Saturday, January 09, 2021

[Rearview Mirror 2020] Minidramas

I decided to lump together mini-dramas and webdramas - to separate them from the regular series. I don't count here anthologies, like KBS Drama Special or Drama Stage. And I have to add - each and every one of the 13 I watched, is worth spending time on.
1. Loss: Time: Life (2015)

I wrote a short review about this drama, that's why I will not repeat myself. I enjoyed it. It's short and, in my opinion, worth watching.
2. Office Watch (2017)

Enjoyed it tremendously and posted about it as well.
3. Loss: Time: Life - The Last Chance (2019)

Another part in the series. Also enjoyed it. Also wrote about it. And probably this part hit me the hardest.
4. You Drive Me Crazy (2018)

I did not post any review of it, however I liked it very much and it was cute. Perfect escapism.
5. Naked Fireman (2017)
It was also cute(ish), had some meandering moments, but the comedy bits made up for it completely. However the title is a false marketing as there was no naked fireman in it. A shirtless one, true. But the devil's in the details.
6. Individualist Ms. Jiyoung/The Happy Loner (2017)
This was a story about two vastly different people who somehow meet and a thread of a relationship starts spinning between them. Jiyoung is very assertive, cold and indifferent to the feelings of other people, relying on herself and herself only. She can be alone, but rather she's accustomed to being alone. Byeoksu, on the other hand, is a person who absolutely cannot live alone. He craves people's companionship and he's also a loyal friend to others. And those two are neighbors.
7. Snowy Road (2017)
This mini drama is in fact a story about comfort women. It takes place during the Japanese occupation and we meet two very different girls - Jongbun from a poor family where the bowl of rice is given to her brother, who also attends school and not to her, as she mainly does the various tasks her mother gives her. And we have Young-ae from a rich family, who attends school but has a very bad temper and despises any signs of poverty. One day, Jongbun is kidnapped and thrown into the train full of young women and girls, where he also spots Young-ae. Some of the young women are sure they would be transported to work, but the Japanese officers and collaborators at the station quickly shatter this notion as they seize their IDs. The attempt to escape ends badly.
The girls are locked in a camp in Manchuria where they serve as the comfort women, forced to undergo check-ups and to drink potions that are supposed to cause miscarriage if they happen to become pregnant. And when the war is nearing its end, the Japanese forces abandon the camp, trying to erase every proof of their activity - all the girls are slaughtered in a fanfare of gunshots and blood. Young-ae is fatally shot and even though Jongbun helped her escape, she dies on the road. A road heavily covered in a pristine, sparkling snow, somewhere between Manchuria and Korea. Jongbun, who survived, lived her life under Young-ae's name and only the tentative friendship with the young troubled girl made her change her name back. 

Worth watching. It was even remade into movie and screened at 16th Jeonju International Film Festival where the movie was awarded. It doesn't use cheap sentimentalism and tricks to make us feel bad. Instead it makes us remember.

8. Goedam (2020)

Lots of high school, I guess it's such a nice motif in horrors.
An anthology of short stories featuring urban tales. Some characters appeared in several episodes. The stories are also connected, that's why the series is here rather than treated as an anthology like DS. One trick this drama plays is that the episodes (8 in total) are in REVERSE order, so they may not make much sense when watched from 1 to 8. My favorite ones were episodes 8: Birth (the yeommae hex) and 6: Dimension (the elevator). Shim So Young as the mudang is absolutely bone-chillingly insane.

9. Another Parting (2014)

I actually rewatched it because I had a severe case of King SIGness and longing. Also, Choi Daehun as the cowardly music producer never hurts, so this was a time pleasantly spent. The "assassination" scene is pure comedy gold.

10. My Fantastic Funeral (2015)
Choi Wooshik and Kyeong Sujin played their respective parts perfectly. Two people who met too little too late. Or not, depending on the optics. Misu has 3 months left to live and as she's not the nicest person out there, the impending death makes some of her words and decisions really harsh. After meeting Dongsu again, they start to chat and their relationship starts to grow, to Misu's chagrin. She tried to reason with her tumor and accepted her fate... until Dongsu appeared and made her feel like her life became a cosmic joke. This drama is about taming the thought of death. Misu asks Dongsu to arrange a fake funeral so that she can attend before her death, so she can say proper goodbies. And he does that - he prepares a wonderful ceremony, with music and speeches. And then he learns that in her will, she donates her organs, and especially her heart to him. No, literally, Dongsu needs a transplant to live. So in a way she lives through him.
11. Boy Next Door (2017)

This was hilariously funny mixed with second-hand embarrassingly funny. It follows the classic Murphy's Law path - if something can go wrong, it WILL go wrong. Will they have to shower together and the soap lands on the floor, and a noisy foreigner peeps through the window? Because of course it WILL. The comedy of errors never strays to either mocking territory or one too serious. It's balanced in the neurotic kind of hilarity. And the landlord who basically forces them to co-habitate is not even in the tiniest put off by their (misunderstood, but really?) closeness, saying "whatever, love is love".
The singing scene is certified platinium comedy.
12. XX (2020)

I watched it live on twitter, so I can say nothing more. I enjoyed it tremendously. 

13. Everything and Nothing (2019)
This was a story about being ordinary. A story about a timid boy, who doesn't cause troubles and has good grades and a quiet girl who tries to fit in the world of divorced parents (by resorting to becoming a teen call-girl). It was not a feelgood story, but instead it offered a glimpse of the lives of truly usual high school students. Park Si-Eun and Yoon Chan-young did a phenomenal job and carried these 2 hours on their backs, proving that Korea will have no shortage of upcoming great actors.
Bonus: Choi Daehun as the very "unconventional" math tutor.

I hope some of these will also appear on more screens, because they are worth it.