Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Theater, TV

Kim’s Convenience: Stage Play review [Recommended]

This is a review of Kim’s Convenience the theater play (very minor spoilers) but will also briefly mention some elements of the TV show for comparison, which I saw first. The play opened this past Wednesday and continues its engagement until March 19 in Montreal at the Segal Centre. It’s produced by Soulpepper, created & written by Ins Choi and directed by Weyni Mengesha with set & costume design by Ken Mackenzie.

Also as an aside, the theater play will make its US debut this July in New York!

KimsConvenienceProgramTicketThe play starts off with Mr. Kim aka Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) walking into the store. If you’ve seen the TV show, he’s the familiar genial Appa with his jokes and accent but I would say there’s a bit more to him in the play, which is not restricted by TV rules. Much of the first act is comedy as he and his daughter Janet (Rosie Simon) clash and argue over various topics. There is early mention of a Walmart arriving soon and an offer to buy the convenience store from a customer. This is more background info as the main theme of the play is intergenerational conflict between parents and their adult children. Mrs. Kim aka Umma (Jean Yoon) appears from time to time often humming a tune. The fourth member of the family, Jung (Richard Lee), is however not around the store at all, having left the store/home many years previously due to a past incident.

One of the first arguments begins when Appa asks Janet to call 911 about an illegally parked Honda because it’s a Japanese car and he holds a grudge against Japan due to its past history of occupation of Korea. Later on when a customer with a Carribean accent comes into the store there’s an amusing confusion of different accents which leads into some race issues. Appa tries to “educate” Janet on which combinations of race, gender, sexuality will mean a customer is likely to steal. Some of these jokes will be familiar to TV show watchers but there are some differences. In fact, I find they work better in the play because unlike the TV show which tries to stretch some of these jokes into themes for an entire episode, they’re maybe one or two liners in the play.

Continue reading “Kim’s Convenience: Stage Play review [Recommended]”

Posted in *Recommended, Art & Animation, Reviews

New Super-Man – Issues 1-6 review

newsuper-man1New Super-Man is a comic book about a Chinese Superman. The original Superman, Clark Kent aka Kal-El, is still around so this one’s not a replacement but understandably the idea of making an “insert race here” version of an iconic superhero is a controversial one. The only reason I even considered buying this was because of the writer that was hired for this series. His name is Gene Luen Yang who is an award-winning writer & cartoonist who wrote American Born Chinese, a graphic novel that achieved much success. It is also one of my favorite graphic novels ever. Even Mr. Yang himself initially rejected the job of writing a Chinese Superman but after some further thought he came to realize some of the storytelling potential. Issues 1-6 comprise the first story arc titled, “Made in China.” How did the team, which includes artist Viktor Bogdanovic, behind New Super-Man do? First, I’ll write a brief plot summary of the issues, which will contain some spoilers (but no major ones) and then proceed with my impressions.

Continue reading “New Super-Man – Issues 1-6 review”

Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 3-4

I haven’t been timely with my episode reviews but I often post short thoughts on twitter on the same day as the episode. Here are my extended thoughts.

kimsconvenience-s1ep3-ddongchim

Ddong Chim

A very good improvement over previous episodes. Since this review was actually written after seeing episode 8, I can say this is the funniest episode thus far plus I learned something about another culture! Granted it wasn’t the type of thing I expect to learn about on a TV show. That thing is ddong chim, which translates roughly to poop needle. It’s also described as a Korean wedgie where one person pokes another person in their anus with their pointed fingers. Yeah it sounds gross but apparently it’s a popular prank to do among Korean kids and some other Asian cultures. When recently promoted assistant manager Jung does a ddong chim to his buddy Kimchee at work, it leads to some uncomfortable questions from his boss Shannon. Easily the most awkward and funny exchange between the two.

There’s also a subplot with Appa and Janet’s friend, Gerald. Appa asks Gerald to take his photo instead of Janet, who is quite bothered by this. We get to see the “don’t touch wall” of photos and some funny exchanges between Appa and Umma. The resolution ends with a great line from Janet in response to Gerald in front of the “don’t touch wall.”

This is probably the first episode that focuses more on Jung and Kimchee who tend to be separated from the rest of the Kim family in most episodes. It’s nice to see them more and Kimchee is somewhat less annoying. In fact, I hope Kimchee gets his revenge in a future episode. Now for episode 4…

Continue reading “Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 3-4”

Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

Second Jen – Season 1, Episodes 1-2

secondjen-s1ep1-e1-couchsurfing

Couch Surfing

The story starts off with Mo proposing to Jen that they get an apartment together much to Jen’s surprise. More surprising to me is Mo jumping on Jen’s bed with her dirty boots (that trope always bugs me but that’s TV for you). After that they have dinner with Jen’s parents and brother where Jen reveals her plans to her mom who is not pleased by them. I’m still wondering whether anyone has ever asked for money for new shoelaces, how poor is Jen’s brother? They find an apartment and are introduced to their male neighbors who are the other main characters of this show. A bit of a romance gets an obvious start here.

I enjoyed the first episode quite a bit. It may not be super laugh out loud funny but I got some good chuckles. My initial reaction to Jen’s mom was that she was kind of a stereotypical caricature but when she’s at her best she reminds me of Arrested Development’s Lucille with her amusing, passive aggressive remarks. I have to say calling her daughter too skinny didn’t seem believable at all. The relationship between the girls Jen & Mo is really strong. There are definitely some good zingers, which often fly by very quickly due to the rapid fire banter between the girls, which is very entertaining. I particularly like the the inventive selfie segues. The acting is good although sometimes it seems characters are a bit too fast in their line delivery, which makes it feel “rehearsed” and more exaggerated. However, sometimes the exaggeration does work nicely to add a bit of absurdity to the realism. I suspect it takes a bit of time to find that perfect balance. I think it gets it right more often than not. Favorite line of episode 1, “I’m hot Asian Bambi.” Read on for my thoughts on episode 2…

Continue reading “Second Jen – Season 1, Episodes 1-2”

Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 1-2

kimsconvenience-s1ep1-e1-gaydiscount

Gay Discount

As the series premiere, this episode does a good job of introducing us to the Kim family. There’s the father and mother, referred to as Appa and Umma. They run a convenience store in Toronto. There’s the daughter, Janet, who helps out and studies photography. Jung is the son who doesn’t live at home and is estranged from Appa.

The story starts with Appa hastily offering a gay discount to a couple of gay men when he doesn’t allow them put their gay pride week poster up at his convenience store. It’s kind of gutsy to have an episode essentially centered on reverse discrimination but Appa’s surprisingly accurate gaydar makes for some of the better jokes. The episode shows a rather diverse set of characters such as a transgender (whom Appa has an interesting conversation with) and a woman with a West-Indian accent, whose accent he doesn’t understand. The woman also doesn’t understand Appa’s accent and Mr. Chin, a fellow business owner, is also involved in the misunderstanding. It’s really interesting to see such a real-life occurrence as a scene on TV show because it’s not necessarily something you would see on a typical, generic sitcom where everyone speaks perfect English.

Umma and Janet have some exasperating and totally relatable exchanges about cool, Christian, Korean boyfriends (or lack thereof). The resolution to this subplot ends with a funny scene where Appa questions a potential date on Korean history. Jung doesn’t get much screen time compared to the other family members here. We see him at work with his best friend KimChee.

Overall, I didn’t really find the episode all that funny, it tries but some jokes didn’t really work for me but that might be because some of them are obvious to me. Jung’s scenes are probably the most awkward with ho-hum jokes that the actors try their best to sell. However, the story and characters are good. Janet seems to standout in particular to me but I think each family member will appeal to different audiences. Read on for my thoughts on the second episode…

Continue reading “Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 1-2”

Posted in Art & Animation, Reviews

Monstress 1-6 issues review

monstress_vol1-1Monstress is a creator-owned comic book series by Marjorie Liu (writer) and Sana Takeda (artist). They had collaborated before on Marvel comics such as X-23. Having not regularly bought floppies since the late 90s, I had only been following comics sporadically while buying the odd TPB or graphic novel once in a while. I was only vaguely aware of Marjorie Liu and didn’t know Sana Takeda at all. When I first heard the premise for Monstress I was intrigued but what really convinced me to buy the floppies instead of wait for the TPB was Takeda’s art. It was really stunning and intricate. The first 6 issues are available as a TPB right now and Monstress #7 comes out next month. What follows are my thoughts, maybe not so much a review. There will be some minor spoilers.

Continue reading “Monstress 1-6 issues review”

Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2016, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

The Top Secret: Murder in Mind – review @ Fantasia 2016 [Recommended]

The_Top_Secret-_Murder_in_Mind-p02The Top Secret: Murder in Mind / 秘密 THE TOP SECRET / Himitsu The Top Secret (2016)
Director: Keishi Otomo
Screenplay: Izumi Takahashi, Keishi Otomo, Lee Sork-jun, Kim Sun-mee
Cast: Toma Ikuta, Masaki Okada, Koji Kikkawa, Tori Matsuzaka, Chiaki Kuriyama

There are various puns one can use to describe this movie (based on a manga) but I’ll limit mine to one: mind-bending. I’m using this word in regards to the experience of characters, two in particular, Maki (Toma Ikuta) and Aoki (Masaki Okada) who are police agents of unit 9, an unofficial team who are making use of a revolutionary technique that allows them to extract the visual memories (no sound or other senses) of a deceased person for up to 5 years. This technique requires an agent to receive the memories which are also recorded. Maki is actually a co-founder of the unit and the leader while Aoki is a promising rookie recruit.

Continue reading “The Top Secret: Murder in Mind – review @ Fantasia 2016 [Recommended]”