March 2024 Quickie Reviews

march 2024 BREAKDOWN
  • 27 films/series total (not including Hallmark films)
  • 18 foreign films/series
  • 4 re-watches
  • 6 tv series

Biggest Disappointment:  How Are You Bread

Welcome to Samdalri

Favorite Discovery: Welcome to Samdalri & Doctor Slump

television series

The Way Home Season 2 I almost didn’t watch this season because I was annoyed with the female lead’s obsession to find her brother. She really frustrates me as a character because of her narrow-minded focus and her willingness to sacrifice her present relationships all to continue exploring the past. As it is, I made it through about six episodes before giving up.

Madame Blanc Mysteries Season 3 – This show grows on me more with each season. I continue to enjoy the French village setting and the endearing characters. It’s refreshing that not a single main character is a “hot, young” type. They are all average, middle age people who just happen to live in a place where a lot of murder happens. I do like some of the mini-history lessons I receive via Jean’s knowledge of antiques. I also have mixed feelings about the ending which on one hand made me happy, but also felt unnecessary.

Agatha Christie’s Murder is Easy (2023) – Like most Christie mysteries, I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. But I sure had fun watching. The male lead was the highlight of this mini-series for me. I’ve never seen him before, but I sure would like to see him again. He had a very trust worthy face.

Nolly (2023)– I had never heard of real life British television fixture Nolly, but I am more than partial to real life stories being brought to the screen. This one is interesting in that it depicts the last dying gasp of her successful career. Most shows like this tend to focus on a public figure’s early years or rise to fame. Though I can’t say I liked Nolly as a character, she really engendered my compassion and it was fascinating to see how she reacted to being forced into retirement.

Re-watches – Endeavour, Lark Rise to Candleford

foreign films & series

Shop for Killers (2024) – Whew, what a ride! Intense, fast-paced, suspenseful, this drama about mercenaries and assassins with a vendetta against one who used to be part of their club, kept me hooked from beginning to end. The show did a great job utilizing flashbacks to slowly reveal the full story. I especially loved the badass female assassin/spy. The main relationship between Lee Dong Wook’s uncle character and his niece was fascinating and also the heart of the show. There were some things left unresolved in the end, so I’m glad that another season has been announced. I’d like to see how everything plays out and also more interactions between uncle and niece.

Exploration Method of Love (2023) – This was a rough start thanks to some very choppy editing in the early episodes, but it grew on me thanks to the chemistry between the lead couple. The main plot intrigued me.  It’s about a twin stepping in to pretend to be her celebrity sister; both in the limelight and in the contract relationship she has with a successful CEO. The heroine is smart, tough and resourceful which I really liked. It was pretty funny how flabbergasted the hero was by the abrupt changes in his fake fiancee. I liked how he wasn’t your typical rich business heir, but someone who was not only shrewd, but kind, thoughtful and generous. It was also nice that the parents in this show were caring and supportive.

Queen of Divorce (2024) – Despite the premise of a woman who loses everything at the hands of her ex-husband and mother in law and eventually fights back to regain custody of her son, I was expecting this to be more of a rom-com. There are those elements, but it’s definitely more of a revenge drama. I’m not always a proponent of divorce, but I love how the heroine’s team works together and thinks outside of the box to rescue those stuck in abusive and toxic marriages. The real reason I chose this series was to see Kang Ki Young, a character actor favorite, play a lead role for once. I do enjoy him here, but I don’t feel he and the lead actress have the kind of chemistry to make an old and long-burning love for each other believable. They feel more like good friends. Major props to Oh Min Seok who stole the show as the charming but villainous ex-husband of the heroine. I certainly wouldn’t want his brand of love. Also, I was sad to see talented character actress Kim Sun Young vastly underutilized as the benefactress of the divorce firm. She improved every scene she was in. I think I would have enjoyed this more, if the plot had focused more on the team taking on the individual divorce cases instead of the heavy handed revenge story line.

Cheese in the Trap (2018) – This college romance film felt a bit like a patchwork quilt whose pieces don’t fit together well. There is not much plot or character development to speak of and the transitions between scenes are very disjointed. Because I like the lead actors, I wanted to enjoy watching them fall for each other, but their romance didn’t make any sense.

In Love and Deep Water (2023) – This Japanese whodunnit looked like it would be fun. Set on a cruise ship for the wealthy, it’s obvious the production spared no expense making the set look lavish. Unfortunately, the mystery is not all that interesting and the characters weren’t as engaging as they could have been. But it sure is pretty to look at!

Welcome to Samdalri (2023) -As a fan of both lead actors and dramas sent on Jeju Island I was looking forward to this drama, but didn’t expect it to be as utterly heart-warming as it was. I fell in love with just about every one of the characters in this large cast. Their community, the way they support and love each other through good and bad, was just so endearing. I loved the Power Ranger five friends and how deep their bond was even after years of separation. The other relationships were equally as well drawn; the sisters, the female diver group etc.  I even found myself falling for the goofy, but sweet corporate heir who was still in love with his ex-wife, but unable to stand up to his family.  The main romance was heart-breaking but also so sweet. Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hye Sun’s chemistry felt so natural and the reason that they could love each other and yet not be together actually felt believable. Seeing their story unfold and the level of respect they maintained towards the one who kept them apart was really incredible. Originally, I thought the focus would be on the heroine’s comeback after a betrayal by an employee and was disappointed when it wasn’t. But ultimately I liked the path the plot followed of having her reconnect with all of her loved ones and even her self. It was much more satisfying.

I Picked Up a Celebrity on the Street (2018) – This show is bonkers in a good way. When a young woman thinks she accidentally killed someone, she takes the body home only to find out it was a celebrity and he’s still alive. So she holds him hostage at her place. Everything about this drama is cheesy and ridiculous and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. This is one of those, that you just have to enjoy the ride and not think about how much doesn’t make sense.

Amidst a Snowstorm of Love (2024) – Here is a drama that absolutely wallows in the romance, to the point where watching certain scenes almost felt like an invasion of privacy. The leads have a very intimate chemistry which is rare to see. Even though I’m not a winter person myself, I loved the cozy winter scenes in Finland when the hero and heroine are falling in love. It added to the aura of intimacy between the two. Despite the huge spotlight on the romance, this is also a sports drama and the focus eventually shifts in the last third of the episodes to the pair’s various billiard competitions. This is not a sport I’m very familiar with so though I learned some things, I eventually got bored with these long extended scenes. I did enjoy the redemption part of the plot when the male lead was finally able to return to the sport and to his friends after disgracing himself years before.

Doctor Slump (2024) – I was expecting a rom-com, but this show surprised me by being something better instead; a deeply thoughtful drama. Depicting the falls from glory of the two leads, both of whom are intelligent and successful, allowed the writers to really hone in on the devastation in their lives and the way they help each other fight back to overcome all the betrayals and trauma. It really mined the emotional and psychological impact of life events in a way that was respectful and honest.  In particular, I appreciated the way the heroine’s struggle with depression was portrayed in a realistic way. It wasn’t something that was easily overcome, but with time and effort on her part, she was able to gain new perspective that allowed her to move forward. It was really great to see Park Hyung Sik in a role which allowed him to show his silly comic side again. I can’t say each episode of this drama kept me hooked, but I can say that by the end I was really won over by the journey it took our leads on as well as the overall message. “ We learned to be in pain for a moment and to cherish memories for a while.”

The Childe (2023) – This crime drama was quite a thrill ride. It kept me guessing most of the time as to who if anyone was a “good guy”. Kim Seon Ho was fantastic as the mysterious and charismatic assassin, who is either protecting or threatening the poor, hunted main character who only wants to meet his father. The revelation towards the end of the assassin’s true interest an involvement was a welcome surprise.

Ditto (2022) – I was so curious how this story about two students who communicate via HAM radio only to find out they are living twenty years apart would play out. I love stories which play with a time element like this. Initially, I was a bit let down with the unexpected ending, but the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated the message and sacrifice behind it.

The Secret Life of My Secretary (2019) -A secretary ends up in a love triangle with her boss and herself when he loses the ability to recognize faces and she shows up on one of his dates pretending to be an heiress. It sounds a little complicated, but it is a remarkably simple plot which is pretty cute. I liked that in the end, the secretary did not have to change her appearance to be loved. And although the boss seems to be a bit of a jerk in the beginning, those first appearances are deceptive as he actually has a very kind and tender heart. Despite a shallow exploration into the psyche of a man who has “face blindness”, this was an enjoyable, light-hearted and humorous drama.

How Are You Bread? (2020) – It’s a good thing this was only five episodes long, because this is the dumbest drama I’ve seen in a while. The only interesting thing about it was learning how the two leads are connected and that one of them had lost their memories. But the whole plot about their fate keeping them apart was absolutely ridiculous.

The Love You Give Me (2023) – After being charmed by the lead couple in Once We Get Married, seeing them reunited in this Chinese drama was a pleasure. Their chemistry is comfortable and natural together in this second chance romance. And then when you add their adorable onscreen son who just wants his parents to get back together, the show’s cuteness is off the charts. I did start to lose a little interest toward the end when the show focused more on the workplace shenanigans and less on the family unit. It was nice the way they portrayed the women fighting back against sexual harassment at their jobs. But for the most part, I smiled all the way through every episode.

Hold My Hand at Twilight (2023) – Japanese dramas tend to be more miss than hit with me. But this one was an exception. Though it does have some romance, I loved that it focused more on the journey of our heroine, who moves to the city, loses her fiance and finds herself. Her newfound passion for fashion is portrayed with such sincerity. The way she is entranced by the artistry behind the construction of beautiful garments proves her interest is far from shallow. This show does a great job (in my biased opinion) of portraying creative types. And I found the warm light and woody tones with artistic looking sets so beautiful to look at.

A Beautiful Life (2023) – Despite differing from my expectations and running at a slower pace than anticipated, this Danish film on Nextflix left me moved, especially the finale which almost had me in tears. It’s the tale of a man whose traumatic past acts as a hindrance to his potential future as a famous singer-songwriter. The film also digs into the family relationships of the mother-daughter duo who discover him. The exploration of their emotional landscapes is well done and believable. It’s definitely one of those that lingers with you long after the credits roll. The lead actor is also a singer-songwriter in real life and his voice and songs are really beautiful. I also really enjoyed how much he reminds me of one of my beloved cousins.

Mr. Bad (2022) – What a disappointment! After falling for Chen Zheyuan in last year’s hit Hidden Love I was looking forward to seeing him in another sweet romantic drama. I even liked the creative premise about a young woman whose wish for unforgettable love brings the villain of her web novel to life to as her romantic interest. Sadly, it failed to live up to my expectations. The dialogue was elementary, the production quality and story development were also average. The main actors made it bearable for the first half before I decided I couldn’t wait for it to end. On the upside, it did feature a fantastic mother figure who was so loving, supportive and accepting. Not to mention I liked her casual wardrobe. I want all the sweaters she wore. The secondary couple also had an interesting story and good relationship development.

Falling Into Your Smile (2021) – I don’t understand the Chinese interest in e-sports, but this is one of several series I’ve seen revolving around competitive online gaming. I have little interest, so I skipped over many of these scenes. I would have appreciated a more nuanced performance from the lead actress. I got a little bored seeing the same expression on her face over and over. But I did enjoy watching her character meeting the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry. She still had the same concerns of most females, but proved herself with her talent. Even with these minor complaints, this series easily hooked me with it’s light humor. The camaraderie of the main gaming team; the way they teased and supported each other like family, was also a major selling point as were the adorable interactions between the heroine and the stoic (yet secretly admiring) team captain. It was also very interesting to see how the athletes approached the fans’ engagement and public opinion.

Post 1980’s

Irish Wish (2024) – While I must say it’s nice to see Lindsay Lohan back on the screen, sadly she doesn’t have much to work with her.  This is the most painfully cheesy rom-com I’ve seen in a while.  Not to mention her wardrobe in this is atrocious. However, it is slightly redeemed by the beautiful Irish settings and a nice bit of leading man eye candy.

Re-watches – Mr. Holmes, The Monuments Men

Hallmark: Crimes of Fashion, An American in Austen, The Dancing Detective: A Deadly Tango

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One Reply to “March 2024 Quickie Reviews”

  1. “…narrow-minded focus and her willingness to sacrifice her present relationships,” this sums up Kat SO well. She just doesn’t get it and worse still, she doesn’t learn which feels like it will have to “ruin” some of her present. And yet she’s always the one mad when really the disappoint from her mother or Elliot is often fair.

    I know what you mean about Irish Wish being cheesy, but I did enjoy the movie. 🙂 Probably mostly because of nostalgia (Lohan being in so many teenage favorites).

    Also, I need to rewatch Lark Rise. 🙂

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