Reading movies

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Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.

Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.

I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!

On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).

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The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!

Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.

Pans Labyrinth

This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!

Joyeux Noël 

About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.

Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…

My Princess

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A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!

Hana Yori Dango

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Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’

Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.

And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).

Trollhunter

A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!

And finally… Ros na Rún

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Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!

We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).

When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).

Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).

Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!

“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel

“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman

“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush

Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂

I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!

Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

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Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

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Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

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Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

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Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

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If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

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Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂

Obsession Island

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Ridley: Hello…*waves* I know, I’ve been quiet as of late, I’m sure you were all wondering where Ridley had gone. (No? No one?) I’ve been busy! Kind of. While Latimer has been ploughing new roads through the unknown jungle that is the comic book world and developing her inner fangirl there, I’ve gone back to the old staple of Asian dramas. I will follow Lat down the comic book route, eventually, when she has the road newly paved and there’s been a bus route established with a tourist map on all the best locations (aka stories).*grin*Dublin-Tourist-Map

I can just imagine me wandering forward into the large sprawling forest, wide eyed and hesitant, staring up at the comic book trees…

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Latimer will be pointing at one tree with a beautiful sturdy trunk, “Let’s climb this one! It seems like a great story!”

And then we look upwards with smiles of excitement and far higher than we can see the branches have become all twisted and cancerous as the tale has gone awry, and then closer to us a whole thick limb suddenly disappears from the tree and I turn to her in horror, pointing at it.

Latimer huffs in annoyance, “They’ve just retconed the story line.”

“Ret-con?”

“Restarted it, so it’s like everything that they’ve done up until now hasn’t happened.”

I gasp at her. “But I could have been on that part!!”

I look down at the leafy forest floor, imagining myself lying there dazed not knowing why I’d plummet to the ground. I turn and shake my fist up at the now blank space on the tree.

So…I’ll wait until some of the trees have hazard signs erected first! And maybe a train line, I can get a bit travel sick on the bus…

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As I said though, I’ve been away, lost in the world of Asian dramas, I’m the canary (as in canary down the mine!) for, Flower Boy Next Door (Latimer pointed this series out to me). It’s a Korean one this time. I’ve ventured forth alone to see what it’s like and to report back on whether others (well, just Latimer) should follow me or run away, and so far? Oh it’s so good!Flower-Boy-Next-Door-04

But I’ll tell you (another side journey here), I got this hankering to return to the dramas after I’d tried my hand at watching a Bollywood film, I’d never watched one before-a proper one now, made for their home audiences, not Europe or America. It had the same type of romantic elements, the restrained passion and heartbreak as the dramas. The film was called Veer-Zaara (it’s the name of the two main characters). Basically the two main characters are from different countries (India and Pakistan) and they meet when the main girl, Zaara, visits India. Over the few days they travel together, they fall in love, but then the man she’s been promised to comes to take her back to Pakistan….and heartbreak and forbidden love ensues!veer-zaara

Absolutely beautiful images and colours and the dancing was great, but I’m just not really a fan of people breaking out into song at critical moments in the tale.

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Musical episodes in any series I’ve ever watched have never really sat well with me (even that Buffy episode-though I just looked at the trailer…it was kinda good…I loved that series, and Angel!).

The reason for not possibly liking it is because I get sucked up by the tune and while I’m humming and swaying, I don’t hear what they’re actually singing about, so I miss important parts of the storyline.  (Though for some reason, this never seems to happen with my beloved Disney films, I sing and sway to them, but I still know what’s going on afterwards!)

Hakuna MatataThe biggest plus this film had though, (that if I see this in any drama that I watch I sit back with the words, ‘this is gona be gooood’), is the rain scene. There has to be a rain scene in any epic or tragic or hard-fought-for love story, there has to be a rain scene when the two couples reunite or finally come together after overcoming all the hardship or just kiss for the first time. It truly is a swoon worthy moment.Veer-Zaara 21Veer-Zaara (1)

I just realised they had quite a few rain scenes in this film, though some of them didn’t technically happen as they’re just the character imagining them. Like this one (but now you hopefully understand the beauty of the rain scene?):

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Now back to my, Flower Boy Next Door. I’m only in the middle of it, but basically it’s about a girl (Go Dok-mi played by Park Shin-hye) who avoids people and contact with the outside world.Flower-Boy-Next-Door-Korean-Drama_korean-dramas We’re getting flashbacks to the tragic events behind this with each new instalment. Then there’s a possible love interest in the beautiful man next door (Oh Jin-rak played by Kim Ji-hoon)543806_576111315748402_241042218_n-1

and also the beautiful neighbour across the road (Enrique Geum played by Yoon Shi-yoon)tumblr_mkj5a0u3n91qiq9wto1_500

and then there’s the scheming ‘other woman’ (I always hate the ‘other woman’ in any story *glare*) who wants one of the men and is making the girl’s life a misery. (no one cares who she is….oh fine! It’s Park Soo-jin as Cha Do-hwi, she a great actress too….but I still hate the ‘other woman’.)boynextdoor8-00204

I’m all set for some fantastic viewing and roller coaster moments. I’m already wrecked from not going to bed early enough during the week while watching this! And of course having to go to work, eat, sleep, and also get my writing done, people (other than Latimer, who is now getting 20 texts a minute with random happy (no doubt confusing) lines like, ‘oh my god, he just looked at her!’, as I’m watching the drama) think I’ve disappeared!

I have, into Korean drama land!   

PS: I just realised you know, when you find something new that you absolutely love, it’s like you’re on your own little obsession island, completely by yourself revelling in it and consuming as much of the comic, series, book, music that you can, that’s stage one. Then stage two is bursting free from your little hovel, when there is no more (you’ve read, seen or listened to everything) and you share your love of the obsession and want to meet others just like you. I think stage two lasts quite a while especially now we have the internet!