Double Feature: The Big Sick (2017) & Sinister (2012)

Welcome to the next double feature! Somewhat of a mixed bag for the rest of January double features from what I see. This time, we’re pairing a 2017 romantic comedy The Big Sick with 2012’s Sinister. Both at the time of release did get quite a few good reviews that its been on my to-watch list for a little while.

Let’s check it out!

The Big Sick (2017)

big sick

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings. – IMDB

*originally written for Friday Film Club on Movies and Tea HERE*

Loosely based on the real life relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon who also penned the script for this romantic comedy, The Big Sick is something of a breath of fresh air in the whole realm of romantic comedies. It highlights a little of cultural differences that stand between those involved in interethnic relationships. At the same time, it still bundles in a decent amount of soul-searching on behalf of primarily the character of Kumail as the character of Emily does fall into a coma for at least half of the film or something. This also is quite the unusual sort of flow of events as it makes it much more than simply a typical rom-com.There’s a deeper level as these other elements get brought into the picture.

Looking at the cast, there is not much to say about Kumail as someone who plays himself in this somewhat autobiographical flow of events. However, there is quite an impressive little cast here going and the first goes to Zoe Kazan who, while spends most a good part of it in a coma, brings in a very quirky female lead, which shouldn’t be a surprise with the roles that she has played before whether in an indie romance like In Your Eyes or Ruby Sparks. Playing her father Terry is Ray Romano who plays a fairly serious role here despite the story touching in the stand-up comedian main character. Playing the mother is Holly Hunter who takes on quite a strong motherly role who finds a growing bond with Kumail and has a powerful scene where she attacks someone in the audience for making a racial comment.

There’s a lot to love about The Big Sick. A big part of it goes to it feeling genuine and heartfelt. The other part is that the intercultural relationship is a refreshing angle to take with some new themes to explore. If you like a nice romantic comedy, this one definitely fits the bill.

Sinister (2012)

sinister 2012

Director (and co-writer): Scott Derrickson

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley

Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s. – IMDB

Sinister is a decent horror movie. Setting around watching home movies on this old tape projection machine is something that adds a lot of mystery. Plus, the story unfolds in sections. The first part plays out like a mystery thriller and adds in a lot of suspense and finding clues and piecing together the different things of these past murders. The second half goes more into the horror elements and frequently some tropes. It operates a lot of the film in the dark because the main character, other than that one moment where they make an effort to say that they lost electricity randomly, seems to enjoy investigating noises and abnormalities in the dark hallways of their new home. It does create the atmosphere but then, logically, sometimes it doesn’t quite make sense.

Deal is, tropes don’t bother me so much as how well they are executed. Sinister might have some truly unbelievable decision-making especially on the main character Ellison played by Ethan Hawke. Thats not saying that Ethan Hawke isn’t suitable for the role because he does fit quite well in this character. To be fair, the darkness was a bit deliberate but it did manage to deliver some very predictable and oddly effective startles and jump scares. Plus the evil in question here is actually rather creepy from afar. A lot of evil is much better as unclear figures as it leaves space for imagination to run wild. This one does that well partially. The uncovering of the lore behind this evil was done pretty well though especially with its focus on children. There is one scene with the children running around the house in the dark popping up in odd places that was the best scene in the whole film.

Sinister is a decent horror film. It relies on some of the obvious horror tropes and overuses the dark element to create its scares and suspense by blinding the audience. However, it does manage to create quite the evil here and give it a deep enough lore to give it mystery and horror. Is it one to revisit again? Probably not. But is it intriguing enough to watch the sequel? I’d say yes.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

TV Binge: Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love

Cast: Mi Yang, Mark Chao, Ken Chang, Dilraba Dilmurat, Vengo Gao, Maggie Huang, Vin Zhang, Alan Yu, Lawrence Wang, Bambi Zhu, Wayne Liu

After a devastating war, the immortal tribe paid a heavy price to seal the demon lord. 70000 years later, in an attempt to re-seal the demon lord who broke free, Bai Qian was sent to the mortal realm. In the mortal world, she meets Ye Hua and falls in love with him after forgetting about her life as a goddess. Ye Hua gifts her the name of Su Su. Su Jin, who is jealous of Ye Hua’s love for Bai Qian, intentionally creates a series of misunderstanding between them and causes Bai Qian to lose her eyes. Thinking that Ye Hua has betrayed her, the devastated Bai Qian jumps off from the Zhu Xian Terrace. At her request, all her memories have been erased and she forgets Ye Hua. Hundred years later, the two meets again as deities. Another lifetime another world, Ye Hua recognizes Bai Qian but the latter remains indifferent. Three lives three worlds, her and him, are they fated to bear an entangling love? – MyDramaList

Eternal Love is currently available on Netflix (as on January 15, 2020)
You can also find it on Youtube via Croton Mega Hit Channel with English subs.
Below is the playlist:

STORY

ten miles of peach blossom

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Tang Qi and later translated, titled To The Sky Kingdom, Eternal Love aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is the most watched Chinese Drama in China to date. The C-drama tells the story that spans over Three Lives, Three Worlds (as the Chinese title calls it) and as its about the love story that happens between the many trials and tribulations between Fox King’s youngest daughter Bai Qian and Nine Heaven’s Prince, Ye Hua. Their story is told over the events of the Sky Kingdom: Nine Heavens, Ghost Tribe, Kun Lun Mountains, Fox Clan and other fantasy lands as well as the mortal world. Suffice to say that, the story itself might sound a little back and forth with its focus on the three lives and three worlds for these two characters and their love stories.

eternal love baiqian

However, the story is done well that it gives room for each of the characters to grow and each love life in each world has their own depth. Plus, the supporting characters also have a good amount of entertaining filler to guide these characters. Between good and evil, love and trust, and the schemes and power balance, the story has a lot to love. It has its frustrating moments with some of the scheming characters but overall, its done really well.

LENGTH/PACING

ten miles fighting

Episodes: 58

58 episodes is the norm for a Chinese drama of this calibre. Anything set in the fantasy world and such always has the 50 or more episodes attached to it. Its something that doesn’t always work depending on what the story interpreted is. Surprisingly, while there are some small moments that feels like the plot stays or simply some characters being frustrating as times because of their stubbornness or whatever character trait (which I will talk about in the characters section below), the story does move forward.

It does so by giving it enough places to move around these fantasy worlds. Between the rigid rules of the royalties in Nine Heavens to the much more relaxed Fox Clan’s Fox Burrow  setting to the dark Ghost Tribe and the beautifully enchanting Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms owned by the Phoenix God, the story shifts from its political elements of war between good and evil to maintain peace and the romances and friendships that happen between the characters and with that, its own set of misunderstandings. There’s a decent amount of action scenes which are well-executed and the dialogue is done naturally, while giving it a good amount of space for building the chemistry between the characters.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

eternal love dilraba

If you haven’t noticed, characters and chemistry are my favorite parts of TV series and with Eternal Love and its 58 episodes and different worlds, we’re in for a ride in this section as there are some really good ones to highlight and talk about.

Bai Qian & Ye Hua
(and their 2 other lives/worlds)

eternal love 1

I’m not going to lie that its a little hard to totally figure out which romance this whole Three Lives and Three Worlds was initially for Bai Qian and Ye Hua but they do make an effort to point it out at the end which is pretty cool. There’s a lot to love about these two as their different romances each have a different sort of feeling whether its the type of love or the conflicts that happen that cause them to break apart and in the end, solidifies their love more by the end. Its the first time I’ve seen Yang Mi in this sort of role and she is so pretty in her various outfits and they match well with Mark Chao’s character in his various prince transformations. Mark Chao’s character becomes one that changes in his personality and not so much the lives prominently so its easy to quickly feel and connect with his character quickly.

Dong Hua Di Jun & Bai Feng Jiu

eternal love fengjiu dijun

While the main couple was done really well, this supporting characters of Bai Feng Jiu, the rare nine-tailed red fox niece of Bai Qian portrayed by Dilraba Dilmurat and Dong Hua Emperor Lord who is has lived so long that he has let go of emotions. These two are the focus of the sequel coming up this year. Suffice to say that they were done very well. Their romance is one that is not only fun because of Bai Feng Jiu who is a bit clumsy and naive but will do anything for love but facing Emperor Lord who seems to care but not reciprocate affections, it turns into a roller coaster of emotions that probably hits even harder than the main couple.

Li Jing

ten miles li jing

Li Jing is the second son of the Ghost Tribe Emperor and ends up taking over when his father’s war against Nine Heavens fails. He is a character that is one that isn’t very ambitious but at the same time, a rather frustratingly silly character as he constantly gets led astray by Xuan Nu, a childhood friend of Bai Qian who uses a prettier face to gain attention. Li Jing also is the first person that Bai Qian falls for romantically but due to Xuan Nu’s action, it causes them to break apart. Li Jing is not exactly a bad character. He actually fills up some of the spaces well as Xuan Nu is one of the “bad gals” who orders harm because of jealousy. Li Jing becomes a fairly tough character who stands up for peace and rights as the Ghost Tribe King and has a bit of character development that suits him well.

Bai Zhen & Zhe Yan

eternal love alan yu

I’m a huge fan of Alan Yu as an actor. There’s something very unique about him that I enjoy about him and as Bai Zhen (Alan Yu), the fourth son of the Fox King and the older brother of Bai Qian, he pops up occasionally in a very carefree and relaxed way randomly and yet him and his best friend (who seems like they have a special relationship) Zhe Yan (Ken Chang), a Phoenix Immortal both spend time together drinking peach blossom wine and playing Reversi and then randomly have arguments that makes Bai Zhen run off to his palace in the Northern Seas. These two are something of a comedic relief as well as surprisingly insightful guidance for all the characters and the myriad of dilemma.

There’s a ton of other characters that we could also talk about but I’m going to leave it at these top ones that truly appealed to me. However, one of the bad ladies in this one is the woman who loves Ye Hua called Su Jin and her role was to create a lot of the misunderstandings and misguidances that lead to a lot of the drama happening. As frustrating as her character was because she was able to get away with it because of her status, it was all merited because she was a character that had nothing to like.

OVERALL

Eternal Love is a much easier mountain to climb than expected. Other than the elements that I talked about for the story depth and the great fantasy world that is presented here with gods and fairies and spirits and a roundup of some well-written and well-developed characters, it also has some lovely visual effects. Every scene is done really nicely. Sure, some of the flowers might look a little fake in some scenes but overall, its done relatively nice for TV dramas. At the same time, as I was researching this up, the costumes are actually rather intricate with each one done by hand to show off the details for each of the characters plus all the sets were newly built to not have any replicas. Not to mention, the soundtrack here is amazing. Every song is so great that I almost wanted to share it all. Eternal Love is definitely one of the better Chinese dramas out there. Sure, its a bit long but it has enough content to make it really nice. If you watch the behind the scenes, its actually a pretty involved process between the actors and the director with how they work the script and how each scene is done. All things great for bingeworthy TV.

MAIN THEME

TV Binge: The Brightest Star in the Sky (夜空中最闪亮的星, 2019)

The Brightest Star in the Sky (夜空中最闪亮的星, 2019)

brightest star in the sky

Cast: Z. Tao, Janice Wu, Jun Feng Niu, Xi Yue Cao, Jin Song Wang, Lan Qin, Chloe Zhao, David Chen, Yi Ling Li, Jin Cheng Zhang, Ji Jia Liu

As singer-songwriter C-POP star, Huang Zitao plays a role of a recalcitrant idol who debuted and become famous since he was young. He deeply likes music and keeps persistent, that is similar with Huang Zi Tao. This time Yang Zhen Zhen is a newbie manager who just starts the work. Being a newbie staff, she faces various obstacles but she never gives up her music dreams. – MyDramaList

Where to watch it with English subtitles

QUOTE/SCENE

the brightest star

STORY

The best stories in dramas are those where both of the characters are made better because of the things they go through while they are pursuing their own dreams. The Brightest Star in the Sky is one of the few Chinese TV dramas that remember that the story is about two young adults who are pursuing their dreams and helping each other in the process. Their meeting was unexpected and it does feel like there is a certain coincidence to it but the central story is about the idol star Boxu Zheng (Z.Tao) trying to achieve his dream of making C-pop music so that the world can see the talent in Chinese music but his company always trying to sculpt him into something else and his struggle to find his footing and his way in the entertainment industry. At the same time, he ends up having Zhenzhen Yang (Janice Wu) as his assistant who turns to work in the music industry to find another option to still work in music while not having enough talent to perform music or become a singer.

The Brightest Star in the Sky

Their love story grows because of working together and understanding each other throughout the series. The love story is never a focal point while there are some cute moments between the two, its focus isn’t that and its what gives this story its unique angle, making it less of a forced situation but one with  more depth to grow both of these characters (as well as the supporting characters), making them easier to connect with.

LENGTH/PACING

Episodes: 44
Length of Episodes: 40 minutes

44 episodes definitely ranges on the higher end of TV series and will also suffer a little bit of dragging on. Fortunately, The Brightest Star in the Sky overcomes this for the most part. It still has some parts that linger such as a good chunk in the first quarter which is just struggling through the very frustrating love interest with Zhenzhen and Zhirui as they both tiptoe around the situation until fate just passes them by in some ways. For the most part, the drama does keep fresh new struggles and dilemmas to show up to play around with the characters and set loyalties. The most annoying bits might actually go to the actual management of the Star Entertainment with the CEO, his wife and the new VP that comes into the office and creates a somewhat fake love triangle. There are some issues here and there but luckily it remembers its focus on its two main leads and their story so when they are in the scenes, it always has a nice feeling to the scene especially as the characters develop.

CHARACTER/CHEMISTRY

The Brightest Star in the Sky

With that said, the characters in this series, whether its the main leads or the supporting characters are done fairly well. There are some typical roles like Boxu Zheng is the son of a rich businessman so his father has the typical role of being against his dreams and wants him to take over the family business while the sister stands by his side. The main family drama occurs in this level and actually is pretty fun at times to watch and also some of the more predictable elements of the story. Another element here is the character that plays a good friend of Zhenzhen, Gu Ye who ends up being the mentor to Boxu and sends him into a better training for his dreams. Gu Ye, played by Hong Kong actor Jin Cheng Zhang, is actually one of the best segments of the series throughout as it has both comedic moments but also inspirational and guidance to the younger characters.

The Brightest Star in the Sky

The second story line is the second male lead Zhirui Yu, played by Junfeng Niu who is the love interest of Zhenzhen at the beginning but also makes his sacrifices for his success in becoming a music. His character is one that is actually a bit frustrating as he always falls into this circle of bad things and of making decisions that he later seems to regrets. However, his character works best at the beginning and the ending episodes. The same goes for the girl playing Zhenzhen’s roommate and best friend, Xia Yuan (Xi Yue Cao) who ends up being quite the positive character until one little section nearing the end that makes her a bit more frustrating to watch.

brightest star 2

Finally, the main couple is the final one that probably the one that I’ve talked about the most as to how I feel about it. Boxu and Zhenzhen actually works really well together. While the series doesn’t the love in the forefront, they give it enough room to feel their natural connection to each other as soulmates and partners and lovers as their romance grows through their understanding and eventually has some really fun chemistry between the two people. Its a very positive relationship.

OVERALL

The Brightest Star in the Sky is a really well done TV series. Its plot is well-executed with its main plot being about following dreams intertwined with a romance between two young adults. Its done in a fun and comedic way for the most part but with some drama and struggle. It shows the difficulty of stardom and being an idol while in the entertainment business. At the same time, it tries to be a positive type of relationship as the two characters grow together. At the same time, where there are some by the numbers plot points, the characters are done rather well whether its the main leads or the supporting ones. The only elements that might be lacking are some of the not so well done visual effects.

MAIN THEME

Love Potions and Other Calamities by Charlie Laidlaw

Love Potions and Other Calamities
by: Charlie Laidlaw

love potions and other calamities

Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of local renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months.

Rosie sets out to discover if her husband is having an affair, using deductive powers based solely on the careful preparation of plants and herbs. But as her well-laid plans entirely fall apart, the sighting of a large black cat sets off another chain of events.

Rosie now realises that a psychopath is on the loose and that she’s been selected as his next victim. – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

After reading two novels by Charlie Laidlaw, there is no doubt that he is a writer with a lot of creativity as he mixes genres and adds in very unique twists. It is usually those sharp ideas that makes his books such a pleasure to read and also why Love Potions and Other Calamities was one that I wanted to read. Blending mystery, romance and humor is a risky move especially the last third of the equation as humor is such a subjective element. Luckily, the humor does deliver most of the time especially with some of the outrageous things that do happen and the fact that a lot of the doing wrong things with the best intentions actually do backfire a lot and ends up creating some right especially as it highlights some of the elements of mystery.

Let’s start with the positives! Love Potions and Other Calamities is a charming little book. One of the main elements of charms is the characters that truly do come to life through the words. There’s a heavy focus on Rosie, a woman awaiting her 40th birthday like its her death bed and really having a heavy hit of self-esteem issues about her attraction to her husband Jack due to lack of intimacy. Her solution is to make him drinks and food that she believes that he likes to build up the urge and motivation at the very least. However, things go awry when he doesn’t really like those things and it ends up somewhere else and consumed by someone else. As we read these parts, its truly a “Oh no” moment over and over again as things go really awkward and at times bad, creating situations that eventually have more misunderstandings and it all propels to have even more funny and awkward and weird moments.

On the other side, the story also focuses on another couple with Mara being a younger girl and waitress at Rosie and Jack’s pub (I think, its a pub) and the events ends up turning out better for her as her relationship with her cop boyfriend Richie improves. Richie becomes the center of the mystery as he starts working hard to connect the dots of the mysterious events happening. Richie and Mara bring in some elements of intimacy and younger relationships but also bringing forward a character like Richie from outside that helps have that connection to explain some of the beliefs and history that hangs in this town.

While at the same time, there is some political issues with voting around the corner and all kinds of characters that pop in the scene. They all have their own charm and intrigue as it all adds to how the situations are blown up to incredible proportions and Rosie starts to wonder whether what she did is right and the issue with the black cat being a sign towards witches and bad omens. There’s a lot of little bits and pieces that work well together. The little description of different types of herbs at the beginning of each chapter actually did bring a lot of fun elements to this as it was the extra bits of knowledge and gave it a lot of substance.

With that said, one element that wasn’t done was well was the execution. The pacing was a bit odd at times. At the same time, the separation of chapters and the abrupt jumps from one scene to the next sometimes made it slightly hard to follow especially as the situation got more complex in the middle section. Its really the one issue that was a tad annoying but as the characters became more familiar, the issue in the second half becomes less of an issue.

Overall, Love Potions and Other Calamities is a pretty decent novel. The idea of using potions and witches and a little town with their own beliefs and history gave it a lot of character. Not to mention the characters here were also rather charming and had its unique elements that made them a lot of fun to read. Sure, there’s some execution issues but its still a fun book with some unexpected twists to the outcomes of the misdirected potion (or poison?) attempts, misunderstanding and other sudden scenarios. This one is a fun read.

Check out reviews of other books by Charlie Laidlaw:

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead
The Space Between Time

Double Feature: Let It Snow (2019) & Holiday Joy (2016)

Christmas is less than two weeks away and we’re working hard on these holiday viewings.  Netflix does have a nice selection of new movies and some that aren’t as new but still new additions.

Here we go!

Let It Snow (2019)

Let it snow

Director: Luke Snellin

Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Joan Cusack, Anna Akana

In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people. – IMDB

Based on the novel of the same name with 3 stories by 3 authors (which I haven’t read), Let It Snow is a surprisingly fun little film intertwining the three stories together to make one movie. Its style is in the style of Love Actually. It doesn’t land quite as well as Love Actually does but the three stories depending on which one you like more works more or less in the context of the story. Its main groupings goes to the childhood friends Angie “The Duke” (Kiernan Shipka) and Tobin (Mitchell Hope) and JP (Matthew Noszka); Dorrie (Liv Hewson), her best friend Addie (Odeya Rush) and Dorrie’s crush Kerry (Anna Akana); and lastly, Julie (Isabela Merced, previously known as Isabela Moner) and Stuart (Shameik Moore). All of these characters eventually end up, along with some friends and other supporting characters end up because of being snowed in during Christmas Eve at this local restaurant called Waffle Town.

Let It Snow is rather basic and simple and yet with the snowscape background and its interesting characters and stories about different types of friendships and relationships and a variety of different issues, these characters all end up having a Christmas Eve that becomes rather memorable and changes some of their things in life as they figure out how to be honest to themselves about their feelings and their future. It has the rather feel good elements present that makes it a decent watch. Is it something that is spectacular or very stand-out as a holiday film? Probably not. But to satisfy a simple little holiday watch, this one does deserve a chance. And that’s coming from myself who isn’t really much of a John Green fan (which explain why his segment of relationship is the one I liked the least) whereas my fave with genuinely fun moments although a few wooden acting moments between Julie and Stuart however the story itself is fairly charming.

Kiernan Shipka has definitely found herself an actress with a few Netflix films at this point. She does have quite a nice fun element to her characters. At the same time, the start of this one that plays a rather funky character, the Tin Foil Woman and the narrator is Joan Cusack who while a little odd somehow has this glue effect to the three stories.

Holiday Joy (2016)

holiday joy

Director: Kirk D’Amico

Cast: Bailee Madison, Jennifer Robertson, Sandy Jobin-Bevans, French Stewart, Ethan Pugiotto, Luke Bilyk, Natalie Ganzhorn, Darren Eisnor, Kolton Stewart, Jeni Ross

A shy high school student’s Christmas wish comes true only it isn’t exactly as wonderful as she’d hoped. – IMDB

Take a little of changing identities and the holidays and we have this film Holiday Joy where Bailee Madison’s character Joy becomes a member of the next door neighbor’s  family, a wish that she has of breaking away from her lacking family. The grass is greener on the other side is definitely used here as comparison and literally but it also gives the valuable lesson that what you see on the surface of the beautiful appearances sometimes aren’t really as you expected. The whole reality vs. expectations is the main basis as everything that Joy believes is better all turns out to be very much the opposite. It also emphasizes on everyone’s part having a crucial effect despite her feeling of insignificance and such. Holiday Joy is more about the message it carries but has a rather lacking execution with some questionable acting and some plot points that might not make a ton of sense as with such plots that bring in the whole identity change and incoherent things that just leaves it one that shouldn’t really be questioned to begin with.

Holiday Joy is a rather simple sort of story. Its not exactly a Christmas story but is set during the holiday season. There’s some nice elements of using “change” as its main focus and then takes a fun little play on how the accident that makes Joy’s reality change also eventually finds her figuring out how to change it back but not really at the same time. Its a nice little change on the usual formula. Its not an outstanding movie but for people okay with some simple and straight-forward type of TV movie, its an alright choice. For myself, I do enjoy Baileee Madison (mostly when she was in younger roles) so it had an appeal for me but a lot of performances here left a little bit to be desired.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? What are your thoughts?

TV Binge: Put Your Head on My Shoulder (致我们暖暖的小时光, 2019)

Put Your Head on My Shoulder (致我们暖暖的小时光, 2019)

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Cast: Fair Xing, Lin Yi, Daddi Tang, Zheng Ying Chen, Zhou Zi Xin, Yi Sha, Zhou Jun Wei, Zhang Hao Lun, Jie Bing

As Si Tu Mo’s graduation is nearing, she is confused about her future plans. She tries out all sorts of things all the time and is unable to make her own decisions. Her ordinary days are suddenly shaken up when the genius Physics student Gu Wei Yi appears in her life. The two accidentally end up living together and chaos begins. – MyDramaList

Watch on YouTube or Netflix (as of December 11, 2019):

QUOTES/SCENE

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

STORY

Set in the same universe as A Love So Beautiful (review) with some characters that actually overlap as they get mentioned in the little details here and there, Put Your Head on My Shoulder is an adaptation of a novel written by the same author as the previous one.

This world of stories is all about quick and light-hearted romance whether its boy chases girl or girl chases boy, more so the former in this case, which adds a lot of fun tidbits here because we have a genius scientist who doesn’t know much about the whole outside who ends up meeting a girl who is almost the opposite of him but bubbly and positive. Just as she learns how to face up to her own future, her appearance changes him as he starts doing the silliest of things to get her attention including a lot of searches for weird tips from the internet. While the story itself is fairly generic as most of these TV dramas tend to be, this one has some fun surprises in simply highlighting the awkward mind of a scientist when met with love. It also is a step further into the future as this one sees the two in their final year of university and getting ready to head into the work life or pursuing higher education.

LENGTH/PACING

Episodes: 24
Episode length: 45 mins approx.

Put Your Head On My Shoulder has the perfect formula for being a good length in episodes and series length. Its one that has enough episodes to create good pacing for both its leads and still have time for the supporting characters to have their stories and adds enough depth to care but never drags on with any element of their life as the scenes progress just like the relationships and the feelings for each other.

And if you think that this 24 episodes isn’t enough, you can even watch an extra story here (which isn’t available on the Netflix version):

CHARACTER/CHEMISTRY

Situ Mo & Gu Wei Yi

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

The main focus for the show is the two main leads, Mo Situ (Fair Xing) and Wei Yi Gu (Yi Lin). These two steal the show because of not only their chemistry with each other but the fact that they both are peculiar but also very fun characters that stand well alone and makes things even more sweet or hilarious whenever they are together. In many ways, they are the typical opposites attract because Gu Wei Yi is just an introvert scientist/researcher who is very set in his own ways whereas faced with Fair Xing’s more direct and noisy attitude and completely not interested in his scientific knowledge that it becomes this curious discovery that brings a lot of joy into his life and it challenges the side of him that wants to keep learning more about her and the way she acts. It brings in a lot of funny awkward moments in after episode snippets (just like A Love So Beautiful) and also more and more cute and sweet moments as they start finding their rhythm together.

Wang Shan & Fu Pei

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Being roommates and best friends of the previous couple, this relationship became the aftermath of the beginning of Fu Pei and Mo Situ’s friendship and possible relationship that never happened and in the process brought forth this friendship and eventual feelings for each other. The supporting relationship is very much in the background but these two characters actually are the one that is the bridge to A Love So Beautiful and builds the link together. These two have a different type and style of relationship and while its not completely necessary, it has its fun moments.

Parents, Friends and Love Interests

As with more dramas and their relationships, the use of their parents and the various personalities is a staple. In this case, they both have a very opposite type of personality while each of them both hoping that they could both be together, a rather open-minded concept for Chinese parents to let single young adults (boy and girl) but its a nice change in times sort of parents which is pretty fun most of the time to watch as they aren’t that frequently used here.

Put Your Head on My Shoulder

However, the funniest bits of the show does go to the other scientists at the lab, Lei Zhou (Hao Lun Zhang) & Professor Jiang (Jie Bing) helping Wei Yi Gu with his romantic problems as they usually just make it worse and think too alike for Mo Situ to understand their intentions. The three become this bromance bond that truly has so many comedic moments that adds into the fun.

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Of course, what drama would be complete without even the slightest form of someone trying to come between the relationship even if its only at the literal slightest level of interest as Mo Situ starts her internship and ends up being the main assistant on set for any advertisement related by this growing star, ZhiCun Lin (Jun Wei Zhou). He never becomes quite the intrusion and was relatively underused but still the scenes with him were still rather fun.  On the side note, I really do like Jun Wei Zhou quite a bit from this first acting gig and really hope that he will have more of this although he’s more in the psychological analysis (as that’s his academic forte and his part in Dream Space) as well as singing or songwriting or something of the sort.

OVERALL

Much like its previous series set in the same world, Put Your Head On My Shoulder is a feel-good series. Its positive and down to earth. Its not exactly doing anything too different but the writers who put together the character of Wei Yi Gu really did try to get into a mind of being the awkward scientist who sees the world in a new light because of this girl that suddenly ends up housing with him and awakening some feelings and learning about a world other than one where he runs his own life. Its fun and sweet and comedic and well-balanced. Its one that can be watched over and over again and just feel all happy to see these two whether together or apart or as friends as well as those supporting roles around them, who all add a little something.

MAIN THEME

Double Feature: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019) & The Greatest Showman (2017)

Welcome to the next double feature! Half 2010s decade catch-up effort and half holidays viewings meshed together. I’m expecting that to be something of a trend for this month since I have a lot of movies to watch and don’t want to put the reviews on hold for too long in fear that I’ll just forget about what I watched in general. So here we are!

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

Director: John Schultz

Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Kevin Shen, Momo Yeung, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, Richard Ashton, Crystal Yu, Tahirah Sharif

It’s Christmastime in Aldovia, and a royal baby is on the way. Amber and Richard host royals from a distant kingdom to renew a sacred truce, but when the treaty vanishes, peace is jeopardized and an ancient curse threatens their family. – IMDB

You can find my reviews of the first two movies below:

A Christmas Prince
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Other than the first movie that was a rather fun little holiday romance story albeit all its formulaic tendencies, the follow-up last year was rather lackluster. It had some of those fun elements but felt like a lot of the chemistry in the first one fell apart. Third movie now and we’re talking about babies because that’s the obvious next step. I don’t have an issue with it going in this direction but rather, its a step into the whodunnit deal where they await the introduction of Penglia and even shows a map highlighting the ficitional universe that Netflix has created with mentions of Belgravia (aka The Princess Switch). Its very clever to pull it all together and I maintain that point however, the chemistry isn’t quite there. Everyone seems rather wooden and there’s a good deal of overacting.

It falls short but somehow comes up a little bit ahead of last year’s The Royal Wedding to me at least because it feels less about the romance and focuses on some fun elements, as improbably as it is for it to happen if a precious treaty had gone missing. There’s a ton of plot holes in this one but then, other than reviewers, I’m not exactly sure who goes into this one to just relax with a simple and uncomplicated movie is really looking for these things (as glaring as it all is).

Movies are to its audiences so unless you review these things for the holiday season, there is no reason to go into it if you believe that you dislike these films in the first place. That’s my warning for you. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby is the third movie in its franchise so you know what is coming and it doesn’t pull any funny tricks and is as formulaic as you’d expect it to be. If you like these films, you’ll enjoy this one and if you don’t, then don’t watch it to save yourself the misery.

On a side note, I ended this movie and started thinking about where I can find that Christmas Tree game because that sounds like a fun party game perfect for Christmas.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackson, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson

Celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of musical, The Greatest Showman was one of the first movies to add to the catch-up roster for the 2010s decade. Its one that had a lot of hype and a soundtrack that is well-known even without the context of the film. There’s a lot of grandeur and big production scenes and splendour in its set.

The Greatest Showman is a biopic and perhaps because of that, it has the burden of giving Hugh Jackman’s role as P.T. Barnum a more ambitious turn of events that highlights his thirst of success and to make something of himself to not be looked down by the others around him and being able to immerse himself in the upper class society where he forgets the most basic reason that he does all this: for love and his wife and turns it into a more selfish ordeal. This type of success story is actually rather familiar and frequently scene whether its as a biopic or in fictional stories about finding the way and seeing what’s important so on so forth.

Deal is, put those things aside and The Greatest Showman is a wonderful musical that stays true to its genre because while it has its drama, it is a great big show with a lot of musical pieces that comes in frequently. The singing is done well and some of the set and choreography are wonderful to look at like Zendaya and Zac Efron’s scene together or the whole This Is Me or The Greatest Show. There is one that is particularly sweet with Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams as they go through the years together which is a neat little way to move time forward quickly without having to add a lot of extra dialogue and content.

There’s a lot of technicalities that work in The Greatest Showman that makes it a fun musical to watch. For musical fans, it does fit the bill relatively well and its one that shows that a familiar story, even though its based on a real life story, with good execution of its elements can be very entertaining and engaging to watch.