February 2024 Quickie Reviews

february 2024 BREAkdown
  • 22 films/series total (not including Hallmark films)
  • 9 foreign films/series
  • 10 re-watches
  • 3 tv series

Biggest Disappointment: None

Favorite Discovery: Such a tough choice this month, but I’m going with The Fiery Priest

Television Series

All Creatures Great and Small Season 4– This is still the cozy, feel-good show I need during the winter months, although I really miss the presence of the free-spirited Tristan. And there were other big character changes this season with another main character disappearing in the last two episodes as well as the arrival of a new vet intern.

Father Brown Season 11 -Though there is nothing new to add, it’s always a pleasure to return to this old favorite even though I still miss some of the original cast who have since left the show.

Mr. & Mrs. Murder (2013) – Re-watch. This cozy mystery series featuring a married couple who use their job as crime scene cleaners to solve crimes never gets old. I wish there was more than one season.

Foreign Films & Series

Nothing But You (2023) – I’m usually not a fan of age gap romances when the man is significantly younger, but this one is an exception. Thanks to good writing which drew out the development of the relationship in a logical way as well as a fantastic performance by lead actor Leo Wu, it all felt natural and believable. The hero was patient, self-sacrificing and mostly mature in his interactions with the heroine, while still maintaining his youthful air of inexperience and puppy love. Their thoughtful consideration of their relationship and each other as well as their open communication of the challenges they each faced was so refreshing. Surprisingly, I also enjoyed the sports aspect of this series. It is set in a tennis club and all the characters are involved as players, coaches or management. There was an atmosphere of respect and admiration among them and they were all very dedicated to their professions and each other.

Our Beloved Summer (2021) – I fell in love right away. I loved the way the writing explores the emotional and psychological landscapes of an ex-couple who reunite years after a breakup. It was both sweet and deeply thoughtful in the way it delved into how unresolved wounds and trauma impact current reality and relationships. And how until those issues are dealt with they will continue to crop up over and over again. The performances by the two leads (and even some of the supporting cast) were restrained yet teeming with emotion and I was really rooting hard for them to work through their issues and find their way back together. And in a rare case for a Kdrama, the hero’s parents were fantastic; loving and generous with everyone in their orbit. Despite the methodical pace, every single minute was well used in telling the story. Add in a beautiful soundtrack and lovely cinematography and this one was a winner all the way around!

Move to Heaven (2021) – An incredibly moving tale about the value of life as seen through the eyes of trauma scene cleaners. I always appreciate when screen writers can depict a reverence and respect for life using death as the catalyst. Each deceased’s story is told through the possessions they leave behind and interpreted by the absolutely precious main character, a young man with Asperger’s, who is dealing with upheaval in his own life after his own loved one dies. His challenge is compounded by the arrival of an unknown uncle who is straight out of prison and more than rough around the edges. Their joint and individual journeys slowly build with each episode and culminate in a very emotional finale which had me in tears. It’s such a beautiful and yet heart-breaking series which also challenges initial impressions and perspectives that the characters have.

The Fiery Priest (2019) – This action comedy about a former secret agent turned priest who takes on massive corruption in his district was so much fun. I found it absolutely hilarious and entertaining from beginning to end. His fight scenes were well choreographed and only added to the fun factor. He comes in as an angry outsider but through his crusade for justice he slowly wins over those within his community who previously were too scared or ignorant to stand up and through those hard won relationships a found family is created. The whole cast had fantastic chemistry together with each one getting a chance to shine. I especially loved that Honey Lee’s shady prosecutor was given a great character arc, second only to Kim Nam Gil’s as the priest. Despite the lack of a romance line, there were some unexpected bromances (which I always love). My favorite of those was the one between the chubby, star-gazing convenience store worker and his Thai immigrant friend. I didn’t agree with some of the theology present, but I loved the ultimate message about forgiveness and repentance.

Marry My Husband (2024) – Though not bad, this is not my favorite of Park Min Young’s dramas. The male lead was pretty dull most of the time which was the way his character was written. Still it made it hard for me to care about him in a show where the romance took second place to everyone’s need for revenge. Especially when the romance was sweet, but rather bland. The villains were suitably disgusting people with the female best friend acting as a chillingly modern version of Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair. The sexism some of the men displayed towards the women made my blood boil.  But I did love the character arc of our heroine who must transfer her bad luck to her best friend and husband. The writing went a little deeper with her story line allowing viewers to see the long term effects of the trauma and betrayal she suffered and how it still affected her even as she was breaking free. But with the arrival of the final antagonist, this show took a sharp turn into cliche territory which was really disappointing. I almost couldn’t finish. I noticed many similarities to Perfect Marriage Revenge, a show I really enjoyed. But while that series didn’t take itself too seriously and remained amusing throughout the revenge cycle, this one goes darker. So between, the two, I liked Perfect Marriage Revenge better.

Mystic Pop Up Bar (2020) – The lead actors subverted my expectation in this fantasy drama. I usually don’t like the lead actress whose shrill over the top deliveries irritate me. But she’s perfect in this role as a supernatural bar owner who must resolve human grudges so she can escape her punishment. It’s also such a pleasure seeing (actor) playing a good character for once instead of a villain. Overall this was a rather humorous series but not one that really engaged me.

D-Day (2015) – Hospital politics drive me bonkers and this drama takes it to extremes! After an earthquake hits, it’s a constant clash over doing what’s best for patients versus what is best for the hospital and this all plays out between our hero doctor who will do anything to save a life and the hospital director who has his own selfish agenda that doesn’t include patient welfare. He truly is a despicable villain that just made me want to scream every time he was on screen. This show also explores issues like PTSD, grief and sacrifice in a sensitive way. There is an overlying mystery about what happened to the hero’s mother that affects the characters and their relationships throughout most of the drama. I really wish that less time had been spent on the egomaniacal hospital director and his plans to get rid of the male lead. It would have been great to see more of the medical team’s field work as well as that of the firefighters who are working in the trenches to rescue people. I will say, the main actors did a good job in their roles. I especially liked Jung So Min as the sassy out of town orthopedic resident who is a breath of fresh air in this drama laden with tension and crisis.

Captivating the King (2024) -I watched this for Jo Jung Suk and he gives a power house performance in a rare dramatic role as the wily but world-weary king. Sadly, his co-star is mis-cast. She does not match his level of intensity in the performance, nor is she believable as a woman passing as man. There is no way anyone with brains would believe she was male. On top of that, I can’t really understand why these two are supposed to be in love with each other. Suffice it to say, the romance line of this story is underwhelming to say the least. Despite not being a fan of palace politics, I did manage to stay somewhat interested in the secret schemes and power plays.  This also had a beautiful music score which strongly enhanced certain scenes. I was happy with the final outcome although the last episode was anti-climatic and could probably have been cut without losing anything of value.

Sweet Stranger and Me (2016) – Having been charmed by the lead actor in D-Day, I chose this as another one in which he stars. I also thought the premise was very unique and intriguing. It features a woman who returns home after her mother’s death to learn that a stepfather younger than her has inherited her mom’s property. An added twist is that she has no memory of him, but he has loved her his whole life from afar. I really liked the way these two had such open communication and that the heroine is so direct. She doesn’t let misunderstandings fester and just outright confronts potential issues. And the way the two handle their complicated relationship is so honorable. This is a rare drama in which I found the supporting characters just as interesting as the main ones. I was disappointed that some of the resolutions and scenarios were not fully explained. But overall this was a really cute show.

Post 1980’s

Hitch (2005) – Some movies lose their shine over time, especially as time, technology and trends change. However, I enjoyed this rom-com as much as I ever did and found it funnier than I remembered. Kevin James is perfection in his (supporting) character portrayal! But I found Eva Mendes extremely tight and unflattering wardrobe appalling. She has a beautiful figure and there is a difference between fitted and too small.

RED (2010) (rewatch)- No matter how many times I’ve seen this (and it’s too numerous to count), I never fail to find this action comedy hilariously entertaining. It is cheeky and irreverent with an experienced and talented cast who all have great rapport together.

Father of the Bride (1991) (rewatch)- I was shocked by how old this one is. It had been so long since I had seen it, I couldn’t remember it well. It’s such a delight seeing comedy duo Steve Martin and Martin Short together in their younger years, even though they don’t share that many scenes. Short’s wedding planner Frawnk is still my favorite character in the film and may be one of my favorites of any movie I’ve seen. I was amazed by how fresh faced and young Kimberly Williams looks as the daughter, watching it this many years later.

Love Guaranteed (2020) – I didn’t have high hopes for this Netflix rom-com, but it turned out better than expected and even had some twists I wasn’t anticipating.

Mamma Mia! (2008) (rewatch)- This movie is absolutely cheesy, but the cast and the music always lure me back in.

Open Range (2003) (rewatch)  – A very underrated Western starring Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner and Annette Benning. The scope of the scenic cinematography is vast and stunning and the story is so engaging.

Other rewatches: Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Yesterday, Ever After, When in Rome

Hallmark: That’s Amore, In My Dreams, August Creek, Paging Mr. Darcy, Playing Cupid, True Justice, Love & Jane, A Picture of Her, Right in Front of Me, The Wedding Cottage, Signed, Sealed Delivered To the Altar
(favorites in bold)

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

One Reply to “February 2024 Quickie Reviews”

  1. I spy some favorites on your list. 🙂 Like you say, Father Brown never really has anything “new,” but I think that’s part of its charm. I always enjoy All Creatures, and Love, Guaranteed was something I seem to remember enjoying. Also Father of the Bride will remain a 90s classic to me. 🙂

Leave a Reply