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Reviews

Saikojiman Gwaenchanha
(2020)

The Power of Healing
"It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."

This line from "Rocky Balboa" seemed to ring loudly in my mind as this series concluded for me. Indeed, no one goes through life unscathed, and some take even greater lumps than most. However, no matter what we've suffered, it's perseverance that matters most. Not giving up. Always push on.

To my mind, K-dramas are dominating the television airwaves. While I have watched a few bad ones, most have been anywhere from great to superb. "It's Okay to Not Be Okay" certainly fits the "superb" bill for me.

As several reviewers have already mentioned, this is a very unique series that deals with the mental and emotional suffering that everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives. Perhaps that is what makes the series so relatable as well as profound with the central question: when do people finally acquire the courage to take responsibility for their own lives?

For so many people in this world, we blame our parents for our misfortunes and our sufferings. Why didn't they love us more? Why did they mistreat us? Where was that unconditional love we were supposed to be showered with?

Unfortunately, the answers we tell ourselves are filled with as many lies as the questions we come up with. Perhaps we weren't worthy of that love. Perhaps we simply weren't good enough. No matter what answers we contrive in an attempt to "makes sense of it all" we, too often, play the victim.

Gang-Tae is a caregiver at a local mental hospital. His body is riddled with scars given to him by patients who have lashed out at him. However, his physical scars pale in comparison to his emotional ones. In short, he truly believes he is not worth loving.

Sang-Tae is Gang-Tae's older brother with fairly severe autism. He suffers from a moment in the past when he was present for his mother's murder. The murderer threatens to kill him should he ever tell anyone about it. So scarred by the event, Gang-Tae placates his brother by making sure to move every autumn of every year. He somehow wants to be free of his burden.

Ko-Muen Young is a woman who was touted as a princess by her mother; someone who is head-and-shoulders above everyone else. And people should be treated with disdain and contempt for being so beneath her. This is a woman who has no idea how to interact with people. She had no filter, and therefore, speaks her mind and her feelings, both good and bad. She is a little girl desperately wanting someone to love her.

The irony is that all three characters, in some way, shape or form, represent some of the most common fears and desires of every single person on this planet: to be worthy of love, to be relieved of our fears and burdens, and to simply be loved for who we are.

The series masterfully navigates how all three characters are able to find peace with themselves, and perhaps, even some joy culminating in a last episode that will have you smiling and crying at the same time.

Yes, it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to fall. It is okay to be knocked down. It is not okay to give up and stay down. Everyone must find the courage to get up and keep going. That is the series' central message.

The performances in this series are top-notch all the way around. However, accolades must truly be given to Jeong-Se Oh (Sang-tae) who turns in a performance that easily rivals Dustin Hoffman's "Rain Man." In fact, to my mind, Jeong-Se Oh's performance surpasses it. He is truly deserving of any awards he might acquire for one of the best acting performances seen in a long time.

This series has almost everything: a mystery, laugh-out-loud moments, heartfelt moments, cringeworthy moments, and plenty of relatable moments, depending on who you are.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It should almost be required viewing. For perhaps, you might find some "healing moments" of your own as you watch this show, and be presented with the question: will you blame others for your problems? Or will you find the courage to begin living your own life?

Wo de fu qin mu qin
(1999)

You Might Be Hard=Pressed to Find a Sweeter and More Loving Film Than This Masterpiece!
With all of the complex love stories that come out of Hollywood these days, you sometimes enjoy the refreshing feeling of a love story that is simple. I am not necessarily stating that one is better than the other, but you often find that many complex love stories just don't completely work. The Road Home is a beautiful, simple love story that is as simple as the time and location in which it takes place, and the pieces fit together like a simple jigsaw puzzle.

The son of Zhao Di has come home to the village where is mother is from. He learns that his father has passed away. While the son grew up in the village, he has spent much of his adult life in the city. He has come home to be with his mother and to help her makes plans for his father's burial. His mother insists that his father be walked from the city hospital back to the village. Understand that this is no easy task since the village is good distance from the city. Her son tries to talk her out of it, but she is adament. And it is in the re-telling of how Zhao Di met her husband that convinces both the son and audience to understand why she wants to walk her husband back to the village.

The film takes off from here as the talented Zhang Ziyi portrays the young Zhao Di. She is an eighteen year-old girl living with her blind mother. She is a beautiful young woman with many suitors wishing for her hand in marriage. She has turned them all down. We don't know why except that we can guess that she hasn't found what she's looking for in a husband. Enter Luo, the new school teacher who has come to the village after living in the city. Zhao Di is immediately captivated upon first seeing him.

The sweetness in this film is in the simplicity of the village and the time. Water must be fetched from nearby wells. Looms are used to make clothing and cloths. And even the "courtship" that is done more by Zhao Di than by Luo is sweetly simple. She uses her culinary talents to make the best dishes with the hope that Luo will eat from her dish. She waits by the road for one glimpse of Luo. She walks to the well that is near the school for the chance that she might see or hear Luo.

People often make the mistake that the more primitive a technological country, the more unhappy the people must be. And yet,Zhao Di is not an unhappy girl. She is an excellent cook, and she enjoys looking after her mother. You get the sense that she does this not out of a sense of duty, but because she wants to. Zhao Di never lives anywhere else but in the village. The village is where she is happy.

Zhang Ziyi is simply brilliant is capturing the sweetness and determination of Zhao Di. She portrays Zhao Di with a fierce persistence to win the heart of Luo at any cost. You will see several scenes in which she demonstrates this.

I must mention the cinematography. The locations and colors that are captured reveal an almost magical world with golden leaves on the birch trees and snow-swept hills of winter.

Director Yimou Zhang does a great job of incorporating the technology of the time period. In many ways, I was as captivated by the use of the loom, the sweatbox used for cooking dumplings, and the walk to the well as I was of the sweet love story. I like his use of black and white in the future, and then the use of color for the past. Most directors would do it the other way around. And yet the color used for the past seems to show that it is revealing a happier time when young Zhao Di was in the fullness of her life, and the black and white showing how life is swiftly coming to an inevitable close for her after the loss of her one true love.

The Road Home will capture your heart with its story and your eyes with its images. Many saints, masters, and philosophers over the course of the centuries have stated that love is actually very simple; it is we who make it complex. This beautiful film seems to truly capture that idea.

Ai Fai.. Thank You Love You
(2014)

A Funny and Delightful Film!
One of the big reasons why this film works so well is that it does not follow the typical, formualic plot of so many romantic comedies. Instead, the writer lets things happen organically and naturally, even if the ending is a bit predictable.

I can relate to Pleng, as I am an ESL teacher who has worked abroad (predominately in Asian countries). She runs her own ESL school, and she's caught in the middle between a former student (Kaya) and her boyfriend (Yim). Kaya and Yim's relationship is only sexual, and neither one of them can speak a common language. Obvious problem! So, Kaya asks Pleng to tell Yim that she's done with him.

Determined to get her back Yim decides to learn English. And yes, he hires Pleng to do it for him. He finds that there is a position in the field that he is well-versed: Engineering.

Yim is a simple and genuine young man. He doesn't go out of his way to impress anyone, especially Pleng. In short, he is who he is, and that's why I like his character.

Conversely, Pleng is someone who THINKS she knows what she wants, until she realizes the truth. In life, finding out what we don't want invariably leads to what we do want. Initially Pleng sees Yim as a bit abrasive and lacking in manners. But, as they get to know each other, she finds there is so much more beneath the tough exterior.

The chemistry between the two leads is terrific, and it's largely why the film works as well as it does.

There are many funny, laugh-out-loud moments. The actor who plays Yim has some terrific facial expressions. The "boxing scene" had me in stitches!

The script is a special blend of humor, insight, a bit of romance, and even some heartfelt moments. It also doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is: a realistic romantic comedy that I think many people can relate to.

Also, the lead actress's English is excellent!

Sa-rang-eui bul-sa-chak
(2019)

The Joy of Love is in the Journey in this Epic Series!
I watched "Descendants of the Sun" and wondered if I'd see another series that could match it. Then, I watched "Mr. Sunshine," and thought, "there's no way I'll ever see another series like this." Imagine the joy of being wrong twice! Along comes, "Crash Landing on You," which may end up being my favorite of all of them. It's a toss-up between this and Mr. Sunshine. In short, this is one of the best series I've ever seen, and for me, the Korean Dramas I've watched have not disappointed at all as most are character and plot driven. In fact, overall, I've seen better quality shows out of Korea and Japan in the last several years than I have with American shows.

The writing, and especially, the editing is some of the best I've ever seen. The plot is intricately weaved, not using some of the typical cliches and devices as some shows do when trying to get the two main characters together. In this case, we're given the beautiful wise lesson on screen: happiness is in the journey. Not the destination.

Seri is a woman who owns her own company and is part of an extremely rich family. Her world, despite the money and success, is cold and empty. She sits alone in a massive penthouse. She has all of the luxuries that one could ask for. However, she has a family, especially her half-siblings, who are about as cut-throat as anyone could imagine. She doesn't realize what is missing in her life until a storm, while para-gliding, blows her across the border into North Korea.

Ri Jeong-Hyeok is a North Korean captain who comes across Seri. At first, he and his unit of men aren't sure who Seri is and why she's there. Ri Jeong-Hyeok was a master pianist before joining the military, and intent on solving the mystery of his older brother's death. At first, he seems very straight-forward and unassuming, while underneath is a man full of life, passion, and love.

The first set of episodes of Seri trying to adapt to life in a North Korean village are especially hilarious. Imagine a pampered woman suddenly having to go without electricity? How to take a bath...how to cook, etc. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I know full well what this adaptation feels like!

Perhaps for the first time in her life, Seri not only finds a connection with Ri Jeong-Hyeok, but also with the village women and also with the members of Ri Jeong-Hyeok's unit. It's ironic that she had to cross the border to find a group of people who were more like family for her than her real family back home!

The best plots are ones that aren't forced or contrived, and this one doesn't use either one. We are taken effortlessly from North Korea into South Korea as Seri and Ri Jeong-Hyeok find themselves at the center of two sinister plots, each one contrived by people on either side (North and South Korea).

Of course, the biggest question is: despite the situations they must survive and unravel, can they spend a life together? Is it feasible for two people, from the only divided country in the world, be able to have a relationship? North Korea might as well be the darkside of the moon, as communications between the people of the two countries is non-existent. Finding the answer to this question is the beauty of the journey of this series.

The entire cast is simply terrific. They meticulously and effortlessly give us endearing characters who are absolutely hilarious at times and heartfelt at others. All are also able to deftly convey a range of emotions, especially the two leads in Hyun Bin and Ye-Jin Soon whose chemistry is much of what makes this series so incredible.

The editing is some of the best I've ever seen in a movie or series as we are given scenes in one episode, only to realize that we were only given a partial look at the whole. Each time, we are given a joyful surprise and many, "Ah-ha" moments when we realize what really happened!

Apparently North Korean defectors served as consultants on this series to try and make life in North Korea depicted as accurately as possible.

Some might feel that the ending isn't the most ideal, but that's why I like it. It's realistic. They end up making the absolute most of the time that they have. These contrived, formulaic "happy endings" simply do not reflect life or relationships themselves.

I have been watching movies and television series for over 45 years, and frankly, this series absolutely blew me away. It captured my imagination and my heart as I see a veritable "Romeo and Juliet" struggling to find ways to connect, love, and protect each other. They are such a short distance away from each other across the border, but as I stated before, the distance might as well be from the earth to the moon. I love stories about relationships, where the two people have to find a way to overcome the obstacles and pitfalls laid out before them. Two people with enough love and determination will always find a way. And that is why the joy of watching this series is in the journey and not the destination! And this journey was simply sweet, magical, and joyful. What more could you ask for in a great series?

Diff'rent Strokes: The Ski Weekend
(1981)
Episode 7, Season 4

Spoiled Kimberly Does it Again!
It's ironic that Kimberly was seldom ever punished by her father. She frequently whined and complained until she got her way: the true definition of a spoiled child at work.

Kimberly is planning to go on a ski trip with her friend, not realizing that two boys will also be accompanying them and even staying in the same room. Fed up with being treated like a child by her father (despite her friend pointing out the wisdom that, "if you want to be treated like an adult then start acting like one." As more of a move of defiance than anything else, she agrees to go on the trip.

Drummond and Willis, however, show up at their hotel room, putting Kimberly in a predicament, especially when Drummond finally finds out what's really going on. Of course, Drummond is furious, but Kimberly is also upset about how she's been treated lately.

Unfortunately, this is where things end. Kimberly complains about how she's being treated until Drummond realizes what he's been doing. If the writers had had any real courage, Drummond would have also pointed out that Kimberly in only sixteen, and that trust is earned, not freely given. By not telling Drummond what she'd really been up to, she violated that trust. Of course, this side of things was never revealed. Instead, we have Kimberly, after her "rant" and "tears" finally gets off without punishment or even a word from her father. Not the best episode about upholding good communication and values. Had it been Willis, you can be sure a punishment would have happened.

Diff'rent Strokes: Health Club
(1981)
Episode 8, Season 4

Good Except For Kimberly the Coward
Phil Drummond belongs to an athletic club, not realizing that it's restricted. Willis and Arnold find out the hard way when they go down to the club to see their father compete, only to be turned away because they're black.

Willis, of course, wants his father to know about what is really going on in the club. However, Kimberly asks him not to say anything that might ruin Drummond's evening in receiving an award. For a pampered, spoiled girl, Kimberly is often unable to see the bigger picture and to stand up for what's right.

However, Willis agrees to wait a day until it becomes too much for him as he watches the manager and other personnel talking about how "great" the club is and how it holds all of the "great values" of America. Willis, despite being constantly kicked by Kimberly under the table to prevent him from speaking the truth, courageously speaks up and tells Drummond about what the club's true values really are.

Kimberly reminds me of Kathy from "Gentleman's Agreement" who believes that not saying anything is the same as being against it. She also clearly doesn't know her father well enough as we know that Drummond would definitely want to know so that something can be done about it.

Kimberly represents the cowards of the world who'd rather not rock the boat. The world needs fewer Kimberlys and more Willises and Drummonds who realize that principle and doing what's right is the most important thing.

Breaking the Bee
(2020)

What Hard Work and Discipline Will Do For You!
I'm an ESL teacher, who has worked throughout Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.), and at two English academies, we implemented a Spelling Bee. For most of the kids, they had a blast doing it. I made sure that: every participant was recognized and received something.

The chasm between "east" and "west" is growing wider all of the time. The extremists in the east are, what we refer to as "Tiger Parents" which is mentioned briefly in this documentary. In the west, we have the spoiled and do-whatever-you-want mentality. Both are extremes and both are just as detrimental to child's well-being.

I didn't see any indication of "Tiger Parents" in this documentary. It's not uncommon for Asian parents to live vicariously through their children, which always does more harm than good; parents who believe that it reflects badly on themselves if their child doesn't succeed. These are parents who put their own interests and feelings above their child's.

A parent's job is to empower their child to be the best version of themselves that they can be; to do their best. This is also a teacher's job. It is not the parent's job to control every aspect of a child's life by constantly telling them what to do and making all of the decisions for them. It is also not the parent's job to allow a child free-rein to do whatever they want to do. There has to be a balance between the two extremes.

Most children in the east lack the freedom to make any real decisions for themselves. They study hard from sunrise until midnight or beyond (not an exaggeration!). In the west, if a child even cracks a book open, it's a minor miracle.

There is actually no mystery about why Indian-Americans outdo their competitors in the Spelling Bee. The kids put in the time and effort that it takes to be successfu. As long as the child is doing what he/she wants, who has the right to complain or criticize? Most American kids would rather be playing a sport or going home to play on the computer. Nothing wrong with playing sports, as the best athletes put in the time and effort. Why is this not received with equal notoriety when a child prefers to put the time and effort into learning words?

The reason is that American priorities can sometimes be backwards. As I said, most kids would rather play a sport, hang out with friends, play games, etc. Much of this is because their parents don't care what they do/don't do, as long as their child stays occupied and out of their way. Asian parents stress hitting the books and doing homework. Again, a balance is necessary. But above all, a parent should be supportive and understanding if their child decides that they no longer want to do something (play a sport, play an instrument, participate in a spelling bee, etc.)

The statistics and the amount of work that these kids put into the spelling bee is incredible. Most of these kids already have a stronger work ethic than most American adults. We also see that many of these kids also have other interests such as tennis, piano, etc.

This documentary should be viewed with pride by Indian-Americans, and it should be a source of inspiration for anyone else that may not be doing enough to succeed. Yes, succeess = hard work, discipline, and dedication. It's sad when people actually find fault with this concept; a concept that others like Bruce Lee and Kobe Bryant instilled in others. Natural talent isn't enough. You have to put in the work, no matter if it's a sport, playing an instrument, or being in a spelling bee.

That Thing Called Tadhana
(2014)

Love Never Loves the Same Way Twice!
While Love is unconditional, constant, and unchanging, the WAY we love is always different. People should hopefully take comfort in the fact that that makes, not only way you love someoone unique, but YOU unique as well.

Unfortunately, people tend to also forget that many relationships are finite. It's been said, "It is interesting to note that people can easily recognize when a relationship begins, but are unable or unwilling to recognize when a relationship ends."

Mace is a broken-hearted young woman coming off an 8-year relationship with her boyfriend who is living in Rome. Angelica Panganiban plays the role so realistically, you can feel her anger, frustration, and sense of loss. I would wager than anyone, who has ever been where she is, has felt exactly how she feels.

Anthony is a young man also returning home from Rome, and he sees Mace struggling to lighten her suitcase in order to meet the weight criteria. He decides to help her. He's also there through her rants and outbursts, but somehow, we get the sense that he understands her plight.

This is a film that reminded me a lot of "Before Sunrise," a brilliant movie where two people walk around Vienna getting to know each other. However, in this case, it's about two people spending time together, helping each other to heal. While Mace's hurts are recent, we discover that Anthony is also carrying some old hurts and regrets as well, but he's able to find ways to help Mace.

Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman are simply brilliant, and more importantly, real. They know their characters inside and out, and they are also very relatable. They could easily be anyone who has been where they are, and because the story is told in such a realistic tone, it works tremendously well.

Perhaps Mace will realize that making someone else the center of your life is always a disaster waiting to happen. Unless you love yourself first, you cannot give what you do not have. Relationships are never about finding someone to complete you. They are always about sharing your completeness with someone else. That is the secret!.

In any case, you learn from past relationships to find what you want in future relationships. And hopefully, when a relationship ends, you are grateful to that person for the time spent and wish them all the best as they continue their own journey.

Can't Help Falling in Love
(2017)

Live Your Life, Live Your Dreams!
This is the fourth Filipino film that I've now seen, and they're quickly winning me over and desiring more! I'm only concerned that I'll run out via Netflix, leaving me wondering how I'm going to watch some more.

"Crazy Beautiful You" was my first foray and with the same two delightful leads in Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. There's no denying their chemistry, which probably makes things much easier for them as they are a real-life couple. Their charm and obvious feelings permeate the screen. I also love the fact that neither one of them is afraid to show genuine emotion.

This go-around sees Gab, who has been with her boyfriend for 6 years. Finally, he proposes to her. Except that Gab has a problem: she's already married! To her dismay, she finds that after a drunken night, she has married Dos, a young man she met at the club.

Unlike America, where people can get divorces and/or annulments fairly easily, it is not so easy to do in the Phillippines. Gab finds herself having to track Dos down and get him to agree to a divorce. He agrees, as hilarity ensues as Gab tries to play out various "divorce reasons" to satisfy the court. Everything from impotence, insanity, homosexuality, etc. These will have you laughing out loud.

However, as one may predict, Gab and Dos start falling for each other as they attempt to track down the one witness they need to satisfy the divorce criteria. While the initial format is predictable, the way things play out is not. There are a couple of twists that I'm not sure anyone will see coming.

I was also pleased that the writer didn't fall for the overly-used "big climactic ending" that is so commonplace that they're actually boring. Instead, we get a true, legitimate ending that satisfies the story, the characters, and the viewer. And while I loved "Crazy Beautiful You," the ending of this film is done much better, in my opinion.

Another thing I love about these movies is that they have poignant messages. This film dares one to live your dream. Live your own life. No one, not even parents, have the right to control your life and tell you how to live it. And you can't be afraid to make mistakes. How else does one learn? How else does one realize what works and what doesn't work without mistakes?

Mary Tyler Moore once said, "Someone who has had nothing but perfect and wonderful experiences isn't very brave." It takes adversity to truly strengthen a person.

Parents and partners alike have one job: empower your children and empower your partner. Give them the space and freedom to be who they are. Control is never the answer. Control is about allowing someone else to live your life for you. Freedom is about allowing someone to live their own life. This movie dares you to do the latter.

Kita kita
(2017)

Just...Wow!
Some people don't believe in angels. I believe there are some angels you can't see, and there are some angels you can. This is a beautiful, touching story of two "angels" : Lea and Tony, and how they are able to be there for each other.

Both are two people living in Japan. Lea has found out that fiance has been seeing another woman. The stress and trauma has robbed her of her eyesight. The doctors tell her that it is, more than likely, only temporary.

Enter Tonyo, a man who lives across the street. His first attempts of opening communication with Lea are failures. But, he doesn't give up. He has a certain wit and charm that finally wins over Lea, and they begin spending time together. Tonyo knows exactly what to say to get a laugh out of Lea.

There are a couple of plot twists that I doubt anyone will be able to see coming, and the writers need to be given credit for pulling off such a feat, as it seems that more and more writers today either don't dare try, or it ends up not working at all.

What the movie is ultimately about, is kindness, and how a single gesture can work miracles. I think most people underestimate a single, kind act. And how, much like a small pebble, it can send ripples across a lake. The beauty of this film is that we don't see the end results of the acts of kindness of Lea and Tonyo until the end.

The film is beautifully filmed and the actors are simply incredible. The chemistry between Alessandra De Rossi and Empoy Marquez is undeniable. They are the ones that make the film work.

This is one of those little gems (much like a small pebble) that once you see it, you will feel the effects for a long time to come!

Everyday I Love You
(2015)

Dare to Fulfill Your Dreams!
There is only one person who stands in the way of fulfilling your dreams: you. Anyone who tries to be an obstacle to your dreams is probably not someone you'd want to be in a relationship with. The person you do want to be in a relationship with is someone who believes in you; not only will they not stand in your way, they'll encourage and empower you to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.

Ethan is a young, hot-shot producer of shows. He's eagerly awaiting a promotion to production manager, that he feels that he's entitled to and has earned. However, to his disappointment, the job is given to someone else. He's told that the one area he's not very good with, is working with people. He's sent to Bacolod, a small town where he's told that if he can produce a successful show, then he will get the production manager job.

Audrey is a warm, caring young woman who dreams of making shows. She uses her small video camera to record everything for her boyfriend, Tristan, who has been comatose from an accident for over 150 days.

We learn that before the accident Audrey had a chance to go to Manila to learn about making shows. Tristan, of course, objected. In fact, we quickly find out that Tristan is a very controlling boyfriend who spends much of his time telling Audrey, "what to do" and "what not to do." However, it is clear that Audrey loves him...until she sees love for what it truly is!

Love is never about control. It is never about possession. It is about giving the other person the freedom and the space to be who they are. Ethan shows Audrey this type of love. Audrey, of course, is torn between her newfound love for Ethan and being true to Tristan.

Now, one might think that things become a bit cliched at this point, but that doesn't really happen. What makes this story work so well is that Ethan demonstrates and unconditional and selfless character who will simply do the mature thing; the right thing. They say that love conquers all. Well, Ethan is certainly an example of this.

There are a number of touching moments throughout the film, and I love the fact that Tristan is shown as being a "bad" guy. He's not. Despite his ignorance, it's hard not to sympathize with him.

The performances are all first-rate, and you end up feeling good about having watched this film. While many people believe that love is about being true to your partner, it's even more important to be true to yourself. And never let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dreams!

Crazy Beautiful You
(2015)

Rock Solid Romantic Comedy With an UpLifting Message!
This is my first foray into Filipino cinema, and I wasn't disappointed. A great story and wonderful chemistry between Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla make this a wonderful film. Little did I know that these two have collaborated on several movies and are an "item" in real life. Makes sense.

Jackie is an angry young woman who doesn't like her life or anyone in it. Her dream is to go to New York to study photography in order to leave home. However, she is unable to stay out of trouble and ends up in jail. Her mother pleads with her father to let her come to a small, rural village to do some volunteer work for a week. Her father relents, against his better judgment.

Kiko is a responsible young man, who finds himself caring for his younger siblings while his irresponsible mother is out galavanting with any man she can find. He is also one of the coordinators for the program that provides help to the village.

Jackie sees only what has been done to her. In short, she plays the victim. One can understand her anger and resentment once her mother confesses what happened to her when she was young, but Jackie has trapped herself in a miserable situation. Playing a victim will always do that. Kiko, however, who has a number of challenges of his own, elects to fight through them. He doesn't play the victim, which demonstrates why he's a much stronger and more mature person.

Of course, Jackie is resistant to the volunteer program, and even devises plans to escape. Once locked in, she finds herself in a village without electricity, so she can't be on her phone 24/7 as she likes.

I'm a former Peace Corps volunteer, and there is nothing quite like having all of your luxuries and comforts stripped away, which forces you to deal with whatever is in front of you. Jackie learns this lesson as well. She learns quickly that there are people out there with much tougher situations than she's got. In short, she finally begins to mature and grow up. In short, service to others can induce a powerful healing, which is exactly what Jackie needs.

The film is truly beautiful in how the volunteers work with the villagers. So much of it reminded me of my own service. However, the film doesn't end there. As one easily surmises, it becomes evident that Kiko and Jackie have developed feelings for each other.

It is here that I wish the film hadn't decided to use a cliched scenario to set up the "big ending." Too many films do that. I thought that the confrontation between Kiko and Jackie, when he didn't show up for the wedding, would have been perfect, followed by family resolutions after that. I would have been much more practical and unique. However, I can't complain as the movie still works very well. Still, my heart (and my favorite part of the movie) is when they are together at the village.

And I also have to love one of my favorite songs from my high school days, Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" and how it's used so brilliantly. I'm looking forward to watching more films like this one!

One Day
(2016)

The Coward and the Girl That He Loves
Few things in life aren't so tragic as wasted opportunities. Some people might "cloak" a wasted opportunity in believing that they are doing what is best for someone else. That isn't the case here, even though the writer would like you to believe it is.

Den is 30-year-old man working in the IT department of a company. He has no friends. People at his job scarcely even know his name. He hides behiind computers because he doesn't believe he's worthy of anything else. If he did, he'd find a way to make it happen. Instead, he's a recluse.

Nui is a 28-year-old woman in the marketing department of the same company. She's a bit stuck-up, and finds herself in a relationship with one of her bosses, who just happens to be married with a son. Of course, she's naive enough to believe that he's going to leave his wife. This is the woman that Den has a crush on, much like a 14-year-old kid in high school.

The entire company goes on a trip, and this is where things pick up. Nui, upon finding out that her boss's wife is pregnant, decides upon a suicide attempt. The doctor tells Den that her short-term memory is affected for one day. In short, she will have forgotten everything recent for a single day, but when she wakes up the next morning, she will have recovered her memory, but at the expense of that one day.

Den decides to let her know that he's her boyfriend. She has a hard time believing him. However, as the day goes on, she begins to find something endearing in his sad attempts to impress her. In short, they enjoy the day until upon the verge of an intimate moment, Den confesses his scheme, getting himself thrown out of her hotel room in the process. However, upon finding out that she is a mistress of her boss, Nui doesn't want to go back to that life, and realizes that she wants to be with the only person who loves her: Den.

Den, however, lacks the courage and the conviction to follow Nui's instructions to help her remember how much she loves him. Nui even records a video clip to help her remember, asking Den to make sure to tell her about it the next day, when she will have forgotten everything.

Because of his own sense of worthlessness, Den doesn't do what Nui has asked of him, and so he deletes the clip. One can't feel sorry for Den, nor even think that he's being noble and selfless. He is, in fact, a coward. When love is presented to you, you don't turn your back on it. You don't dismiss it. You take the opportunity that love provides. In short, it's a very pathetic act on his part. But then again, someone who doesn't love themselves enough will do exactly what Den did. So, in truth, he's being who he believes himself to be.

There are some plot holes that don't entirely make the film work, not to mention an abrupt and unfulfilling ending. Why didn't Nui simply write a note to herself about the clip? She could have sent herself a message or even a note about her feelings for Den. I found this to be very short-sighted on the writer and director's part.

The characters are certainly interesting enough, even if both are very flawed and lacking in any true love for themselves. The performances are good as well. However, the movie feels like a train that ran out of track by the time the end comes, leaving one to feel, "Is that it?" Unsatisfying, to be sure.

If nothing else, it should warn people about the "Dens" and the "Nuis" of the world. If you see one, be sure to run the other way!

Yuyeolui eumagaelbeom
(2019)

Can Two Sad Hearts Find Love?
This is the story of two people, who believe themselves to be broken; who believe that they aren't really worthy of anyone or anything. It's very hard to be in a relationship with someone with this mindset, as it isn't long before they look to the other person to fill the void that they believe exists in their life. The astonishing secret is this: there is no void in anyone's life. And nobody outside of yourself will ever be enough because unless you love yourself first, you will quickly find that you cannot give what you do not have.

Hyun-woo is a boy with a very troubled past; a past that he desperately wants to forget and keep from influencing his ability to create a life for himself. There is only one person of whom he dreams of spending a life with; one of the few people he feels that he can trust, and that's Mi-Su.

Mi-Su is a young woman, who also has a troubled past. She can never seem to get her life in order, and she views herself as a loser; a loser due to choices that's she's made in her life that have not brought her the fulfillment she seeks. The only person she feels remotely happy with is Hyun-woo, who shows up at the bakery where she works.

Hyun-woo and Mi-Su are two people who clearly like each other, but can't seem to find a way to connect for more than a fleeting day or so. Over the span of about 11 years, they float in and out of each other's lives, until finally, they are able to reach a more permanent connection.

Mi-Su is someone who has always had a difficult time trusting. This isn't uncommon from someone who's lacking in self-esteem and self-love. Hyun-woo is someone who is trying to keep the past from tainting his relationship with Mi-Su.

People keep secrets for a reason, and they should never feel pressure to reveal something if they do not feel ready. Prying, of course, never ends well. However, keeping a secret from someone can also come back to bite you.

The performances are very good, even if the plot loses a bit of traction in the last 30 minutes or so. Some of the scenes don't make a lot of sense toward the end, but ultimately, the director finds a way to save the story before it falls flat on its face, even if the ending is a bit cliched and cheesy. I would have liked to have seen the two characters talk things out. A lack of communication is another indication that this relationship isn't likely to succeed.

I can't help thinking that Hyun-woo and Mi-Su will never be able to have a successful relationship until each of them begins to love themselves. A dysfunctional relationship involving two gloomy people, isn't likely to succeed. Eckhart Tolle wisely points out, "Movies always have those happy endings when the two people get together. However, they never tell you what comes after."

If the writer and director had filled in some of the holes of the movie, it would have been much better. However, this is a very watchable, and mostly enjoyable, film.

Today
(1952)

Full of Monsters and Easily the Worst Morning Show on Television!
Bring on the alcoholics in Kathie Lee Gifford and Hota Kotb. These women can't speak without a drink in front of them. For a morning show, impressionable for children and families, this sets a horrific precident. Then again, it's The Today Show.

Matt Lauer...well, what more can be said abou this nut-job?

Jenna Bush, daughter of the the worst president in U.S. history (until now), who decimated foreign policy abroad; lied to the American public about WMDs in Iraq in order for his oil companies (and others!) to profit; slaughtered more children in the raids of Iraq than all of the children lost in both atomic bombs in Japan; basically, an absolute monster with a staff of monsters (Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, etc.); endorsed inhumane torture, going against every precident of the Geneva Convention.

Is NBC trying to fill the slots with the most inhuman, diabolical monsters in the U.S.? If they are, they've succeeded. Who's next? Trump? Perhaps a serial killer?

I honestly don't know how anyone can, in good conscience, support a show like this. My brother watches it every morning, and as soon as he leaves the room, I change the channel. The interviews are unprofessionally conducted and they're also not even that interesting. The show should either be completely re-hauled or scrapped altogether.

Ssawooja Gwishina
(2016)

Strong Start, But With a Very Weak Finish
I watched "Oh My Ghost" a while back, and that series is infinitely superior to this one. It had intelligent characters, a great plot with some good twists, and a cast that was first-rate, led by Bo-Young Park, who is one of the best in the business.

This series is a poor imitation by comparison. It actually starts out quite strong with interesting characters, for the most part, and an interesting story. However, much like a house of cards, everything falls to pieces in the last 4-5 episodes when one is expecting things to continue strongly.

Bong-Pal Park is a young college student living on his own, majoring in Economics, and yet he has an interesting ability: he can see, hear, and even fight ghosts. In fact, he's earning money by being hired as an exorcist. This isn't your "western" exorcist who recites prayers and performs silly rituals, but a man who literally beats up ghosts until they disappear/move on. Yeah, I know...it's a bit silly too. Bong-Pal is a loner who doesn't interact with anyone except for a disheveled and inept monk who feels responsible for Bong-Pal's situation.

Bong-Pal is called to exorcise a ghost at a haunted high school. It's there that he meets Hyeon-Ji Kim, a rather weak, vain, and pesky ghost.

After a fight, she begins following him all around, and they end up teaming up together to fight ghosts. Yes, she can fight them too.

Meanwhile, we have Professor Joon Hye-Seong, who has a way of making any girl sway in her shoes, but is far more diabolical than meets the eye.

There is a connection between all three characters which attempts to drive the story.

The series is intriguing while Bong-Pal and Hyeon-Ji are together. However, a twist unfolds that shakes things up. You can't very well have a K-Drama without a wedge that drives them apart, can you?

We find that, for some reason (unexplained) that Hyeon-Ji is an even weaker and more pathetic young girl than we thought. For some reason, her personality changes, and she's a 24-year-old woman living under the heels of her overbearing, controlling mother. Yes, she has no say in her life, which unfortunately, is very typical of Asian mothers. I ought to know as I've worked as an ESL teacher in China, Korea, and Taiwan. Hyeon-Ji may be 24, but she acts like she's 14, and her mother treats her as such. Some of the worst parents in the world are Asian and American parents. Neither one knows how to empower. One rules by complete control, and the other spoils their kids with everything under the sun. Both are pathetic.

To make matters worse, she's a typical 24-year-old Korean woman who acts 10 years younger than she is, because she's so immature. She gets upset if calls/texts aren't immediately returned (also typical of Korean women) which are followed up with threats of being cut-off permanently if an immediate response isn't given, and she gets upset if all of the attention isn't on her. She pouts and constantly asks, "Did you miss me?"

A 24-year-old woman (who's actually a couple of years older by now) having to ask her boyfriend to ask for permission to date, is one of the saddest and most pathetic things in any culture. This isn't the 1900s!

Episode 15 finally gives us a silly, unconvincing climactic battle. At one point, Hyeon-Ji is asked to get the weapon that will kill the evil spirit. She sits on the ground for 5 minutes before being told again. She literally says and does nothing during the whole battle. The series should have ended here.

Instead, we're giving a completely useless and unnecessary Episode 16 that will challenge even the most hearty viewer to sit through as we are lulled to sleep because it took the writers a whole episode to sort things out with Bong-Pal and Hyeon-ji. We're given scenes that any decent editor would have scrapped! I couldn't even get through the final episode. I finally shut it off with, "Enough!"

If you're looking for a good series to watch, I highly recommend the vastly superior, "Oh My Ghost." Leave this one to the exorcists, as that's what it would take to sort through this contrived mess of a series!

Never Have I Ever
(2020)

A Series That Starts Strong...And Then It Declines
Too many shows today struggle to find its identity and its tone. "Never Have I Ever" is one of these series where the writers start things off with great humor and hilarious situations, only to then be bogged down with too much melodrama as well as making sure that everything is wrapped up nicely with a pretty bow.

Writers today don't know how to flesh a story out. Keep the viewer interested and wanting more rather than making sure everything is fixed and all problems are resolved. I'm more apt to continue viewing when things aren't resolved and I want to find out what will happen next.

The first 4-5 episodes are very funny with many humorous situations. Devi, in many ways, is a bit of a "fish-out-of-water" as a typical brainiac teen who is well-accomplished in school, has two close friends, but is left wanting more for herself. This is especially true given that she has a loving, but very controlling mother, which is typical of Asian mothers. I know as I've worked overseas as an ESL teacher for years. Devi is also a product of cross-cultural influences between her mother at home and her environment at school with westerners in Los Angeles. Devi speaks and even acts more like an American student than an Indian one.

The last half of the series is bogged down too much in melodrama as Devi finds herself at odds with her friends, in conflict and turmoil from her mother, and trying to find out exactly what her feelings are for the most popular boy in school, who always seems to be running hot and cold with her. Devi is also trying to resolve the pain of losing her father, the one parent she always felt closest to.

The series is 10 episodes long, and most of what conflicts that are presented, I wanted to see carry over into subsequent seasons (which there obviously will be). The tone changes as the stories begin to lose their appeal.

However, the performances of pretty much the entire cast are very good. Although, I have to admit that the narration by John McEnroe is easily the highlight, and often the most hilarious, of the performances.

I hope the writers do a better job in the seasons to come.

37 sekanzu
(2019)

Don't Treat Me Like I'm Broken
Yuma Takada is a 23-year-old woman who suffers from cerebral palsey. However, she is also an extremely talented manga artist and writer. An arrangement is made with her friend, as they publish a well-known manga series, but her friend, Sayakara gets all of the credit (despite not being an artist or a writer) even though Yuma gets some payment for the job.

Yuma lives with her loving but overprotective mother who treats her more like a 10-year-old. She doesn't like Yuma going out on her own or wearing dresses as "there are too many creeps out there."

Having had enough of the oppressive lifestyle where she is used and abused, she attempts to fight for her independence. Finding some discarded adult manga books, she calls the various publishers to find out if they have job-openings. She's called into the offices of one, asking that she submit her work. Having had no sexual experiences of her own, Yuma's asked to come back when she has some so that her stories will be more authentic and realistic.

Yuma tries in vain to acquire some sexual experiences by going down to the red-light district on her own. Of course, things don't go as she planned, but she does meet a high-priced escort in Mai, who encourages her to live and enjoy life. Mai ends up being Yuma's window of opportunity toward a life of freedom as she is arguably the first person to treat her as a normal human being.

This drives a deeper and wider wedge between Yuma and her mother, who finds out what Yuma has been doing. Yuma eventually runs away but is taken in by Toshi, Mai's driver. Yuma decides to try and find the father that she never knew, and in doing so, finds yet another family member she had no knowledge of. This also gives the viewer the answer to the significance of 37 seconds, which is revealed in a beautiful scene.

People are often uncomfortable when dealing with people with disabilities, not realizing that they are people just like anyone else. They have the same thoughts, dreams, feelings, and goals. But most people treat them as though they are broken. We end up cheering for Yuma as she fights for her own freedom with as much determination as when she's forced to crawl across the floor in order to get from one place to another. The point is, she can do it. She can do many things if people would simply give her the opportunity.

This is one of the most delightful films I've seen in a while that is completely character-driven. Actress Mei Kayama gives us a Yuma who as the voice of pure sweetness and the heart of a lion. She doesn't want protection. She wants to live and be who she is, and who has the right to keep her (or anyone!) from fulfilling her goals?

The film iis heartfelt, but it isn't bogged down in melodrama or at risk of being too sentimental because the goal isn't to make the viewer feel sorry for Yuma. The goal is to make the viewer cheer Yuma on, and writer-director Hikari gives us that kind of a movie.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: 'Til Death Do Us Part
(1999)
Episode 18, Season 7

The Best Addition With the Worst Addition!
The second of a two-parter that actually carries through to the end of the series has three major plot points: 1) Sisko wants to marry Yates, despite the Bajoran Prophets warning him that to do so would be catastrophic. 2) Dukat has had plastic surgery to pass himself off as a Bajoran. Along with a story, he infiltrates Kai Wenn's inner circle. 3) The best addition to the DS9 cast in Worf is a prisoner aboard a Breen warship along with the worst addition to the DS9 cast in Ezri Dax (pitifully played by amateur/sub-par actress Nicole De Boer.

The first two plot points are well played out leaving the viewer to wonder how the impact of Sisko's decision and Dukat's plans will ultimately affect what is happening at DS9.

The final plot point has Ezri Dax, still portrayed like a 16-year-old schoolgirl (and the maturity level of that age to boot) and Worf sharing a cell. Both are tortured and both begin having strange dreams. This is after the cringe-worthy coupling between the two in the previous episode that has the viewer going, "No, No, NO! Please, God! No!" It has me continue to wish that the Dax character had been written out altogether. I'd rather have none than a bad one.

Overall, this is a good second-parter. My only resignation is that Ezri Dax is used as a major character in the plot.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Field of Fire
(1999)
Episode 13, Season 7

One of the Worst Attempts of a Murder Mystery I've Ever Seen
Deep Space Nine is classic Star Trek, and I am thoroughly enjoying the series until Season 7 filler episodes which are leaving a lot to be desired.

The sad part is that the premise of the episode is actually an excellent one, but then the writers seemed to have painted themselves into a corner and had no clue how to get out of it. So, they end up using some ridiculous plot devices to bail themselves out.

A young Starfleet officer is murdered on DS9. For some reason, Ezri Dax attempts to conduct her own investigation because she has some connection with former host, Joran, who was a serial killer. Oh, yes. Odo is also investigating, but the writers decides to focus on Ezri.

Chief O'Brien finds out that a projectile weapons is not only being used, but that the bullets are being "transported" just in front of their targets. Obviously, this makes finding the killer especially difficult.

Joran tries to get Ezri to think like the killer (I guess this is a sorry attempt at FBI behavioral sciences profiling).

Now, the plot is actually working, until Ezri comes up with some incredible leaps and, frankly, dumb luck to discover the killer. Somehow, she is able to glean from three photographs that the killer is a Vulcan simply because the victims are smiling. Yeah...suddenly Ezri Dax is smarter than Sherlock frickin' Holmes! There are over 40 Vulcans on the station. A random Vulcan just happens to get onto the elevator with her. Joran says, "That's him!" Ezri Dax also has the luck of the gods on her side. Never mind that Sisko somehow doesn't know a thing about these weapons, their capabilities, and why they're even on the station.

Aside from the most ludicrous explanation for a motive that I've ever heard, Nicole De Boer is just not a good actress at all. I'd hoped after the first few episodes of the season, she would really settle in and start to carve out her character. She navigates Ezri Dax like a high school girl who's just a bundle of emotions: timid, insecure, perky, upbeat, confused, immature, and dedicated, to name a few. She's nothing more than an obnoxious whirlwind that brings nothing to the cast.

Anyway, this is an episode that isn't as bad as "Spock's Brain" but it's one that I won't ever be watching again.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Covenant
(1998)
Episode 9, Season 7

Another Character Failure by Rene Echevarria
Whenever you sacrifice character for the sake of making the plot work, you've already failed as a writer. Rene Echevarria doesn't seem to know the characters very well at all, which doesn't speak very well of him as a writer.

The best episodes tend to be the ones written by Ronald D. Moore, who wrote some great episodes for SNG and became the mastermind behind "Battlestar Galactica."

Here, we have Colonel Kira who is spirited away Empok Nor by Vedek Fala only find that he is a member of a cult that worships and follows the Pah-Wraiths. The leader of this cult ends up being Gul Dukat. Over the run of the series, Dukat has been on my favorite villains. He's played so well by Marc Alaimo. Ever since he was possessed by a Pah Wraith, Dukat believes he has found a new purpose, or has he?

Kira has always been one of more passionate and temperamental characters of DS9. She soon find herelf before the man who killed one of her best friends in Jadzia Dax, and there is little more than a protest by Kira. Given her character over the run of the series, I don't see Kira being so casual about it. But, if Kira were to express her anger more viciously and even try to take out Dukat, we'd never have the storyline that is so poorly put before us. How would most people react to being in the presence of someone who'd just killed their best friend?

Dukat comes off like the worst evangelical minister you've ever heard. Never mind that a Cardassian has found a way to bewitch over forty Bajorans into following him. It's as if no one had any ideas about what to do with Dukat, at his point in time, and decided to reduce the character in a religious, babbling-spouting fool. What a waste of a great character.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Afterimage
(1998)
Episode 3, Season 7

Amateur Hour by Writer Rene Echevarria and Actress Nicole De Boer
It's sad that after six seasons when a writer still doesn't know the characters. There are so many missed plot holes and holes in characters, you have to wonder if an amateur writing student at a local college actually wrote this episode.

Part of the blame must also go to Nicole De Boer, who seems absolutely clueless about how to play Dax. Yes, I understand that the Dax has inherited a new host in Ezri, but the years of wisdom and memories should still be intact. And yet Ezri walks around the station skittish of everything but her own shadow. And, yes, the argument that she's trying to get used to the symbiote is a stretch. How long did it take Jadzia in the first epsiode? Yeah, I rest my case.

My biggest issue, however, is how much pain Worf is in over the loss of his wife, and yet he's presented as the problem. The last episode ends with Dax walking off and saying, "Worf, we've got a lot to talk about." Really? The man LOST HIS WIFE, and this is what Dax says to him?! She can't figure out why he's avoiding her. Gee, I wonder why. So, instead, she begins avoiding him. I don't see Dax doing this. Not after being married to him and seeing how much pain he's in. No, Dax would find a way to talk to him and try to help. Instead, De Boer plays Dax like a high school girl who's afraid of being seen by the boy she actually likes.

I was also surprised that there were no scenes with Sisko and Worf. Sisko lost his own wife. He knows what it's like and how painful it is. As a writer myself, I would have definitely included some scenes between Worf and Sisko, with Sisko trying to help Worf through his pain. And, please! Worf being intimidated by Sisko is just stupid. Worf isn't intimidated by anyone, and frankly Picard could be a much tougher captain than Sisko.

This episode had so much potential, and yet it fails on most every front. The only storyline that was interesting was the one involving Garak and why he's experiencing such intense claustrophobia. That storyline keeps this episode from being a complete disaster.

I'm hoping De Boer starts getting a handle on her character as the season evolves, as she's shaping up to be the worst actor of the cast, as she clearly doesn't know her character at all. If things were going to be this bad, they should have just written off the character of Dax when Jadzia was killed.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Change of Heart
(1998)
Episode 16, Season 6

Love or Duty?
This episode gives us an interesting platform for debate: which would you choose? Love or Duty? It might seem "obvious" to someone who is not serving in the field with a spouse, and it tends to be those who find it easy to judge Worf for his actions...or inaction, depending upon your perspective.

Captain Picard faced a similar challenge when he sent someone he loved into a dangerous situation that might have resulted in her not coming back. Only after she did come back did he realize that he couldn't be impartial as her captain, and they agreed that she should transfer.

Dax is injured, to the point where her prospect isn't hopeful that she will survive without intervention. Worf has to decide which is most important: his wife or the mission. It doesn't matter that the mission wouldn't have succeeded anyway as Worf did not know that at the time. It still makes the viewer wonder...what if the mission could have succeeded? What then? How would Sisko and Starfleet have dealt with Worf?

Captain Sisko puts it to Worf perfectly...first, as his captain, and then as a man. He understands and even appreciates the quandry that Worf was in, and he cannot judge him for what he did as Sisko admits that he would have done the same thing had it been Jennifer.

Worf isn't sorry for his decision, as he tells Dax that he would have made the same choice again. You have appreciate someone who is willing to live with their choice. After all, isn't that what everyone ultimately does in life?

Still, Sisko makes the wise choice of letting Worf know that he and Dax can never again serve together on their own. Frankly, this is something that should have been implemented the moment Worf and Dax married. Kira should have assigned someone else in place of one of them. However, that is "neither here nor there." The premise is to make one reflect and offer the choice: what would YOU have done? That is what makes this episode so compelling.

Little House on the Prairie: Back to School: Part 2
(1979)
Episode 2, Season 6

Classic Opener to Season 6!
Laura has to deal wit the fallout of sabotaging Nellie's dinner with Almanzo. She doesn't have a real problem apologizing to Nellie, but she absolutely refuses to apologize to Almanzo. This is because she doesn't want to be escorted by Caroline, thus making Laura feel like a little girl.

Ah, it's funny how teenagers are so anxious to grow up! In Laura's case, it's even more fervent. She finds out that she can take an exam to finish school, which would get her one step closer to getting a teacher's license. While Laura does want to be a teacher, her motivations are more about getting Almanzo to notice her as a young woman. The things we do to make others notice and like us.

Mrs. Wilder tells Laura the subjects she'll be tested in, but when Laura goes to Nellie to ask for the books she needs to study, Nellie conveniently tells her that there wasn't any History on the test that she took. Laura, naively believes her. It's hard to believe that Laura is that trusting of Nellie after what Laura had just done to her.

Of course, Laura studies hard, takes the test, and fails miserably when she discovers that much of the test was in History. Crushed by the failure, Laura spots Nellie on her way home. Now, it's Laura's turn for some payback, as she and Nellie end up in a classic mud-wrestling fight. Alison Arngrim stated that pigs frequented the area, and she was certain that she'd swallowed more than just dirt during filming of the famous tussle!

Tit for tat, we're not done yet! Nellie shows up at her restaurant covered in mud, giving Charles, Caroline, and Jonathan fits of laughter as a result. Charles's laughter at Nellie's expense is quickly quenched when she tells him that Laura attacked her because she saw Laura and Almanzo kissing. This, of course, sets Charles off after Almanzo in a fit of anger.

Somehow, with mending broken ribs, Charles is able to punch Almanzo twice when poor Almanzo answeres the knock at the door. Laura sets her father straight about what happened and storms out, and showing her true maturity, by shouting, "I'm a woman! A woman! And I hate all of you!"

This time, it's Caroline who has to console her heartbroken daughter telling her to start acting like a woman instead of a little girl. There are times I appreciate Caroline's wisdom even more than Charles's. This was definitely one of them.

This two-part episode was a fantastic way to open Season 6, and it has certainly taken its rightful place as one of LHOP's best episodes!

Wish Man
(2019)

Could Have Been So Much Better!
There's a problem when you juggle several storylines, and you try to give equal time to each of them. Like what happens with a juggler, you end up dropping all of them. This is what happens in this film.

Theo Davis tries to juggle multiple storylines, rather than focusing on the one that matters; the one that everyone wants to see. And what ends up happening is that you have a very uneven script that bobs and weaves all over the place.

Movies and shows have what are called "A," "B," "C," and so forth storylines, listed in order of importance and focus. Your "A" storyline is the one given the most attention and focus. It declines from there based upon the previously mentioned criteria.

Davis gives us these storylines: Frank growing up and the hardships he endures; Frank as a police officer recovering from a nearly fatal accident; Frank as a police officer dealing with corruption within the department as two officers attempt to set him up; Frank meeting Michael, a young boy who is terminally ill and wishes to be a police officer, as his favorite program is CHiPs.

The audience is most interested in Frank's accident and his desire to help Michael. The backstory should have been cut to only a few scenes that show what he went through growing up. The rest has nothing to do with the focal point of the story, which is how the Make-A-Wish program began. The inter-departmental investigation is another storyline that has no bearing or purpose, and it should have been scrapped.

Had the writing and directing maintained its focus on the above-mentioned storylines, you would have had a very cohesive story that was endearing and heart-warming. Instead, because we're served with multiple storylines, we don't feel the connection with Frank and Michael that we should have.

Performances are very good in this film. A lot of young, upcoming talent mixed with some veteran actors you'll undoubtedly recognize. It's just a shame that this story wasn't given its due attention as it certainly deserves. The Make-A-Wish foundation is one of the most amazing nonprofit organizations, granting wishes to hundreds and thousands of kids. Such an organization certainly deserved much more focus and screen time than the 10-15 minutes it was given.

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