What’s Up Week 9: The Rare Two Great Films In A Row…

Week 9 of 2019 was a pretty productive one. Busy to say the least but still a lot of things accomplished. Still a lot of writing in the backlog waiting to be done but things are moving along. Especially now that we’re part of the way through the blogathon and February is finally done so romance films are (almost) behind us.

READING

two sisters of borneo

  • The Princess and the Peacock (Birds of Fae #1) by C.S. Johnson (Review)

Currently reading: The Two Sisters of Borneo

With the first half of the year being as busy as it had been and I’m on the verge of just absolute fatigue and almost burnout (I’ll talk about this in the next Weekly Adventures post), reading on the bus has been fairly slow. If you are my Goodreads friend, then you probably see that I’m falling a tad behind on the Goodreads challenge but I’m fairly confident that I’ll make it regardless. Finished up the novella The Princess and the Peacock which is a decent fairy tale retelling of sorts for the blog tour and that review is up. I’m finally diving back into Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series, which I absolutely adore so its a nice change in pace and The Two Sisters of Borneo may be the sixth book in the series but man, its still so fantastic and I’m only 15% or so into the book.

I don’t have any concrete reading obligations in March (yet) so I might just dig through my book shelves and get back to some franchises that I love but have put down for a while.

PLAYING

39 days to ,ars

  • 39 Days to Mars

Currently playing: Eastshade

As I play a bigger game in the background, the husband and I finally sat down to play co-op adventure game 39 Days to Mars developed by It’s Anecdotal. Its about two silly men who construct a rather silly spacecraft to go to Mars. Pretty much, its a fun game with a lot of hilarious dialogue as you go through all kinds of puzzles from the different parts that break during the travel. I’ll be working on the review soon-ish..seeing as there are about 3 more reviews sitting in the to-do list (that I’ve started but didn’t finish for various reasons).

WATCHING

Us and Them

The final week pretty much for Valentine’s marathon was a crazy affair mostly because I had a lot of movies that I enjoyed and two that I absolutely loved to absolute death. Then there was some that were quite meh. But then that is what happens after extraordinary films and it explains my reluctance for the last 4 films of the marathon. Two still need to be watched and written up as double features outside of the marathon but I will still see it through. With that said, I started preparing for the blogathon conclusion post as well which usually is a double or triple feature. With that said, my highlight (if you haven’t read that double feature for T & U) is This Is Not What I Expected and especially Us & Them. It got me thinking about a lot and feeling all kinds of feelings. Its just so fantastically structure with all the little details and how it is filmed. If you have Netflix, you should definitely check out this Chinese Netflix Original film. I can’t look at that poster without my thoughts going back to the movie.

BINGING

miss rose

  • Miss Rose (rewatch)

Currently watching: My Amazing Boyfriend 2, The Singer 2019, My Little One 2, The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 2)

I finished rewatching Miss Rose which puts it in priority for the next TV binge (at least thats the plan). Everything else is still in progress. This is an alright Taiwanese series and I watched it mostly for Roy Chiu since he’s a pretty decent actor (and also the male lead in the recently released Netflix Original film, Dear Ex). My Amazing Boyfriend 2 runs from Thursday to Saturday for 6 episodes per week, My Little One 2 and The Singer 2019 are the Saturday new episode shows and well, The Big Family  Cooking Showdown Season 2 finally got released on Netflix with a whole facelift in judges and only some small themes similar to the first season. I’m only 4 episodes in so also watching this slowly. There’s not a whole lot to report here. TV binges are still piled up like a mountain (surpassing the game reviews pile now) so I’m going to focus on it now that marathon is done (and blogathon is ending soon). However, no problems on that because TV is still bringing me a ton of joy!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been up to?

Valentine’s Double Feature: This Is Not What I Expected (2017) & Us and Them (2018)

Third before last double feature in this Valentine’s romance double feature theme. I’m starting to think about when to do another themed alphabet month because it was just so much fun. Not sure what to do or what theme would be interesting enough. Maybe an international film theme, which would open up more genres. Any suggestions.

Moving onto the T & U selections. Talk about international films: I ended up choosing a Zhou Dongyu double feature and a Chinese film double feature and coincidentally, because its such a rarity in my movie watching life: a double 5 star rated films as well. All around an awesome time which had one feature that gave me a ton of laughs and fun and the second that gave me all kinds of emotions and some tears. If nothing else, these two films show that China is an upcoming force to put on our radars, especially with Netflix acquiring some as Originals.

Let’s check these out!

This Is Not What I Expected (2017)

this is not what i expected

Director: Derek Hui

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Dongyu Zhou, Yi-zhou Sun, Ming Xi, Kuo-Chu Chang, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Chiling Lin

An obsessive CEO of a company meets a ragged chef by chance. They are drawn closer together because of their love for delicacies, yet their personalities clash big time. – IMDB

Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. Honestly, the Hong Kong (can’t say for China because I haven’t seen enough films to comment on it) landscape doesn’t really have any ground-breaking films in this regard. No one sits down to enjoy a great romantic comedy because its just generic. This Is Not What I Expected might not be anything ground-breaking in its formula because the course of events are quite predictable and generic, what it does do is for the first time (to my knowledge) dive into a screwball comedy style. Its quirky and hilarious. There are contrived events and things that get way out of proportion where its impossible to imagine any of it actually be accepted normally, but then there is a point in film that we find a line between reality and challenging its limits and something about the charm of This Is Not What I Expected hits it perfectly. Its been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a film and felt so fulfilled and happy about it all the way through. Not to mention, the movie also is right up my alley as it has a lot of artistic shots of food and cooking.

The main reason is its main leads. For one, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a fantastic actor and he has been in many films. However, it may be the first time he’s done a role that feels so serious but at the same time, so hilarious because of his expressions. It definitely isn’t a frequent type of role for him and this feels so refreshing to watch. At the same time, she is opposite the younger Dongyu Zhou who is a rather popular Chinese actress and truly excels in this type of role. She has this out of control nature and yet there is something so genuine about even the most absurd things that she does and yet it makes her quite adorable as well.

Us and Them (2018)

Us and Them

Director: Rene Liu

Cast: Boran Jing, Dongyu Zhou, Zhuangzhuang Tian

During the hectic chunyun (aka Chinese New Year) period, 2 strangers travelling home meet on the train. – IMDB

Us and Them is a Netflix Original and it tells a wonderful love story. Its quite reminiscent both in color palette and plot of a story like Blue Jay and One Day (the book, not sure how the movie is structured), except this story has much more context as we see a colorful past of Xiao Xiao (Dongyu Zhou) and Jian Qing (Boran Jing) from how they met to how they got together and the conflict that drove them apart. Ten years later, as they meet again and each in their different phase in life, how they have changed and how they face each other. Perhaps the story itself isn’t very unique but its honestly in the details as we see why their present is in black and white and their past in color. Especially with the background music as well as the artistic shots and structure of some of the scenes. Its hard to imagine that this is a directorial debut of Rene Liu who is an accomplished singer and actress but the first time taking the helm of the director.

However, true credit goes to how the characters are developed in each phase of their life. There is a deep knowledge of them as they change and grow over the years. It is a genuine relationship and progression that makes them so real. At the same time, the story isn’t just about their romance but also pulls in masterfully a second plot line related to family. The movie extends itself the entire way through the end credits as they pull in some real people who write messages to their past loves and then an ending scene which talks a lot about the message behind this movie being in telling those you love them (whether lover or family) before you lose the chance to and letting the regrets hang in the air. Just like the tagline of this movie which translates to: “After, we had everything except each other.” Its both a heartwarming film for a part of it and yet such a heartbreaking film that ends up being bittersweet as well. Just like Xiao Xiao and Jian Qing reflect on themselves and their relationship, the movie will end and made me reflect on a few things as well. Us and Them is a beautiful movie both in cinematography, soundtrack, character building and story. Its full of style and so very unique because its been pieced together so well.

This double feature is the absolute highlight of not only this marathon but probably the past while of films I’ve seen.
Have you seen This Is Not What I Expected or Us and Them? Thoughts?