Sunday, June 05, 2011

Weekend Movie-viewing: J-dramas and rejoicing in action-hero saviors


Okay, it has finally happened! I am actually getting into all those Korean and Japanese serialized dramas. I was led to them via synopses, good viewer comments, and majorly cute actors. (Yes, I really need to get over my yellow fever but it's in me, alas, and there is nothing I can do about it.)


I've dabbled with J-dramas before and even watched some K-dramas when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn but now...well....

Anyways, two weeks ago I saw Galileo. A crime serialization about a genius physics professor who solves crimes with an annoying female detective rookie. He does it only when the crime looks "impossible." I gotta say although the actor was cute, I had two problems with the story. The first was obvious (for me, anyway): The professor believes only in mind and anything vaguely supernatural is by his definition and proof NOT supernatural. Very annoying to those of us who know the supernatural exists. The second was the  worshipful female sidekick. Yeah, it annoyed the heck outta me. I kept thinking -- which is dangerous...I shouldn't think--- that this was some kind of Japanese male emblem. The mysterious, cold, unapproachable male who is perfect at his job but emotionally bereft because of some childhood wound...and whom the woman is no match for...and who helps the woman because she needs help but other than that doesn't really connect with her. Yeah, i know...annoyed the heck outta me. I got tired of the I-respect-you-but-I-will-not-speak-to-you-of-my-heart-or-my respect-and-love-for-you-because-I'm-a-man syndrome. Yeah, all that manliness got to me.

Then there was liar game: Good, evil, gameshows, and accounting.

Good heavens! The same pairing of the needy helpless woman and the aloof wounded genius. (Okay, I should stop analyzing a whole nation based on two dramas, however tempting it might be, and however right I may be. ;-)

Anyway, this one was more bearable. The episodes were so good and so suspenseful that I had to forgive the helpless little girl...because well, she was helpless. The idea of the series is that there is this group/institution/strange guys who drag people into a game called the the Liar's Game.

BTW, the absolute fun of the movie is the way Japanese screenwriters can make fun of themselves. Honestly, I thought only Jews, Blacks, and Hispanics had that gift of self-mockery. But more and more  I see how the Japanese can make fun of their love of science, and their love of games. The Liar Game series is one psychological game after another and the gameplay and strategy is so over-the-top that...well, the joy I felt at the surprise answers, the twists, etc. And ...well, I won't go on about that. Back to the description of the actual plot.

Their spokesman uses a mask as in the SAW movies. 100 million yen is given to two people -- one of them being way too innocent Nao-- and she is pitted against another man. She is to steal his money or he will steal hers. The one who wins gets to keep their money and the other will be eternally in debt to them, possibly being sold off into sex slavery in some far off country. Nao is relieved at first to discover that her opponent is her old middle school teacher. But Nao has a problem. She trusts everyone. (In a cute opening segment, she takes a call to help her brother when she knows she is an only child.) Sufficeth to say, she gets fooled and has to get help from a swindler (played by the way cute Matsuda Shota) who is just being relieved from prison. At first he balks, then he helps her. And the game is on. Talk about twists and turns.

One of the best sections was when a swindling character indulged in apparent triumph. Ah, the apparent triumph of one's enemy! A terrible thing to endure...that is, unless one is Akiyama, the genius swindler. (Ooh, that reminds me. I have to write a blog one day about transparent apparent triumph.)

Nao, the waiflike innocent in Liar Game, is often in dire straits. I honestly loved that actress. Innocence -- consistent, stupid, innocence-- is hard to pull off. But what was really really wonderful was my joy when her savior arrived and saved her out of impossible situations. It made my heart leap. I've had that feeling before, when  I got Norton Antivirus software, when the computer guy came to fix my computer, when the plumbing guys came to fix our blocked-up pipes, when the chimney mason came to fix our chimney, when the fuel oil came. There is in the human spirit a deep love and appreciation for the calvary and the savior riding in to save us. It made me think of Jesus, of God, the savior. Sometimes only the expertise and power of a savior can save a person in dire straits. Oh, I mean it... I actually got all gooey and almost weepy at the thought of all the people who want Jesus or a man of God or a Christian healer to come and save them. It was just so primal, this need for a savior and all the heroic entrances made by heroes in comic books and action pics paled or maybe got rejuvenated when I realized how much we regular folks need these heroic types. It's just so sad that the typical action hero doesn't grab me as much as Shin'ichi the psychology geek/savior grabbed me. (I think I showed the need for a savior and the joy of the savior's arrival when Loic (in Wind Follower) entered the little Called-out one village. I hope I conveyed the joy as well.)

I know, I know...we Christians have a great deliverer, like Moses...but we don't see the great deliverance in our lives for the most part. I would like to see such a deliverance.  But, yes, moving on.

So yeah, now I'm hooked. This opens up my story-viewing. But now, i can't just finish a movie at the end of the day. I have to deal with how to see 10-12 or 30 half-hour or hour-long episodes. But it's all good.

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