Reviews written by numinair
Dream High 2 (DVD) (6-Disc) (English Subtitled) (KBS TV Drama) (Korea Version)
Dream High 2 (DVD) (6-Disc) (English Subtitled) (KBS TV Drama) (Korea Version) DVD Region 1, 3, 4, 5, 6(2)Our Price: US$53.99List: US$70.99Save: US$17.00 (23%)1 people found this review helpful
October 28, 2015 Be the true YOU - never give up Hope
Dream High 2 is somewhat different from the original (apart from usual love triangle woes) where Kirin Arts School students now share their trainer world with two major pop Idol groups, Eden (JB and SeoJoon) and HershE (JiYeon, Ailee and Hyolyn) who inadvertently breaking an underage watershed rule, Oz's Idol singers become banned from TV performances leaving Oz Entertainment bankrupt, but who take over the Kirin Arts school. Determined to become a pop singer HaeSung (SoRa Kang) gets into Kirin with good grades and becomes shocked, star struck and smitten when her favourite Idol JB enters Kirin after the Oz takeover. HaeSung remembers giving JB a Rubik's cube to ease JB's mind from deep sadness over the loss of his father (HaeSung - solving maths equations to ease depression or stress), and it's at Kirin that JB becomes smitten with HaeSung when understanding her own hardship, tears and determination in being a singer. Amongst the other Oz Idols is Rian (JiYeon) who part of girl group HershE (chocolate bar?) is deeply in love with JB, who had helped Rian in difficult times as a rookie. At Kirin Haesung also meets rock singer hopeful YooJin (JinWoon), who similar to JB had suffered parent loss when they divorced after he'd been a child celebrity - his mind now determined on becoming a successful rock guitarist. But with the Oz takeover comes a set of challenges. President Kang-chul (JunhTae Kim) sets a competition where Idols and Kirin students compete with each other in song and dance routine and those who fail to impress the judges lose their place at Kirin. But the competition is also a personal one - between Rian and HaeSung's love for JB. And YooJin's determination to beat JB at his own game.
In DH2 there are Pop Idols (grade A types) and rookie Kirin hopefuls (grade B's) featuring central cute song 'We are the B' about freeing crushing doubts about talent and self worth by happily acknowledging weaknesses, but determined and hopeful to succeed towards hidden talent! (Its hierarchical but it's a heart lifter). Kirin student HaeSung who doesn't give up hope with her personal dreams - but somehow her inner muse leading the dreamer to her goal. Its hard work but then there's also hard rock...cue G Minor YooJin! Punk rock in ways was about that (you CAN just do it and form a band, be yourself and the songs come freely), but where a desire for a dream can find serendipitous an unseen talent or path such as Hae-sung's song writing skill.
Juliets (DVD) (2-Disc Deluxe Edition) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version)1 people found this review helpful
October 23, 2015 Romeo, Romeo...where art our marbles, Romeo?
Juliet's comprises of three short movies by different directors modernistically reflecting the plight of Shakespeare's two tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet; from the 1970s, the 80s and finally to date (2010 when this was released). The triple offerings contrast from sad and sombre' Juliet's Choice' with Vivian Hsu as a crippled print worker sad about her future; a reflective secret lover trysts at a mental home with 'Two Juliet's' to a more S Korean comedy of' Another Juliet' of a heartbroken suicidal man about to turn 40 finding love with another man on a TV film shoot.
Personally I found the more sombre 'Juliet's Choice' the most interesting. For one I used to work in a similarly print shop environment as Xiu Zhu (Vivian Hsu) as a metal letterpress compositor and this brought a strange nostalgia to mind. The story concerning the crippled Xiu Zhu working at a local news print shop confronts a young student Luo Wei (Wang Po Chieh) needing a political critique about the paper printing, but refused by her father the owner. So secretly at after work hours Xiu Zhu sets type and prints the student's political comments for the main reason that she loves Luo Wei. Due to the Power oppression of the Age such social critique of course gets Xiu Zhu into hot water with her father and misunderstandings with student Luo Wei. Amidst the forbidden love a curious decision is made by Xiu Zhu.
Concerning the second and third stories I don't know which could be deemed the most black humoured - the third seems obvious by the comical plot, but although it's a more serious issue afoot the second story 'Two Juliet's' comes across the most dark humoured and ironic. Two lovers banned from seeing each other by strict parents, thus secretly and regularly meeting up at a mental institution where the tragic heroine, due to parental interference, vows and fakes her stay in a mental home until her lover returns - 30 years later (couldn't the nurses see through her scam). Mad it certainly seems and maybe a little madder than tight costumes that our intrepid suicidal hero in film3 as to wear to get to know a film set crew who inadvertently save him from his suicidal tendencies.
Overall this trio of stories relating to Shakespeare's forbidden love work is interesting, bleak with dark humour and of course tragic. The sort of mad tragedy that brings a Gloria and Anthony Patch to mind from F S Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned - now there's a tale yet to be modernistically filmed.
Almost Che (DVD) (2-Disc) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version)(1)Our Price: US$29.99List: US$38.99Save: US$9.00 (23%)1 people found this review helpful
October 16, 2015 Takeaway at the Takeover
Set in 1985 at the time of the S Korean pro-democracy student protest movement, 'Almost Che' at its heart centre is a comedy romance with a bit of student anarchy thrown in. Dae-oh (In-Kwon Kim) is a Chinese restaurant delivery guy who regularly delivers black bean specials to students. But when setting his eyes upon middle class student girl Ye-rin (Dae-in Yoo) with her ordered food delivery, Dae-oh becomes instantly smitten. Dae-oh believing he can woo Ye-rin's hear at a 'birthday party' of sorts, discovers that the birthday party is in fact a massive revolutionary student takeover of the America Culture Centre in Seoul that Ye-Rin is heavily involved. Previous to this Dae-oh was advised by his brother Bi-hong (Cheol-min Park) that to win a girl's heart Dae-oh should be bold and adopt the courage of revolutionary Che Guevara. So trapped inside the US Cultural Centre building with activist students and a big serious military unit outside, Dae-oh pretends to be 'one of the gang' a revolutionary to impress YeRin only with the utmost reason as to woe her heart. But Ye-rin's love is for revolutionary guy YeongMin (JeongSeok Jo) a musician activist who also becomes a strong part of the student 'birthday party' standoff.
Well, if you gonna get a divide and rule scenario about Forces of Oppression and student uprisings, there's no harm in having a laugh in the bargain (whether beggar, thief or Lord) and In Kwon can certainly delivery with the funnies (as well as black bean specials). Here In Kwon as iconic parody of Che Guevara. Jolly the insane craziness - it's all a game within infinity. Anyway, 'Almost Che' is certainly a film about the heart, of being smitten with someone that helps to blur out the reality grind. Young love verses the military boot. And it is a funny movie (thank God for that). The cavalry in this case Bi-Hong and his co-workers braving the military to delivery takeaway food to the starving and 'dangerous' revolutionary students. It's all mad as a hatters birthday party (as like most if not all conflictual lunacies) but at least young love and understanding wins out in the end (I think)..which is what probably happens when the inner Foolish struggles have finally reached the final major arcana...The World. So sit back enjoy a takeaway meal and watch this very funny movie...its good!
Love Forecast (DVD) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
October 15, 2015 Love Fate amidst a blustery gale of gals
When all else fails in love and getting dumped a regular thing, surely the Fates are telling that the bumpy side roads won't lead to true love and that only the meaningful One, generally in plain sight, is the predetermined and destined Love.
Well, school teacher JoonSoo (SeungGi Lee) is certainly getting ditched by girl friends a plenty for one reason or another, crestfallen and frustrated at that. But JoonSoo's wayward childhood friend Hyeon-woo (ChaeWon Moon) although pulling his ear and telling JoonSoo that he's not Man enough to woo the opposite sex (he should boldly thrust a girl into a wall with more passion) - she is the in plain sight girl that JoonSoo truly loves, but believes will never consider him likewise. For one JoonSoo doesn't give HyeonWoo sweet butterfly feelings in the pit of her stomach whenever she test hugs JoonSoo - even more important than Real Man status. But JoonSoo tried to prove his feelings to HyeonWoo in childhood, braving his fear of heights in a scary amusement park ride. However little JoonSoo's brave deed didn't quite work. He wet his pants (actually the result of another scared park ride passenger spilling his fizzy drink) so HyeonWoo mocked JoonSoo's childhood bravery.
But HyeonWoo now grown up with a successful career as a popular TV weather girl, is a firm favourite with many a young male heart especially S Korean army lads and also...in love with a married man - her superior TV work colleague DongJin (Seo-jin Lee). Troubled such an affair could wreck her professional career, JoonSoo becomes determined to win Hyeon-woo's heart away from DongJin, but also finds that street photographer Andrew (Joon-young Jung), a S Korean army mate of JoonSoo, as fallen for HyeonWoo, too. With triple love trouble JoonSoo's heart is in a tizz and things get more complicated when sexy nightclub dancer Hee-Jin (T-ara's Hwa Young) turns on her determined charm on JoonSoo. Like JoonSoo's other failing dates, Hee-Jin becomes another jinx (Hee-Jin torn away by her jealous ex) - but HeeJin does like JoonSoo a lot and shows herself to be a determined possibility.
Love Forecast is a formulaic rom-com, but with its fun characters is a good decent one for the romance set. I remember ChaeWon from TV Korean drama My Fair Lady and was fun to watch, and here takes on the wizz bang, stand no messing weather girl HyeonWoo. Also with Kpop gals - Gain and After School's Lizzie. Good to see HY and Seo-jin Lee again! This DVD edition region ALL
Girls' Generation Vol. 5 - Lion Heart2 people found this review helpful
October 7, 2015 GG - Space n Retro at the ready
Here forth (or should that be fifth) lands the new GG album 'Lion Heart' with two versions to choose from. This nifty neat sized hard back book type comes in two flavors, both the same size with two distinct covers and photo pictorials. A more fashion spread look than song sheet where the Infinity Girl 8 are either boutique space girls with a Life on Mars? back drop for the 'You Think' edition or 20s to 40s chic for the 'Lion Heart' edition (the bobbed Sunny looking a bit Tillie the Toiler on Lion Heart). The song versions are the same on both albums. I thought at first that maybe the You Think album was gonna be a set of EDM dance mix versions from the Lion Heart songs, but unfortunately not.
As for the songs the really taker for me is 'Sign' by Hitchhiker with main song 'Lion Heart' also a pretty good addition to GG's song roster. For the songs and ideas, Americanisms and that I'm surprised that Team GG haven't looked back to early Hollywood and reflected that more so. It would be interesting to see GG in this retro sense (silent movie, black and white grainy music videos) with good punchy jazzy electronic songs and plenty of imagery to play with. Here GG can seem a bit generic with the music and look, but still good all the same. Girls on Mars? The Lion King? Hell, why not I suppose.
No matter Girls' Generation are still around and they have become an endearing group. Hope that all goes well for the future. ;)
But if you making a decision on these two GG albums - either the Life on Mars or Tillie the Toiler versions (Tillie the stenographer girl from a newspaper comic strip in the 20s) - the choice is for the image only - songs are the same which either version you may buy . That EDM version would have been interesting and nice though.
Gangnam Blues (DVD) (2-Disc) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
September 11, 2015 Savage Agenda - Gangnam style
I really like Min ho Lee, not just because he's a successful lad in both music and movies now, but he's one decent fellow throughout. But Min ho's movie debut here is a quite hard one to imbibe and some heartfelt fans of his are gonna be mentally 'punch drunk' after watching this vigorously nasty gangsta flick. His character Jong-dae an amiable youth, soon twisted with malformed emotions towards a caricature of insane violence. Jong-dae punches and stabs quite a lot. The political machinations of corruption and gangster wheels is an overkill blood fest throughout the pictorial, that although I'm loath to say depicts violence for violence's sake - its surly borderline here (I couldn't help think similarly with S Korean flik 'For The Emperor'). Gangsters pummelling the hell out of each other via the double cross and not a set of character aspects spared the violence - even ex gangster Gill So (Jae Young Jung) and of his daughter beaten up by her husband (plot device), for Jong-dae to blow a fuse in pummelling retribution. As for Jong-dae and his orphaned childhood mate Yong-ki (Raewon Kim) are initially two amiable youths pulled out of the gutter to start separate lives with gang leaders. Then depicted as spiritually poisoned after greed and the dark smell of money drive both to needful despotic violence (two 'brothers' thrust into a male bloodlust overkill version of a Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly; for money or fame). Land grabbing real estate for profit instead of the needs of 'ordinary' people, political corruption in building a new glamorously rich Utopian city.
But the depressing finality of this is how the Wheels of Power create such a Gangnam - sharply controlling, brutal and languidly corrupt, seem to easily instigate and use powerful gangsters for torture, intrigue and lies for manipulative political aims, dragging these two lads yanked from poverty, into a whole succession of cold brutal gang warfare (a bit OTT gang warfare I must say - unless maybe 'competing' with J Dilllinger and his guys) - cogs used, abused and thrown away after the Power Lords have their land machine up and running. Hopefully a narrative of fictitious exaggeration, that Gangnam wasn't built amidst such past corruption. But to contradict, the style and vigour of Gangnam Blues is a quality one with a good fine cast, and portrays the whole madness of such corrupt brutality as a mud bath fight of pointless lunacy. The daisy able to grow with natural finery in any edifice.
The Swimmers (2014) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)1 people found this review helpful
August 28, 2015 The winner sinks his all.
Perth (Chutavuth Pattarakampol) and Tan (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn) are both close friends and swim together in the local sports training pool. They are competitive swimmers, with Perth landing himself a gold medal at a competition and also a new admiring girlfriend Mint (Violette Wautier). But this was not long after the tragic death of Ice (Supassra Thanachat), a girl who had committed suicide by plunging into an empty pool leaving her boyfriend Tan in so much despair that he was unable to perform for the competitive swimming medal. Celebrating his victory Perth is pleased at his win, but also disturbed by the death of Ice. Perth also loved Ice, and had taught her how to swim at secret nightly sessions at the sports pool, and eventually won Ice over from his best friend Tan. Ice told Perth she would break up with Tan, but Perth wanted to keep their love secret. Now Ice was dead and on the day of his medal win Perth is reminded of the anniversary of her death. With Perth now dating Mint, their relationship begins to scar by Perth's haunting memory of his former secret love.
But one day at the pool observation room, Tan and Perth speak together about Ice's suicide, and Tan is determined to find out who had caused Ice's terrible death. Perth is curious about what his friend would do if Tan ever discovered the truth about Ice, and Tan tells Perth he would kill the person who had caused Ice's death. Perth remembering his secret liaisons with Ice at the swimming pool remembers that much had developed between them - that they loved each other. They had even slept with each other and Ice had become pregnant.
Scared of Tan's intent, Perth is determined to keep the truth from him (also causing curious and jealous concern from Mint), especially when Tan obtains Ice's smashed hand phone that could reveal a video of Perth and Ice's love together. Tan had once received his girlfriend's phone after going to her house after Ice's funeral. Perth had also attended Ice's funeral, sneaking also into the family home hiding under Ice's bed as her mother entered the room - and begins to hear strange ghostly noises (even a fit of rage on the bed above - was that the ghost of Ice?). Perth then begins to sense more the unsettled spirit of Ice - and heard her words one night whilst he was sleeping. 'Please keep our baby' echoing around Perth's bed room as he slept alone - flooding back the dark memories.
The Swimmers (2014) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)1 people found this review helpful
August 28, 2015 A watery crave unto lonely madness
Paranoid, haunted, obsessive and beginning to shift into dark realties of guilt and shame, Tan maintains his training for another swimming competition. But at every moment Perth is haunted by Ice's un-restful shadow, their secret pregnancy issue obsessing Perth the most as he psychologically convinces himself of having a ghost pregnancy - why was his stomach beginning to bloat so much? Was it the raw egg intake to assist his swimming training that was making his stomach swell? But pregnant women can also have the urge to eat many raw eggs. Wild eyed with insanity Perth gets ever more paranoid, convincing himself that Ice's baby is being reborn inside of him. With Mint getting ever curious about Perth's odd behaviour and with angry Tan also treading nearer to discovering the dark truth about Ice and Perth's tragic love - Perth becomes one scared and frightened lonely man.
There's a watery hole and main character Perth drops into it...again and again. He's a swimmer 'winner' but at what cost? His soul? His obsession for Ice is obvious, as too is Tan's who would kill for reasons of sick revenge, churlish obsession for truth. The Swimmers is part ghost story (a creepy one at that) but mainly love obsession, with two amiable lads, who after the death of Ice, both sink into manic obsessive anger and tense paranoid fear, with Tan and Perth making quite desperate and disturbing nasty choices. The blue touch paper lit crux is teen sex and pregnancy, here a dividing curse that blights good friends relationships when something very unfortunate happens. It turns into a fear mind game, with Perth always afraid of his angry friend Tan discovering his fearful guilt. Those holes. But like Laddaland, is another good psychological horror movie from director Sophon Sakdaphisit with a worthy plot (apart from one violent loose end scene) and disturbing stuff. (The fetus scene death is one to etch itself into memory the most). It also portrays some chilling and haunting photography and stark reflective landscapes, and the incidental music quite interesting, too. The main actors also express their characters well (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn reminding me a little of a young Ji Tae Yu). As a watery horror - it's a good mere ghost tale. As a social comment about casual sex - nah - the young know how to grow up as always since the days of the cave. Natural Sex is sex - not like XXX.
If you do need to eat whilst watching this movie though, try to avoid the idea of an egg omelet.
Sex Appeal (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version)1 people found this review helpful
August 12, 2015 The Division Game
Escaping her strict motherly upbringing Bai Bai (Amber Kuo) moves from Taipei to a prestigious music university in Taitung, seeking freedom and finding love by local Taitung boy Mu Hong (Hunag Yuan) who gets a crush on Bai Bai when first encountering her on her towards 'new life' train journey. After settling into her dorm and getting to know Mu Hong to the point of dating, Bai Bai then settles into her musical tutorage. Her music teacher Jen Fang Lin (Leon Dai) passes Bai Bai and others into the school orchestra, having favour to those somewhat under par, and by professor Lin's charismatic demeanour and rich knowledge of Mahlar, music and passion bring professor Lin and Bai Bai together. But the professor harbouring a strong stricture about lack of passion, a part reflective emptiness amidst Jen Fang Li's fractured marriage to his lawyer wife An Ni Lin (Huang Yuan) - identifies in himself a boring sense of character in Bai Bai. The professor admonishing Bai Bai for her lack of musical passion, and to administer his soul enriching 'antidote' decides to take the liberty in sexually abusing Bai Bai in his private office. Shocked and silently horrified at Lin's haughty misconduct, the only emotion Bai Bai at that abusive moment can offer are her fearful and disappointed tears. Tearing herself inwardly Bai Bai becomes emotionally locked into herself about the relationship with her music tutor, even favouring the sexual liaison by submission and self guilt - leading Bai Bai to various suicide attempts.
The University administrator Wen Hui Wang (Jade Chou) soon hears about Bai Bai's sexual ordeal after Bai Bai's first attempted suicide and urgently seeks legal aid from lawyer An Ni Lin regarding the situation. Due to An Ni Lin being married to professor Lin, creates the obvious complication of interests, so Wen Hui decides to contact her old school friend An Yu Fang (Vivian Hsu), also a prosecutor lawyer working in Taipei, to do her a favour. But complications are added further by Wen Hui and An Yu being estranged friends, ironically concerning their bitter differences about the Lin family. An Yu herself is also estranged from her husband and adverse to ever meeting up with her son. Suffering guilt and unhappiness An Yu seeks the passion of a young male lover at a motel, sexual solace to escape her personal troubles - ever emphasised by her constant reminders of neglected mother hood by Wen Hui's own child.
Sex Appeal (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version)1 people found this review helpful
August 12, 2015 A human appeal for something called normality
An Ni Lin mixed with bitterness at her husband's betrayal of misconduct is however determined to save their marriage, and An Yu's own personal divisions with An Ni and her own broken marriage, the two lawyers get all personal in a legal court battle over a music tutors' sexual intellectual oppression and the traumatised Bai Bai.
A movie concerning some women who suffer in silence from the fallout of sexual misconduct. In this girl student Bai Bai - performed well by pop music poppet Amber Kuo - is the tormented and betrayed representative. For me the interesting role is Leon Dai's professor Lin - a sexually troubled man who both demon and decent (with leanings more to the latter) is subject to his own intellectual prowess on vulnerable young students in forceful sex acts. As a title 'Sex Appeal' seems tacky, but blended with the plot's marital troubles and estrangements such as Vivian's pissed off lawyer An Yu Fang and the emotional depths charged beneath the dark persona of Lin and Bai Bai's psychological disturbances of love, despair and self loathing - make for a quite interesting movie. As well there is the determined Mu Hong having a deep love crush on Bai Bai, even bursting into Lin's teaching class and punching the professor when Mu Hong hears of his deceitful deed upon Bai Bai.
Certainly the key factor to this is mind games - a great curb of the spirit of freedom - control and regular order passed on like a relay baton from parent to child, strictures in order to insure that human quality of educated life is met, to please forces of dominant criteria - at the cost of natural freedom. Absorbed intellectualised power structures (An yu Fang's symbolic red and black squares of her bed head speak volumes) where even the music baton is a pressure symbolic upon Bai Bai, after she tries to escape becoming a 'perfect child' for her piano teaching mother back in Taipei. Bai Bai's brief heavenly and hippy fervour met as only a glimmer by the natural boyhood and honest love from Mu Hong - before her ordeal.
Sex Appeal is potpourri blame game (executed as part parody in a verses match in final law court scenes) - not just towards professor Lin taking the liberty, but characters reflecting over exerted and stressful expectations that spawn deeper divisions. Bai Bai yearns for freedom. An Yu years for some normality. Professor Lin wrongfully using his subtle control mixed with sexual passion is as much in crisis criteria as most populating the story.
Conspiracy (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version)1 people found this review helpful
July 22, 2015 The trials of fear, lies and love craft
'Conspiracy' is a play within play of rumour and condemnation, love obsession and fear that strongly relates to Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, the reflected fiction about the Salem witch trials. But with Conspiracy the witch trial hysteria regards a school teacher Mr Wang (Ju Hong-Zhang) who after supposedly physically beating a young girl school student Ai Lin (Li Shao-jie) prompts her close male friend Lun Hua (Lu Ming-yao) to become a militant protestor, with a strong group of supportive students, protesting continually about the school's attitude toward corporal punishment. Lun Hua as good reason to be obsessive as he has more than a mere crush on Ai Lin himself. The shamed teacher Mr Wang denies his purported wrongdoings but leaves the school and remains ridiculed, the school students convinced of Mr Wang's supposed brutal actions. But as Lun Hua picks up a book of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible the lad becomes obsessed on how the play about the Salam witch trials seems to parallel his own and other students situations about accusing other people they fear. Furthering his attention to the witch trial play, Lun Hua begins to see a tapestry of conspiracy mirroring his own world and youth group - a crazy sort of set up. As the rumour mill plot thickens, other aspects about Ai Lin's obsession with Mr Wang prompt unseen situations to the student hive about Ai Lin having a strong love interest in her teacher.
The crux of Conspiracy is how a remote personal love feelings can turn into a dangerous futile obsession of lies. But the student hysteria is not what it all seems - a larger mass having concerns about a 'bullying' teacher, when the more painful truth is behind a few people's personal life trials. Conspiracy is a double obsessive passion play, paralleled by the witch trial play of Salem of girls deemed demonically possessed after dancing with wind spirits, and a young man's love for a young girl who just happens to have a crush on her tutor. But the title being Conspiracy it's not so much the spontaneity of such futile happenings, but the crafted nature.
The majority of the cast of Conspiracy are mentioned as first time actors, but certainly put on a good show. Li Shao-jie I think will be someone to watch out more having a quite striking film actor presence. The cinematography and moody atmosphere is good, too. A movie that makes you think more about what lies beyond the superficial surface of hammered home media repetitions.
Yes Album (Bonus Track) (Remastered) (US Version)1 people found this review helpful
July 6, 2015 Amazing grace of The Fish (now sadly missed)
Yes are like a gentle wind or spirit pointing to another world juxtaposed in sound with thundering and harmonious rock melodies. Beautiful and rewarding. It goes without saying that 'The Yes Album' is a 70s light rock classic, an album introduced to me many years ago in 1976 by a school mate of mine who borrowed me his vinyl copy (bought my own later with pocket money). 'The Yes Album' is almost perfect with beautifully melodic cosmic driven guitar epics (the instrumental parts of 'Yours Is No Disgrace' and 'Starship Trouper' are heaven) with strong deep portends (Yes might seem the opposite light side to heavy rock band Black Sabbath, but both bands lyrically reflect the dire warnings about the follies of war and force) and an album that first introduced me to Yes's myriad of cosmic rock music - Jon Anderson's spiritual and otherworldly lyrics, Steve Howe's exceptional versatile guitar playing (Steve inspired by Chet Atkins) and Chris Squire's amazing grace of a thuderingly brilliant bassist. Next I began wearing out my vinyl album to the more heavy and powerful sound of 'Yessongs', a brilliant triple live album from their extensive world tour of 72.
'The Yes Album' (their third and first with lead guitarist Steve Howe propelled Yes into the rock stratosphere) is the classic album from Yes's halcyon days of the 70s along with their other studio albums 'Fragile' and 'Close to the Edge' - big musical suite epics of surreal and powerful majesty of picture landscape spirituality in rock music (which 'Tales from the Topographic Oceans' took even further). Live versions that I played to death on my copy of 'Yessongs' before getting to know the Fragile/CTTE studio versions (especially Siberian Khatru and Yours is no Disgrace). I also love the 80s Yes sound with Trevor Rabin from '90125' (Of course ) and 'Talk'. And for the later Yes studio albums 'The Ladder' and' Magnification'.
I normally review Asia stuff here, but the untimely death of Yes bass player Chris Squire hit a strong cord with me. Chris was far too young to die at 67 and the candle holder of Yes's flame over the years . As a rock bass player (a style that likened him to a lead guitarist) is one of the greatest from our UK shores. Inspired certainly by Paul McCartney and John Entwistle (Chris an avid fan of The Who) but also a modest bassist who inspired many respective musicians.
RIP Chris Squire the world will sadly miss your spirit but will never be without such great musicianship and music.
Partners in Crime (2014) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)1 people found this review helpful
June 23, 2015 Without a sense of belonging
You anticipate by Chang Jung-chi's deeply dark dreamlike opening credits with 'Partners in Crime' to be surreal and otherworldly in style which it certainly is. The movie credits superimposed over a drowning boy who descends to deep waters below. Sinking along with a bag full of abstract things that surly to materialize as significant aspects of what is to come. The body of the boy is then pulled from a lake as police try to ascertain who he is and what happened. The plot suddenly resets to the past. The present night darkness switching to past daylight as Huang (Wu Chien-ho) travels by train to his school - swift electric memories of him being bullied by other male youths - the sombre lad afterwards walks slowly to his school. Looking towards a narrow alleyway, Huang's deadpan face turns and spots the dead body of a school girl. He kneels beside her bloodied head and touches her face. Simultaneously by coincidence two other boys pass, also with muted shock - Yeh (Cheng Kai-yuan) a sporty, tough looking youth and Lin (Deng Yu-kai) a bookish and quiet student cross their paths with Huang, who the latter silently looks up to the building above and wonders - why did this girl jump to her death? His thoughts merging with the droplets of water rain and the girl's blood on the alleyway floor.
After interviewed by local police and attending several school counselling sessions, the three boys Huang, Lin and Yeh, who knew nothing about each other before the fatal day, suddenly form a bond ship as they decide to find the truth about the dead girl and why she could have killed herself. Huang is the most curious and the boys discover from other students the dead girl's name - Hsia (Yao Ai-ning). Hsia from a wealthy family kept herself to herself, had no classmates other than possibly one girl - Chu Chong-yi (Wen Chen-ling) - the latter's photo the only person amongst Hsia's social media photo gallery, other than pictures of cats. But Hsia had differing aspects - she was remote but also went to late night dance clubs. Attending Hsia's funeral Huang, Yeh and Lin meet Hsia's mother (Lee Lieh) who is surprised that her daughter had close friends who would pay such respects. Hsia's mother a business woman, is regularly away from home and who had left Hsia alone to her own devices. Huang had lied to Hsia's mother about the three boys knowing her daughter, and later told Lin and Yeh that this falsity could soon be believed when people accepted this as truth.
Partners in Crime (2014) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)1 people found this review helpful
June 23, 2015 Don't let misinformation get you down
Determined to find the truth, the three boys enter Hsia's bedroom apartment at night, her mother being away. Locating Hsia's computer they study her social media and spot one photo of Chu Chong-yi. Later leaving Hsia's apartment block Huang gives Lin and Yeh his secret that Hsia was bullied by Chu by a note he discovers in Hsia's bedroom. The torn note from Hsia's diary is however suggestible but obscure, but Huang is convinced Hsia's classmate Chu was the culprit to Hsia's suicide. Lin and Yeh suggest this information should be given to the police, but Huang only desires to teach Chu a lesson.
Three boys laughing, swimming and scooping water over each other in the small lake had played their prank on Chu Chong-yi, just a funny little scare with a mannequin dummy hung from one of the lake's neighbouring forest trees. Three boys happy but with subconscious guilt had mirrored the very 'bullying' that Hsia might have endured from Chu. But Lin wasn't sure Chu was a bully at all. Suddenly Lin thrashes the water and begins to sink as Huang swims towards Lin to help him. By panicking Lin's arm violently and accidently smacks into Huang's head knocking him unconscious. Huang sinking down to the lake bottom. Yeh quickly rescues Lin from drowning and both reach shore, but with no sign of Huang, Yeh desperately dives back into the lake. But to no avail. Another tragic accident. Lin and Yeh overcome with guilt at the death of Huang, wonder what other students would believe of them. An accident? Bullying? Murder? Suicide? Just like Chu Chong-yi and Hsia, probably any plausibility other than the intangible raw truth.
Partners in Crime is more about misinformation of hearsay than bullying itself. Huang is bullied, but the focus is how everything the main protagonists believe about someone else is distorted by personal and emotional suffering. It's that old adage - see no evil, hear no evil - speak no evil with aspects of Murphy's law. At the centre the girl Hsia is found dead, with Huang perceiving, identifying and convincing himself that Hsia was bullied and committed suicide; paranoid scenarios replicated by Lin and Yeh. Bearing loneliness in isolated abstraction but with connected merit. More than anything PIC well reflects and understands the perceptions of severe loneliness and teen angst. Ultimately it's the lack of the sense of belonging that is at stake. Social creatures we humans are.
A very recommended movie with a cast of find good actors.
Girls' Generation World Tour "Girls & Peace in Seoul" (2DVD + Photobook + Folded Poster) (Korea Version)
Girls' Generation World Tour "Girls & Peace in Seoul" (2DVD + Photobook + Folded Poster) (Korea Version) DVD Region All(1)Our Price: US$45.99List: US$59.99Save: US$14.00 (23%)3 people found this review helpful
June 18, 2015 Girls' & Peace - 9 Diamonds on stage
'Oh no, not another one!', you could say what with quite a number of SNSD 'Girls & Peace' video concerts getting released...lol. But they're all good and I find each one of GG's concerts (and its only by optical disk I get to see 'em live) feature nice varied delights of the gang's love, song and banter and this specific Seoul concert kicks off the GAP tour with a large roster of songs (35..or 36 with 'Gee' performed twice ) and possibly the last concert release with Jessica in the group (don't give up hope, I'm sure it's not Jessica's 'the last show she'll ever do' as the Situation isn't entirely impossible for her to return to GG...even for a one off. Or maybe a two or three off concert..or forever!). But, hey, GG happened and the SNSD show train still rolls on for fans to presently enjoy either in audience or arm chair mode.
As for this GAP concert DVD, it's very similar to the Japanese 'Girls & Peace' shows but with more songs on offer (on disk anyway) and also different back screen bridge bits (that one with Taeyeon as a sky goddess and the dissipating shadow creatures..D:) that can be interesting. It's a vibrant, energetic electric show, too! After a bizarre intro the show kicks off hyper electric with seamless back screen video versions of the 9 girls dancing as the real GG rise up from below stage and then cut straight to the chase...Hoot, Animal, Talk Talk, The Boys and I Got a Boy giving the audience little breather as the powerful dance beats, lights and electronic dance swamp the fans with GG-pink electric sound. (An excellent show by SM's crew no doubt - GG are honoured.
This Big Package is mainly for the long photo booklet which is full of GG- GAP concert photos and worth the cost. The poster cover design is folded/inserted inside the box set. No Blu Ray version but the DVD picture quality on this set is as good as you can get for DVD (excellent in fact). I know, that old contention of no English subtitles on GG concert disks is a bit weird. But I didn't find them entirely necessary here. The songs wouldn't be subbed anyway and its mainly for the here and there bits the girls have with their audience. Only the Making Of would benefit for the English subs, but anyway...it no way hinders me enjoying the concerts. And I really enjoyed this one! But, nevertheless, English subs would be a good-fair-sensible idea!
I've still to watch the 'Best Live Toyko Dome' with SNSD 8, but I'm sure it'll be as good.
SNSD 8 and Jessica - 하나님은 축복
The Spy: Undercover Operation (DVD) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
June 15, 2015 The Spy - Droll And Fierce
'The Spy' is a good mix of sappy humour and cold blooded gun shooting fierceness with a decent reworked spy action movie plot. About a kidnapped North Korean female nuclear scientist defector Baek (Ye-ri Han) who is sought after by many 'agencies', especially Ryan (Daniel Henney) and his henchmen for Baek's rare knowledge of nuclear rockets, the S Korean spy agency need spy man Chul Soo (Kyung-Gu Sol) to re-attain Baek pronto, or hell could break loose. The plot isn't dissimilar to the war inducing bomb plot of Bond movie 'Octopussy' (or part Ian Fleming atomic rocket novel 'Moonraker'). But poor old Chul Soo shows here how being married and also having a job being a spy can be difficult bed mates. Chul Soo demand by his flight attendant wife Young-Hee (Si-ri Moon) nagging Chul Soo to spend more time at home and making a baby. Young-hee though doesn't have a clue her husband is a spy, believing him a mere office worker. And even more un-James Bond like is that Chul Soo is low on sperm count and finding it difficult to keep his end up.
But Chul Soo, when sent on his spy mission to Bangkok Thailand to locate Baek, suddenly has worrying concerns when spotting his wife and her new dandy boyfriend - the dangerous Ryan. Young-Hee is literally swept off her feet by the playboy at the Bangkok airport foyer and after a 'why not' decision in having a little quirky affair (Chul Soo being away all the time) decides on a dinner date with Ryan. Chul Soo getting highly concerned about the affair begins to tail his wife amidst his dangerous mission. But Young-hee involved with cold blooded killer Ryan puts her in grave danger.
Although part comedy the serious action is fierce and violent throughout. But the action/humour bits go together well - especially the mass shootout part at a restaurant. There are nevertheless quite humorous moments like Chul Soo's public toilet scene where he relays a 3D X-ray glasses spy image of Ryan's Percy at the porcelain bit (also featured in the movie's trailer). Not good for Chul Soo's ego either. A gadget too far? The action (and there's lots of it) and CGI effects are also far above average, especially near the final, and all in all 'The Spy' does make for a good entertaining yarn. Pity Daniel Henney's playboy assassin Ryan is such a mad cruel bugger, as his JB type suave persona is very good. It's also another nice team up for Kyung-Gu Sol and Si-ri Moon what with their classics of 'Oasis' and 'Peppermint Candy'.
Elsie Mini Album Vol. 1 - I'm good1 people found this review helpful
June 12, 2015 What's it all about...Elsie?
Interesting that Eunjung has a new moniker for this mini album 'I'm Good', which Elsie is a fine and noble name. But why such a name change as Eunjung is okay for me? - and EJ's the name. Maybe EJ's name change (Elsie Alias) is a modest or tentative approach for Eunjung going solo to a mixed appreciative home audience (EJ and T-ara collectively do, alas, still get online word hassle). But did Eunjung going solo have to (maybe) anticipate the past of T-ara's 'mishaps'? Oh, it's only theatre darlings and that 'incident' shouldn't be taken oh so seriously, but ignorance isn't always favoured towards bliss. So maybe Elsie it is (can't help thinking about long running soap opera 'Coronation Street' though being a Brit...Elsie Tanner...sorry EJ!). I anticipated, too, after Jiyeon and Hyomin's solo mini albums Eunjung having a solo project as she has a good strong stage presence (she's tall) and sports a good sweet vocal range. In any case, EJ's a voice of T-ara and that's good enough for me.
As a first solo for Eunjung (or Elsie) its peach, cream and petals, but musically a subtle low key contrast to Jiyeon and Hyomin's solo releases. The core song 'I'm Good' is a nice main ballad, a bust up song and trying to survive love without the other half. There are two versions of the song - a main EJ duet version with K.Will and EJ solo version. Of how much this song reflects Eunjung/Elsie is room for debate, but a good song. For a bit more of the upbeat 'Love Effect' is equally decent.
As an actress, too, Eunjung has done okay with 'Dream High' and the ghost horror movie 'White' and hopefully will do much more. As an only child also, its good to see how Eunjung as experienced a tremendous amount of courage in what she does best (amidst the flak and fallout). Being an entertainer - and a sweet 'n' cool one at that. I like Eunjung - I like T-ara.
Packaging is a hard back book type with attached photo booklet and with sweet set of Eunjung photos. For me the photographic mood is cool and Kara peach with a bit of BEG dark seduction. A sweet impression and a good one for Eunjung. God bless you, man.
Han Gong-ju (DVD) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
June 3, 2015 An inconvenient truth....
Gong-ju (Woo-hee Cheon) is a student to be transferred to a new school. The education committee had agreed with themselves that it was for the best, for Gong -ju also. Living alone after her parent's divorce, Gong-ju's tutor Nan-do (Dae-hee Jo) arranges her new transfer and for Gong-ju to live temporally at his mother's home. Mrs Cho (Yeong-ran Lee) isn't at first happy with her son's request, wondering why Gong-ju was being specially or specifically transferred -was she rich? Or was she pregnant? Gong-ju isn't also happy with her new room, what with the strong pepper smells reeking around the bedroom due to Mrs Cho's business store. But eventually Gong-ju finds Mrs Cho an amiable person, even a good mother surrogate - Gong-ju later learning that Mrs Cho also suffers personal weights. Nan-do gives Gong-ju a cell phone but only for her to communicate with him, even instructing Gong-ju to not call anyone else even her father. The past incident was serious, but would surely pass in good time. That was how Gong-ju regularly felt about her ugly and alienating situation, that those around her were more concerned about self preservation, money and social priority than her own damn state of mind. Her being grilled at the police station wasn't much help either. Gong-ju knew for certain that she would never want to be shamed in public for the incident, and was concerned what others may be shoving out now on social network sites.
As a transfer student Gong-ju begins her new school life. One girl in her class Eun-hee (In-seon Jeong) is very friendly, too friendly at times. Eun-hee likes to take photos and cell phone videos of Gong-ju singing and washing in the shower after a swimming session - but Gong-ju hates anyone taking her picture who might just post it negatively on social network. Especially after the savage incident. Eun-hee though happily discovers Gong-ju has a singing talent. Eun-hee and her friends had watched by the school corridor window of Gong-ju picking up a guitar in the music room that Eun-hee used for her acapella singing troupe. Gong-ju strummed and sang a woeful lyric and all of this gave Eun-hee the idea to set up a Gong-ju website. Eun-hee meant well and wanted to do the best thing for Gong-ju. Show her proud and happy ...be a music star! But instead of gratitude Gong-ju became angry, she knew it wasn't Eun-hee and her friends fault. They kindly desired to help a new transfer student. But didn't know the truth.
Han Gong-ju (DVD) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
June 3, 2015 ...is conveniently shoved under the rug
But Gong-ju's mind would sporadically return to the times of the brutal sickening incident. Gong-ju knew her close friend Hwa-ok (So-young Kim) lived with a boy named Dong-yoon (Choi-yong Kim). Both mixed with a troublesome elite gang, Dong-yoon getting beaten in the face, his neck pierced, too, with three marks and what with Hwa-ok thinking herself a vampire...what troubled them so? Gong-ju had layers of trouble - her mother having nothing to do with her, now living with a new lover and running her food store. And Gong-ju's drunken father's erratic outbursts and political ranting, he wanted justice to help his daughter but not always in the correct way. Most people around Gong-ju seemed desperate and unfulfilled.
The only way Gong-ju's mind forced out the depressing pain and madness was with her school swimming class, struggling to keep afloat and straight, trying to keep her head above water. The incident had much to answer for.
'Han Gong-ju' is a good movie, well acted but difficult to watch. For one due to Gong-ju's ordeal, but also pacing that at times is confusing by Gong-ju's constant flashback scenes. But considering Gong-ju's mental condition after her ordeal, the fractured out of sync and broken present/past flashbacks mirror Gong-ju's downed condition of confused anxiety, paranoia and loss. Also Gong-ju is from a broken parenthood and becomes severely shut up in her own alienated mindset.
Woo-hee acts very well as Gon-ju as this is certainly a very tough role to portray. In-seon Jeong as Eun-hee is also very appealing. It's a bitter message of Gong-ju of how the upper hand social strata is fundamentally deemed more important than this girl's suffering. But a pathos lending itself to an increasing mountain of victimization similitude. A suffering from one's overblown ego and social position that led the pack who are mentally conformed to not think for themselves, into a self gratifying and hopeless act. But after the ordeal Gong-ju 's important 'priorities' are being shuttled into another school...to be conveniently silenced . Scared of any form of exposure Gong-ju becomes trapped and paranoid and brittle with her new classmate Eun-hee, who truly wants to be friend Gong-ju.
DVD is region ALL (1 to 6) and also features a short 21 minute black comedy called 'Enemy's Apple' (2007). A standoff between a riot policeman and a laborer that you won't forget easily - especially after the wee ending bit. Also features English subtitles.
A Touch Of Unseen (DVD) (Korea Version)1 people found this review helpful
May 27, 2015 Two sisters and a single minded incubus
After consulting a shaman woman, Yeon Soo (Eon-jeong Lee) learns that her disturbing nightly sexual encounters are due to an incubus who will hound her life until she dies. Afraid that her younger sister Yeon-hee (Soo-in Park) could also be in danger of such a ghostly curse, Yeon Soo decides to leave her sister and live away.
Yeon-hee was livid that Yeon Soo had left her. Both their parents had died in a tragic car accident leaving both sisters alone together and now Yeon Soo decided to just leave, telling Yeon Hee that it was time for Yeon-hee to fend for herself in life. Still within education Yeon-hee had also another concern. Her ex-boy friend Hak-cheol (Jae-seung Kim) was soon to join her class, but Yeon-hee wanted nothing to do with him. Her close female friend Seon-mi (Chae-yeong-I Yoon) also agreed that Hak-cheol was a persistent and obsessive lad who needed help.
Hak-cheol had charm and loved Yeon-hee, remembering their one passionate night together alone, but was unhealthily determined that he wouldn't lose Yeon-hee to anyone else. Hindering Yeon-hee by pestering her on the way home one night, Yeon-hee asks Hak-cheol to leave her alone - wasn't that time at the police station enough to call it quits? Or is it that by only death will separate his persistence.
Returning to her home alone and preparing for sleep, Yeon-hee looks out of her window and spots Hak-cheol outside. But as Yeon-hee begins to sleep an invisible presence begins to share her bed and her body.
Apparently there are people who claim to have invisible ghost lovers. Sexual relationships with either an incubus or succubus (or ghosts fed up with those labels). I'm open minded but very unsure of such paranormal sextivity being what it may seem (female succubus, long black hair, good fashion sense and a stricture for secrecy). Anyway 'A Touch of the Unseen' isn't quite the usual S Korean ghost movie vibe, more a mix of such but with an afternoon TV youth drama feel about it. But it's no movie for such a TV time spot as it features sexual erotic scenes here and there. The characters are likeable with Soo-in Park taking centre stage as the younger sister who becomes nightly molested by Yeon-hee's over sexed incubus as well as hindered by her possessive ex-boy friend.
Worth seeing, but a movie reflecting a tender sexual ghost relationship would have been more interesting. Instead it's a very moderate' The Entity' cliché where ghost, incubus and invisible suggest, yep, sexual danger.