INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

In celebration of all the epic Females in the world I’ve made a playlist full of empowering songs by some of the best Female vocalists on the planet. Have a listen and embrace what it means to be a Woman in the 21st century and have a great day!

And if you need a little extra inspiration read Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman which was the starting point for Laura Mvula’s song of the same name which this playlist aptly starts with.

If you have any awesome tracks to suggest, then pop them down bellow in the comments section!

Wishtrend Unboxing

I am such a fan of Wishtrend, their products work, like really work, as in they have saved my skin from permanent unshifting acne to skin that actually has good days more often than the bad days. So when I ran out of my holy grail skin care products I had to re-order them and seeing as I’m always on the look out for cool new skin care products to try I also have a couple of newbies to test out.

Let’s get into this unboxing…

Have a lovely week, and don’t forget to celebrate a little self love this Valentines Day too!

Book Club: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Hello hello, welcome back to another edition of our bookclub. We have tried many a time to get this thing going and sadly it has always swiftly become a thing of the past. But it’s 2019, a brand new year of hope (1 month late, this doesn’t bode well!) and Charlotte has committed to joining me on this endeavour so not all of the books we will be reading will be obscure Japanese or Korean literature – Hurray I hear you shout, thank goodness – yet ironically this first book pick is actually mine, and it’s thoroughly mainstream as Sally Rooney is having a bit of a moment with her latest novel Normal People.

So whats it about?…

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So if you fancy joining the Bookclub then head over to Goodreads and tune in for our reviews at the end of the month either here on the blog or over on our youtube channel

Korean Cinema – 버닝 (Burning)

Burning is a taut and thrilling adaptation of one of Murakami’s most intriguing short stories, Barn Burning.

Of course Burning is not a literal retelling of Murakami’s story, it has been tweaked and reworked seeing as it is only a 20 page story and the film is over 2 hours long. These tweaks work so well and contribute to a study of Korean society that feels raw and rather brutal. It’s a classic example of class division, of the psychological harm that jealousy incurs and perhaps obsession.

Burning follows a young man called Jong-su, he works several part time jobs in a struggle to survive in Seoul, one day he meets Hae-mi, an old acquaintance from his hometown and they start seeing each other. Hae-mi goes travelling to Africa and asks Jong-su to look after her cat even though he has just moved back to his family farm in Paju. Jong-su performs his task diligently without ever encountering the cat. When Hae-mi returns from Africa she is accompanied by Ben a young successful man. And thus the tension begins between the two males.

Having Jong-su and Hae-mi come from simple means the sudden appearance of Ben a metropolitan man who drives a Porsche and lives in Gangnam is rather jarring and as an audience we never warm to his character. And he only gets more and more suspicious in his smugness and rather disturbing collection in his bathroom and the revelation that he likes to burn greenhouses. Abandoned greenhouses that take less than 10 minutes to completely disappear. At this point you start to think that he is just a rich boy on a power trip, later however when Hae-mi goes missing it becomes apparent that burning greenhouses is just a metaphor for something far more nefarious…or is it?

That’s the best thing about Lee’s direction, we are never really told anything concrete. Can we completely trust Jong-su, is he not just completely overcome with jealousy, Ben seems to have everything, success, fast cars, a beautiful apartment and a loving family. Is Jong-su imagining the scenario or is Ben really a psychopathic murderer of Women?

It’s a shame that Burning didn’t make it into the nominations for best foreign film for the Academy Awards this year as this is a masterfully conducted thriller. The acting especially by Yoo Ah-in and Steven Yeun is electrifying, they fit so well into their respective roles. The soundtrack heightens tension terrifically and the cinematography feels at moments whimsical and then all of a sudden concise and rigid.

Let me know in the comments section what you thought of the film.

5 Reasons Why I’m Obsessed With Kingdom And Why You Will Be Too!

Kingdom is Netflix’s new original Korean Period Drama with a twist, yes there is a Zombie outbreak! Directed by first time TV Director (he’s made quite a few films, A Hard Day and The Tunnel) and written by Kim Seong-hun who was behind Signal, one of the most critically acclaimed and popular cable TV Dramas of the decade in Korea.

ZOMBIES IN JOSEON!

The marriage of period drama and zombies is quite frankly genius, with Zombies going mainstream with tv shows like The Walking Dead, the undead started to lose their appeal. But with a fresh period setting new life has been breathed into the genre.

THE CAST

For Netflix’s first foray into original Korean content this cast is impeccable. Kingdom is headlined by Ju Ji-hoon and Bae Doona who are currently some of the most recognisable faces from Korean Cinema. Ju Ji-hoon plays a crown prince searching for answers and Bae Doona plays a small town nurse who first encounters the undead!

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THE HORROR

While the Zombies are horrifying so are the living and breathing people! Class systems, poverty and power hungry rivalries make some characters do some pretty awful things, including the source of the zombie outbreak!!!

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

A TV series about Zombies has never looked so beautiful. This is a masterfully shot drama that oozes style and substance. And standing at only 6 episodes long, you can tell an immense amount of detail has gone into crafting this aesthetically stunning drama.

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IT’S NETFLIX’S FIRST (TRULY) ORIGINAL KOREAN DRAMA

Censorship be gone! Hello blood, guts and gore! Anyone who has watched Korean Dramas before know that certain things don’t get aired on national TV, and often if present (Say a gun or a knife, or a bloody wound) they will simply be blurred out which is quite jarring (to begin with especially) as it takes you right out of the action of whats happening. So thankfully as this is a true Netflix Original it will not have to pander to broadcasting rules in Korea!

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Have you been convinced? Then go see what the hype is all about, and be warned you may just binge watch this short little series in one sitting!

Kingdom only on Netflix

Korean Cinema – 누구의 딸도 아닌 해원 (Nobody’s Daughter Haewon)

Poignant, thought provoking and subtly charming. Hong Sang-soo blends reality and whimsy in this snapshot of life.

Haewon is a young woman still trying to find her place in the world when she finds herself abandoned by her mother who has suddenly decided to emigrate to Canada. And to make matters worse soon after her affair with a melancholy married professor comes to light, she is thus ostracised by her classmates and feels utterly alone. 

I loved the simple direction in this film which made it feel really real, like I was simply observing a moment in someone else’s life. This effect was also helped by the natural and conversational dialogue and the lack of a soundtrack (except for a key recurring song). This style of filmmaking is to me simply wonderful, it’s perhaps the closest you can get to reading a book which makes it an utterly charming experience to watch.

Another key factor that makes Nobody’s daughter Haewon such an interesting watch is the abundance of recurring motives throughout the film. And for the sake of not spoiling what that alludes to I’m just going to leave it there. So if you haven’t watched the film yet keep your eyes peeled for them and if you have seen this indie gem then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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You can catch this film and 5 more of Hong Sang-soo’s films as part of the Mubi “selectrospective” of the prolific directors filmography titled Solving Puzzles: The Cinema of Hong Sang-soo. If you don’t want to miss this movie Mubi works is a little different to Netflix or other online streaming platforms so you do have to watch the films within 30 days before they disappear from the library making way for new content!

P.S. I have started a little film club over on Instagram on my Film Account so if you fancy joining head over there and get involved!!! This film was my first pick as I was super excited to find out about Mubi showcasing Hong Sang-soo’s work as most of his films have never been released here in the UK!!