In college, I had a Film class that I truly enjoyed. Even if it was a 3-hour class on a Wednesday, I looked forward to it since all we did was watch movies. Our professor showed us a buffet of movies - from Citizen Kane to other Asian movies. After that semester, I was hooked on cultural films.
My move to Bangkok has not only widened my perspective on Asia, but has also given me appreciation of the unique facets of each culture. No wonder Europeans think that Asia is so exotic. Even if I don't understand Thai, I regularly channel-hop to watch interesting shows and ads (deciphering what they mean is another story altogether).
In the past 2 years, I have been able to watch and truly enjoy a few Asian pop culture pieces that may even outdo their Hollywood pop counterparts. Of course these pieces cannot compare to the more visually-poetic French-Vietnam piece "Scent of Green Papaya
" or Thailand's sexually-disturbing Jan Dara
... that would be like comparing a La Vie En Rose with The Princess Diaries.
My Sassy Girl
Directed by: Kwak Jae-Yong
Starring: Cha Tae-Hyun, Jeon Ji-Hyun
The first half of this movie was a bit slow - I was tempted to either give up on it or fast forward it at the very least. But the slow development was quite worth it - after 30 minutes, the story takes an interesting turn and ends beautifully with dramatic cinematography. The theme song is also kilig-worthy, although it's sung in Korean.
I tried watching this Korean series on local TV, ergo it was dubbed in Thai. I got the story mixed up so everytime it was shown on TV, I'd ask my co-workers what the story was about. I am Korea-ignorant so I was surprised to see that the Catholic faith is stong there. It's a very welcome change from pinoy dramas that are full of screaming, crying, and sabunutan.
Now who doesn't recognize Meteor Garden? I had already moved to Bangkok when this series consumed the Philippines so I did not understand why virtually everyone liked F4. They were on Thailand's billboards and buses but I didn't think they looked cute in any angle. So when R lent me the full series, I went on a Meteor Garden marathon and began to understand why girls are so gung-ho about them. (I do understand the fondness for those 4 boys but I'm definitely not about to run to the nearest bookstore to buy a special F4 magazine, nor am I crazy enough to shell out a huge amount of money to watch them perform live.)
The plot and locations used in Meteor Garden are impressive. Although it has a lot of cliche in it - bus chasing, saving your damsel-in-distress, poor girl rich guy - it has that kilig factor that all of us are looking for. I loved the theme song, and liked it even more when I found the English translation to it.
Watching Asian movies or soaps are definitely better than otherwise-tiring pinoy plots. Mainstream Philippine movies like the Mano Po series or Tito, Vic & Joey movies - suck the artistry out of cinema. Let's just hope there are budding Lino Brockas out there who can produce better films with less sampalan, iyakan, at sabunutan.