Review – Stranger

Review – Stranger / Forest of Secrets

So, I had a weekend to kill and loaded up Stranger, on Netflix.  This is a mystery-thriller that, honestly, would have been outstanding if they cut it in half.  It just didn’t have enough plot for 16 episodes – 8 would have perfect.  As it was, it drifted along with  mellow intrigue, excellent character development, and quality drama… but geesh, was it long.  I stuck it out, cause I was committed, but dang… even the British, who are famous for their leisurely plot development, would have added some caffeine to this weak tea.

Being a sucker for romance, I think the complete lack of it also made the show seem longer.  I knew these characters were all going to grow as people and be the better for knowing each other – but I got the impression right away there would be no breakthrough moment or cuddling happy ending for our lead protagonists.  Cho Seung-Woo played the detached prosecutor who’d basically had a lobotomy in his teens, removing the emotional part of his brain.  I kid you not.  Medically created sociopath.  He was dreamy and cool and collected and I loved him to death.   The gorgeous Bae Doo-Na, whom I have only seen in the delightfully pervy globe-trotting disaster of a show known as Sense 8, was perfectly cast as the tough as nails cop with a strong moral compass.  She and Cho Seung-Woo had oodles of chemistry – and my favorite aspect of the show was watching her casual, slow approach to winning him over and digging out his humanity, one cute sketch at a time.  Her sketch of his brain, in particular, was endearing and had me laughing.

The real stand out performer was Lee Joon-Hyuk, who played a crooked prosecutor who lived on paranoia and cockiness.   What a smug mug, eh?  He was the true sociopath, dazzling one second, violent the next, spinning from one extreme to another in an ever increasingly mad dash to stay one step ahead.

So… there’s corruption and scandal and a murder mystery or two.  I must say, personally, I was not a fan of how this unraveled at the end.  It was just too random.  After all that build up, it felt like a smack in the face to bring in something so out of left field.  The last episode made up for it, though, and there was a nice chunk of “what happens next” with your key players so that you weren’t left wondering.

But still.  It was just… really slow.  If you don’t like romantic dramas, you will probably like this one a lot more than I did and maybe not even mind the pace, but for me it was almost torturous near the end to finish it.

Overall Rating – 6.5/10 – Don’t Have Private Conversations In Rooms With Open Windows.

Review – Painter of the Wind

Review – Painter of the Wind

This is less of a review and more of me expressing my frustration over this drama.  The costuming, the cinematography, the sets, the actors – all fantastic.  The music was wonderful.  It offered a nice twist on the cross-dressing girl trope.  You had a lady  disguised as a dude so she could perfect her artistic skills and study the craft under the masters.  There’s some royal conspiracies and a lot of fuss about a portrait of the prince, all of which was rather underwhelming and generic “historical political” hoopla.

My problem is this:  Our female lead didn’t come across as a girl pretending to be a guy, in the style of this tried and true K-Drama trope.  She came off as a cute, artistic lesbian.  Thus my exasperation with this show.  Painter of the Wind should have embraced its obvious natural direction and  gone gay.  The entire show felt like an indie coming-of-age lesbian drama, but failed to fully embrace its already deliciously implied girl-girl romance and instead meandered around with an old man artist and attempted to go straight.  Don’t they remember the lesson from art class… that if the straight line is long enough eventually it will curve?  Come on!

 

Overall Rating – 2/10 For Not Coming Out of the Closet.

or…

Overall Rating – 8/10 If You Ignore The Lesbians And Watch It Straight.  This is probably the more fair rating – cause it really is a lovely drama and the subject of old school painters is very interesting and beautiful to explore.  But… I just can’t.  Cause this is my blog and my review and fair is for love and war.  And this is war!

More bitching and moaning and some sexy photo stills and SPOILERS follow.

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