[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 20 Final 2016/01/16,
We find out who Deok-seon's husband is, and you'll probably be surprised at the groom's identity in the grand wedding setpiece. Not that this is all that important. The main thrust of "Answer Me 1988" has always been on the powerful sense of community. This, oddly enough, is the most important part of wedding preparation presented here- the characters have to come to grips with the fact that they're leaving their parents' home, to start out on something new,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 19 2016/01/15,
The wrap-up for "Answer Me 1988" begins, as we close here with a sort of pre-epilogue. Nothing is fully resolved quite yet, and indeed, as the cliffhanger reminds us, most of the adult characters really aren't even aware of what's going on romance-wise. That's because the major setpiece is a love letter to the parents of "Answer Me 1988"- the ones who did their best for their kids, and each other, and who will always have a loving community in thanks for that,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 18 2016/01/09,
It's the little touches that makes all the difference in "Answer Me 1988". Pay close attention to the set design here. It looks like the characters are just hanging around in the same neighborhood and the same houses they were this entire time and yet somehow, everything looks a tad shinier. A tad cooler. Especially the characters themselves. Note how Taek very nearly appears cool and attractive now, even though he mostly acts the same. What's causing these changes? The haircuts? The beer? Or just...the nineties?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 17 2016/01/08,
The theme this episode is on pain, and how we recover from it. On the literal level it's just physical pain. Seong-gyoon is still smarting from his wound, and elsewhere other characters also deal with disabling accidents. But on the more powerful metaphorical level the main topic under discussion is emotional pain, as every potential romantic couple separates save for one. Then, one cute time slip montage later, we've jumped five years ahead to 1994,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 16 2015/12/26,
With this episode "Answer Me 1988" attempts to explain why its story, to the extent this drama has a story at all, moves so slowly and with so little apparent inertia. Somewhat paradoxically, the reason for this is that the characters are mostly doing all right. They're happy. And the surest way to risk destroying happiness is through radical change. Making a love confession requires courage, not because we're scared of rejection, but because we're scared that the possible potential change could be for the worse,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 15 2015/12/25,
Story has never really been a strong point of "Answer Me 1988". There's very little conflict to speak of, and what conflict we do get tends to be solved without much aplomb. Note how Seon-woo's reaction to the big emotional discoveries of the last episode is to...play catch with Taek's dad. Even bearing in mind the rather mild twist that comes out of that exposition, there's not really much more to that scene than what's right there on the surface,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 14 2015/12/19,
One of the nicer parts of "Answer Me 1988" is how incredibly even-handed the drama is with character focus. Part of this is probably just a necessity of production- if Deok-seon was actually the focus the way lead characters normally are I'd expect Hyeri would have collapsed from exhaustion due to overwork by now. Instead, her role here is subdued to a mild act of heroism while focus instead shifts to Jeong-bong and Mi-ok. In case you don't remember who those characters are- Jeong-hwan's older brother and Deok-seon's shorter female friend,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 13 2015/12/18,
Bo-ra helpfully narrates the theme of this episode at the closing. This is fortunate, since until that point I was at a bit of a loss as to what the title card, a linguistic variation on the title of "Superman is Back" variety show, had to do with the episode proper. We don't really get to see that much of men taking care of their families, unless you count Seong-gyoon's misadventures trying to fix household appliances back in the days before it was cheaper to just buy new. Indeed, one memorable sequence involves the entire neighborhood getting riled over a nonexistent crisis,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 12 2015/12/12,
The theme this episode is love- nothing too excessive. As usual "Answer Me 1988" is focused on the subtle nuances of living in a close community, and this manifests best in the exploration of the relationship between So-ra and Seon-woo. It needs to be noted, once again, that this romance has a fairly unusual dynamic because these two literally grew up together. For them, dating isn't really a "get-to-know-you" thing because they already know each other,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 11 2015/12/11,
Ah, Deok-seon. She's such a girl. Her friends too. I don't mean that as an insult- I'm just surprised watching "Answer Me 1988" and realizing how rare it is to see teenage girls on TV act like, well, like dumb teenage girls, in the same way that teenage boys can always be relied on to act like dumb teenage boys. And in the case of Deok-seon, this is exhibited with her puppy-like ability to develop romantic feelings for any boy she thinks will reciprocate them,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 10 2015/12/05,
Similar to last episode, there's not so much plot here, especially in the first portion as "Answer Me 1988" sticks to situation comedy. After strong episodes, or more specifically strong scenes of strong episodes, it's easy to get a little annoyed at low-stakes action like but I just have to remind myself that adolescence is a slow-burn and it's not really reasonable to expect that every big storyline event is going to receive a proper build-up. Getting hit with revelations out of nowhere is a big part of the fun. I certainly wasn't expecting a loveline to form after the appearance of the Bubble Bobble Mafia,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 9 2015/12/04,
The first portion of this episode moves pretty slow. It's just a token variety of the usual simple character jokes and pop culture references that "Answer Me 1988" always uses as a placeholder. There's nothing terribly bad about this. The jokes are cute enough but the material is uninspiring. That much changes after the first commercial break, at which point an unexpected event results in Taek unexpectedly getting to spend quite a bit of time with Deok-seon,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 8 2015/11/28,
The various plotlines in this episode don't really coalesce into a good overall theme. If you want to get really technical there are two story points involving a secret boyfriend and a secret girlfriend. Although neither of these are really especially dynamic plot elements, except to the extent that the question is asked, what kind of boyfriend could Bo-ra have that we've never seen much physical evidence of his existence? The answer to that question being, well, not much of a boyfriend at all really,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 7 2015/11/27,
The main theme of this episode is about how to express love. The first half generally details the worst ways of doing this. We find out, for example, that with more contextual information Seon-woo's attempt at a romantic confession was actually kind of a stupid thing to do. Although really, given that he was acting on advice from Deok-seon what other outcome could we have been expecting? No wonder Bo-ra's face betrayed zero trace of emotion last cliffhanger,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 6 2015/11/21,
Taek (played by Park Bo-geum) is a Go prodigy who has been having a bit of a slump lately. I haven't felt much need to discuss Taek because, well, there's not really much more to say about the character than that. Taek's kind of an idiot outside of the whole Go prodigy thing but his friends and family love him because why wouldn't they? "Answer Me 1988" is dealing with a time period where it wasn't especially important that people fit into neat easily defined categories,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 5 2015/11/20,
Even though the young characters are the main billed actors of "Answer Me 1988", I frequently get the feeling that it's the parents who are the real protagonists of the drama. The conflict of this episode is a case in point- the three main storylines are about the worries mothers have regarding what happens to their children when they're not looking. This being 1988, there are good precedents for that. There weren't any "don't try this at home disclaimers" for silly stunts seen on television. A lack of cell phones made checking up at home difficult. And also there was the whole college student movement getting into fights with the secret police,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 4 2015/11/14,
Deok-seon wants to go to university. Her family is ambivalent about this. Which is weird to see because in the modern day this desire is so utterly banal that it barely even counts as a desire. In South Korea (and the United States too for that matter) everyone is supposed to go to college. It's not a factor that's influenced by such rational circumstances as money, career goals, or scholastic aptitude. As is usually the case with "Answer Me 1988", looking at the situation as presented in this drama mostly just makes me wonder why the world we live in today is the one that comes off weird in comparison,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 3 2015/11/13,
The opening scenes are, rather innocently enough, about how girls like boys, but don't really know anything about them. That's the problem with having a peer group that also consists of teenagers. Everybody is equally clueless, but not everyone knows that they're equally clueless. This also leads to embarassments like Deok-seon's bizarre use of makeup. That's not a process which can or should be hurried. A pity the older So-ra is too busy being aggressive to offer much useful advice to her younger sister,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 2 2015/11/07,
Seong-gyoon (played by Kim Seong-gyoon) is kind of the goofy uncle in "Answer Me 1988". Aside from doing a ridiculous dance at regular intervals Seong-gyoon also tries to show off how happening he is with modern technology by buying a camcorder. Ah, nostalgia, how sweet it is to remember that people used to consider having their every waking moment caught on camera to be weird. Seong-gyoon isn't a dork, the man's just so ahead of the curve that everyone has confused him for a dork,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 1 2015/11/06,
The real unspoken hero of the "Answer Me" series has always been whoever is in charge of the background designs. It could not have possibly been easy to pull together that much obscure eighties merchandise. Did the production team actually find this old Hidori stuff lying around somewhere, or did they have to custom order it? Everything looks so new and fresh, which makes sense because in 1988 this pop culture was both hip and relevant. Not so much today,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ingtoogi" 2014/11/28,
In the first place, "Ingtoogi" is literally about fights between Internet trolls. Like actual fisticuffs. In the second place, there is surprisingly little actual fighting in the movie. There's one at the beginning, and a sort of tournament at the end, and in the middle it's just a lot of training. Barely even anything that could really be called a sparring match. And as for why these guys are all fighting the first place...well,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2013/11/09, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★★★ "Friends 2": A young gangster unknowingly befriends his father's killer but starts to suspect the connection.(11/14)
★★★★ "Dead End": A shamed producer heads out to film ginseng diggers but gets more than he bargained for.(11/14)
★★★ "Ingtoogi": After getting humiliated online, Tae-goo learns to fight in order to get revenge in the real world. (11/14)
★★ "Black Gospel": Korea's only gospel choir heads to Harlem to see if they have what it takes. (11/14)
★★★★ "Red Vacance Black Wedding 2": An obsessed creep refuses to take a hint when his love interest turns him down. (11/14)
★★★★ "The Five": A woman goes to extreme measures to enact revenge against her family's killer. (11/14)
★★★ "Beautiful Child": A story about a Korean missionary who charges through the rupture of natives and white people. (11/14)
★★★ "Kid Cast Away 2013": A young girl gets stranded on a South Pacific Island with her dog, but the two are not alone for long. (11/14),...More
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