Pela

Coming soon, maybe on Delightful Tides, maybe elsewhere. As you’ve no doubt witnessed, that site’s been under construction, and there’s a good chance I don’t see that construction through and start over in frustration. In the meantime, here’s Pela, human hunter. … More Pela

Genre Evolution [VLOG]

Trying something new — forgoing video essays for something far more specific: Kermode Uncut? Not a flattering comparison for me, but I just like the structure of those videos. I just have to work on cutting down on the chitchat and, you know, video quality.

My Red Velvet Spotify Playlist [Podcast]

Well, everyone, it finally happened. A friend of mine said to me, “I’m trying to get into Red Velvet. What do you recommend?” Those are the most beautiful words under Heaven. It more than made my day; it answered with the sweep of catharsis a long-running anxiety I’ve had about the art of recommendation itself, that it’s been lost, that people don’t really mean it when they ask anymore because criticism and curation have been so thoroughly decentralized, but here she is: “What do you recommend?” … More My Red Velvet Spotify Playlist [Podcast]

There Are No Female Jedi

I’m currently embroiled in one of those arguments where the stakes are not even and things could get messy. Podcast guest host Stella took exception to a recent comment I made on QNA about the venerable Star Wars series, how I was uncomfortable as a kid watching the Prequel Trilogy because so many of the Jedi were men. It was only with Rey in The Force Awakens that I felt “Maybe this could be a universe for me, too.” Stella, a far more ardent Star Wars ardherent, with a trove-like knowledge of the Expanded Universe beyond my reckoning and a more intense investment in female representation in fiction (as a female in non-fiction), countered that there are, in fact, Jedi who are non-men. … More There Are No Female Jedi

Comeback Year

This year, long-gestating Tokyo Vice finally came out (though tainted by one very bad actor), we have a new Michelle Yeoh movie that people are flipping out about, Robert Eggers made the best genre flip — horror to action — and I’ve already spoken thousands of words to Kwon Do-eun’s return with Twenty-Five Twenty-One. But even without all these neat TV shows and movies already released, there’s a lot to come for cinema-goers (however you go — I’ve not been to the theater since Birds of Prey). … More Comeback Year

Underworld Politics

By happenstance, I waited more than a year to revisit the world of Johnnie To’s Election, finally sitting down to watch Election 2 (A.K.A. Triad Election) kind of on a lark. I was all geared up for Reign of Assassins while the world is in Yeoh mode, but then a flip switched in my head. I liked the first Election well enough, despite that its depiction of gangsters took me by surprise. They were always getting hit by cars or eating plates or never, ever firing a gun. I also struggled to keep up with the story, thrown immediately into the deep end with way too many characters all talking about many other characters. But by the end, it weirdly clicked. Oh, shit, that’s a hell of an ending. Now that I kind of understand, I’m wondering if the second and final Election movie will be clearer to start out. Nope! But what is clearer is that it’s phenomenal. … More Underworld Politics

New K-Drama Alert! “Our Blues”

This looks really great, and it’s special for a number of reasons. But first, especially after Twenty-Five Twenty-One, I appreciate an “older” cast. Older than 19, which is what Ji-woong was, by the way. Our Blues reunites Shin Min-a and Lee Byung-hun, two of Korea’s biggest stars who co-starred in A Bittersweet Life as well as a show called Beautiful Days, possibly as siblings. Also starring is Kim Woo-bin, who’s dating Shin Min-a in realidad. It’s like a big happy reunion, with at least one more notable name — Noh Hee-kyung. … More New K-Drama Alert! “Our Blues”

K-Drama Report: Twenty-Five Twenty-One Part IV – Endgame

As part of my tortured logic with “perfect episodes,” there can’t be more than one per show! There has to be a best episode, right? Maybe you can imagine, then, me biting my nails after making the declaration for episode 13, because episodes 14 and 15 were eliciting a more powerful emotional response. However, episode 15 especially showcases why structure is important in that make-believe conversation, because when Twenty-Five Twenty-One moves into the endgame, its units of story divide as sequences and then scenes. For me, the climax of Na Hee-do and Go Yu-rim’s story was the series’ emotional peak. We already knew the outcome, that Hee-do defeats her ultimate rival, so it’s doubly impressive that the match was so thrilling and the conclusion so cathartic. Striking right to the heart of the show’s themes, the duel also ropes in journalism, expressing how both athletes have matured. They’ve developed a trust that transcends direct communication. Instead of the victory screams that have punctuated the tournament, Hee-do pulls off her mask to reveal silent tears and Yu-rim does the same. I broke. This is a show that took its time, and didn’t mine breakups or sudden tragedies for repetitive drama. When the big hit came, it landed. And then I recovered, checked the runtime: it’s only half over. From there, the episode veers into unexpected territory, forfeiting its whole for the next phase of story — and it’s a doozy. … More K-Drama Report: Twenty-Five Twenty-One Part IV – Endgame

Your Guide to the History Behind Twenty-Five Twenty-One

The Korean drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One begins in 2021, a couple of years into the COVID-19 pandemic, before flashing back to 1998, a year into the “IMF crisis.” Director Jung Ji-hyun noted this parallel in a press conference, confident the historical event would resonate with modern audiences. Based on the show’s ratings and buzz, at the top of the charts week after week, it appears the analogy clicked – as but one gear in a clicking machine so engineered by Jung and screenwriter Kwon Do-eun. Twenty-Five Twenty-One is a beautiful television series, artfully composed and thrillingly performed. It’s the kind of production that inevitably spins out of passion, and maybe even mission. There’s a lot being said about Korean history and culture, so what were those events that inspired this story? … More Your Guide to the History Behind Twenty-Five Twenty-One

Enough

Red Velvet has already come back, so soon after the ReVe Festival 2022, kind of compounding my anxiety that the lead single “Feel My Rhythm” will be forgotten — or, if not forgotten, uncalculated in the Best of Red Velvet calculations to come. I say this because — and this is personal heresy — it might be my favorite Red Velvet song? … More Enough