Review-o-Rama

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The K2 (2016)

A young woman involved in a political scandal falls in love with her bodyguard who has a dark past.

Pros:
Cute leading man. Okay, I’ll admit this much.
Good soundtrack. A couple of songs stand out.
Kick-ass action scenes. That is, apart from the lead pausing to make sure his enemies see him before attacking.

Cons:
Damsel in distress. Ugh! I can feel the feminist flag hitting between the eyes, and I’m no feminist!
Paper-thin plot. I don’t buy the male lead’s sudden affection toward the female.
Over-the-top acting. OMG, those fake laughs!
Zero chemistry between the leads. No, I don’t care to elaborate.
Lazy editing. Are those long pauses really necessary?
Nonexistent character development. So why did the leads fall in love again?
Gratuitous slo-mo. Enough to give Michael Bay a run for his money.
Confused script. Tries hard to sell innocence and naïveté but falls flat.

Verdict: Will not be watching Healer anytime soon.
Cringe-o-Meter: High. Might not finish this drama.

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Goblin (2016)

A general from the Goryeo period is cursed with immortality as a goblin until he finds his bride who happens to be an orphaned high schooler. He ends up living in the same house with her along with a grim reaper who shares a complicated past with him.

Pros:
Amazing chemistry between the cast.
Talented actors.
Great soundtrack.
Excellent expositions in flashback sequences.
Top-notch costumes and wardrobe.
Witty dialogues.
Awesome special effects and animation.

Cons:
Age gap. Yet another young girl falling for a much older guy cliche
The emotional scenes didn’t give me enough “feels.” I’m sorry, it doesn’t.
Too much star power. Despite the ensemble feel, Gong Yoo’s “je ne sais quoi” shines through, and I’m not even a huge fan.

Verdict: On board the Gong Yoo train so soon after Train to Busan. Choo-choo!
Cringe-o-Meter: Minimal. This was a delightful fantasy-drama series.

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Dramaworld (2016)

An American girl obsessed with Korean dramas gets sucked into her favorite series. She ends up falling for the male lead, throwing the whole Dramaworld into chaos.

Pros:
Intriguing premise.
Surprisingly witty dialogue. “Why do you tape over your car logos?” “What logo?” gets me every time.
Pokes fun of itself and at Korean drama clichés. Drunken piggyback rides, bitchy side characters, manipulative mother, etc.—it’s all there!

Cons:
Acting is cringeworthy.
Male lead is sometimes hot, sometimes not. It’s quite confusing!
Eric from Twilight. I didn’t know he speaks fluent Korean. Still, he’s from Twilight!
Predictable ending. No surprise there!

Verdict: The premise was promising but the execution was terrible.
Cringe-o-Meter: High. Twilight-level, even.

Dream Journal #7

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be gloried in the Son.

—John 14:13 (NIV)

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Yesterday morning, my sister had a reflex session with Kuya Lucio. As with most sessions, I soon became very sleepy so I went to bed shortly after.

I found myself working at an office. My teammates and I were called to an off-site meeting. Because I had to change to a more appropriate attire than jeans and a blazer, I made a beeline for the CR, which happened to be in the attached building next door. As soon as I walked in, two of my friends and previous teammates emerged together out of the farthest cubicle from the door. They had quite a story to tell.

They said that Joy, one of the two girls, was scratched suddenly while she was sitting on the last toilet. She told the other girl about it. Since they just got off their shift and both were active in their churches, they decided to investigate the paranormal encounter. They came up with the idea to strip off their clothes to see any fresh marks. They went back into the last stall. Not long after, they both saw and felt deep scrapes on their arms. They dressed quickly and got out just as I walked in the door. Not wasting any time, they told me what they just experienced.

Full of righteous condemnation and hubris, I asked, “Why didn’t you rebuke it with ‘in Jesus’ name’?” I didn’t remember their answer.

When they left, I brushed off the entire thing and chose the final stall to get dressed in. As soon as I finished, I felt a force shove me against the left wall of the stall. I then saw a shadowy brown blur beside me. I got out and saw the blur materialize in front of the mirror.  The ghostly figure looked angry. My heart started drumming but I turned around and steeled myself to face him. Apart from the hostile stance, he looked quite normal in his dark jeans and tucked-in maroon polo shirt.

I was prepared to rebuke him out loud, but all I managed was “In Jesss…In Jes…Jezzz…”

He laughed at my effort. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the right words out so I thought it instead. In Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name. His smile immediately turned sour. He started getting agitated.

Soon I found the strength to say aloud, “In Jesus’ name! In Jesus’ name, I command you to get away from here!” He started panicking and rushed out the door. I followed hastily, now shouting, “In Jesus’ name, get out of here and don’t come back!”

People were alarmed and  stared at me. I didn’t care; I kept hollering! He was running now and bumped into a guy in a white shirt and tie before disappearing around the corner.

I asked the guy he bumped into, “Did you see that?”

He replied, “I’m not sure. All I saw was a blur.”

“Well, I saw him clearly. He wore a maroon polo shirt and dark jeans,” I said.

I made my way back to my building where my teammates were waiting for me. I told them my story.

Then I woke up!

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Dream Journal #6

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.

– James Dean

I dreamed last night that I was invited to a former work friend’s lavish home for a day. Things looked promising as she lived in an abandoned amusement park. As we toured around the property, she took me to her room, which was huge and fit for a princess. Though it was sparsely furnished, one could see the intricately carved gilded moldings on the ceiling and walls, remnants from its glory days.

After some brief introductions to her parents and brother, she then whisked me to a room lined with dark wood panels. Right at the center was a Jacuzzi and next to that was what looked like the beginnings of a waterslide. Her slightly heavyset friend appeared out of nowhere and jumped right on the slide, gesturing for both of us to follow suit. My host stripped off her T-shirt, revealing a bikini underneath. This was normal for her as she taught mermaid swimming lessons and dressed like that every day for convenience. She slipped onto the waterslide and disappeared around the bend.

Being unprepared and generally not a good swimmer, I took off my shirt and gingerly lowered myself on the chute. Despite it being wide enough and water flowing freely around me, I found it hard to move forward on the slide. I thought it odd that I had to push myself in order to get moving when I was nowhere near as wide as her friend. My struggle continued all the way until I made my splash on the pool below. As I came up for air, I saw my sister by the pool. I turned around and saw a long queue at the top of the outdoor waterslide. Apparently, we have just taken the shortcut to the pool area using the family’s private access.

As we made our way out of the pool area, I was struck by how vast the property was and how many people it could hold. There were areas in the park that were closed off from the public and looked rather shabby. It seemed that our hosts have invited their entire neighborhood for the party and they ventured out even to the restricted places. Suddenly, I heard loud banging and almost woke me up from my bizarre dream but I managed to doze off.

We found ourselves back to the house and our clothes before heading back to my friend’s bedroom to change. When we opened the door, a camera crew was filming by the bed. I guessed the family invited a celebrity of sorts for the festivities, which I still had no idea what event I was invited for. After we slipped back into our T-shirts, the celebrity invited us to sit on the bed with him.

I heard some more loud noises before I woke up with a start to the carpenters hammering away at the attic above my room. I begrudgingly dragged myself out of bed and made ready to start my day amidst the chaos of the renovation going in our house.

 

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“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Vivian Greene

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I made plans ahead, trying to think of the best way to honor your day. Unfortunately, life had other plans. I picked the worst time to get sick. I was stuck in my room, snotty-nosed and hacking all over the place, while rain poured in torrents all weekend long.

“I miss you!” was the last text you sent using someone else’s phone, which my sister glared at me for and demanded to know why a friend of hers (his roommate and neighbor back home) would be texting me like that. It took the better part of an hour for her to calm down as I explained the text actually came from my best friend who was borrowing his neighbor’s cell phone. If I knew back then what fate had in store for you abroad, I would have held on tighter and never let you go as you whisked me away for our last dance together.

Words cannot begin to describe how big a hole you left in our hearts. I miss you, my friend. Until we meet again!

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Furtive

First I felt relieved. Then I felt guilty. Now I just feel empty.

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Time and time again, she notices someone looking at her from across the way. She pretends to ignore them. It never bothered her that guys are checking her out because she got used to not paying attention to it. She was in a relationship for quite a long time that she didn’t have any reason to acknowledge their presence. But now that it was over, she was starting to take notice of the lingering stares more and more.

She got so good at pretending not to notice those covert glances that it was almost second nature to her to keep doing it. In time, she will have to stop herself from being so rigid. One day, she will have to let go. One day, she will have to learn to take it in stride.

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Of Creepy Old Men

August 28, 2016

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

–Dylan Thomas

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As I was sitting in church today, a mentally challenged old man sat next to me. He was creepy and had that old people smell, but other than that, his outfit was not too shabby. His clothes were a little faded but it looked marginally clean. I was alarmed and immediately had my guard up. I could feel the fight-and-flight response acutely.

He would look at me all throughout the sermon. He smiled and laughed every time the pastor said something funny, just like everyone else did. Toward the end of the sermon, I had my eyes closed in prayer. When I opened them, I panicked because the old man was reaching for my hand. Just then, Pastor Jo asked if the people who needed surrender and raised their hands to head up front below the stage. I did not raise my hand, but the old man was creeping me out so I got up and walked to the stage.

After the pray over and closing song, I made my way back to my seat. The old man had disappeared. I felt like he wanted something from me and I failed him. I thought of taking him the church staff in case he needed help, but he seemed to have vanished into thin air. As I made my way out the door, I contemplated on looking for the old man or, at the very least, report him to the church staff or hotel security. I left church with a confused heart instead of it being at peace.

Who was he? Was it Jacer, my best friend who passed away some years ago, trying to communicate to me or was it God teaching me how to be compassionate. I headed home utterly in a daze. Was the old man ever real or was he just a figment of my imagination? More importantly, how the heck did Waterfront allow such a person to wander the second floor of the hotel unsupervised?

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Dream Journal #5

2-11-07

Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake? 

—Leonardo da Vinci

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She had another dream about you last night. It’s been so long since the last time, but like the previous ones, they still sweep the rug from under and floored her. Every time.

She was at school and by the landing she saw L in a guard’s uniform. As she was making her way down the steps, she saw you wearing the same thing. You were climbing up the stairs toward her. We took a walk around the front gardens. They talked and laughed like they haven’t talked and laughed before. The boy said he and L were on guard duties as part of a community volunteer service. For the first time—and only in her dreams—he was so easy to talk to.

Suddenly, they were sitting down on a row of benches in an unusually deserted park, and he was wearing something more casual. She asked him about his girlfriend. He said that you had a girlfriend for a while but it ended not too l0ng ago. She argued that the status in his social media profile was still “in a relationship.” He explained that he kept it that way so no one would bother asking him why he was still single. Then they boy said something funny, and the girl slapped his leg affectionately. The next thing they knew, they were holding hands while making their way back to the building. They walked like it was the most natural thing to do in the world.

It was at this point that her imagination took over because the dream ended with an  anticipation of a kiss as the boy lowered his lips to meet hers.

***

She woke up shivering from cold. It seemed funny because the sun was shining quite brightly outside her window, and there was only a slight cool breeze coming in. Maybe the shirt she wore to sleep was just a little too thin and that the still cold draft of the early morn crept up her spine. Or maybe it was the lingering feeling of anticipating for that kiss, which almost always never happens in all her dreams of him. She may never know. But all she knew was this, she missed him. She feared that she will never see that boy again. All she had of him now was just a lifetime of memories and a series of frustrating dreams.

She  went downstairs to buy lunch when the answer to her dream came assailing through my ears. The girl remembered that old cheesy love song the boy used to sing to her when he called her one day. It may be the corniest love song ever but for a brief moment, it made her smile.

Way back then, she remembered cradling the phone close to her chest as she smiled. That smile was frozen on her face all day long because of that call. They were so young but even then, she knew it was love. It wasn’t just infatuation one bestows upon a cute boy and then just quickly take it right back and offer it to the next cute boy in sight.  No, what they had was real, and she will treasure it for a lifetime.

Life is too short to live in perpetual frustrations and undying guilt. But if it was all she have left of the boy, then the girl would gladly accept an eternity of anguish. That’s how much he meant and forever will be to her.

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