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From ‘Goong’ To ‘East Of Eden’: 6 Korean Dramas Worth Revisiting


Growing up as a TCK, I was first introduced to Korean dramas back in 2005 when I met one of my best friends in 8th grade. You could say that I have been hooked ever since. There is however one tiny problem; I have not seen a Korean drama in at least 3 years. Keeping up with them is a skill in its own right, I kid you not. You’ve got MBC, KBS, TvN, and OCN, not to mention a handful of internet outlets (webcasts) that are now producing their own content. Every Korean drama is replaced by another, and another, resulting in 12 months of non-stop entertainment.

I have seen a ton of dramas of the past 10 years, which means the following recommendations will be golden oldies to some, whilst others might never have even heard of them. I may not be up-to-date with the latest stars and Korean dramas but I am most definitely able to throw it back. Here are the dramas that introduced me to this worldwide phenomenon (it is that big), and the ones that made me stick around.

Goong/Princess Hours (2006)


This is not the first drama I ever watched, that was Full House (2004), but it did leave a lasting impression on me. To me it is the perfect representation of rom-com (historical) Korean dramas. It is quirky, heartwarming and at times just plain cray (in a what-the-hell-is-going-on-why-are-they-not-together-yet kind of way).

Goong is set in an alternative Korea, complete with imperial family, and centers around Crown Prince Lee Shin (Lee Ji-joon) and his new bride, Chae-kyeong (Yoon Eun-hye). I should mention that this is an arranged marriage, with Chae-kyeong being a mere commoner. What follows is nothing short of a disaster. Lee Shin’s wife is headstrong and is all but impressed with her unemotional, unsympathetic husband. If you are looking for an alternative to your average Sageuk drama then look no further. Love triangles, hilarious grandparents and a catchy soundtrack; Goong has it all.

If You Liked: My Princess (2011), Boys Over Flowers (2009), Sassy Girl Chun-hyang(2005) and Playful Kiss (2009)

Thank You (2007)


I have got a few ‘less mainstream’ recommendations in here, and I think some of you might consider Thank You to be one of them. I have been a big fan of Gong Hyo-jin ever since watching this. Not only because she is a great actress, but because of the projects she choses to be involved in (The Greatest Love, anyone?). I think Jang Hyuk’s talent speaks for itself. From the classic Successful Story of a Bright Girl to Korea’s highly anticipated adaptation of Taiwanese hit Fated to Love You, I feel like there is nothing this man cannot do.

Now, back to Thank You. Korea is great at coming up with intricate storylines, and whoever came up with this one sure went the extra mile. Jang plays Gi-seo, an arrogant doctor who goes out to find the young girl his late girlfriend infected with HIV during her internship. No, I am not making this up. It is in a small town that he finds Bom and her mother Young-shin (Gong). What follows? Drama, intrigue, and tears. In all seriousness though, Thank You also addresses the prejudice and discrimination associated with HIV, giving it much more depth than your average Korean drama.

If You Liked: I’m Sorry, I Love You (2004), 49 Days (2011), Scent Of A Woman (2011), Padam Padam (2011)

East Of Eden (2008)


This one requires some real commitment. Most of you will be used to watching a season with 20-something episodes, but for East of Eden you will need to be willing (and able) to sit through 56 episodes. That said, I liked this drama so much at the time, that I ended up watching it twice. You know, in case I missed anything.

Set between 1960 and 2000, East Of Eden revolves around brothers Dong-chul (Song Seung-heon) and Dong-wook. Following the death of their father their paths part, with Dong-chul joining the mob and Dong-wook becoming a respected lawyer. There is a little bit of everything in this one; from romance to great fight scenes. The main reason I stuck around was because I wanted to see if Young-ran (Lee Yeon-hee) and Dong-chul had a future together. If romance is not what you are into then do not move on just yet, because with a fantastic ensemble cast like this one, the writers were able to include a variety of storylines, keeping you hooked beginning to end.

If You Liked: City Hunter (2011), Iris (2009), The King 2 Hearts (2012), Capital Scandal(2007) and Bridal Mask (2012)

Love & Marriage (2008)


Here is another one some of you might not be familiar with, though I am certain the names Kim Min-hee and Kim Ji-hoon will ring a bell. To me Love & Marriage (by some also referred to as Matchmaker’s Lover) is the perfect rom-com. It is one of those dramas that proves humor can be translated, and that when it comes to love, we all struggle with the same common issues; insecurities, emotions and expectations.

Love and Marriage revolves around Kang-Hyun (Kim Min-hee), a ‘couple manager’, and Hyun-Soo (Kim Ji-hoon), a divorce attorney. See what they did there? With both characters on opposite sides of the ‘love spectrum’, they have got very different professional interests. Well, that is until their paths cross and they get to know each other. Love & Marriage has restored my faith in the awkward phenomenon that is the ‘Korean drama kissing scene’, which is often a stiff, unrealistic version of what a kiss should really look like. That’s right, no freeze frame, and no overly-dramatic music. Bottom line: Love & Marriage is cute, quirky, and both leads have serious chemistry.

If You Liked: My Girl (2005), My Lovely Sam Soon (2005), Dal Ja’s Spring (2007) and Personal Taste (2011)

Boys Over Flowers (2009)


If you are familiar with the Japanese phenomenon of Hana Yori Dango, as well as its Taiwanese adaptations Meteor Garden (2001) and Meteor Garden II (2002), then this is an absolute must-see for you. I have watched both season of Hana Yori Dango, including the movie, and I have got to say that Boys Over Flowers does it justice.

The drama made Lee Min-ho a star in South Korea, and for a good reason. His portrayal of rich heir and professional jerk, Gu Jun-pyo, makes you want to punch him in the face. If only to wipe that ridiculous smile off his face. This is probably why the hardworking, middle-class Jan Di (Ku Hye-sun) cannot stand his ego and sense of entitlement. He makes her life a living hell at school, but that is all about to change, as Jun-pyo starts to see her in a different light; a light that eventually succeeds in melting his icy little heart. Aw, there ain’t nothing like a solid high school romantic drama.

If You Liked: Dream High (2011), Reply 1997 (2012), School (2013) and Playful Kiss(2009)

Scent Of A Woman (2011)


Honestly, I knew when I started watching Scent Of A Woman that it had to be good. One does not simply waste Kim Sun-a (of My Lovely Sam Soon fame) and Lee Dong-wook (of My Girl fame). If you are looking for a cry-your-eyes-out kind of drama then look no further because this one’s got ‘the dramatic disease’ element down to a t.

Scent Of A Woman (not to be confused with the 1992 feature film) follows the life of Yeon-jae (Kim Sun-a). Mid-thirties and still single, she is considered to be a bit of a spinster. Soon her life is turned upside down when she not only loses her job but is also diagnosed with cancer. She decides to escape the big city and it is on holiday that she meets Ji-wook (Lee Dong-wook). Now, this all sounds very predictable, and who knows, maybe it is, but I promise you this drama will make you feel all the feels. Accompanied by a soundtrack that you will be humming for weeks to come (even though we might not be able to understand a single word of it), Kim Sun-a and Lee Dong-wook created something that has become the ultimate tearjerker.

If You Liked: 49 Days (2011), I Can Hear Your Voice (2013), The Greatest Love (2011), A Thousand Days’ Promise (2011)

That’s it ladies and gentlemen. These are the recommendations of a girl who hasn’t watched a single drama is the past 3-4 years. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, then I’d suggest you give one of them a go. I promise you won’t be left disappointed. In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your recommendations, so be sure to share those in the comments below. Old or new, feel free to just throw ’em all out there!

Which of these Korean dramas would you like to watch?

Originally posted on


“Nothing Left Unsaid”: The Turbulent Life, Loves And Losses Of Gloria Vanderbilt


Some of us are born in poverty, others are born into a world of fortune and fame. Gloria Vanderbilt, heiress, artist, actress and socialite, is a member of the famous New York Vanderbilt family. In the 2016 HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid, Gloria Vanderbilt, together with her youngest son, CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, dives into the archives that hold the secrets to her tragic and turbulent past. What has become of “the poor little rich girl” and how does she, at the age of 91, reflect on her life? Nothing Left Unsaid tells the tale of a young girl left to her own devices. It is a testament that even all the riches in the world cannot buy us happiness.

The Poor Little Rich Girl


Born in 1924 to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his much younger wife, Gloria Morgan, Gloria had a childhood far from the ordinary. Following her birth, her parents left her with a nanny as they went on to explore the world for six months. Gloria grew up in the care of her beloved nanny, Emma Sullivan Kieslich, whom she still refers to as “Dodo”. Following the death of her father at the age of 45, Gloria’s mother relocated the family to Paris. For a brief moment Gloria’s life had achieved some form of stability, and surrounded by Dodo and her grandmother, she had found a degree of happiness. Not long after, and to the dismay of her grandmother, Gloria’s mother fell in love with a German prince. Her grandmother arranged for young Gloria to be moved to the United States, where both she and Dodo believed Gloria, being a true Vanderbilt, belonged.

A plot to separate Gloria from her mother was set in motion, resulting in what was arguably one of the most high-profile custody cases of that generation. All Gloria cared about was keeping Dodo in her life, who had since birth fulfilled both the mother and father role. Whilst the judge, deeming Morgan an unfit parent, granted Gloria’s aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, child custody, he also demanded Dodo retire from her role as a nanny. He was afraid Dodo had too much of an influence on the youngster. Gloria, at the age of nine, was left devastated.

Vanderbilt Goes Hollywood


With one year of high school left, Gloria decides to go to California to visit her mother. With no true authority figure in place, it does not surprise me that she is drawn to the madness that is Hollywood and choses to extend her stay. At the tender age of 17, she marries Pat DiCicco, who we later find out was both physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Gloria’s life proves to be a true whirlwind, as she is constantly in search of the love and affection she never had. Weeks after divorcing DiCicco, she therefore marries conductor Leopold Stokowski. She is 21, he is in his sixties. Gloria was looking for a father, she confesses in Nothing Left Unsaid, and she found him in Stokowski. Seven years later, in 1952, their son Christopher Stokowski is born, yet the couple chose to split in 1955.

Vanderbilt is surprisingly honest and open in the manner in which she discusses her marriages. She is clearly a wise woman who, looking back, acknowledges the mistakes and absurd choices she has made. “Sweetheart, I was 17”, she says, which to me, having heard her story, is good enough of an excuse. “Now I can laugh at it, you know? It’s like something that happened to somebody else, you know.” she states, describing her marriage to DiCicco. One of my favorite moments in this chapter of the documentary is when Gloria confesses to Cooper that DiCicco’s first wife died under mysterious circumstances, and he was a suspect. Cooper, amused, responds with a chuckle, “Did that not seem to give you pause? […] Oh, God.” To me, it is a perfect example of how Vanderbilt seems to live her life; fearless and impulsive, and perhaps with a hint of whatever is left of her childhood innocence.

Greatest Loves and Losses


Whilst still married to her third husband, director Sidney Lumet, Gloria falls in love with author Wyatt Emory Cooper, who is arguably her one true love. Together they had two sons: Carter Vanderbilt Cooper and CNN reporter Anderson Cooper. As an audience, it is heartwarming to hear her talk about Cooper and the life they had. He was, for instance, the one who suggested she reconnect with her mother. It is therefore all the more heartbreaking when we find out that they were not granted the happily ever after we were all hoping for. Here we have a woman who, regardless of her background, has been through more than her fair share of pain, and her strength and optimism through it all is inspiring.

Gloria Vanderbilt: I do think the point of view that it’s only once that you accept that life is a tragedy that you can start to live. I do believe that.

Two of the biggest tragedies she addresses in Nothing Left Unsaid are the deaths of her fourth husband, Wyatt Cooper, at the age of 50, and of their 23 year old son, Carter. Carter jumped off the terrace of their 14th-floor New York apartment, right in front of the eyes of his mother. She describes his last moments in detail, just as she has shared them with Anderson thousands of times. She does not show much emotion but you can definitely tell that, understandably, it has had a tremendous impact on her life. The truth is, Vanderbilt simply has no more tears left to cry.

Anderson Cooper: How did you survive?

Gloria Vanderbilt: I really just cried. I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried. […] I thought the worst thing that had ever happened to me was, you know, when I was nine, but that wasn’t the worst, the worst is to lose a child.


Paul Porter/BFAnyc/Sipa USA

When asked by Anderson how she was able to overcome the tragedies in her life, Gloria responds with “I have inside me the image of a rock-hard diamond that nothing can get at, and nothing can crack, and I’ve always known that about myself.” This notion is once again highlighted in the last moments of Nothing Left Unsaid, when Gloria reads Anderson a poem she has incorporated in one of her art pieces. This particular poem strikes a chord with her, as it most likely reminds her of her younger self. As a child from a broken home, who essentially had to learn to raise herself, Gloria has become a strong, resilient woman; a woman with the hard heart of a child.

Beauty (Elinor Wylie)

Say not of beauty she is good,
Or aught but beautiful,
Or sleek to doves’ wings of the wood
Her wild wings of a gull.
Call her not wicked; that word’s touch
Consumes her like a curse;
But love her not too much, too much,
For that is even worse.
O, she is neither good nor bad,
But innocent and wild!
Enshrine her and she dies, who had
The hard heart of a child.

Anderson Cooper: What does that mean to you?

Gloria Vanderbilt: It means to me that I had the hard heart of a child from then on and that I could survive things. And I did.

The losses this woman has endured are inconceivable to an outsider. It therefore does not surprise me that in her search for love, warmth and happiness, she has often taken a wrong turn. What does surprise me is her ability to self-reflect on her life, loves and losses. Her art is hereby the red thread running through her life andNothing Left Unsaid. It seems to be her way of dealing with whatever life throws at her, a way to immortalize that which is important to her. Nothing Left Unsaid is truly an intriguing account of a life fit for a Hollywood movie. Gloria Vanderbilt is an inspiring woman who, against all odds, has managed to find happiness in the little wonders life has given her; her children, her art, and her will to live life to the fullest.

What Did YOU Think Of HBO’s “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”?

Originally posted on

One For All: 5 Reasons Why “The Musketeers” Should Be On Your Summer Watchlist


[Warning: Contains Spoilers for S1 and S2]

Season 3 of BBC’s The Musketeers premiered on May 28th and it will sadly be its last. Now, if you’ve been watching the show according to its Canadian airing times like I have, you will have seen its fantastic series finale by now. It surprises me that though The Musketeers, starring the likes of Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Howard Charles and Santiago Cabrera, has got a small, yet incredibly loyal following, many others are not familiar with this impressive period drama. It’s got everything one could possibly ask for in a show; beautifully choreographed fights, love, stunning costume design, intriguing characters and great antagonist. Here are five reasons why The Musketeers should be on your summer watchlist.

Intriguing Characters

all-for-one-5-reasons-why-the-musketeers-should-be-on-your-summer-watchlist-aramis-at-1016019Aramis, Athos, d’Artagnan and Porthos

I hate to state the obvious but The Musketeers is nothing without its Musketeers. Whoever casted these four gentlemen did a fantastic job because the chemistry (read: bromance) between them is real. There’s almost too much sass for the TV screen to handle. Each Musketeer has an intriguing backstory, one more shocking than the other. We learn that Athos was once married to Milady de Winter, who subsequently killed his brother. He then orders to have her killed, as you do. Meanwhile, Aramis opens up about his lost loves, whilst Porthos prefers not to revisit the past at all. See, I’m only scratching the surface here but I can tell I have got your attention. The Musketeers has also got some strong, badass female characters. Constance and Milady de Winter might be complete opposites but both let nothing and nobody stand in their way. Constance breaks free from her controlling husband to be with d’Artagnan and Milady is the definition of fearless and cunning, regardless of her bad intentions. The fun never stops when you’re living and loving in 1630s Paris.

Forbidden Love

zhSUiE0Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) and Queen Anne (Alexandra Dowling)

It would not be a true period drama if it was not also a tale of forbidden love. In Season One Aramis finds himself in bed with the Queen, at a convent no less, and we later find out that she is carrying his child. Meanwhile, d’Artagnan falls in love with Constance, a married woman, and Athos’ love-hate relationship with his ex wife Milady de Winter, a dominant antagonist, is anything but perfect. Relationship status: it’s complicated. With each season consisting of a mere 10 episodes, there is no room for dragged out romances. The time it takes for some of these lovebirds to finally get a move on is nonetheless frustrating, yet making it all the more satisfying when they do at last admit their feelings for one another. Love ultimately prevails but these Musketeers must jump over plenty of hurdles to get there. I am talking murder, evil antagonists, broken promises, cheating and scheming, and even children born out of wedlock. If you love a bit of romantic drama and would love to dig deeper into the power of intense, passionate eye contact, this show is for you.

Cunning Antagonists

tumblr_njm3i62fB11shpev9o5_1280Comte de Rochefort (Marc Warren)

Each season welcomes a different villain who miraculously finds his way into the palace and close to the King. Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi’s departure after Season 1 made way for one of my favorite antagonists, Comte de Rochefort, played by Marc Warren. He’s an old ‘friend’ of the Queen “who worms his way into the court and becomes the King’s right hand […] to get in bed with the Queen”. His obsession with her takes a turn for the worst when he discovers her secret. Still, you can’t help but like Marc Warren and his onscreen charisma. In Season 3 none other than Rupert Everett takes center stage as Marquis de Feron, or as Everett himself has described him, a “coiled, complicated cripple on drugs […] with a sense of humor and a kind of passive violence”. The poor King seems to be loved by no one and ridiculed by all the baddies in the show, making him an easy target for Feron and his accomplice Lucien Grimaud (Matthew McNulty). Will they succeed in de-throwning the King? Feron’s position as head of the Red Guard and place in the court sure takes them a long way.

Stunning Costume Design

The-Musketeers-BBC-image-the-musketeers-bbc-36646774-4284-2856Queen Anne (Alexandra Dowling) and King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage)

The pieces the costume designers produce each season are absolutely stunning. Leather, tweed, sleeves, capes, corsets and massive amounts of skirts, there is almost no acting required. Though I love what the Musketeers wear, Queen Anne takes the cake (in the most positive way). Her dresses are true works of art, and I have no idea how Alexandra Dowling manages to move around in them as if she were not wearing four layers of fabric and a corset. To create costumes that look good on an HD television screen, are authentic, as well as historically accurate seems like an extremely challenging task, yet costume designer Phoebe De Gaye has done a magnificent job. It therefore doesn’t surprise me that she was honored with a BAFTA for her work in 2015. Speaking to The Telegraph in 2014, De Gaye describes the complex process of costume design as follows:

“Each cloak has over 100 buttons and there are over 50 of these cloaks, so that’s a lot of buttons to sew on. Not to mention the buttonholes. […] It can take us up to three hours to dress that many people, so if the unit call is at 7.30 am you can imagine how early we have to get started.”

Now imagine having to dress 200+ people for a crowd scene. Impressive, right?

Epic Fight Scenes

The MusketeersD’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino)

The show, as one would expect, is adapted from Alexandre Dumas’s famous The Three Musketeers, and so there is bound to be some epic duelling. Protecting King and country isn’t an easy task, and with danger lurking around what seems to be every single corner, Athos, Aramis, Porthos and d’Artagnan are prepared to draw their swords at any given moment. All four actors were in fact required to go to bootcamp to take their horseback riding and sword fighting skills to a whole new level. “Because the fights are choreographed in such an artistic way, it makes it so enjoyable [to watch]”. They are quick, action-packed and captured beautifully. Season 3 starts off with an epic war sequence between France and Spain, it is bigger than anything the show has done before. The season opens with an actual bang. Shot in three phases and over multiple days this particular sequence is merely one of many examples of The Musketeers’ high production value.

All For One And One For All

all-four-one-finale-hpPorthos, Athos, d’Artagnan and Aramis

I honestly could not praise this show any more than I already have. I wish there were another 30 hours to watch but instead we are left with 1800 minutes of pure drama, action and intrigue that will keep you busy for at least a good part of the summer. Go on now, add The Musketeers to that summer watchlist of yours.

What television show are you watching this summer? Let me know in the comments below.

(Source: BBC One)

Originally posted on

5 Romantic Foreign Language Films You Will Love

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 17.48.50

Seeing as my last post on foreign language films was surprisingly well-received, I thought I’d write another one. This time the focus is on the romance genre, which is undoubtedly a favorite of mine. It’s a genre that translates well into other languages. It is, after all, a universal phenomenon. I have seen countless romantic foreign language filmsover the years but these are the ones that, for whatever reason, stuck with me the most. Once again, subtitles are EVERYTHING. Watch these films in their original language and you might just pick up a romantic foreign word or two to impress your significant other with.

1. Germany: What a Man


The name Matthias Schweighöfer has, over the past few years, become almost synonymous with the German romantic comedy genre. I’m always down for a good German rom-com, so if you’re looking for a cute, light and hilarious film to watch this weekend, I recommend you give this one a go. What a Man (2011) is about Alex, a 30-year-old man, who is cheated on by his girlfriend. In search for answers as to why his relationship failed, he moves in with his friend Nele. Now, name one film where this kind of situation do not lead to love and other disasters. Call it predictable, call it cliché, call it whatever you want to call it but don’t tell me this film won’t put a smile on you face, because it will. As a person who generally is not the biggest fan of German humor I can promise you, What a Man will make you laugh. Out loud. Bonus points for the great soundtrack.

2. South Korea: A Millionaire’s First Love


I first discovered all that East Asia had to offer in 2005 and I’ve been hooked ever since. South Korean films are definitely sadder, more dramatic, and, here and there, over the top but all the more addictive. That said, these films also often revolve around sickness, as does A Millionaire’s First Love (2006). I chose this one because it’s one of the first Korean movies I saw. It’s romantic, it’s a little cheesy and it’ll have you trying to hold back the tears. Hyun Bin stars as the stereotypical rich kid, who transfers to a new school in a small town, and it is here that he meets Choi Eun-hwan. They don’t hit it off but ultimately start to bond, to then fall in love. Eun-hwan’s illness puts the ‘drama’ in ‘romantic drama’ and soon both are fighting for a life together. This definitely won’t be the best Korean movie you will ever watch but it is a cute and uplifting film.

3. The Netherlands: Alles Is Liefde


Here is one thing you need to know about Dutch cinema: there is big love for ensemble films. In fact, most commercially successful Dutch films are just that. Alles Is Liefde (2007) is my favorite Dutch movie of all time. Foreigners might find the film a little strange at first because it centers around Sinterklaas, a traditional Dutch phenomenon you could compare to Santa Claus. Hence, the comparison to Love Actually is often made. The film’s plot is difficult to describe, and so a mere sentence or two won’t do it justice. Set around Sinterklaas, it follows the lives of a handful of people; families, couples and individuals, during the eventful days leading up to the big occasion they’re trying to save. Starring household name Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones), this feel good film is utterly heartwarming, fun and the perfect introduction to Dutch humor!

4. Taiwan: Hear Me


This is a special one because there is hardly any talking in this film. Hear Me (2009) is about Tian-Kuo, a delivery boy, who falls for Yang Yang, a young girl taking care of her hearing-impaired older sister. Tian-Kuo and Yang Yang communicate using sign language throughout most of the movie, resulting in an interesting relationship between the two and an ending you do not see coming. Some might dislike the slow pace of the film, I loved it for that exact reason. Hear Me is more than your stereotypical love story, as it beautifully portrays a slice of Taiwanese life through sign language. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Tian-Kuo’s parents luckily also provide a healthy dose of hilarity. I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of the plot twist towards the end but it does not make this touching movie any less worthwhile to watch.

5. Japan: I Just Wanna Hug You


I know, I know – this title does absolutely nothing for the film. In fact, it might even discourage you to watch it, and so I urge you not to judge this film by its name. I have included this one because it’s the most recent Japanese film I’ve seen and I liked it. I Just Wanna Hug You (2014) is about Masaki, a taxi driver, who falls in love with Tsukasa, a young wheelchair-bound girl. I told you, Asia produces some killer romantic dramas. I have been a fan of Nishikido Ryo ever since Ichi Rittoru No Namida (2005) because he’s always been convincing as the caring good guy. Similar to Hear Me, I Just Wanna Hug You follows a simple storyline and shines in its simplicity. Masaki and Tsukasa are adorable together and manage to deal with the challenges life throws at them. Make sure you’ve got some Kleenex nearby because there is a chance you might need some.

Originally posted on

5 Foreign Language Films You Won’t Regret Watching


As a “third culture kid” I grew up with people from all over the world. Foreign became familiar and before I knew it I was watching Korean Dramas that my best friend got me hooked on. Allow me to pay it forward and to share some of my favorite foreign films with you. Before I start, I want you to know that I dislike dubbed films with a passion. I’m a 100% pro subtitles, so I suggest that is how you watch them: subtitled. It’s well worth the additional brain exercise.

1. Mexico: Sin Nombre


Released in 2009, this is hands down the best Spanish-language film I’ve seen thus far. Directed by Cary Fukunaga and produced by actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, who are no strangers to filmmaking, this film centers around a teenaged boy, Casper, attempting to escape gang life and a girl, Sayra, trying to reach, and cross, the American border in the hope of a better life. On the verge of life and death the two strike up an unlikely yet powerful friendship that will keep you engaged for 96 minutes from beginning to end.

Fun fact: Fukunaga did his research by immersing himself in the lives of the immigrants and gang members depicted in the film, stating “[he] spent about two years in two different prisons, and reduced a group of gang members down to a couple guys [he] could trust”. That is some dedication right there.

2. Denmark: Efter Brylluppet


I have been a Mads Mikkelsen fan ever since he played Le Chiffre, so when I came across this film I knew I had to watch it. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Efter Brylluppet (2006) is about a man, Jacob, who, in order to save the Indian orphanage he runs, must return to Denmark to meet with the CEO, Jørgen, willing to fund the project. Upon arrival Jørgen invites Jacob to his daughter’s wedding and it is there that he finds out Jørgen’s wife is, or was, the love of Jacob’s life. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you are caught up in this “dark [and] richly mounted film”.

Fun Fact: Efter Brylluppet lost out to Das Leben Der Anderen at the 78th Academy Awards. This German movie is another fantastic foreign film that I highly recommend you watch. Especially if you’re interested in the GDR.

3. Netherlands: Komt Een Vrouw Bij De Dokter


This film, based on the hugely successful book by the same name, was quite controversial in the Netherlands to say the least. The reason for this being its plot. Komt Een Vrouw Bij De Dokter is about a couple, Stijn and Carmen, played by one of the Netherlands’ biggest exports; Carice van Houten, who seem to have the perfect marriage. Tragedy strikes when Carmen is diagnosed with breast cancer and Stijn’s night time adventures start to spiral out of control, as he continues to cheat on his sick wife. At this point I should mention that the book is largely autobiographical. Be prepared for some major waterworks.

Fun fact: The film, released in 2009, is one of the only 6 films to win “De Diamanten Film”, which recognizes films that have sold over 1 million tickets. Carice van Houten stars in 3 of the 6 films that have won the prize thus far.

4. France: LOL (Laughing Out Loud)


Before I start, this one is not to be confused with the bad American remake. In fact, there should never have been a remake because LOL is perfect. Released in 2008, this French comedy follows the eventful life of Lola, nicknamed LOL, as she juggles school, friends, boyfriends and life as a child of divorce. Being a teenager is far from easy, and when Lola’s boyfriend cheats on her and her parents have no clue how to handle their preadolescent daughter, Lola must find her own way. LOL oozes that French je ne sais quoi and Sophie Marceau does a great job as Lola’s mother, making it a must-watch coming-of-age film.

Fun fact: Sophie Marceau made her name as the main protagonist, a teen coping with all kinds of issues, in La Boum (1980). It discusses surprisingly similar themes as LOL, which makes Sophie Marceau a smart casting choice.

5. Germany: Keinohrhasen


I cannot produce a list of foreign language film favorites without mentioning this one. I just can’t. I’ve seen multiple German movies over the years, most of which deserve an honorable mention, but this one will forever be an all-time favorite of mine. Keinohrhasen (2007) was written, produced and directed by Til Schweiger, who also happens to star in it as Ludo Decker, the male lead. Ludo is a paparazzo, sentenced to community service at a local kindergarten following a mission gone wrong. Here he meets Anna, who is still traumatized by her childhood memories of Ludo. We all know there’s a fine line between love and hate, and so the tension between them unfolds into a romance with arguably more downs than ups. But fear not, you can expect a happy ending.

Fun fact: The real star of Keinohrhasen is Schweiger’s 5-year-old daughter Emma, who has since appeared in most of her father’s movies. In fact, all 4 of Schweiger’s children make an appearance in this successful German film.

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3 Chinese Films That Will Make You Love, Laugh and Cry


It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of foreign language films since forever. I discovered Chinese language cinema in 2005 when, as a third culture kid, I was first exposed to all that it has to offer. I started with Hong Kong movies, for which I blame New Police Story, followed shortly by ever so popular Taiwanese dramas, such as It Started with a Kiss and Devil Beside You. After years of watching every Korean drama out there (slight over-exaggeration) I recently decided to check out some newer Chinese movies. Here’s what I watched, and why these films will make you want to discover the realm of Chinese cinema.

1. Go Away Mr. Tumor (2015)


Go Away Mr. Tumor is easily one of the best foreign language films I have seen this year, and in a quite a while for that matter. Hence it doesn’t surprise me that this comedy-drama was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It better be short-listed and make it into the final 5, I’m just sayin’. Based on a true story, this heartwarming tale follows the life of Xiong Dun, who is beautifully portrayed by Bai Bai He, an optimistic and imaginative woman, as she struggles with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Enter Dr. Liang, played by Daniel Wu, Xiong Dun’s treating physician whom she develops a major crush on. Bubbly and extrovert as she is, Xiong manages to leave a lasting imprint on an introvert Dr. Liang’s heart.

What I like most about this film is the optimism it oozes and its emphasis on the importance of the support of family and friends. Xiong’s adorkable personality, along with her fantastic support system, bring so much heart to the movie that you won’t be able to hold back the tears. The chemistry between Bai and Wu is obvious, and the friendship their characters develop is genuine, and both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Though their relationship isn’t a romantic one, their relationship clearly exceeds the boundaries of friendship, which is beautifully portrayed in their final conversation. I highly suggest you grab those tissues because you’re going to be bawling your eyes out.

2. Women Who Flirt (2014)

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Though Zhou Xun is the obvious heart and soul of the movie, her girl squad is hilarious and will seriously make you consider trying to pick up guys using your best baby voice. Women Who Flirt is probably not be the best Chinese film you will see but it is most definitely entertaining in the most ridiculously fun way.

3. A Beautiful Life (2011)


If you’re even the tiniest bit familiar with Hong Kong or Chinese cinema, then the name Andrew Lau will ring a bell. Lau is the talented man behind the Infernal Affairs trilogy, the films that inspired Martin Scorsese’s remake, the Academy Award winning The Departed. In my opinion, A Beautiful Life is split into two parts, with a strange and hysterical first half and a serious, heartbreaking second half. It follows the life of real-estate agent Li Peiru, portrayed by Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who seems to have a bit of an alcohol problem. We first meet her drunk at a karaoke bar, seducing her married boss. This is where she first runs into Fang Zhendong, a lonely police officer played by Liu Ye, but it definitely isn’t the last these two will see of each other.

“It’s not about responsibility. I’m in love with her.” – Fang Zhendong

When Peiru finds out her lover is cheating on her with another, she starts to use and abuse Fang Zhendong to her benefit. They lose touch but manage to find their way back to one another, but not after Fang Zhendong is diagnosed with a serious condition. Their time apart has made Peiru appreciate just how much he has done for her. Their story is one hell of a ride, melancholic as much as it is heartwarming. Shu Qi and Liu Ye play polar opposites but complement each other so beautifully in this fantastic romantic drama that will make you laugh out loud and cry your eyes out.

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