Recently Watched: Paris Blues

Paris Blues

Some movies are such American classics, that we assume everyone has seen them. But that’s not always the case. Just this year was the first time that I saw The Sting, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. How could that be? I just never got around to it.

After seeing it, I know why it’s a classic. Wow! I loved it! I still haven’t seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — another Newman and Redford classic. That will be remedied soon!

But last night, I saw Paris Blues. It’s a lesser known film than the others and doesn’t include Robert Redford. But it has gigantic star power nonetheless. With Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, Louis Armstrong and music by Duke Ellington, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this movie until recently.

Paris Blues is a romantic drama from 1961, in black and white, yet has a modern feel. With all the music, dancing and romance, it made me wonder why nobody has ever done a remake. I could definitely see it.

In the beginning, Paul Newman’s character is after Diahann Carroll’s character. However, the movie wasn’t that modern and took the more predictable route. After all, interracial marriage was still illegal in parts of the country. Loving v. Virginia wouldn’t be decided until six years later in 1967.

What adds another layer to Paris Blues are the real life romances happening with both couples. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were already married to each other. Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll were both married to other people, but having an affair. So this must have been an interesting movie set!

Paris looks very gritty in the film, possibly depicting how it looked before being fully rebuilt after the war. Yet the charm remained. The music is wonderful, but it’s still kind of a quiet slice of life film that feels like current independent cinema.

What also feels modern is the issue of race. Both couples are American. Carroll and Woodward’s characters are friends visiting Paris for a two week vacation. Newman and Poitier’s characters are expat jazz musicians. Carroll and Poitier’s characters talk about racism back home and how he doesn’t want to return to the degradation he has to suffer as a Black man. But she says that someone has to stay and fight. Unfortunately, in reality, the fight remains.

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Screenshot: IMDb

A Few Unexpected Things

I’m so happy that I finally have this book! For the last few months, I kept hearing about Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and wanted to read it. I put it on hold at the library and it came in much sooner than expected. I just started reading it and was immediately pulled in with the first page. A very good sign!

So often things are unexpected and bad. When they’re unexpected and good, that’s the best.

That’s been happening with some plants. Overall, I have a green thumb and do extremely well with most plants. Except for a few. Two plants in particular that everyone always says are so easy to grow were never easy for me. Years ago I gave up on African violets and snake plants. I tried so many times and they always died. But now, I’m apparently a snake plant charmer and working magic with African violets too. Very unexpected!

Two movies that I watched recently had the exact opposite effects on me than expected. Part of it may have been that my expectations were too high for one and super low for the other.

When I first heard about the movie Past Lives, I wanted to see it immediately. It sounded perfect! A friend and I had planned to see it in the theater when it first came out. We could never get our schedules to work together and we missed seeing it.

Now it’s on Amazon Prime, so I watched it last week. I was disappointed. It wasn’t bad, but I expected to love it. It was somewhat slow, with some long drawn out scenes that didn’t need to be and started to feel tedious. I was glad to have not seen it in the theater. Further, the people that I wanted to end up together did not. It’s a love story that kind of broke my heart.

Also, somewhere in my mind, because of the title maybe, I was thinking time travel or magical realism, which are two of my favorite genres. It had neither. That’s on me. But it was a further disappointment.

The other movie, Meet Cute, is also on Amazon Prime. I think I found it on a list of good time travel movies. It stars Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco. I didn’t know much about her, except for that she was on The Big Bang Theory, which I watched a handful of times.

As for him, I enjoyed his SNL skits and hosting, but never understood all the woman flocking to him. What’s the deal!? I heard it’s just that he’s a really nice guy. He has a kind of sweet charm and magnetism that his role in this movie displayed.

Again, my expectations for this movie were very low, but I enjoyed it. There was actual time travel! It was the time loop variety like in Groundhog Day. I always find it interesting to see how the loop will end. The movie was different than I expected and gave Before Sunrise vibes, with lovely views of New York City.

So much in life is about managing expectation. Maybe it’s best to expect very little. But I always feel like that’s a negative way to be. Is it better to be delighted when not expecting much? I don’t know. That surprise is nice, but when you’re expecting a lot and manage to get even more, that’s the dream. I guess putting up with some disappointment is part of the deal.

Maybe it’s best to find a balance between the two and be somewhat neutral. Last week I bought some dollar scratch tickets from soda can deposit money. ‘Tis the season for holiday miracles and you have to be in it to win it!

I won five dollars on one of them. I reinvested and got a five dollar scratch ticket today. I wasn’t sure which one to get, so I asked for one that won a lot. A guy behind me said, “If it wins a lot, it won’t be there!”

Sheesh. I didn’t say anything and figured I’d leave it up to chance. I won twenty dollars! Unexpected! Time to reinvest!

Recently Watched: Chocolate ~ A Korean Food Drama

Chocolate Korean Food Drama

If you’re looking to escape into another world for a while, there’s a lovely place you can go on Netflix. To the world of Lee Kang, a neurosurgeon and Moon Cha Young, a chef who eats chocolate to center herself when she’s suffering. They live in South Korea, but the story takes us to other countries as well. The show is in Korean, so unless you speak it, you’ll be reading subtitles.

The two meet as children over a shared meal at Kang’s family restaurant. Kang asks Cha Young to come back later so he can make her a chocolate sasha, which I don’t really know what it is, unless he means this Japanese snack.

But because they are kids and her family had other plans, she isn’t able to return. He waited for her and was devastated when she didn’t show up. A year later she came back to find him, but his family had moved away.

They never forget each other and are fated to meet again. Repeatedly. Their lives are forever intertwined through a series of serendipitous meetings, but there are so many misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It’s dramatic and romantic. So much longing. And filled with food. The food scenes are stunning. I could practically smell it watching them cook.

The food is a third main character and made me want to get some Korean food. Then I was zapped back to the realization that I’m living in the middle of a pandemic and can’t go to a restaurant as easily anymore. Then I got swept up in the story again and relished the recipes. The precision and beauty. Colors, sounds and textures.

There is a depth to the characters lives that makes it easy to get caught up. We come to know their inner lives. There are painful family stories, intrigue, disasters, war, and some humor too. I found myself getting really aggravated at certain points, but couldn’t stop watching. I was so hooked! Chocolate is a real love story and they get me every time.

The music is haunting and sets the tone for the series, further increasing the tension and emotion. I definitely recommend you give a listen. The cinematography is captivating too.

I’ve been a fan of Korean dramas (K-dramas) for several years now and have been finding a lot more on Netflix recently. I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz around this series. I really enjoyed it and was disappointed to read that there won’t be another season. There’s a lot to like about Chocolate, but it is basically a soap opera. So if that’s not your thing, this probably isn’t for you. Otherwise, enjoy this series and get a respite from the day to day of quarantine life.

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Image Credit: YouTube

Recently Watched: Being Erica

Opening scene from Being Erica.

This past holiday season, I watched very few Christmas shows even though I look forward to them every year. But I enjoy time travel even more. And around Thanksgiving, I found a television series called Being Erica. I streamed the entire four years through the holidays and finished on December 30th. I wish there were more years, but watching this show was so satisfying —like eggnog and Christmas cookies. Which I indulged in while watching!

It was also a great way to end 2019. Especially since the year 2019 plays a role in the show, which aired on CBC Television from 2009 to 2011. So my then 2019 present, now my past in 2020, was the distant future on the show. How meta!

The easiest way to describe Being Erica is to compare it to Sex and the City. Located in Toronto instead of New York and with the added bonus of time travel! Erica is Carrie. She doesn’t have a Mr. Big, but she does have a series of romances and is a major part of the publishing world. We meet her group of close friends of course, but unlike Sex and the City, Erica’s family is a major part of the show. I always found it strange that we didn’t see Carrie’s family.

The way time travel works on this show is that it’s therapy. She meets Dr. Tom who gives her the ability to go back in time to regrets in her life and fix them. There are certain caveats to the time travel though. Which there always are!

This show has also made me realize a gaping hole in my Canadian travel. I’ve been to Canada a few times, but only to Montreal. I’ve never been to Toronto. It’s a new decade and before the 20s are over, I plant to visit! Hopefully I can get to some other places in Canada as well.

I won’t say more and give anything away, but I loved this show and was so glad that I found it streaming on Hulu. It’s also on Amazon Prime. The first episode is on YouTube, so you can watch it there for now too.

If you watch it, let me know what you think. Do you have any favorite time travel shows?

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Photo Credit: Screenshot @ Hulu

Recently Watched: Nine: Nine Time Travels

On this last day of the year, it seems like the perfect time to share one of my favorite television series with you. There’s something magical about moving from one year to the next in the span of one second. And the magic in this series is time travel. One of my favorite things!

I watched Nine: Nine Time Travels over a period of a few weeks. It’s dramatic, mysterious, fun, heart-wrenching, romantic and surprising. I looked forward to watching it each day and hated for it to end. I really loved this show.

The 20 episode series is in Korean with English subtitles and originally aired on tvN  in South Korea in 2013. I saw it on Netflix and it’s still available to watch.

The stars Lee Jin-wook and Jo Yoon-hee are so engaging that I was swept up in their story immediately. Wikipedia gives a good plot summary below.

The science fiction/romance series is about a man who finds nine magical incense sticks that allow him to travel 20 years back in time. He attempts to keep his family safe in order to change the world he lives in today. However, this is not without consequences as his actions in the past affects the lives of many in the present, including his.

As a fan of time travel, it’s always interesting to see the device chosen to facilitate the travels. The use of incense was very different than most, because it’s so relatable for me. Sometimes I’ll combine it with candles when I meditate. I love the smell. There’s something very calming about it — watching the smoke floating and knowing that it will burn itself out. The time component of the way incense burns is a key element of the story.

The lead character is a news anchor named Park Sun-woo who is able to travel back exactly 20 years to the day. So with each day that passes, he can go back to a different day in order to solve a mystery. The show is quite a ride! The twists and turns!

I hated when the show was over, but there is some good news. For the future. According to a 2013 article, actress Yunjin Kim, known from the shows Lost and Mistresses, is working with ABC on a show based on the series. She will be one of the executive producers of the show.

Since it’s now going on five years since that article, I’m not sure the status of the show, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.

This is the last that I’ll be here for 2017. See ya in 2018!

Happy New Year!

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Screenshot: tvN