April 2024 Quickie Reviews

april 2024 BREAKDOWN
  • 20 films/series total (not including Hallmark films)
  • 8 foreign films/series
  • 10 re-watches
  • 5 tv series

Biggest Disappointment: Judge Dee’s Mysteries

Guess Who I Am

Favorite Discovery:  Guess Who I Am

Tv series

Call the Midwife Season 13 – One of the things this show does well is to not always put a rose tint on every situation. People die, people face hardship, relationships are challenged. And while I find myself always wanting the happy ending for characters I’ve come to love, I do appreciate that the writers of this series depict realistic outcomes to life problems. I’m a bit put out with the conflict that develops between new spouses Matthew and Trixie. Other than the Turners, it seems like the writers have it in for most of the couples in this show. They usually end up separated by distance or death.

Beyond Paradise Season 2 – I love the main couple of this series! They feel so real in the way they communicate and interact with each other. I also love that this show is giving attention to plot points that aren’t frequently seen on television, such as Humphrey and Martha’s journey to becoming foster parents and her mother Anne’s slow steps into dating.

Continued viewing: Frasier, Endeavour, Lark Rise to Candleford

Foreign Series and films

Wedding Impossible (2024) – I was immediately intrigued by the plot about a woman who is set to marry her gay best friend only to be thwarted by the friend’s younger brother who wants to stop their wedding. The two leads shared a great bickering dynamic which kept things entertaining through what is mostly a bland drama. Fortunately, the heroine really grew on me. She has her flaws (including RBF) but is also strong, principled and independent. And I really loved how the three of them ultimately all loved each other and did their best to protect each other at their own expense. I did feel sorry for the two brothers’ sister even though she serves as an antagonist. She is smart, educated and more than able to run the family business, but is overlooked and condescended to by those who should know better. I am glad that company politics was not a major focus. But this is ultimately an underwhelming show which I doubt will stick in my memory.

Judge Dee’s Mystery (2024) – Inspired by a real historical figure, this mystery follows a government official who solves crimes. He is brilliant, skilled in martial arts, kind and has a high regard for the law and justice. Initially I was entranced by this visual feast for the eyes, thanks to intricate sets full of detail and depth which immersed me in ancient China along with some unique camera work that plays with angles, depths and light and shadow.  But about halfway through, I started to lose interest and I can’t quite pinpoint why. I know I would have liked more background on the secondary characters helping the judge on his cases. There are some pretty cool action sequences, thanks to the hero’s former military background and just a smidgeon of romance for those who require it in their dramas. I really was poised to love this one but unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it.

Love Me Love My Voice (2023) – A voice actor and a composer/singer fall in love with each other’s voices before meeting. This is a sweet little romance between two introverts, that started out well for me, but then kind of fizzled before the end. I loved the idea of two people falling for each other sight unseen and would have liked to see more of their relationship develop before meeting as there was so much potential in that. Unfortunately, they meet in episode two and then spend the first half of the series in a long tease of a relationship as both are shy and introverted. Even though he is in his thirties and she is a college student, their age gap did not bother me at all. But the maturity and experience gap between them had me wondering why he would be interested in her aside from her talent. Not to mention their relationship felt shallow since they are depicted as perfect for each other, with no flaws and no conflict between them. It was great to get a look at the music and sound industry they both work in. Many of the songs were traditional Chinese and I was surprised by how beautiful they were. I also LOVED the busybody, gossipy male members of the recording studio who loved to tease and embarrass the couple. Thankfully their music group also does a little bit of travelling so we are able to see some beautiful scenery outside the city.

The Makanai: Cooking at the Maiko House (2023) – Although I did enjoy this Japanese drama, I didn’t love it as much as other viewers seem to. It was really interesting though to watch the daily rhythms and practices of modern day geisha artists. The women really felt like a little family, all living and working in the same spaces. My favorites were the two newcomers who were best friends from the same home town. Their friendship was so pure and innocent and they always put each other first.  The Makanai of the title is the young girl who cooks for the others. Her love for and talent for food was a joy to watch and will be a draw for real life foodies. Set in a historical district of Kyoto, it was a pleasure to see the city via armchair travel and it is now a place on my travel bucket list.

Go Ahead (2020) -An unconventional family is formed when two single dads join together to raise three unrelated children as brothers and sister. This Chinese drama excels at portraying both beautiful and complicated relationships. The first third featuring the dads and siblings is my favorite. Their deep love and affection for each other is so sweet and natural despite their lack of a blood bond. The way the boys both dote on and tease their sister is just adorable. I was disappointed that the dads both took a back seat in the last half of the drama when the siblings become adults and are on their own. But that hole is somewhat filled by the sister’s girlfriends who share an apartment with her. Their closeness and love for each other is only increased when the brothers move across the hall. Their interactions are all natural and comfortable together. It’s sad but a necessary script device that the complicated relationships are with the mothers and a biological dad who abandoned the boys. The emotionally manipulative and abusive mom of the “oldest” brother angered me so much with her selfish need to control and refusal to acknowledge her own mistakes that injured her children. Even the mothers of the girl friends were shown to be demanding and at times difficult albeit with the excuse that they want the best for their daughters. For the most part though I appreciated that each of these relationships had some redemptive moments. I had mixed feelings about the romance between the oldest brother and sister. It was uncomfortable watching them transition from siblings to love interests, especially as he kind of forces her into it. Though they truly do love each other, his tendency to depend solely on her for his emotional needs mimics his disturbed mother a bit. Thankfully, their love story does not remain the central focus.  Despite these minor quibbles, I really enjoyed this drama and would watch it again.

Guess Who I Am (2024) -Oh my goodness, such a delightfully silly show that is so much fun! It’s a war of wits between an unwilling couple of con-artists, one of whom can instantly seduce only rich men with her magic electric eyes. I adore this couple and could watch them all day! They have so many sparky exchanges,  fun interactions and comical facial expressions. The two each of their own teams of support and it was rather amusing to see them going from competing against each other to joining forces to oppose the Big Bad. Their friends were all so loyal and talented. Apparently the characters, plot and details are based on those from the storybook The Little Prince. So it helps add some depth to this lighthearted and mostly silly drama if you are familiar with it.

Queen of Tears (2024) -This show was like a drug for me. It’s a complete emotional roller coaster that left me exhausted and in need of recovery after each episode and yet it’s had me hooked and waiting for my next fix. Kim Ji Won is outstanding as an ice queen whose harsh exterior belies her inner loneliness and longing for connection. The writers creatively flipped the cold rich CEO trope falling in love with a poorer employee and I loved seeing the layers peeled away on the onion that she is. Seeing her soften and become vulnerable is just heart melting. I was also glad to see the story focus on the story that happens after the “happily ever after”. Seeing the reality beyond the fairy tale, examining the silences and breakdowns in a marriage and how a successful relationship requires love, sacrifice, compromise and forgiveness was one of the strengths of this plot.  The downside was how much screen time the multiple villains received. I would have appreciated less melodrama and more family drama. Witnessing our main couple’s families clash and then eventually meld was certainly a highlight. I especially loved the feisty aunt who entertained me in every scene she was on.

Legally Romance (2022) – This was a rather cute Chinese rom-com/time travel story. I chose it after reading some great reviews and though my opinion of it isn’t as high as some, it’s pretty entertaining. It has the type of spunky heroine I didn’t know I needed. She’s like a feisty, spitting kitten who is too cute to be taken too seriously and who talks a mile a minute. I also respect the way the writers subverted expectations on the time travel aspect in her being able to go back and change the events of her past life. The romance with her current nemesis/boss’ past self is super cute. There is also a really interesting take on the love triangle trope often found in these shows, that I wasn’t expecting. Our heroine turns out to be rather compassionate and thoughtful in the way she handles her current ex-boyfriend’s past self. The fact that she still has a positive influence on his current choices shows a lot about the respect they have for each other even after hurting one another.

Post 1980’s

Rewatches – Letters to Juliet, The Exotic Marigold Hotel, Woman in Gold, The Proposal, The Lake House, Return to Me, Maverick

Hallmark: An Easter Bloom, A Royal in Paradise, Blind Date Book Club, My One  And Only, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Decoration Day, The Russell Girl, Chronicle Mysteries Recovered, Chronicle Mysteries The Wrong Man, Chronicle Mysteries Vines That Bind, Curious Caterer Foiled Plans, Branching Out, Chronicle Mysteries The Deep End, Roadhouse Romance
(favorites in bold)

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