What’s Playing: This Is Not What I Expected

Viewed: 2019. 03/13

Netflix episode list and trailer available here.

This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Netflix.

A standalone film, This Is Not What I Expected is the story of a foodie hotel buyer and an unorthodox, but highly talented, sous chef with a flair for mischief. When Gu Sheng-Nan (Dongyu Zhou) is dumped by her boyfriend/boss, she throws herself into her cooking, stirring up those strong emotions into a culinary experience that catches the notice of potential hotel buyer, Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro). It should be love at first sight, however, after a disastrous first encounter between the two, and subsequent awkward interactions that firm Lu Jin’s opinion of Gu Sheng-Nan as a klutz and a menace, there is little chance for either of them.

Comical chaos ensues as Lu Jin ignores the hotel acquisition in favor of attempting to pin out which of the male staff is HIS stellar culinary star even as he is attempts to evade Gu Sheng-Nan, and her penchant for trouble. When he discovers that the very person he has been trying to avoid is the same person he’s been seeking all along, well, things get interesting.

I found this to be a lot of fun although some of the situations are highly improbable and perhaps, would not be as entertaining if occurring in real life. If you enjoy romantic comedies with elements of drama and cuisine, then you may enjoy this too. Take a look and share your thoughts below. Have a great day and remember, keep reaching higher!

What’s Playing: Ashes of Love

Viewed:

  • 2018. 12/23-21/31
  • 2019. 01/01-01/18

Netflix episode list and trailer available here.

This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Netflix.

Ashes of Love, Ashes of Love. Oh, this was ever such a nice surprise! Looking for a palette cleanser after Meteor Garden, I stumbled onto this fantasy series about an immortal romance for the ages, a romantic comedy with plenty of drama mixed in for good measure. This series is based on the novel, Heavy Sweetness, Ash-Like Frost by Dian Xian, which I need to read at some point. If you haven’t yet noticed, I’m not exactly a stickler for reading the book before the film version.

Little Jin Mi (Zi Yang), is a humble grape fairy and she lives in the floral realm under the guardianship of Chief Peony (Peng Yang), who is the defacto ruler after the tragic death of the floral goddess, Zifen (Zhang Yanyan) whom is regularly mourned and honored, centuries after her death. Jin Mi, who has no concept of what love is, has one goal in life — to restore her friend to life, who was cruelly transformed prior to death into a plant. Jin Mi believes that if she can get enough magic, or find someone powerful enough to help her, she can get her best friend back. The only one powerful enough who perhaps could help her is the Heavenly Emperor, ruler over all of the realms. But she’s forbidden to leave the floral realm, so it seems impossible.

When a crow breaks through the protective barrier of the floral realm and transforms into a male immortal from the heavenly realm, Jin Mi demands to be taken there as reward for saving his life so she can appeal to the Heavenly Emperor for help. She doesn’t realize that this immortal is in fact Xu Feng “aka Phoenix” (Deng Lun), the son of the Heavenly Emperor, and brother to Run Yu (Luo Yunxi), the Night god. Like Dorothy traveling to the Emerald City to appeal to the Wizard, this decision launches Jin Mi into a journey fraught with danger, romance, and lots of magic.

The writing was really well done on this one and although it had a bit of a slow start, once I got into it, I was hooked. I was probably averaging several episodes a day, every day, until it was finished, and I forget offhand but I think there was something like 60 episodes in the series altogether. It. Never. Ended.

Until it did. And then, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth (just kidding…). But in all seriousness, this was amazing. There are other Chinese fantasy romances out there on Netflix right now, but I’ve hesitated watching any of them for fear that they’ll pale in comparison. It’s that good.

I haven’t really touched upon the romantic storylines or the points of the central conflict in the series because I really don’t want to give anything away but if you’ve had a chance to see this series, let me know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below. And if you know of any other series in this vein that measures up, please make recommendations! I’m always looking for the next bingeworthy series. Thank you for reading and remember, keep reaching higher.

What’s Playing: Meteor Garden

Viewed: 2018. 09/30-10/20

Netflix episode list and trailer available here.

This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Netflix.

Sorry everybody, I meant to get this posted on Friday and it’s a couple of days late, for anyone eagerly awaiting my next foray into Chinese romantic dramas, here you go…

Meteor Garden was far from a disappointment. This series was originally a manga, although unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate it in print yet.

Dong Shancai (Yue Shen) may come from humble origins but when she lands entrance into one of the best schools of the country, it opens up a whole new world for her. Dong Shancai is accompanied by best friend, Chen Qinghe (Yinhao Liu), who would follow her anywhere. At school, the most popular group of boys, F4, are known for being masters of bridge (sometimes called poker in the series) and for punishing any students who lose bets against them.

There is Feng Meizuo (Connor Leong), the perpetual lover, never settling on a single girlfriend for long; Ximen Yan (Xize Wu), the tea-drinking enthusiast who strategizes romance like a general; Huaze Lei (Darren Chen), the quiet, artistic one; and Daoming Si (Dylan Wang), the defacto leader of the group and the meanest of the bunch.

When Dong Shancai offends Daoming Si, it begins a tumultuous love-hate relationship that spans the series (with multiple romantic triangles) as she pursues love and culinary excellence in her chosen field of study. I love cooking competition shows anyway so seeing a romantic drama with one built in was really quite a treat for me, although it’s far from the focus of the series, most of which revolves around life at school, and the attempts at relationships of the members of F4, with various romantic partners.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, I do recommend that you check it out. If you do, or if you’ve already seen it, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Got any other recommendations similar to this series? Don’t be shy — let me know! I’m always looking for the next bingeworthy series on Netflix. Have a terrific day and remember to keep reaching higher.

What’s Playing: Good Morning Call

Viewed: 2018. 07/15-07/23

Netflix episode list and trailer available here.

This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Netflix.

About a year after watching Diamond Lover, I accidentally stumbled onto Good Morning Call, the story of two high school students, forced by circumstance to live together, with just one catch, nobody can ever find out.

Nao Yoshikawa (Haruka Fukuhara) and Hisashi Uehara (Shunya Shirashi) are students at the same high school, but where Nao is a lowly freshman, Uehara is the most popular boy at school. After they are conned into renting the same apartment, Nao and Uehara begin to live together, but the animosity between them makes it extremely rocky ground for love to bloom. Uehara is bossy and picks on Nao, when he isn’t ignoring her entirely, and eats her food. Nao watches with interest as all of the girls chase Uehara, and gets somewhat of a thrill knowing that she sees a side of him that nobody else does, leaving her to wonder, what makes him so special?

As Nao begins to cultivate feelings for Uehara, Uehara’s childhood crush, Yuri, comes back into the picture, and Nao’s best friend, Marina, learns Nao and Uehara’s secret. There’s a lot of comedy in this one, with fan girls fawning all over Uehara, one of the schools top three most popular boys, as well as a classmate, who goes around confessing his love to every girl he meets. Intended for a younger audience, this is a charming, lighthearted romantic comedy that hits the right notes, based on a manga series of the same name.

I’ve been reading manga for a number of years but I haven’t found the books for this series (yet). I think that taking a chance and watching this series is what really opened up a whole new world of delight in the Asian romantic comedy, be it Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. I can’t tell you how much of this stuff is available on Netflix and once the floodgates opened, I found a lovely new genre that I’d never even heard of before.

Keep watching this space on Fridays, now for the next few months, as I share some of my other favorite finds that I’ve been binge-watching on Netflix. If this post inspires you to see the series for the first time, or if you’re a veteran viewer of Good Morning Call, please consider commenting and letting me know what you liked or didn’t like about the series. I look forward to hearing from you.

Doorways

As I am writing this, we are seeing morning footage of the damage from yesterday’s fire at Notre Dame de Paris. Incredibly, but not surprisingly, the Cross gleams amidst the rubble and the ash. The sacred relics of Christianity are saved. God is merciful.

My heart is joined with fellow Catholics in France and around the globe, mournful for the loss, but I am also hopeful that this tragedy will rekindle in the French nation a return to Christ and the godly principles that can restore a nation, nestled in the arms of Notre Dame, as she petitions on our behalf to the Almighty and Eternal God.


Today, I had been planning to share a word that I received a number of weeks ago that I hoped might be of some encouragement to you:

“You don’t have to walk through every doorway you come across.” – attributed to the Holy Spirit, 03/30/19

What does this mean for you? I believe it means that in the hallways of your life, a door may be open, or about to open in your life, but it may not be God’s will for you to enter. Choose carefully.

When in doubt, I’ve found that what works for me is to try and take the next right step, whatever that is, and then the next one after that, trusting that God will reveal the path as I go along. If that sounds a little like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you’re right.

When the way forward doesn’t seem clear to you, don’t be afraid to take that step of faith. Believe. And if you suddenly realize that the hallway you thought you were walking down was actually a closet, your next right step is turning around and exiting. There’s no other doorway but the way you came in. It’s never too late to make an adjustment. Just start.

Keep reaching higher,

Lauren