My October Adventures

In a blink of eye between 31 Days of Halloween and festival coverage, October wrapped up. Our partial lockdown has been extended for another potentially 28 days as Montreal hopes for the new cases/deaths number to decrease in the next month instead of the current constant. I’ve reverted in the middle of October to a partial work at home status which is kind of the best scenario that I could hope for. With that said, its been a fairly calm month as we kept to regional protocol and stayed home other than to pick-up the occasional food pick-up or grocery runs and mostly for work purposes. After a little glimpse at what’s going on personally, let’s see what I managed to muster up for this month’s adventures…its mostly recaps at this point. Let’s check it out!

Festival Du Nouveau Cinema 2020

Festival du Nouveau Cinema ran for the majority of the month. It was a wild ride as this festival always has deeper movies and takes a little more time to process which makes the writing process in a tad of a delay since I’m not going to lie that the movie choices started a little rocky. Still, I wanted to do a little something for it and here’s the rankings from best to worst (obviously in my opinion) of the 19 films that I watched based on my current feelings and memories of them:

  1. Topside
  2. My Salinger Year
  3. Red Post on Escher Street
  4. Caught in the Net
  5. Moving On
  6. La Hija de un Ladron
  7. Violation
  8. Undine
  9. Poissonsexe
  10. Wisdom Tooth
  11. Mum, Mum, Mum
  12. Cocoon
  13. The Book of Vision
  14. Drowsy City
  15. The Tremor
  16. The Cloud In Her Room
  17. Sin La Habana
  18. Kill It and Leave This Town
  19. Siberia

That’s the rankings. Half of the movies have been reviewed at this point and there will be the rest of the reviews going up in the coming week.

Halloween Marathon

This year was a little different as I aimed to do 31 Days of Halloween/Horror which overall worked out as I did mostly double features and then wrapped up the last few days with Blood in the Snow Festival coverage. There were some off days and I had fallen behind by one day with a week left and pulled it together to wrap up on October 31st. I consider that a win even though I didn’t count the TV Binge of The Haunting of Bly Manor as one of the days, which I probably should have. Out of all the movies, here’s the top picks that I saw in no specific order:

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
  • Raw
  • Unfriended: Dark Web
  • #Alive
  • Trick ‘r Treat
  • Happy Death Day
  • For The Sake Of Vicious

You can find all the reviews and full list of this year’s and previous year’s Halloween marathon HERE!

Blood in the Snow Festival 2020

Blood in the Snow Festival 2020 started up at the end of October and is going on until November 7th. Different from Fantasia Festival and Festival du Nouveau Cinema, its showing on Super Channel and has a specific schedule for the different features and programs airing. You can find all the info for how to sign up for Super Channel and schedule on the festival’s site.

I’ll be covering everything here: shorts programs, features, pre-feature shorts and perhaps the Web Bites if I figure out a good way to do it.

Trying New Restaurants

1930 Shanghai

1930 Shanghai is a restaurant that specializes in Xiao Long Bao which is the Shanghai soup-filled dumplings. They are one of my favorite foods. This place makes decent ones. While they look the same here, I had one order of the normal pork -filled flavor and then had one where it was chicken and mushroom. Both were really good.

Comon Restaurant

I’m usually not a huge fan of Fried Chicken nor do I tend to eat it a lot but my friend told me about this place and picked up some chicken. . Their take-out boxes for the chicken are in pizza boxes which is pretty creative. I ordered a Bibimbap which was pretty good but felt was a little overpriced for the size and the taste wasn’t anything too different from other places. The fried chicken is also pricier but it does taste really good. I ordered the Fried Chicken with Green Onions (pretty obvious) but unlike some other restaurants in Montreal, their chickens are all bone-in, which isn’t a huge problem since I like bone-in meats but definitely something that others might want to keep in mind if you want to try it out.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this weekly adventures!
What have you been up to? Any Halloween celebrations – simple or not?

TV Binge: Twogether (Season 1, 2020)

Twogether (Season 1, 2020)

twogether

Cast: Jasper Liu, Seung-gi Lee

Paired together for an unforgettable trip across Asia, stars Lee Seung Gi and Jasper Liu become buddies as they connect with fans and local cultures. – IMDB

For fans of Jasper Liu and Seung-Gi Lee, both stars now having their own Netflix Original series, this pair-up for the travel reality show with a little bit of challenges and games added in is a fairly fun adventure. Essentially, the concept is that these two go to different Asian countries, they land at night and choose which location to go that their fan from that country has recommended. At each location, if they beat their challenge, they get a clue which narrows down the location of where the fan lives. As they move through one location to the next, its a strategy to see where to go to maximize their time since before a certain time if they don’t find their fan, they need to catch the plane to the next location. Most of the fans don’t know that they are going to find them so its a surprise and the other surprise is that, they don’t know whose fan it is.

In the current world of when this is released, we can only find travel on Netflix. Yet again, a show that releases at a good time. To be fair, the travel element is there as a unique backdrop for the reality game show element. There is some education on the different places they visit and the landmarks in those countries from a local. However, the game show element is where the show has the most fun as the show’s structure: challenges, travel allowance budget and language barriers between the two at the beginning, plus any Asian game show viewers knows that the director/crew always has it out for the people involved to make things harder.

To be fair, I’m not a Jasper Liu or Seung-gi Lee fan mostly because I haven’t watched anything of theirs (but Jasper Liu’s Triad Princess is on my to-watch list). Call this Netflix’s big scheme to give their show some extra promotion, which it probably is but it worked for me since I definitely did bump up my priority to watch their works. Its mostly entertaining in a very Korean variety show style with the comments made in post-editing to the scene (at least from my memory since its been more than a decade that I haven’t watched Korean shows). These two get together well and they both are fairly chill people who have a lot of fun with each of their challenges. At the same time, this is a good concept to have and more places should implement it (when this whole pandemic hopefully/eventually ends) to give fans an opportunity to meet their idols. There are some moments that it is rather touching to watch. Especially with the global presence of Netflix, its great to see that shows like this has an outlet to combine these stars from different countries together and in reality, its really cross-promotion but still achieves its entertainment element while promoting some of these beautiful locations in Asia.

Music Obsessions – June 2020

In a blink of an eye, 2020 has entered June. I guess being home on lockdown has been quite the discovery as I got to catch up on some music, mostly as I was more on top with TV series and variety shows and whatnot as well as some new music.

Empty Space  – Theo 朱正廷 ft. Boogie 

Its always exciting to see Theo release new music. So far, the last few singles have been really good and shows a diverse style that he has been able to grasp from ballads to cute to energetic music. Its always nice to see the Nine Percent crew getting together so here, Boogie joins him to do a little rap portion. Its a really nice song and very uplifting.

别人家的小孩 Other Family’s Children – 创造101 Yamy组 Produce 101 Team Yamy ft. 王一博 Yibo Wang

I’ve been searching up some music from Yibo Wang lately because of not being able to let go of The Untamed. He seems to fit into this mold but then when he is on stage, there is this different person that pops up that I find is fairly fun and charming. One of the really fun songs was a recap back in Produce 101 (that I didn’t watch in 2018, I think) and he was one of the instructors that got to participate in this song with the trainees. Its a super fun song.

Eternal Love 貳叁 – Kris Wu 吳亦凡

I’m using this one as this is the performance that I saw on Produce Camp 2020 that made me like the song and the actual MV is a 15 minutes short film, which I’m not sure anyone has time for so I’ve put it below as well in case you want to check it out:

Back to this song by Kris Wu, I’m not going to lie that I wasn’t too sure about Kris Wu before since I didn’t listen to EXO-M and didn’t quite know of him other than the pretty and cool face in XXX: The Return of Xander (review). However, he was the surprise mentor in Produce Camp 2020 for the first performances and I realized that he actually wrote both the lyrics and music for this song and its a nice blend of traditional Chinese music fused into modern pop music and it turns so great especially since he has a pretty good voice as well. Impressive! Kris Wu is on my radar now!

Lover 情人 – 蔡徐坤组 KUN & Youth With You 2 Trainees
(Collab Stage performance)

A lot of performance videos this time around. Deal is, Love from Kun Cai hasn’t been released yet but its a new song that he decided to use for the collab stage with the trainees of Youth With You 2 and its one of my favorite songs from KUN and also one of my fave performance in Youth With You 2. Really sexy and stylish!

Not Spring, Love or Cherry  Blossoms – High4, IU

I don’t share a lot of Korean music here but after hearing the Chinese version of it in one of the shows, I went to look for the original and this song is so cute and romantic. It actually makes me super happy to listen to it.

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
June is here and while the world is not too great right now with everything going on, consider this my slice of safe haven!

Goodfood Recap #39

goodfood

Welcome to the next Goodfood. Its been probably about a month. This is definitely back to a monthly basis at this point. This time’s picks are fairly summery in my opinion, at least getting into the more warm weather foods that we tend to learn towards. There are some repeats and some that feel like a little twist added to something we’ve done before.

Let’s check it out!

Shrimp Boil
with Summer Corn, Roasted Potatoes & Green Salad

shrimp boil

As always, seafood meals kick off the Goodfood meals. This time, we start with our repeat meal. The last time we had this, I believe my husband made it so it was a new experience for myself. Other than the fact that I’d love to know how you break corn into 3 parts (my husband says the cleaver is how to do it) by hand, this meal was pretty good. The shrimp was nice and its pretty simple to put together. It has a few steps to it like boiling the corn and potato first before putting it in the oven with the shrimp. The sauce that they say to make with a butter base (which I replaced with margarine since we don’t have butter at home) was really delicious. The green salad also had a good oil-based dressing to it and was a refreshing side.

Glazed Korean Chicken Lettuce Cups
with Sticky Rice & Carrot Salad

glazed korean chicken lettuce cups

My favorite meal of this meal kit goes to this recipe. I’m always a big fan of the Asian foods here. They usually are pretty decent. Its been a while since I’ve tried some lettuce cups and such although I did end up eating it all separately in the end. However, the chicken is really good although it takes some attention. At the same time, the carrot salad is a bit like preserved style so has this sour flavor to it but it matches really well to balance out the flavors here. Plus, the sticky rice is one of the fave parts of these meals whenever it appears since I don’t buy Calrose rice but I definitely should just to be able to eat more sticky rice, not to mention the sauce the blends in with it from the chicken is just delicious.

Curried Tofu
with Coconut Rice, Roasted Vegetables & Thai Basil Salsa Verde

Curried Tofu

Tofu meals are usually hit and miss for us however we keep trying them out because its a good source of meatless protein and its always nice to add a vegetarian option every once in a while when we get a chance. While I can’t say the tofu itself was anything great (I’m not a fan of the extra firm tofu), the curried sauce was pretty good. The roasted vegetables are also pretty good and the thai basil salsa verde was also surprisingly a good addition to add some different flavors to the meal.

Beef & Shiitake Burgers
with Miso Mayonnaise & Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

beef & shiitake Burgers

Burger choices are normally for my husband because he likes trying now types of burgers. This menu feels familiar and yet also feels like a past one we have had but maybe with changes. I can’t quite remember right now. It was a pretty good one although, I have never had uncooked bok choy so was a bit skeptical and after this, learned that I prefer it cooked. It is somewhat of a messy burger so I ate it all separately. Everyrhing was alright except note to self, with miso based sauces, it already starts off quite salty.

Thats it for this Goodfood recap!
Any meals that peak your interest?

Double Feature: Seoul Station (2016) & Audition (1999)

Welcome to a Friday edition of Double Feature!

My initial plan at the beginning of the year was that Fridays would be for sharing my dive into Asian cinema (more particularly Hong Kong films) but hey, I’m a fan of all kinds of movies so as I ease back into the Asian cinema world, I’m heading into another Shudder double feature with Audition (1999) recommended to me by my fantastic co-host Elwood and the prequel of one of my favorite zombie movies, Seoul Station. Japanese and Korean double feature. This one is all kinds of different tags for why it works as a double feature already.

I’ve heard good stuff for both of these movies so I’m excited to check them out!

Seoul Station (2016)

seoul station

Director (and writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Voice Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Joon

Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul. – IMDB

With the massive success of Train to Busan (review), its hard to pass up the prequel that started the story. Seoul Station takes us back to where it all started pretty much. Although, who did bite the poor homeless man? We never will know how it started but Seoul Station focuses on a few people whose lives are intertwined and are escaping for their lives as the people around them are infested and attack the people around them. These clueless characters learn about what the zombies are capable of and that well, they are actually the undead. Seoul Station has its good and bad. Is it quite as good as Train to Busan? No, its pretty far from the tension and the story pacing and characters. However, that isn’t saying that its a particularly bad animated prequel. It does a good job to set the stage of what its successor can go from and builds an understanding of how the zombies in this world work. Of course, there’s still a lot more to learn in Train to Busan as movies like to make zombies evolve.

Seoul Station doesn’t have quite the exceptional characters to love. The main girl is made to be weak and whiny but somehow makes it through a lot of close calls. Her boyfriend that is on a separate area as they track each other time to meet up is pretty useless as well and makes a lot of bad calls and doesn’t have the guts. However, he is paired up with an older man who is tough as nails. There’s a whole story behind this and that leads up to the plot twist at the end. The story is somewhat generic but the twist was a surprise although the final twist was quite predictable. Where I find it excels is in its art. The movement and speed of the zombies have this blur behind it which is a lovely touch added in to make something of a motion blur and that works wonders for the aesthetics and effect. The areas and the zombie itself are creepy to look at. The tone of the movie and the backdrop here are done incredibly well also.

Overall, Seoul Station might not offer a unique zombie story and has its surprises and some rather predictable moments. However, it delivers on its art and visuals in this animated feature. Not quite as memorable as its successor but still worth a watch to lay the foundation for the next film.

Audition (1999)

Audition

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all. – IMDB

In many ways, I can see how Audition is a great horror film. In fact, its quite the psychological journey. Messed up and what not the further you dive into the plot. In fact, the ending is so weird that it kind of goes through a confusing phase. I still can’t quit figure out what went on. As psychological as it all was, it was one of those situations that never felt right to begin with. Auditioning for girls for a role that fitted into what this widower wanted, not sure I’m okay with that since it feels pretty contrived and manipulative in the first place. Nothing good comes from that. Then the girl herself was really weird to begin with but apparently Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) saw something in her.

The story has many layers and to be fair, it works for the most part. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Audition. There are some solid atmosphere here and the pacing is fairly good. The cinematography and sound design is great in boosting the atmosphere. The star of the show probably did have to go to the girl here played by Eihi Shiina who was so creepy and mysterious. The final moments however kind of did it for me. What started out as psychological turned into this torture porn that turned my stomach a little and I’m usually not so easily disturbed by it. If that was the intention, it definitely achieved its goal but for myself, I felt like it didn’t fit in so well.

I can’t quite pinpoint what I felt let me down for Audition but it just didn’t feel like it ever reached the potential before heading in directions I wasn’t too fond of. I do acknowledge it has some great character and a lot of mystery and atmospheric horror. But something just didn’t work completely for myself.

That’s it for this Asian Horror double feature!
I anticipated watching both of these quite a bit but both of them let me down just a little.
I can definitely see their merit but it just wasn’t exactly for me particularly Audition.

Have you seen these two? Thoughts?

Netflix A-Z: Lady Vengeance (2005)

Next up on Netflix A-Z, we’re looking at a foreign film, thanks to a recommendation on this selection being a favorite out of the Vengeance trilogy by Chan Wook Park.  I personally love Chan Wook Park or at least the movies I’ve seen, like Stoker (which blew my mind). You can find that review HERE!  Its one of my earlier reviews so it might not be as polished.  Regardlesss, I’m giving this one a go even if its the final installment of the trilogy but from what I understand, it has nothing to do with each other storywise but just in theme, so we should be good to go! 😉

Let’s check it out!

Lady Vengeance (2005)

Lady Vengeance

Director: Chan-wook Park

Cast: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

After being in prison for 13 years for murdering a 6 year old boy, Geun-ja Lee is released back into the modern world.  Except this time, she has an elaborate plan to revenge on the man who is the actual killer.  She asks for help from her friends on this endeavor.

 Chan-wook Park has a distinct style in his work.  Its dark and peculiar for the most part.  Stoker and Oldboy both highly resonated those tones and Lady Vengeance is no different.  The intricate focus on the meticulous planning for a revenge by Geun-ja Lee is pretty spectacular.  The colors and the story was good.  However, the first half of the movie took a while for me to warm up to.  Maybe its also the fact that watching a movie like this takes the right mood and I wasn’t particularly in one of those moods but still wanted to check this out. I guess what I should be saying is that the other characters here playing opposite the main character has a distinct difference.  A lot of them are very naive or innocent even if a lot of them were prison mates.  Is that a statement on how Geun-ja Lee isn’t really as “kind” as she claims to be? Or that vengeance changes a person?

lady vengeance

Calm, collected and rather emotionless, Geum-ja Lee is a really great character.  I think the best part of the movie resides in her character and the planning and reactions she makes.  It is mysterious and dark.  There’s something that lurks behind all this that we can never pinpoint. But then, its not hard to be tough after 13 years of jail or having gone through what she has. The thrill of Lady Vengeance is Geum-ja Lee and wondering what she’ll do next. How does all the pieces in the first half fit together to see the ending.  She isn’t all evil.  She seeks redemption and revenge all at the same time.

lady vengeance

Lady Vengeance is a puzzle where the movie pieces itself together step by step.  Its rather slow and bizarre that builds to a rather brutal way.  It works on a more psychological level than say, Oldboy (which I have seen but haven’t reviewed here). The introduction sequence with credits is done so beautiful and setting the stage with beautiful music also.  Its hard to talk about Lady Vengeance without ruining the experience you would get with a fresh view of going into this.  It is a pretty movie to watch from music to cinematography and a good revenge tale.

I’m watching this revenge trilogy completely out of order but that’s okay.  Lady Vengeance was totally worth the time.  Its a little slow in the beginning and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but as the story pieces together, it turns out to be really fantastic and well-crafted. Its a little mind-boggling but the movie answers most of the questions. It well worth a watch.  I say this one might even be more memorable than Oldboy (since I don’t remember a whole lot except for the shocking ending).

Have you seen Lady Vengeance? How about Chan-wook Park’s revenge trilogy? What are your thoughts?

I’m slowly catching up with Netflix A-Z.  I just needed some TV time with the frequent theatre visits.
But we are back! The next selection is for letter M.  Any guesses? Hint: Foreign (again)