September 2023 Quickie Reviews

September 2023 BREAkdown
  • 17 films/series total (not including Hallmark films)
  • 10 foreign films/series
  • 3 TV series
  • 2 re-watches

Biggest Disappointment: Doctor Stranger

The Package

Favorite Discovery: The Package, Chief Kim

Television Series

Call the Midwife Season 12 – Another great season, although it does seem like the ranks of midwives and nuns are slowly being depleted. I wasn’t thrilled with disappearance of Nurse Lucille, particularly as it affects her sweet hubby Cyril. But on the bright side, this season finally sees the culmination of Trixie’s search for love with a beautiful wedding and reception that left me in tears.

Virgin River Season 5 – This show continues to be a mixed bag for me. I like certain characters and not others and certain plots, but not others. I am thrilled to see the end of the Charmaine and Jack baby drama. Finally! Hope continues to be everyone’s favorite mayor but an obnoxious person in my book. I’m very glad they wrapped up the drug distribution plot this season. And Jack and Mel’s relationship continues to be the main stay and highlight.

Only Murders in the Building Season 3 – I like this season better than the last one, but it still doesn’t reach the heights of brilliance that was season one. It is new and interesting that the plot explores a rift among our three amateur detectives, but I’m glad it doesn’t draw that out too long. The highlights of this season are Matthew Broderick’s cameo appearance and every scene of Steve Martin singing the odd, but catch Pickwick Triplets number.

Foreign Films & series

School 2013 (2013)– Despite the fact that other viewers seem to love this one, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. The bromance everyone raves over was a little too intense and weird for me. Thankfully despite the fact that there was the ever present bullying it wasn’t as extreme as other school dramas and the writers actually had a purpose for it in the story line. The best part for me was the two home room teachers who start out with opposing ideas and eventually mellow to each other enough to become a united team to help the kids.

Doctor Stranger (2014) – Just a flat out disaster of a show. Which is a shame because the premise was interesting and the various characters and their relationships had potential. Lee Jong Suk gives a pretty great portrayal of a cocky doctor of reluctant integrity, but man, his hair was a distracting mess.  Although I skipped several episodes I still spent too many hours on this that I can’t get back.

Romance of the Little Forest (2022) – Sometimes you just fall in love with a show, despite its’ flaws. This romance isn’t perfect but it charmed me all the same.  Actress Esther Yu plays a famous social media influencer who decides to take revenge against a brilliant scientist immune to women, by making him fall in love with her. Her actions border on stalking and her character and high pitched voice are just this side of being obnoxious yet somehow manage to be adorable.  And goodness, lead actor Vin Zhang completely won me over as a man whose personality and heart completely thaws under the heroine’s loving onslaught. Despite playing a cold character, he still exudes this warmth, particularly through his eyes. I’m now a fan. It was fun seeing the practicalities and behind the scenes work of the female lead’s career as an influencer and I loved how she still strove to be authentic and kind in a cutthroat career.

The Forbidden Marriage (2022) – Kim Young Dae is my new crush and I really enjoyed watching him in this historical drama that has very modern sensibilities. Though there is a serial murder mystery happening, this series does not take itself too seriously and keeps its’ villains as caricatures and its main characters embroiled in many humorous interactions and escapades.

A Time Called You (2023) – I counted down the days until this one aired as I’m a fan of both the lead actor and actress. They both performed well in this time travel drama which features a murder mystery as well as dual love stories. Jeon Yeo Been was particularly exceptional playing two very different women who experience intensely deep emotional responses to their circumstances. The mystery elements in particular were very well done and kept me hooked, waiting for answers. Unfortunately, even though the two leads had decent chemistry it wasn’t strong enough to convince me that they are fated for each other, like the show wants us to believe. Even though I liked this one, it wasn’t as memorable as I wanted to be.

The Package (2017) – What an absolutely delightful trip through France with a group of Korean tourists! I felt like I was one of the group as they toured lesser visited sites outside of Paris. The scenery of the French villages and the cinematography of Mont Saint Michel was just stunning, limbed with light and muted autumnal colors. Because the tour group was small the writers had time to focus on developing each of them individually and also delve into their relationships and the way they interacted. I also appreciated how this show focuses on the impact travel can have on people, broadening and challenging their perspectives, the way being outside of your normal comfort zone can really feel awkward and how strangers can form bonds through shared experiences. Each of the tourists and the tour guide felt like friends I hated to leave by the end of the series.

Love at Night (2021) – There’s not much substance to this romantic drama other than the fabulous chemistry between the two leads. But it’s enough to carry the whole show. Their bickering antagonism eventually gives way to a teasing affection which is rather captivating. Usually, once a couple gets together onscreen, their relationship just isn’t as interesting. That is not the case here and it made this series worth watching.

Here We Meet Again (2023) – Having fallen for Vin Zhang in Romance of the Little Forest, I felt safe watching him in another similar role here where he plays a brilliant but reserved character who falls for confident, cheerful woman. The first half of this show was a lot of fun with an its’ wealthy heroine going undercover at her family business only to discover her childhood crush is her new boss. The camaraderie of the office crew they are on is pretty great and had me wishing I worked on their team. I also really enjoyed the scenes the lead couple share with his little brother even though they are few and far between. But the pace and my interest lagged in the second half after the two of them finally get together. For some reason the writers decided it was a good idea to immediately separate them and then focus even more time to corporate politics. Boooring! Still their later scenes together highlight their great chemistry. I ended up skipping through everything else.

Be My Princess (2022) – I made it more than half way through this romantic drama before my interest waned and I finished it up by watching the highlight clips of the final episode. Frankly, I’m surprised I made it that long considering the lead actor’s performance felt pretty dull. I think it was the plot that kept me engaged for so long. Amnesia story lines have been done before, but not in such an interesting way.  The male lead loses his memory and believes himself to be the historical character he played in his drama and pursues the female lead believing her to be the princess he served. I also enjoyed having both historical and contemporary scenes in the same drama in a way that didn’t involve flashbacks or time travel.

Chief Kim/Good Manager (2017) – I don’t know how he does it, but Namgoong Min is great at creating memorable characters. In this case, it’s a wily, charismatic accountant with an over the top personality who starts out as a man who skims money from his employers and transforms to one who fights for corporate integrity with some help from his co-workers. I loved all the petty jokes and interactions in this show and all the unique and quirky side characters. One of my favorites  is the female undercover prosecutor who ends up with a bad case of hero worship.  Of course the love/hate bromance between the hero and his nemesis is fantastic and a big selling point. It’s been a while since I’ve laughed this much and this consistently with a show.

Post 1980’s

The Miracle Club (2023) – I didn’t know anything about this movie when I went to see it in the theater. But with a cast like Kathy Bates, Maggie Smith and Laura Linney I didn’t need to. This period drama set in 1960’s Ireland explores the fractured relationships of a group of women. It’s a bit slow moving and a little bleak at times, but in the end it is a healing drama with beautiful cinematography.

27 Dresses (2008) – I’d forgotten how many movies Katherine Heigl was in for a short period of years. This is one of her better ones, but not quite as good as I remember. Certain scenes are a little painful to watch while others are a bit cliche. Still, Malin Ackerman as the spoiled, bratty younger sister is comedy gold and I do appreciate the character growth Heigl’s heroine goes through.

What Happens in Vegas (2008) – I know this rom com is cheesy and ridiculous, but it’s so much fun, I don’t even care.  I always enjoy the hate to love trope in a romance no matter how outlandish it seems. Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are both good in their roles as a slacker and overachiever trying to sabotage each other after a Vegas wedding. But their cynical sidekicks really make this movie for me.

Love is in the Air (2023) – I had a hard time sitting through this Netflix film. The female lead grated my nerves. I like strong women, but not when they refuse to listen to anyone else, and then blame others when things don’t go their way. As a rom-com this offered nothing new. The saving grace was the beautiful Australian setting and some interesting character actors.

Hallmark Movies: Signed Sealed Delivered One in a Million, The Baker’s Son, Fourth Down and Love, Signed Sealed Delivered Lost Without You, Harvest Wedding, A Safari Romance, All of My Heart, My Summer Prince, The Last Bridesmaid, The Irresistible Blueberry Farm, How to Fall in Love, The Color of Rain

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