Quickfire round: Love Guaranteed

This film was rubbish. A shallow, childish, and ultimately very weird film about a man who sues a dating website for failing to find love. I mean, it sounds interesting, right? But it wasn’t good.

Susan striking the classic ‘objection!’ pose, in what is one of the more exciting parts of the movie

The trailer looked so impressive. Man shows up in lawyer’s office, asking for help to take advantage of a clause in a mega corp dating agency’s terms that guarantees love, as long as you’ve been on 1,000 dates. This guy did that, somehow. (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he says).

Alright! David v Goliath! A kickass lawyer! 1,000 dates? Sign me up!

And then you press play and you get this sort of clown music going on in the background. The lawyer rolls up to her office in a battered old car, the handle of which falls off as she shuts it. She shoves it in her bag.

Oh no, it’s one of those Rom Coms. The ones where all the characters must be dosed up on LSD because all of their actions are slightly exaggerated and eccentric. This is the sort of thing you see in kid’s movies except that kids don’t really understand the concept of suing a company so I have no idea why they did it this way.

Anyway, yeah, she’s a great lawyer but she’s too nice because she does everything pro bono and so can’t afford to look after herself. Her client is supposed to be a nice, even charming, guy (no prizes for guessing he’s the plot’s love interest) but when someone walks into your office and says he’s been on 1,000 dates, would you ever – ever – think of them as charming?

I will save you all 90 minutes of your time. For the curious, and this is something I saw coming after about 20 minutes, the case goes to trial and he confesses his love for his lawyer, which means, technically, that he did find love through Love Guaranteed after all. The case is withdrawn. But then… the company pays them the damages anyway (either way they were destined for charity) and wants to make them the ‘new face’ of the company???

???

That’s it. That’s the review.

363w.

What I thought about: [Un]Well

Bee sting therapy? Ingesting essential oils? Drinking breast milk? Water-only fasting? Sorry, hold up a minute, BEE STING THERAPY?! Alternative medicine – if it can be called medicine – is a booming industry. This series takes a look at some of the weirdest practices and see if any of them actually work.

Listen carefully while I make up some nonsense about what these oils can cure, and neglect to recommend that you speak to a doctor first..

What’s it about?
Each episode focuses on a different type of alternative medicine: essential oils, tantric sex, breast milk, fasting, ayahuasca, and bee venom. So yeah, some of these are pretty weird.

We hear from a number of people in respect of each treatment: desperate people who are looking for a cure to their ailments, the manufacturers / sellers / practitioners of the therapies, scientists who are vehemently opposed to the notion that any of them can be effective, and some scientists or doctors who, with a dose of caution, suggest there could in fact be some benefits.

I’ll answer some of your questions in advance. Yes, the bee dies after you get stung. No, you should probably not ingest essential oils. 99% is the percentage of Forever Living associates, who sell essential oils in an MLM scheme, who make only one dollar in commission. No, I did not watch the tantric sex episode.

What do I like about it?
It seems pretty balanced. I’m very sceptical of alternative therapies – and can you really blame me when some of them are distributed by literal pyramid schemes, that enrich the founder? Or when they’re peddled by a man who claims ‘we’re just as real as anyone else’ but then, in the same scene, looks at the camera with an incredibly creepy face and says ‘we consider ourselves a for-profit ministry’. This is essential oils we are talking about here!

But each episode provides anecdotal evidence from people who claim the therapy worked for them, as well as the journey of someone who hopes it will work for them (a chronic Lyme-disease sufferer heard that bee stings can cure her, and is desperate for a solution). It also balances this with studies and the views of medical professionals, some of whom outright deny the treatment’s efficacy (and/or warn about its risks) and some who try to explain a possible way in which the treatment may produce some kind of effect. I like these parts – if something unconventional actually works, I want to know why, and they can offer a bit of that.

What do I not like about it?
Nothing really, each episode is well done.

Worth a watch?
As long as you don’t hold me responsible for trying any of these things (in fact I suggest you DO NOT try any of these) then go right ahead, it’s interesting!

By the way…

  • Of course most of the people discovered this medicine on Facebook groups. Please do yourself a favour and delete Facebook before it’s too late.
  • BEE STING THERAPY?!

486w

What I thought about: My Secret Romance

My first foray into Korean television is this ridiculous romantic comedy whose premise is truly absurd and which stretched on for far longer than it had to. I still finished it, though.

The show goes into multi-camera slow-motion whenever something like this happens.

What’s it about?
Three years ago, Yoo-mi, a struggling nutritionist student, caught a bus to her mother’s third wedding at a seaside resort. On the bus, she met Jin-wook, a chaebol heir (that means he’s the son of a wealthy businessman). A spoiled brat, Jin-wook had been sent to the same resort for hard work and discipline. Long, painfully comedic story short, the pair have a one night stand.

Fast forward to the present day, and Yoo-mi has achieved her dream of becoming a qualified nutritionist and begins her first proper placement at a large conglomerate in the city. As she soon finds out, Jin-wook is the CEO of the company, and he never quite forgot about the night he shared with Yoo-mi. What follows is a nonsensical plot – all you need to know is that it is, after all, a romance story.

What do I like about it?
It can be funny. Jin-wook’s personal assistant is hilarious – sharp, professional, but good friend to him when he needs to be, he wears patterned suits to impress his crush (one of the other staff at the canteen). In fact, there’s a theme here – much of the supporting cast were really quite good, such as Yoo-mi’s best friend from school, a popular travel author who owns his own bar (literally, ‘Beer and Book’), exudes an effortlessly cool vibe.

And, credit where it’s due, actor Sung Hoon fulfils his role as an attractive lead character with what has to be the most chiselled jawline I have ever seen.

What do I not like about it?
Two things stick out to me. Firstly, the show’s entire premise is ridiculous – this guy is so emotionally damaged that he never moved on from a one night stand he had three years ago? And she ends up working in his company’s canteen? I suppose this is completely international – is it supposed to be funnier this way? I’m not sure western viewers will find comedy in this.

Secondly, without going into the plot too much, it felt a lot like Jin-wook was massively abusing his position as Yoo-mi’s ultimate boss. It seemed a bit abusive. But it is romantic – Yoo-mi gets a happy ending, it’s all fine. I just cringed a lot whenever Jin-wook would exercise some kind of control over her in a way that made her appear uncomfortable. I suppose this is another cultural difference, perhaps?

Worth a watch?
Not really. This is rather different to western TV and honestly, not even worth it for the plot. But do go ahead if you’re curious – I was.

By the way…

  • Yoo-mi is played by K-Pop idol Song Ji-eun
  • One episode has Jin-wook meet with an overseas investor. I have NO idea what country this guy was supposed to be from. He spoke English in a weird sort of Dutch-American accent.

529w

What I thought about: Tiger King

The first time I watched a documentary about people (read: Americans) keeping tigers as pets, I was shocked. But this is next level. Netflix has succeeded with presenting series after series of gripping documentaries.

That cage sure looks flimsy. Oh wait, he’s on the *inside* of it?

What’s it about?
At its core, the show is about a guy who calls himself Joe Exotic. He’s the Tiger King. He’s also a redneck, gun-toting, mullet-wearing, gay country-singer magician. And I’m deliberately choosing to leave out some of the other stuff he does because I won’t want to spoil it for you. The stories we learn – and witness – (thanks to five years’ worth of footage) are incredible.

But it’s not just about him. Joe is one of many private zoo owners across the United States dealing in exotic animals. For example, we get to hear about Doc Antle, an arguably richer and more ‘premium’ zoo owner whose animals include a liger and a straight-up elephant. And yes, he does ride the elephant. We also get to hear about the keepers and other staff at Joe’s zoo, and the many business accomplices he meets along his way to becoming the Tiger King.

We also take a look at Joe’s biggest enemy – Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue, a private zoo for tigers which styles itself as a sanctuary. You’ll know why I give the phrase some caution if you watch it.

What do I like about it?
Probably the feeling you get cooped up in bed watching this show and thanking the heavens that you aren’t any of these people. They are Weird with a capital W. I remain astounded at their ability to have survived as long as they have – and indeed nobody featured in the show actually dies by virtue of a tiger attack.

Where do they get the money from to keep functioning like this? Is this what most of middle America is like? Why have they still not passed a law banning the breeding and keeping of exotic animals? (Because it’s America, the Land of The Free).

So in short – I like it for the incredible story that it portrays.

What do I not like about it?
Around about Episode 5, the strength of the storytelling loses its way a bit. New people are introduced seemingly out of nowhere, and it’s a bit difficult to keep track. They also cut in different pieces of footage when Joe is in various states and it’s not entirely clear what the timeline is. It all gets a bit muddled.

I also don’t think they focus enough on Joe’s origins and inner feelings. We get about 2 minutes of footage in the final episode which contradicts a lot of what is portrayed on the show. I would have liked to have seen this explored a bit more.

Worth a watch?
If you were a fan of Netflix’s other documentary series’ like Making a Murder and Abducted in Plain Sight then you’ll probably also like this show. I was, and I did. It’s 7 episodes long though, so strap in.

By the way…

  • A lot of people featured in the series are unhappy about the way they were portrayed. The show’s producers have come under fire for they way they approached the filming.
  • The show has sparked intense online debate about one particular sub plot. My opinion? Yeah, she did it.

564w

What I thought about: Midsommar

This one had been sitting on my to-watch list for a while. I can’t say that I care any more about it after having finally gotten round to watching it.

Just like the movie – visually stunning, but you’re still unimpressed

What’s it about?
A college student, her nearly-estranged boyfriend, and his friends are invited to attend a midsummer celebration at one of the friends’ ancestral commune in Halsingland, Sweden. Effectively a cult of sorts, the Hågra believe a lot of really weird shit.

After initially receiving a warm welcome, the group become increasingly disturbed at the traditions of the Hågra, and this escalates as they are encouraged (or forced) to join in with some of them.

What do I like about it?
It’s visually quite good. Most of the scenes take place outdoors in lush green fields, and there are a lot of pretty flower crowns and what not going on. Also, there are some really well detailed gorey bits. Not wanting to spoil any plot here, but most of the ‘horror’ aspect of this film is found in the rather sickening scenes which, shall we just say, involve human flesh.

To be fair to the movie, it also performs well at being plain weird whilst also being, in a sense, coherent. It’s as if the writers got together and thought “what really crazy stuff can we put in here and for it to still make a little bit of sense?”

What do I not like about it?
It’s slow, and to be honest I’m not really sure what the point of it is. Maybe I’m just the type of person that prefers more action, something a bit more hands-on.

A lot of the bad stuff happens off screen. We see the characters go to bed one minute, and the next there’s a shocking discovery. I suppose it’s required to build up the suspense and keep everyone guessing, but I just found it a bit boring.

Worth a watch?
No. It really isn’t, unless you’re the type of person that’s into really creative films which, to most people, lack purpose. But then, to me, that’s most Oscar-winning films anyway.

By the way…

  • It’s set in Sweden but filmed in Hamburg, for some reason.
  • At one point there’s a lot of nudity, so be careful about that.

385w