Monday, December 13, 2010

By the pricking of my thumbs, a crummy sequel this way comes

Two weeks of teaching down and I'm feeling pretty good.

Last week was a little more hectic for various reasons. Week two of the term is when we start giving students daily tests, three tests for the first class of the week and one for the second, and even though I'd only had one week under my belt I was already used to how much class time it would take to get everything done. The first couple days I felt rushed grading everything, inputting the scores online, and just in general being properly prepared for classes. I went in extra early all week since I'm still new and not only want to make a good impression but also needed that added hour to be sure I didn't forget to do anything.

By Friday it had all sort of fallen into place so I'm breathing easy again. My other stress had to do with money. When I came over I exchanged a few hundred dollars to won and brought the rest in traveler's cheques, thinking I didn't want to be walking around with huge amounts of money in cash. Only when I went to the bank this week to cash some of the cheques they weren't able to process them because I didn't have my passport. I didn't have my passport though because the school is setting up my bank account and getting my Alien Registration Card which, of course, requires the presence of my passport.

Blergh. So I was in a bit of a pickle. I still had a chunk of cash left but didn't want to have to stretch it over the weekend, especially considering I needed to go grocery shopping, and I wouldn't have my passport back until sometime this coming week. Luckily one of my fellow teachers, Traci, was awesome enough to sign a couple of the checks that I hadn't stamped my John Hancock on yet and accompany me to the bank to cash them. I felt like kind of an idiot for needing someone to help me out but I hadn't counted on the school having my passport for so long and in retrospect I probably should have just exchanged a couple hundred more in cash before coming. Ah well, lesson learned.

So with my wallet successfully fattened up again I was able to do a few things this weekend. Yesterday I tagged along with Traci and another teacher Jason to Juan (Joo-ahn), a small section within Incheon, where their church was screening the first two Narnia movies with the intention of seeing the third right afterwards. It was a pretty cool group of people and the guy organizing the whole thing bought the tickets all together because apparently it's assigned seating at Korean theaters. I've been in this country for three weeks now and assigned seating in a movie theater is thus far the strangest thing to me.
CGV is Korea's biggest movie theater chain.
The theater was really big and we got to our seats just a few minutes before it started so I didn't get a chance to see too much of what they show before their flicks but mostly it was commercials. There was one preview for a kid's movie that's coming out but it was more like an ad than a trailer. This was my first time seeing a movie here though so I'm wondering if this is typical or just at this chain.
So the movie itself. Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Probably tied for my first favorite book in the series. It's silver screen twin however... kind of a mess. I loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I own it and watch it often. Prince Caspian I only saw once and actually enjoyed it better seeing it a second time around yesterday. It wasn't held together quite as nicely as its predecessor but I'd watch it again.

This one though, eeshk. You could really tell that Disney did not have a hand in it this time which is too bad because it had a lot of potential to be good. Aside from nit-picky things like Ben Barnes suddenly dropping Caspian's Spanish accent and the voice change for Reepicheep (I like Simon Pegg but I missed Eddie Izzard) it was overall a weak effort. I appreciate that the source material often needs to be changed to translate better onto the big screen but the whole evil-green-people-snatching-mist storyline was laaame and at one point they  totally used the same sound effect that Lost's smoke monster was notorious for.

Mostly it was the special effects that turned me off though. I'm pretty sure Weta Workshop of Lord of the Rings fame worked on this Narnia movie as they did the others but it could not possibly have been in the same capacity because towards the end of the movie there's a battle between the ship and a sea monster that now officially registers are some of the crummiest special effects I've seen. And I say this as someone who frequently watches Sci-Fi original movies. It was bad.

My understanding is that they have plans to adapt more of the books with The Silver Chair up next since there was a blatant shout out to Jill Pole at the very end of the movie which was almost as bad as the, "Here's your veggie platter Stephenie!" line that accompanied Stephenie Meyer's Twilight cameo. If that's the case though I think Voyage of the Dawn Treader really under-utilized Eustace. The little inserts of Susan and Peter in this one showed that they were nervous to have only two of the Pevensie's shouldering the film so I can't really imagine how they're going to handle putting it all on one slightly less annoying Pevensie cousin in the next one.

And so ends my movie review/rant. I promise that this blog will first and foremost be about the goings-on in Korea but I'd be lying if I said it won't be peppered quite often with bits of geekery here and there. If I were sitting at home I'd be writing about the same things. That's not going to change just because I'm here but I will do my best to tailor it accordingly!

So after the movie marathon yesterday I slept in late today then woke up and went to the Arts Center to see:
I'd seen the posters up last weekend and luckily I could get the website in English so I got all the info for the last showing at 3pm today and just showed up around 2pm with the hopes that there would still be tickets left. There were and I ended up sitting in the third row! The theater wasn't packed which I always think is too bad for the performers who've been practicing so hard but it was sweet for me since I scored such a good seat.
It did fill in a lot more than this. This was just the only shot I could get before the usher told me to put my camera away.
It was a pretty good performance. Sometimes when I'm watching something in another language I wonder if actually the acting is terrible but because I can't understand a word of it I don't notice. The only exception is dramas or soap operas because everyone is so dramatic that universally you just know it's bad.

All the actors seemed decent in this though. I bought a program before the show and fortunately my very basic ability to read Korean paired with the fact that the characters names are exactly the same as in English meant I had a chance to figure out before the show started who was who, just in case I got lost. I'd re-read some of the scenes last night and skimmed the summary on Wikipedia because I haven't read Macbeth since high school and this was the first time I saw it performed.

For the most part they went with a traditional interpretation, Elizabethan costumes and such. The set was different but in a good way. Very minimalistic with a big slanted platform (you can see it a little in that last picture up there) that had a couple sets of stairs leading off. The whole thing rotated every few scenes. They had six witches instead of three and those ladies were creepy. Also Fleance was played by a woman which I thought was pretty cool. And Lady Macbeth was a crazy ass ice queen as is to be expected. The actress kept staring off at the same distant point whenever she spoke her lines, it was kind of unnerving actually.

It was strange not having subtitles or anything but it was a pretty cool experience. I'm not sure I would see a show that I was completely unfamiliar with though. Knowing the story made it easy to follow along.

Also these are two of their upcoming shows:
Merry Grease Mas! Oh Korea, never change.

Trivia of the Day: Empress Myeongseong, also known as Queen Min, was the first official wife of King Gojong, the twenty-sixth king of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. The Japanese considered her as an obstacle against its overseas expansion. Efforts to remove her from the political arena compelled the Empress to take a harsher stand against Japanese influence. In the early morning of October 8, 1895, sword-bearing assassins, allegedly under orders from Miura GorĊ (the Japanese Minister to Korea at that time and a retired army lieutenant-general), entered Gyeongbok Palace. Upon entering the Queen's Quarters (Okhoru), the assassins "killed three court [women] suspected of being Empress Myeongseong. When they confirmed that one of them was the Empress, they burned the corpse in a pine forest in front of the Okhoru complex, and then dispersed the ashes." She was 43 years-old. In South Korea, there is renewed interest in her life because of recent novels, TV drama and musical. In Korea she is viewed by many as a national heroine, for striving diplomatically and politically to keep Korea independent of foreign influence. She had planned to modernize Korea.

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