blackwell and Tony Royster) really made it worth watching. The way John Blackwell twirls his drumsticks before his cymbal crashes blew my mind—his eye-hand coordination is amazing. Also, Hikki doing a cover of “Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)” was a nice touch. If you have parents or grandparents who loved this song when it was a hit back in the early 1960’s, then you should let them see this. On the minus side, the length of the concert was a little too long and kind of dragged on towards the end.
Dae Jang Geum aka: Jewel in the Palace Volume 3 (End) (MBC TV Series) (US Version)(14)Our Price: US$39.99List: US$99.99Save: US$60.00 (60%)2 people found this review helpful
September 23, 2008 English subtitles
Enough has been said about DJG, so here are my thoughts that may or may not have been mentioned previously:
- The quality of the English subtitles (US Version) is excellent, although there were some glitches such as a missing “a”, or “the” in some sentences. But what impressed me the most was their use of certain English slang or colloquial expressions. It’s risky enough to use such words if you’re not a native English speaker and haven’t lived in the States, but when used, it was used by the right person, in the right situation, and in the right context. An example was the use of the word “man” by one of the male characters (as in “Man, I just can’t believe this…”). Also a situation where Duk-gu’s wife just figured out why he had been getting so “lovey-dovey” with her lately, and also “getting frisky”…the effect of these expressions was just hilarious and it matched their comical personalities.
- Although Lady Choi was the person we all loved to hate, the actress who played her (Kyeon Mi-Ri) really played the part…just pure evil. But when you see her in real life (she has her own website), she seems to be the sweetest woman you’d love to have as a friend and/or wife. Also in the cast reunion special on TV, she was the funniest of them all. But then, I wouldn’t mess around with anyone who’s like Lady Choi’s character, real or imitated.
- (SPOILER ALERT…Don’t read this if you don’t want to know the fate of Young-Ro): I thought the most spine-chilling moment was the very last we see of Yourng-Ro: Going into hiding, walking down the trail, then water dripping from above, she looks behind, you hear a scream from far away, and then her facial expression…and then it cuts to another scene. Whatever happened immediately after is solely up to your imagination (Head got chopped off? Thrown off a cliff…?) Man, I could hardly sleep that night after watching that scene.
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