My New Interests in Asian Movies and TV Series

I have always loved watching story in the forms of Feature Film or TV Series. Since my humble childhood, I remembered watching Japanese Cartoon, then Chinese Martial Arts series.There were also a point when my aunt and uncle introduced me with Bollywood movies.

As I grew up, I started watching more western (Hollywood and British production) movies and TV Series.

But over the years, my interests has broadened. First was due to the hugely popular Taiwanese TV Series Meteor Garden. At the time, I just came back from England. But, it was so popular that I quickly caught the fever.

Following that, Indonesia was hit by the South Korean Drama (K-Drama) invasion. The most notable among them is Full House. I did not know why I was immune to this drama. I never get to watch it fully.

My first introduction to K-drama happened when I coincidentally switch the channels of my cable TV. I came across a South Korean Drama called The Partner. I did not know who the actors and actress were at the time. But, just as I watched one episode I got hooked and end up watching the entire series!

Still, that was not enough to persuade me to fully embraced the K-drama fever. Partly because I tried hard to resist myself. I know once I watched a single episode I will get hooked and must watch them all at once. Such is the irresistible power that I prefer not to start at all.

I prefer to go back to my old territory of Hollywood movies and TV series. Until about a year a go. During our trip to Singapore, my younger daughter Hita got a fever. So, we ended up just staying in the hotel while Ratih went to Universal studio with her dad. Hita was asleep so I switched on the TV. I came across another K-Drama, Healer. And again, I just cant resist to continue watching. After that, I watched The legend of the Blue Sea, Suspicious Partner, My Love from the Star and Descendant of the Sun.

I often asked  myself:

What is it about this K-Drama that made it so irresistible?

I think one of the main strength of K-Drama is the lightness and bubblegum feeling that the drama created. K-Drama series typically starred by good looking actors and actresses. Most of the time, they have very cute and sweet behavior (I wonder if the South Korean people also behave that way in reality?). The setting can vary from legal, movie industry, restaurant, hotel, architecture, you name it, they have it.

But the main feature is the believable characters. In Telenovela or Indonesian Drama, the characters are mostly portrayed as black and white. The good is very good, the bad is very bad with over the top acting. But in K-Drama, the characters feel like they are actually human being, just like us. The main protagonist can be seen as a little ditzy and dirty (Suspicious Partner) or self-centered (My Love from the stars). It is also often the case when the female protagonists involved in altercation with their competitors.

Then, the creator not just go to great details for the main characters, but also for supporting characters. In most of the drama that I watched, there are always extended characters from father, mother, friends, colleagues. Together, they created a world that we would like to join in.

Finally, the story line. Its not as dramatic as Bollywood movies, or explosive as Hollywood. But, I find that the typical story line is engaging and intriguing but also not too heavy. So, it is enough to get the audience engaged right away till the end. Owh, another thing is, the drama is usually 16 episodes or 20 episodes long. So, it wont dragged on and on (we know some Indonesia series that go on until over 200 episodes!)

Now, the title is Asian Drama and Series. So, its not just about South Korean. Last time after I finished watching one full K-drama, I tried not to watch another. So, I switched the TV on. I found one channel that shows selected movies from across Asia. I came across a Thai movie titled “I Fine…Thank You…Love You”. It was really really funny…and very light. Good if you want to escape for a while. I also watched another Thai movie titled “Single Lady”. Just like the first movie, it is equally funny and easy to follow.

After that, I kept checking at the channel to find if there are more movies that I can watch. I ended up watching two Japanese Teenage Movie called “Wolf Girl and Black Prince” and “One Week Friends”. Both movie’s story line are quite simple. Yet, I quite enjoyed watching them, because the way the characters behave are very Japanese. The emphasis on always tell the truth and be honorable are something that I really admire.

So, I am determined to watch more movies from other countries. That way, I can learn about the country’s culture.

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The Most Common Theme of a Romantic Comedy


When Humble Authentic Woman Meet Arrogant Misunderstood Man

Perhaps the source of inspiration is Pride and Prejudice from none other than Jane Austen. In it, the heroine Elizabeth Bennet, is witty and clever lady with a less than advantageous family. She met with Mr. Darcy, who at first appear to be arrogant. The rest of the story involves the two of them understanding each other and eventually fall in love. The hugely successful miniseries is followed up by many Big Screen movies including Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice and many others.

The most interesting adaptation for me is The Bridget Jones’ Diary. The twist here is that instead of strongwilled, smart and witty Elizabeth Bennet, we have Bridget Jones a 30 something woman who smoke and drink but also bubbly and real. Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy, an upper class barrister who appears as a snob at first encounter. Well we can guess the rest of the story, but the conversations and jokes are quite refreshing.

The same storyline is also shared in Asia. Those of you who followed Asian series will know that Japanese Manga Series titled Boys over flower inspired a hugely popular Taiwan TV series Meteor Garden. Here, the heroine is San Chai, a hard working lower class girl who crossed path with Dao Ming Shi, a spoiled and stubborn wealthy boy. The difference here is the absence of Mr. Wickham. Instead we have Hua Ce Lei, Dao Ming Shi’s friend that intrigued San Chai’s interest at first.

The series are remade as South Korean Mini Series aptly titled as the original series: Boys Before Flower.

Do you know any other movies or series with a similar storyline?

Set it All Free via Sing

We really love the Movie Sing. The story itself is simple, but since my two girls really love animals they get really excited to see them sing. The plot is so relevant since there are so many so talent competition on TV right now. There are also a lot of lovable characters. Buster the Panda that own a teather, Gunter the over-excited Pig, Rosita the over-worked Mom of 25 piglets (this itself get them giggles), Meena the shy elephant, Ash the punk rocker porcupine, Johnny the Gorrila, Ms. Crawley the devoted chameleon and many more.

For me the most interesting thing is the brilliant song choice! We can immediately recognize “Firework” by Katy Perry…but some of the songs are from a different year and even different era. I learned about Beatles’ Golden Slumber because Nana Noodleman sings it in the opening scene. Then there is Elton John’s I’m still standing, Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing. Not to mention the songs from the audition. While I wont introduce the entire Crazy Town’s Butterfly to my girls, the movie cut to the perfect part. The fishes singing Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and the Red Panda girls that sing Kira Kira Killer are spot on. I think the writers really did a good job scouring and picking the songs and matching them with the characters of the movie.

The icing on the cake for us is the only original song in the movie. Yup, Set it All Free by Ash. My girls see her as a really cool girl. So, we really love to watch her sing it. After watching the movie we resort to youtube to watch Ash’s part. But, we came across the cover of Set it All Free by Sam Tsui & Madilyn Bailey. While Scarlett Johansson’s vocal is perfect to capture Ash’s strong and feisty character, we really enjoy the softer take of Sam and Madilyn 🙂

 

Terima Kasih Pierre Coffin!

Its school holiday and I must think of many many activities to keep my two angels busy!

Since they watch youtube regularly, I came across the trailers of MINIONS over a month a go. But, I thought that the release date is mid of JULY! So I was really really excited to know that it premier in our nearest theaters today!

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I immediately took them to see it…and we started laughing even when the Universal logo appeared on screen ^^ Unlike Descpicable Me and Despicable Me 2 that did not pay particular attention on individual minions. In Minion, we follow three special minions: Kevin – the aspiring leader of the pack, Stuart – the musician and finally the adorable and sweet BOB.

It is difficult for us to understand exactly what the minions are saying, since they have their own language, but we can guess from their behaviors. Don’t try to over analyze the plots as adults or as movie critics, just roll along and let your self go..then you will totally immerse in the minions antics….there are plenty of it too :))

So, Terima Kasih Pierre Coffin, for inventing and voicing the hundreds minions. My girls love them!

Melody of my life :)

One of my best friend told me that I am an auditory person. I work best through “audio”. That translates into listening, talking…I even write according to how I talk. No wonder that if I listen to something it stuck in my memory. Not just the voice but all the atmosphere.

Just today, I happened to listen to U2 With or Without You and my mind goes straight to Ross and Rachel’s moment of breakup in “Friends”..aren’t we all? 😉

Then I started to test my memory with a few other songs…I came up with a very interesting walk of memory lane 🙂

1981 – 1983

My earliest memory is an Indonesian song called Symphony Yang Indah by one of Indonesia’s Great Singer, Bob Tutupoly. This song was my dad’s favorite song. I still remembered the cover of its cassette. It has a corn like shape. Amazingly, I Googled it and…voila…found it! Listening again to this song now, I still vividly remembered the tape that we used to play it with in the living room from our first house 🙂

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1984 – 1985

Another song that will also bring me back to the early eighties is You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi…One of my neighbor used to sing this song loudly…even in a rather jumbled words 🙂

1984 – 1987

Then during my primary school I listened mostly Indonesian songs. The only means to get to know popular songs were radio and TV. But, Michael Jackson, Madonna were huge that even without MTV and we only had a few channels on TV we still know their songs.

1988 – 1989

As I enrolled to Junior High Schools, I started to buy cassettes with my pocket money. One of the first cassettes that I bought was Repeat Offender from Richard Marx. I love that album so much. I think it was in 1990. That same year like most girls in Indonesia, I came to know Tommy Page. Yes, him haha…bought all his cassettes too 😉

1990

Come 1990 I became NKOTB fan. I remembered watching the video with my little sister. We were crazy about NKOTB! Pin, posters, T-shirts you name it. Too bad I did not put them properly…

The 90’s was also the glam rock era, when my brother started to influence me with Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, even Metallica :)) What a range rite, from squeaky clean boy band to Rock Metal.

1991

Mane Attraction – White Lion especially You’re All I Need. It was a really special song for me as it was played in my Junior High School Farewell Party.

The song Whenever You Close Your Eyes from Tommy Page reminded me of the time when I went Camping as part of High school freshmen inauguration

1992

Definitely the year of Guns n’ Roses with Twin Album Use your Illusion I and Use your Illusion I. One rainy day sometimes in 1992, my classroom got leaky roof and the guys started singing November Rain :))

1993 Belong to Bryan Adams So Far So Good Album.

1995 –

Big Ones Album – Aerosmith  and What’s the Story Morning Glory – Oasis!

1996 – You and I – Scorpion

1997 – 1998 – Savage Garden’s self entitled first album with songs like Truly Madly Deeply and To the Moon and Back –

In this period I also bought Come on Over Album from Shania Twain. I remember every song by heart 😉

1998 – Postcards from Heaven – Lighthouse Family

High is my favorite song from this album. And it was played when I was cruising the highway in Jakarta to the Airport as I about to depart to the UK on 5th October 1999! The driver played the song in the car. It was such a moment. I was torn between the excitement of embarking into a new life but also apprehension of leaving everything behind.

1999 – definitely belong to Backstreet Boys Millenium and Celine Dion’s All the Way…a Decade of Song!

2000 –  2004

One of only a few album that I bought while I was studying in the UK was Affirmation Album from Savage Garden. Listening to the song Crash and Burn reminded me of my friends Yatti, Julien and Vincent. We were having lunch at Yatti’s place when the music video of Crash and Burn played on TV.

2002 – Pure Shores – All Saint…watched The Beach with special someone

During this period I also listened a lot of British Music. Ranging from boyband such as Westlife and Blue, to Coldplay, to Dido.

Justin Timberlake’s Like I love You was my polyphonic ringtone for my first handphone

There were also period when I got really holed up in my flat just trying to finish up my Ph.D. The songs that really get my going was: Train – Drops Over Jupiter, 3 Doors Down – Here Without You, The Calling – Wherever you Will Go.

2004 – 2008

Lots of Beyonce, Leona Lewis, Ne-Yo, Katy Perry etc

2009

Had a chance to go for a 2 weeks training in Japan. During this time I get to watch Mama Mia – the Movie. It really made me fell in love with ABBA 😀 Most importantly, I fell in love with Daniel Powter Album Under the Radar. The songs from this album such as Next Plane Home, Love You Lately, Best of Me accompanied me during those days in Kumamoto Japan.

2010

I lost my dad suddenly in March 2010. During this time I listened songs from Michael Jackson’s – Gone Too Soon and Owl City’s – Vanilla Twilight, Daughtry’s – Life after You.

2012

In 2012 I went for International Visitor Leadership Program, and Jessie J’s song Domino really dominated the airwaves. I heard it many times during the trip

Well, thats my list, what are yours? Perhaps not too different from mine 🙂

How I get to the music that I love

I have always loved Music but I don’t always have the time to really follow the latest one.

Thankfully, music is delivered to various media these days, so eventually good ones will come around 🙂 The keywords is “eventually” because it may not be the current hit song. In fact it might be 1 to 4 years late 😀

For me, the best chance to get to know the latest music is in the 15 or so minutes I drove my car back and forth from my home to the office or when I drove to do some errands, which is really not that long. But, during that short period, sometimes I got lucky to hear some music that would be my favorite. Just like love at first sight, the best music to me is those that I can really get the moment I heard it.

Back in 2002 I heard the song Drops over Jupiter from Train on the radio. I actually have to called the radio station to know the artist and the title 😀

Nowadays, it was really easy now to catch just a few phrase of the song and then Googled it to find out who sings it and search on Youtube to watch the music video.

Just like the other day, I suddenly heard this song…

Tell them all I know now
Shout it from the roof tops
Write it on the skyline
all we had is gone now

It was sung wholeheartedly by a guy with a very deep and unique voice. The songs it self was quite easy to catch. I just googled some of the lyrics that I remember and found out that it was originally sung by Shontelle, a female artist around 2010! While her original version was great, I wanted to know the guy who recycled the song. So, I browse through the google search and voila!

Found that it was sung by James Arthur on the final of UK X Factor in 2012. As I watched his performance I was really really moved. The song really blend with his voice. SO It came to my playlist really late 😀

If not through the radio, sometimes I got to know good music through other media. Top of the list would be Movies! Yes, good movies typically comes with good music. For example, watching Frozen really get me (and my girls) singing “Let it Go” and “Do you wanna build a Snowman”.

Another mean would be award ceremonies. During the Oscar ceremonies I watched Pharrell Williams got everyone dancing with his song “Happy” from Despicable Me. Actually, I have watched Despicable Me 2 with my girls so many time, but I did not noticed the song….so, at that time, I was rooting for Idina Menzel’s Let it Go for “Original Score from the Movie” and it did. But now I really cant get the song out of my head 😀

Clap Along if You Feel Like a Room without a Roof!!

Finally, I get introduced to the latest hit through entertainment news! I for example get to know Sara Barailles “Brave” because it was compared to Katy Perry’s “Roar”. I also get intrigued to listen to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” because it was heavily cited in the news.

How do you get your music??