Have you seen it yet?

Yep, not much in the way of great TV to be had on Korean TV, or TV wherever you are in the world?

I still have a wry smile on my face when I hear the words ‘talent show’ in the same sentence as they seem to be all the rage in SK right now as well as overseas. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with folks watching them (X Factor – I’ve never seen, American Idol – ditto…as maybe they do now qualify as ‘family entertainment’?), or wasting spending their hard-earned sheckles on calling in to vote for whatever vacuous, talentless shell of ‘singer’ with the down-on-their-luck-there-were-15-of-us-in-one-room-we-were-so-poor-the-only-thing-we-saw-on-the-kitchen-table-were-elbows stories to regale us with. But the cynic in me says that the Machiavellian bastards like Simon Cowell (and whoever puts together the Korean shows) are just yanking our chains. No, really…

Still, there are a few nuggets out there that can now easily come our way via our friendly torrent sites (you know who they are?). Here are a few of the things that I’ve recently-ish managed to catch up on.

Deadwood

A Western Drama from HBO that only ever got to 3 seasons. The 1st and 3rd seasons are as good as anything that HBO has put out. High quality writing (if a little convoluted at times), great acting, interesting characters, mindless violence that encapsulates the era very well, and of course more ‘colourful’ language that would make a sailor blush. Graphic, to say the least. Ian McShane steals the show as Al Swearengen (aptly named), whose character is based upon the real-life character of the same name. The show also features one of the best (I use the word loosely) street fights you’ll ever see.

Boardwalk Empire

Another gem from HBO starring Steve Buscemi. Set in Atlantic City at the end of the First War, it’s the story of Nucky Thomson, who ran AC by rather dubious means during the prohibition of the 1920’s. I thought this was an excellent production. Again, HBO produces shows that are interesting, off-beat, controversial (as a lot of HBO shows are), and of a very high standard. They must be really expensive to produce. Highly recommended.

Movies

Eun Jin and I don’t get to the movies as much as I’d like and it’s genuinely one of the things I miss most from home. Sure, there are huge Multiplexes all over the city, but sadly the choice of films (please no more 3-D) isn’t always the greatest, the availability of the tickets isn’t the easiest (unless you actually go to the counter and buy your tickets in advance – but how practical is that?), it’s a complete nightmare trying to fathom out the ritualistic nature of booking tickets online as none of the theatres have an English language site, and when you do find a movie you like it more often than not doesn’t stay in town for too  long. Although it did seem that Avatar was running for about 6 months and nobody seemed to mind.

The other night we watched RED. Not as bad as I thought it’d be (the cynic in me again), but a good-fun, action flick with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and lot’s of other ‘oldies’. Thankfully, it didn’t take itself seriously, had a few laughs, and Bruce is always good to pop up in a decent film more often than not.

Certainly better than Salt which was up there with After life as a big pile of doo-doo. Liam Neeson stars in After Life, which I can only describe as a psychological thriller, minus any thrills whatsoever. It was absolute TOSH of the highest order. Completely void of anything resembling a plot, narrative, script, climax, interesting characters, I could go on. Do yourself a favour and don’t go near this. It makes Avatar seem like the Godfather. We watched these movies on the pay-per-view option on our telly. I want my money back.

On a cheerier note, I’d recommend taking a look at these films if you can ‘do’ subtitles.

Mesrine, a two-part French language film, starring the excellent Vincent Cassel as the eponymous lead was definately worth waiting for. Messrine, was a French career criminal, bank-robber, kidnapper and all-round bad guy. That said, the film doesn’t glorify him, his reputation as “Public Enemy No.1”, or indeed his crimes. Instead, it delves deep into the complex character that caused so much chaos, mayhem and of course, crime in France and various other countries. Unlike Hollywood films which have a tendency to romantacise the lead, these films delve deeper into a complicated man who lead a quite extraordinary life. Good article on Mesrine.

Lastly, Anything For Her (Pour Elle), was another interesting film.

This French thriller revolves around the story of a ‘normal’ husband and wife’s everyday, quiet life that’s turned upside down when Lisa is convicted of a murder she did not commit. Of course, she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we get to see just what did happen to the victim, but that’s not really what ‘Anything for Her’ is about. It’s about husband who will do anything to prove that his wife is innocent, although all of the evidence proves to the contrary. There was a Hollywood remake released last year with Russell Crowe in ‘The Next 3 Days’. I’m sure it won’t be as good, he cynically says.

 

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Author: From a Late Night Train

Teacher. Musician. Ponderer. Had lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2000. Moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in May 2017.

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