Tranquil Dreams Podcast #2: What’s Up 2021 Week 2

Time for the next Tranquil Dreams Podcast!

As you can tell, I’m still working out the whole recording and editing schedule so its getting published a little later than I’m hoping for.

This episode of Tranquil Dreams Podcast, we take a look at Week 2 of 2021 for the next What’s Up weekly recap of what I’m currently reading, watching, playing and binging and the highlights of each segment along with a description of the new additions to the rundown and some impressions and thoughts.

Related Links:
Up The Creek Review
Z Storm Review

Music in this Episode:
There It Is by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4519-there-it-is
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

The podcast is available on:
Anchor
Google Podcasts
Spotify
Breaker
Pocket Casts
RadioPublic

Hope you enjoyed the episode!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Tranquil Dreams Podcast: Episode 1: Intro & What’s Up 2021: Week 1

Hey Everyone! As we approach the 10th blogiversary of Tranquil Dreams, its time to kick things into action with a new shift and that’s the official first episode of Tranquil Dreams Podcast! I’m a little uncertain about how it all sounds and stuff since I criticize myself a lot and I’m not a fan of listening to my voice. Bear with me as I find the whole pace of solo podcasting and hopefully become a mildly entertaining host for the show! Its a fairly personal project since its going to be talking about things that I like.

Regardless, first episode will give a quick intro on what’s in store for Tranquil Dreams Podcast and the things that I will discuss and followed with the official move of What’s Up 2021 to podcast format with a recap of the first week. Episodes for What’s Up should go up every Friday at no set time (until I find a rhythm) then the goal is to get it out in the morning. Eventually hopefully moving to Thursday (fingers crossed). I haven’t edited in a long time so its taking longer than I imagined.

You can find the podcast on Anchor and Spotify as well as listening it via the player above.

With that said, links mentioned in podcast:
What’s Up 2020: Week 52
Game Warp Podcast: Life Is Strange
The Farewell Review

Music credits
There It Is by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4519-there-it-is
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Thanks for listening! Hope you enjoy!

2021 Upcoming Plans

It’s 2021!! Happy New Year everyone! Hope everyone has found their own way to celebrate. The beginning of the new year means that its time to get back to some plans for this coming year and some changes in projects, etc. I needed an extra day to figure some little things out since I hadn’t quite decided on everything yet. This time around, I’ll share some projects for the blog and some more personal little goals to get back some good lifestyle habits. Let’s take this section by section!

BOOKS

  • 2021 Goodreads Challenge: 30 books

I’ve had a hard time reading the past few years and most of the time when I set the 30 books reading, I don’t get there but I really do want to read more, despite having some different types of projects this year and may result in less time. Either way, its a challenge that I’m up for. Plus, between blog tours (which I might participate a little less in this year depending on what I’m interested in), TBR of my own both in physical books and Kindle books.

MOVIES

Movies is more of a free flow sort of deal. I do want to dive into a focus on Chinese cinema whether from Mainland China or Hong Kong or Taiwan. However, I do know that that angle is for my own interest so I do have quite a bit to get through whether on Shudder or Netflix which is my main source of movie matching other than the random cheap rental that I pick up or the movie selections for Movies and Tea which is getting into Season 7 production soon with a director that definitely will bring on some interesting discussion for their retrospective. Seeing as we’re really ahead, I’m going to keep it a secret for now. However, last year I didn’t even reach 300 movies logged on Letterboxd so if I manage to get 300 or more movies watched this year, I would be quite pleased.

As for structure, I am keeping to the double feature format unless its a newly released Netflix film or even Shudder exclusive. I will try to get on top of that much more this coming year since I don’t foresee theatre releases or visits to happen anytime soon in Montreal.

Other than the normal themed months below:

  • February 1st – 14th : Valentine’s Romance
  • October: Halloween Horror
  • December 1st-25th: Holiday Films

I was unsuccessful at doing the themed months of other genres/subgenres during random months last year but that is a goal that I would like to do. As for what themes? I have a few in mind.

TV

As I watch much more TV (which is probably why movies had a drop last year), I’ve been giving this segment a lot of thought. I will still be doing TV binges however with a much more relaxed structure. I already started it at the end of the year. While I love the structure that I had for Chinese dramas for analysis of plot, pacing, characters and the overall view, it also became this long arduous post that took a long time to put together. Less division and more just free writing for future TV binges, much like the non Chinese drama TV binges that I do as some series really don’t have that much to write about.

However, what has been on my mind for TV is something will be a bigger change/addition to this post and that’s the next section…

TRANQUIL DREAMS PODCAST

Its a solo podcast! I don’t know how I’ll do talking to myself about anything but it has been something that I’ve been thinking about structure, title and content since the beginning of the pandemic last year (probably even longer). My thoughts years ago when this idea first started was a Youtube Channel but I just don’t have time to edit video and audio since it takes a ton of time so here we are. Podcasts do not limit the length because its audio and I’ll have it on a format that people can download. Its going to be another learning curve since right now, my fantastic co-host takes care of all the audio for the other 2 podcasts.

I know the name isn’t exactly inspirational but its connected to the blog originally wanted it to be about only Chinese dramas as an English review and introduction so that people can find the ones that are readily available on Youtube or Netflix (only those with English subtitles, of course). However, the reason for Tranquil Drams Podcast is that it opens up for a few little ideas I’ve had to move here also hopefully.

  • What’s Up segment will be moved completely over on a weekly basis. If it gets a little too heavy to produce, I might change it to biweekly frequency.
  • TV Binges will be moved here. Some less chat worthy will be in written formats (or maybe I’ll do both). Regardless, some series like big productions or Netflix gives me a lot to talk about and its hard to get it all down.
  • A segment that I wanted to revive since last year is Sunday Lists so maybe in podcast format will give me boost considering I have probably 2 or 3 already partially drafted.
  • A new segment as a new goal for the podcast which was how the Youtube idea started is an Adaptations versus Source Material comparison. This is kind of a maybe as I’m not sure how things will look in the coming year mostly on the real life side of things.

OTHER RANDOM SEGMENTS

Most segments have no change other than the ones mentioned above:

  • [changes] What’s Up: moved to podcast format (see above if you skipped it)
  • My Monthly Adventures: I will keep this in written format however with the pandemic still going on, its more of a place to put together what’s been released on my other projects and such.
  • [changes] Battle of Ingredients: in hiatus. We didn’t address it last year at all but with the pandemic, we have no choice but to put this project on hiatus for obvious reasons.
  • Music Obsessions: Still on monthly basis. Not a lot of views but I do love putting together this post.
  • Ultimate Decades Blogathon: Production meeting has already happened and confirmed to happen. Announcement post coming up once we iron out some little details.

PERSONAL GOALS

It sure feels like I’ve stopped sharing my personal goals over the last few years. Maybe that’s why I’ve grown lazy with some of it. Here we are again and it will be a complete balancing act. I made the decision that regardless of anything that when I set time aside from something, I will do it. Work is a huge factor to why a lot of things get postponed but I need remember that its not my entire life. With that said, main goal for next year is mostly exercise related:

  • Workout: 2-3 times a week and gradually increase to 3-4 times a week
    • Indoors during the winter (bodyweights, weights, yoga, cardio)
    • Outdoors running (hopefully by April)
    • Hiking more often
  • Eat healthier and more balanced meals: This year, we’ve lowered drinking alcohol in general to once or twice a month and its been a pretty good feeling. Its more to eat more fruits since I always forget to keep the fruits and vegetables daily intake as well as hydration on par.
  • Start Streaming: I’ve been thinking about streaming games for a good while. The hesitation is pretty much the same as for solo podcasts where I have to talk to myself. Its mostly for fun and not exactly to promote anything. I started teaming up on voice chat with one of my friends on a weekly basis during his stream to experience horror games together on Monday. You can check out his channel HERE as he streams about 5 – 7 times a week playing three to four different games. I’m having a lot of fun with it and its been something that I’ve been wanting to do more and more. I’m slowly fixing up the info and such on the channel to get it ready gradually. Hopefully a little later in January, it will be up and running. I’m not quite as ambitious as my friend so I’m going for once or twice a week playing mostly indie games which are more focused on narrative but no limits as I just want to get through all the games I’ve bought and haven’t played on Steam.
  • Buy a new sofa, office chair (and maybe bicycle): being first time homeowners, we were lucky to get a lot of second hand relatively decent quality furniture from family to help us get through the first few years of paying the mortgage but as much as I do like the sofa, it needs to be changed before it damages our backs. The same applies for a new office chair. Working from home more has worn it out more than it already has from my cat and its not great to have a squeaky office chair especially for podcast recording. As for a bicycle, considering everyone in Montreal swept the stores of them last year because of the pandemic, I’m hoping that I finally find one this year that isn’t going to break the bank.

Upcoming plans post are rather bland to read overall and I did try to keep this not so lengthy, but hey, look at this length. If there’s something you find is missing, well, its probably either cut or indefinitely in hiatus or its something that I’ve moved to Instagram content (which I need to do better also). If you have any suggestions for movie themed months or what topics for the podcast, etc, let me know in the comments as well.

This is it for the 2021 plans!
As usual, the goal is not procrastinate as much and stick to the tentative schedule!
Happy 2021 everyone and all the best in this coming year (hopefully things will get back to some form of normalcy gradually pandemic-wise)!
As always, stay safe!

My December Adventures: Best Films, Movies, Books of 2020 Watched Recap

Happy New Year’s Eve, my friends!

As our holiday lockdown continues, we’re keeping very much to ourselves and waiting for our virtual game night with the normal NYE crew, I’m taking a little time to relax and put together the last post of 2020! Suffice to say that My December Adventures is less adventures and much more a recap of the year to the current highlights of the blog. Let’s go!

Holidays Marathon

The only thing to highlight for December is that the Holidays Marathon happened. It was fairly well planned but not as well executed! However, it still happened and its all updated on the page HERE.

2020 Recap

Its time for the recap of this year and where we’re at now. I want to skip through stats in general this year as its something that I’ve looked at fairly little although I am happy that in 2020 in terms of views did go up compared to the past year or two (at least from a quick glance).

Top 5 post published in 2020

  1. TV Binge: Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)
  2. Announcement: Ultimate 2010s Blogathon! Sign Up Now!
  3. TV Binge: Ashes of Love (香蜜沉沉烬如霜, 2018)
  4. TV Binge: Unrequited Love (橘生淮南·暗恋, 2019)
  5. Hiking: La Boucle du Mont des Trois-Lacs (Brompton, QC)

Honestly, I’m a little surprised that the TV Binges for the Chinese dramas are ranking top posts for what I released this year. Some posts that I put a lot of heart into so I’m glad that they did top the list. I did 3 of these thinking that it was just for my own liking and not thinking anyone would be too interested. The Top 10 all time is not anything from this year but some older posts.

Books: I had set a goal of 25 books for the Goodreads Challenge and ended up reading 26 books.

According to My Year in Books on Goodreads, I read 5,129 pages with an average rating of 4.1 stars (which is fairly high).

While the ratings might change if I were to go back to look, the books that have made an impression:

  • Buried In My Past by Eva McKenzie
  • Blackthorn by Terry Tyler
  • Undead Ultra by Camille Picott
  • Conscience by Jonathan Pongratz
  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Movies: According to Letterboxd, I watched 267 movies this year. I know that I did watch a whole bunch of short films that weren’t on the list and some festival films as well. So its definitely a little more than that number.

My top movies watched in 2020 (doesn’t have to be released in 2020):

  • The Farewell
  • One Cut of the Dead
  • Sheep Without a Shepherd
  • The Crossing
  • The Oak Room

TV: With over 15 TV binges sitting in backlog from this year alone, I have some work ahead of me. However, here is the list of 8 TV series that I saw this year (not all aired in 2020):

I’ve been focusing on Chinese dramas lately and because of that, it will bring in some changes for 2021. However, as we wrap up 2020 , I just couldn’t choose 5 so that’s how we’re at 8. And that isn’t even mentioning some of the variety shows that I watch which is a huge amount as well.

I’m sure all of you have better things than to sit around reading my recap on the year (despite the pandemic situation) so a much shorter post than previous years. By the way, this post published marks the 300th post published this year. The only little stats that I want to share. Its definitely not the best years in terms of posts but in terms of views, I think its been very good. Plus, I can’t remember the number of followers last year but I’ve past the 3000 followers mark so its pretty awesome!

With that said, that’s it for the December Adventures and 2020 recap!
I have some small changes for 2021 that I’ll announce tomorrow!

What’s Up 2020: Week 52 Let’s  Wrap Up the Year!!

The last full week of What’s Up 2020 is here! With some a days off for the holidays and the holiday lockdown, its been a lot of time at home to get things in order. I’ve been doing mostly catch-up on backlog and housekeeping for the blog. You will see that a lot of the indexes are mostly updated at this point except for the last few posts that need to go up that will be updated as they are published. With that bit out of the way, its time for the bigger announcement which I’ll leave for the end.

Whether you decide to skim through this post or go directly to the bottom, What’s Up 2021 is having a little change so be sure to check it out!

READING

Currently reading: Wayward Kindred

The Christmas holidays are done and there’s no more immediate reading commitments so its back to reading Wayward Kindred. I am hoping to finish it before the end of the year. Only a few days left but the to-do list is shrinking a little everyday.

PLAYING

  • A Way Out

Currently playing: Tell Me Why

With the holiday lockdown in effect, the husband and I spent Boxing Day catching on our own projects (blog for me and stream/gaming videos for him) and of course, finishing A Way Out which is an awesome co-op game experience. The characters and the co-op elements down to the cinematics are great. I am trying to get a review out for it.

Its time to get back to Tell Me Why! My game pass was renewed so gaming hopefully will be focused on using that to the max.

WATCHING

  • Angela’s Christmas Wish (2020 rewatch, Review)
  • Elf (2003 rewatch, Review)
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983 rewatch, Review)
  • Krampus (2015 rewatch, Review)

Not a lot of new viewings but I rewatched Angela’s Christmas Wish to get the review out and that was pretty great. Everything for watching was on Christmas day. The only change was that we rotated in Krampus which I always forget how much fun the movie is.

BINGING

  • Our Song (Season 2, 2020)
  • Dance of the Phoenix (2020)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 3, 2011)

Currently binging: Meeting Mr. Right S3, Shine Super Brothers, Midsummer Full of Love, Who’s The Murderer S6

TV is definitely calming down. The only new addition is Midsummer Full of Love which I am almost done with and the new season of Who’s The Murderer that I’ve been waiting for it to start and the first episode was really good.

Wrapped up Dance of the Phoenix and the binge so go up soon since I do have some thoughts on it. I am still working slowly through Rupaul’s Drag Race and finished up Season 3. My highlight for the week goes to Season 2 of Our Song (which apparently has a second title called Singing with Legends). Chinese TV and variety shows are a bit odd in that way. The best part of Season 2 is that a lot of the “legends” are singers that I’ve grown up listening to or even before that but still very popular and renowned grouping. I personally don’t think that the winners are exactly the best vocal pair-up however, they did deliver some really good performances throughout the show so I can see how they are favorites since I do like them a lot also.

With that said, I will highlight some of during the upcoming Music Obsessions however, here’s a video from Our Song Season 2 of a classic as the ending performance with all the teams in the finals.

What’s Up Changes in 2021

I had debated whether to leave this as an announcement for the New Year’s post. Seeing as there isn’t a whole lot of other changes, I figured that I’ll share it in advance! What’s Up is moving to a podcast format. Fingers crossed that I can keep up with the weekly recording and editing! With that said, its not just its own podcast but more like adding to a podcast network of little discussions for Tranquil Dreams Podcast. I’ve been pondering the idea for a long time as a Youtube but realized that I would never get around to editing that many videos so this is the best solution. I’m not too great at audio editing so bear with me as I get those things polished over time!

That’s it for this last What’s Up for 2020!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 51

Time sure does fly as we jump into almost the last What’s Up 2020. Almost. This week was a little bit of this and that but still some thing were done. Writing posts are still a bigger challenge as I constantly just didn’t have time for it yet.

READING

  • The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel (Review)

Currently reading: Wayward Kindred

After last week’s update, I did manage to finish The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel which was a pretty good book overall. I already have the review up so you can check that out. As I have no more commitments in terms of reading until next year, the goal is to wrap up Wayward Kindred before the year ends. It shouldn’t be an issue.

PLAYING

Currently playing: A Way Out, Tell Me Why

Working on two games currently, much like last week. Tell Me Why is the next Game Warp review selection. I haven’t progressed this week from the last. However, the husband and I have made some progress in A Way Out. Its been pretty fun and has a good pacing for the story. Its more of a weekend gaming thing so we will see how long it takes to finish.

WATCHING

  • Guns Akimbo (2019)
  • Still the Water (2020 screener)

Movie watching was a bit scarce. I watched the rental that was going to expire, Guns Akimbo. To be fair, both of my movies scored about the same for me but Guns Akimbo has the advantage of being a more fun and fast-paced movie that it gets the highlight since the chances of me rewatching it is a little higher. There are some issues with it. I did also get a screener for Still the Water which is currently in the festival circuit. I should get a review for it in the coming week.

BINGING

  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 1, 2009)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 2, 2010)

Currently binging: Our Song S2, Dance of the Phoenix, Meeting Mr. Right S3, Shine Super Brothers, Rupaul’s Drag Race S3

As a side entertainment, I went ahead to check out Rupaul’s Drag Race. There’s a lot of seasons to catch up on so I’m slowly working through it. I do have to say from where I’m standing, the first season was the most enjoyable so far and I’m halfway through the third season as I’m writing up this post. Because of that, I decided that I’m going with another series that I’ve preferred over this week and the only drama I’m currently watching. Although there’s a few series that just released that I’ve like to start but I’m sticking to catching up with previously released series that I missed. I won’t catch up with everything but at least I’m working through the more accessible Tencent dramas and working through those TV binges. With that said, highlight for this week is Dance of the Phoenix which I have to say, I was a bit reluctant about at the beginning and it still has some issues with it now that I’m nearing the end but there’s a balance between the comedy and drama that I can get behind, even if sometimes it does feel unbalanced. Either way, I will talk about it soon in a TV binge.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

TV Binge: The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊, 2020)

The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊, 2020)

Director: Cha Chuen Yee

Cast: Rosy  Zhao, Ryan Ding, Zixin Zhou, Yinghao Sheng, Xin Zhao, Patrick Quan, Smile Wei, Minghao Chen, Yijia Wu, Shuyuan Liu

Chen Xiao Qian has dedicated her entire life to making her dream of becoming a well-respected screenwriter come true. Proud of the effort she put into creating this epic tale, Xiao Qian expects things on-set to go quickly and smoothly. But all her high-hopes are soon crushed as her script falls under the critical scrutiny of both the cast and crew. Hurt by the harshness of her peers, Xiao Qian vows to prove herself but things don’t go the way she planned. Mysteriously transported into the pages of her own story, Xiao Qian has now become the Third Princess, Chen Qian Qian, an insignificant side character with a horrible reputation and a short lifespan. Desperate to change her fate, Xiao Qian vows to do whatever it takes to ensure her survival. But the journey ahead won’t be easy, especially not after she catches the attention of both the arrogant and manipulative prince, Han Shuo, and the impossibly perfect Minister of Education, Pei Heng. Wandering through a world of her own making, Xiao Qian is desperate, not only to survive, but to keep her heart intact as she tries to find her way back home. Will her efforts be enough or will she be stuck in this story forever? – MyDramaList

Episodes: 24
Where to watch: Tencent Youtube Channel

Meshing modern and ancient or fantasy is always a fun way as it plays with the fish out of water tale that usually creates a lot of comedy along the way (and one of my favorite sort of stories). What makes The Romance of Tiger and Rose stand out is that it twists it a little more. In this case, modern day screenwriter Xiao Qian is the creator of the story that she falls into so she knows the characters and settings more than the characters and because of that, she becomes the changing factor, a fact that she needs to realize and embrace that her character that she embodies now, Qian Qian is becoming a main female lead and no longer the short-lived supporting character. As she finds a way to manipulate the story back on the course its suppose to take, its really a story about following your heart and embracing change, that no one can play God even if its her own script especially with the unknown factor of how she escapes back into the reality in the end.

Fantasy or Ancient China settings for Chinese TV dramas that I usually watch are big productions and very dramatic. The refreshing part for Tiger and Rose is that it falls in the romantic comedy sort of story. That alone is a nice change especially since the characters themselves and the cast are all very fun as well. Even the more serious characters have this sort of humor to them that gradually is revealed. Plus the story takes a secret plot gone wrong by a neighboring city that is opposite in beliefs of this one. Xiao Qian’s original story was focused on a love story much like Romeo and Juliet’s that breaks the tension between two countries of opposing values, Qianqian’s which is a matriarchy where men have no say or power and patriarchy where its vice versa and brings up a point that no extreme in either way is good but rather should strike an equality. This is obviously hidden between the lines as the story is focused on the romance between Tiger and Rose and plays on a thing that Chinese stories always say about being the main lead in your own story ( not sure if that’s just a Chinese drama thing).

The characters are quite fun. Ryan Ding and Rosy Zhao are hilarious together. They also can be quite sweet. It all starts off as schemes and gradually grows over time. They both take their roles in this over the top moments and it really helps add that sense of comedy and not forced since it fits into the tone of the story. Both characters have rather good chemistry and there’s an air of drama between them which adds depth tontheir characters especially since Rosy Zhao’s Qianqian takes this bad reputation character that she writes and changes it to an honorable character despite the fact that her takeover doesn’t transfer the character’s skills to her so she needs to justify why she can’t fight anymore for example. Ryan Ding is an interesting actor because he does mold well in the different elements here and feels more genuine. The chenistry between the two leads are good especially with how its developed and executed. The silly servants for each of them also almost steal the show because of how comedic and clueless they are as well as some of the supporting characters even if the second male lead does feel like more seriously written than it should be.

Running at 24 episodes, its the best length for most dramas. Its well-paced while still having a decent story that doesn’t lose focus of the story that needs to be told. The love story remains rather prominent but at the same time, its a story about “Rose” which is Qianqian’s character and its mostly from her point of view while still having moments of behind the scenes with other characters. That’s a little odd considering this is her story and its her that fell into her dream which is the only little bit that I think should have been reworked. However, it shows that this fictional world is moving away from her written path. Its a good balance of everything and while I’m initially wasn’t completely convinced about Rosy Zhao’s acting, this drama does fit her really well. I still think she can work on her crying a little more since it seems very unconvincing but at the same time, the drama is mostly comedy and its done in an entertaining way and its surprisingly bingeworthy because of it.

What’s Up 2020: Week 50

Week 50, friends! Its almost the end of the year (not that you didn’t know that). I’m drowning in work so I have this really bad feeling that the next few weeks is going to be fairly lackluster. My only hope is to at least get the holiday films reviewed as for once, I’m ahead of watching but reviews are falling behind. Other than that, I’m taking a quick moment to do this post so let’s get straight to business!

READING

Currently reading: The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel

Reading as usual is another read for blog tour happening this very week. I joined fairly last minute to this blog tour so I’m later on, leaving a few more days to catch up. By the time this post goes up, I should be near the ending of the book. So far, its decent and gives off some vibes from some other stories that I’ve read and watched in movies. I feel like, there’s still space for some twist so we will see.

PLAYING

  • Olija Demo
  • Selfloss Demo
  • Anno: Mutationem Demo

Currently playing: A Way Out

The Game Awards happened and as its virtual this year, it lead to a spiral of other things going on including The Game Awards Festival which had a list of demos to try out. I think they also had it on consoles and other platforms but I stuck with Steam and tried out 3 of them. Some other ones I had already looked at the demos before and decided to not try again to see whether it was an expanded demo or not. Like mentioned above, tight on time so needed to make choices. All three were pretty good with Selfloss more my type of game and Anno: Mutationem, one that I’d like to also check out.

However, nothing like highlighting some gaming time with my husband as we checked out the first chapter or two of A Way Out. Its a co-op game so it was a pretty decent time. We’re still super early in the story so we should dive back in when I find some more gaming time.

WATCHING

  • Mank (2020)
  • Operation Christmas Drop (2020)
  • The Prom (2020)
  • Body (2015)
  • The Grinch (2018)

You know, a few decent watches this week overall. Its mostly for the holidays marathon. In technicality, Mank should be the highlight of this week. I can absolutely see the merit of it and we are releasing an episode of it for the David Fincher season for Movies and Tea and I’ll have a review for it later on. However, biopics just aren’t my thing especially when its on content that I don’t know anything about. Zippo about Citizen Kane or the screenwriter so to me, this was a normal film and a long one at that.

With that said, at my high stress phase right now, I just want to relax so The Grinch is actually my highlight for the week. Its the holidays and I do think its a fun one. Better than that horrible one from 2000 but still not as good as the original, however, it makes enough changes to still be fun and its super cute in some parts. I had a fun time with it and that’s what I ask for in animated films.

BINGING

  • The Romance of Tiger and Rose (2020)
  • You Are So Sweet (2020)

Currently binging: Meeting Mr. Right S3, Our Song S2, Shine! Super Brothers, Dance of the Phoenix

We’re getting quite thin on the TV side of things. I’m actually surprised that I have officially nothing going on. I do have stuff that I started but didn’t go back to but that doesn’t really count. Both series that I was watching, one binged in a few days over the past week and the other wrapped up its final episode over the weekend so now my slate is clean. Even variety shows are rather thin and one of those is wrapping up in the coming week as well. I’m going back to watching series aired earlier this year with Dance of the Phoenix and I’m not too sure about how I feel one episode in. But its too early to judge although I’d like to know why its so popular.

However, the two series that I did finish are really equally good. The only reason that I want to highlight The Romance of Tiger and Rose is because its a little more unique. I like that they twist the premise a little plus both of the lead actor and actresses actually surprised me. I’ve seen the female lead in another series before and wasn’t a huge fan although I do like Ryan Ding, the male lead even though I’ve only seen him in another variety show and part of a series that I never finished (mostly because I forgot about it).

With that said, seeing as I’m all out of TV series, I’ll probably go back to The Wolf and start up a new series that I’ve been waiting for, Legend of Fei. There’s also one more that’s showing on iQiYi soon that I wanted to check out since I did pick up an annual VIP access during Black Friday. Probably see if I can start up another series but I do want to give more time to catch up on writing when I can.

That’s it for this recap!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

TV Binge: Detective Chinatown (唐人街探案, 2020)

Detective Chinatown (唐人街探案, 2020)

Director: Sam Quah & Dai Mo

Cast: Roy Chiu, Janine Chang, Zhe Yuan Chen, Yi Shang Sha, Xiao Cheng, Victor Ma, Ming Shuai Shi

Strange crimes occur in Thailand as the ranking for the world’s best detective sees a shift. New detectives come into the picture to tackle three difficult cases. Lin Mo is the student of Chinatown’s number one detective. Lin Mo pursues two cases: Four-Faced Buddha and Name of the Rose that not only takes place in Bangkok but also in Kaoshiung. The third case about the Ghost’s Invitation takes the story back to Bangkok and then to Tokyo. – MyDramaList

Where to Watch: iQiYi

Detective Chinatown is adapted from the Detective Chinatown movies (which I have yet to see). However, this series is really three cases wrapped up as a series. Each case being 4 episodes. The first two revolving the detective Lin Mo played by Roy Chiu and directed by Sam Quah who also directs Sheep Without a Shepherd (review). I mention this because he uses a few cast members that make up the cast from that movie. The third case goes off in a completely different direction: set on an island in the middle of the ocean, about e-sports competition and starring a five person team lead by Noda Koji, played by Zheyuan Chen.

In many ways, Detective Chinatown should be seen as three separate stories as the timeline becomes a little fuzzy. The first case feels the most recent as Roy Chiu’s detective and high school substitute teacher character Lin Mo takes on almost this modern day Sherlock Holmes sort of role cooperating with policewoman Sa Sha (Yi Shang Zhang). There’s a level of quirkiness that makes him rather charming to watch. The first case, Four-Faced Buddha is rather intriguing as it investigates a group of girls after one of their friends commit suicide. The case gets quite a bit of twist and turns and gives Lin Mo a fun look at how he is plus there’s a decent amount of comedy with the other inspectors in the police HQ getting involved. Its probably my favorite of the three. The second dives back in the timeline before Lin Mo is part of the Detective Chinatown agency and first encounters the police woman in the first case Sa Sha but actually tells the story of his connection with this mystery assassin group that wants to kill him for some reason and he gets entangled with this flower shop owner Ivy (Janine Zhang).

Where the series feels the most disjointed is the third case where Lin Mo is not part of the story and it switches over to an esports tournament and five people team who gets lured to the island for this tournament as a final battle before this online game shuts down the server but becomes a rouse for a disappeared legendary player setting up an elaborate game. As an individual case, its pretty decent but just doesn’t seem to correlate well with the first 8 episodes. It feels like a completely different world with just a hint of connection at the beginning when Sa Sha is sent to handle this case. It definitely feels like an attempt to promote a new direction for this franchise, maybe a second season especially since the five people team includes a few up and coming celebrities like Arthur Ma and Xiao Cheng along with Zheyuan Chen. These young cast lack the acting experience so they don’t reflect as well especially since Arthur Ma and Xiao Cheng gained popularity through music and the third story has a lot of characters and a lot of the supporting cast are much more seasoned actors.

Overall, running at 12 episodes, Detective Chinatown is very bingeworthy. The three separate stories is a good way to execute this series and the pacing is pretty good. Sure, the third case is a little odd and its a bit overacted but the set up and case development is pretty good. Roy Chiu is honestly fantastic as Lin Mo and well worth a watch just for his performance. Plus, the first 8 episodes are directed by Sam Quah who has a great eye for capturing the atmosphere and how some of the shots are done are very well-executed. Its rare that I watch series like this which is focused on investigation and twisty cases that its a breath of fresh air.

What’s Up 2020: Week 49

Another week has gone by! This week was pretty good. Got a little bit of everything done!

READING

  • Egg by Ross Victory

Currently reading: Wayward Kindred

A little bit of reading this week as I prepared for the next blog tour commitment for Egg which is coming out tomorrow. I won’t say too much since its a short story as to keep a bit of freshness for the review. Its an interesting one to say the least. As for other things, I’m still slowly reading Wayward Kindred, which I do want to wrap up before starting up the next novel for another blog tour commitment. I really need to organize these blog tour commitments a little more sparsely.

PLAYING

  • Gnog

Currently playing: Hyperdot

The highlight for this week is Gnog that I completed 100% achievements on Steam. Its a rare situation so I like to mention it. With that said, its a fun little puzzle game with some great soundtrack. Its super feel good and just made me so happy to play it. I probably will do a quick little review for it.

I’m starting to work through the Xbox Game Pass. Its going to be the priority for this coming month as of end of November. I’m trying to at least get through some of The Game Awards nominated games available there while also playing some games that I’ve wanted to play in a while but didn’t get around to the last time I had the Game Pass. Maybe I’ll keep it for another month depending on how I feel and how much time I can commit to it in January. The first game is a very simple game called Hyperdot. I’ve played other games similar to this before so it doesn’t feel that unique but visually its done pretty good and there is a certain amount of variety. I’m halfway through at Level 50 and just wondering whether there’s anything else that will be new. Might stop and move on to something else if nothing new happens by Level 60.

Game Warp has finished up some production meeting so we’re going to be back on track which means, I need to get back onto the planned gaming and get some more content out. I’m planning on having some streaming plans that probably will start early next year but maybe earlier, if I figure out a schedule.

WATCHING

  • Angela’s Christmas Wish (2020)
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

I’m focusing on the holiday films lately to get this Holidays marathon going on right now with more content. Fairly ahead with movie watching, just a little behind on writing. Honestly, these two new Christmas/Holidays films are pretty decent. I do like Jingle Jangle for that one thing that its a pretty fun musical and the whole set and music is rather good. Although that’s not saying Angela’s Christmas Wish isn’t good which hit me in the feels with their ending.

BINGING

  • Forget You Remember Love (忘记你记得爱情, 2020 Review)
  • Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas (Season 1, 2020)
  • The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Season 1, 2020)
  • Everybody Stand By 2 (Actors Take Your Place 2, 2020)

Currently binging: You Are So Sweet, Sing or Spin S2, Shine! Super Brothers, The Wolf, Our Song 2, Meeting Mr. Right S3, The Romance of Tiger and Rose

Would you look at that? I’m working on my TV binge stuff backwards as I mentioned last week (or in the Adventures post, I can’t remember). Anyways, it seems to be working out much better than the prior plan. Sadly, Forget You Remember Love wasn’t my highlight this week. It just was too long. You can check out the review linked above. It was pretty cute in parts but some parts was just a little too frustrating. For people who are big fans of the original series, they might still enjoy this one though.

My highlight this week goes to Everybody Stand By S2 which is an actor competition variety show. Its for different actors from various backgrounds and experiences to perform in a competition with renowned directors on different pieces to finally stand out in the end based on audience and industry votes as well as online popularity votes. I never saw the first season but this season did reveal a lot of really great actors and actresses as well as some familiar faces. Plus, the director crew are all rather well known with Vicki Zhao (best known for her directorial piece So Young and her actress career in Shaolin Soccer), Kaige Chen (director of Farewell My Concubine), Derek Yee (Director of Full Throttle, One Night in Mongkok, Shinjuku Incident) and Jingming Guo (Director of Tiny Times, Cry Me A Sad River). An outstanding crew of directors to say the least which makes it all the more fun to watch.

With that said, some new additions this week as I continue to work through the popular series that I skipped over this year with The Romance of Tiger and Rose as well as starting up a new variety show called Shine Super Brothers to create a group of more sophisticated performers/celebrities, etc. I’m watching it mostly for some of the celebrities that joined the show. Plus, I did finish 2 Netflix Original series. Holiday Home Makeover and Holiday Movies That Made Us both were pretty fun to watch as well and only 4 and 2 episodes respectively so very quick binges. I’ll be doing a post for it soon so I won’t talk too much about it right now.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?