Just Bananas About: Week of 10/24/14

There are two new weekend dramas that started last week. They’re both dramas in which the main character makes a move to change the current path their following. One is a comedy while the other is a slice of life drama.

It’s pretty rare for me to watch weekend dramas in general but I was drawn to this one because of the cast. Not that they’re amazing actors but they seemed like a fun bunch. The drama is about a rock band called Excellent Souls or ExSo and find that they’re not living the life they wanted in their late 20’s. As a last ditch effort to revive their dreams, they take up life on the farm in order to help fund a new album.

Lee Hong Ki leads the drama as band leader and lead singer, Lee Min Ki. I haven’t seen much of his work but I’m beginning to wonder if he keeps playing the same type of character. He’s the same kind of arrogant and wacky in Warm Farewell. However, he does play that type well and I like that the camera favors his strength by depicting him with these extreme close-up, angled shots to play up the comedy.

I like that already we get a serious backstory for Yoo Han Chul (Lee Shi Un). One the one hand, it seems the men in his family has a history of dreaming about being a famous musician and failing at it to the extreme annoyance of his mother. On the other hand, he had just been diagnosed with liver cancer so there’s a ticking time bomb in his future.

As for the rest of the crew, Han Ki Joon (Kwak Dong Yun) is the maknae drummer while Kang Hyuk (Park Min Woo) is the happy-go-lucky puppy. Sure, they’re both cute but I’m going to hold out and see what their characters offer up to the overall plot.

Finally, I’m already loving the wacky townsfolk. There’s Lee Ha Nui who always seems to come off very polished and I’m excited to see this countrified side to her character Kang Yoon Hee.

There’s also Park Sang Deuk (Suh Dong Won), the town drunk and bachelor, and there’s our “favorite” skunkhead mob boss from Triangle who is now playing a simple apple farmer Han In Ki (Kim Byung Ok) who has it out for the band when he catches them stealing his apples.

Despite the hoopla involving the band being named ExSo which sounds like EXO and angered its fans, I have to admit that I really liked the way the drama handled it. With Min Ki insisting that it was his band’s name first and a bunch of avid EXO fans showing him who rules. To top it off, looks like the band is in for a name change with Ki Joon making it a condition for him to go along with Min Ki’s let’s get rich by growing cabbage plot.

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The other drama which I just caught up to is Misaeng or Incomplete Life. I didn’t read the webtoon so I didn’t have anything to base it on but I was really concerned about how this tale of office life could translate on screen. I find it fascinating that they could make the tale of the mundane office worker and his daily grind so compelling and emotional.

Meet Jang Geu Rae (Im Shi Wan) who gets hired as the latest intern at One International. He doesn’t have a degree or the various skills desired by lucrative companies. So many people wonder how he was even able to get the position and rumors fly about how he must have the backing of someone higher up. Immediately, he’s labeled as the outcast of intern pool.

What impresses me most is Im Shi Wan’s acting. It has certainly improved over the years and as Jang Geu Rae he brings it to a new level. It’s hard to be an interesting character and play a mediocre person at the same time. Even name is mediocre as it translates as “just alright” or “okay”. However, he is the underdog that we want to root for.

Lee Sung Min always seems to strike me as an office worker so I was so surprised to see how fitting the role of Oh Sang Shik. I liked that he’s a down-to-earth guy who doesn’t give Geu Rae slack but defends him when it just to do so. He even struggles about whether it’s right to out someone else because they have a family. Despite his cold veneer, there’s a guy who deeply cares underneath.

Ahn Young Yi (Kang Sora) is a hard worker and smart. I have to admit that I didn’t recognize her at all in her first scene in the drama and I was all ready to go angry feminist but it’s worth watching until the scene until the end. It shows how much, as a woman, she has to offer the company and that she may be the best intern out of the pool. Young Yi helps Geu Rae out on his trying first day and I love the scene because of Im Shi Wan’s acting but even I’m not sure how their relationship will evolve throughout the drama.

The show has got some interesting cinematography. It’s dull and blue and using fluorescent lighting to invoke the feeling of exhaustion and tiredness. There’s also an interesting choice of the color orange in the scene when Geu Rae is being disciplined. Perhaps there to depict Geu Rae’s current situation as a warning and anger towards his incompetence but it still incorporates that overall feeling of dullness by not going full red. Some very interesting choices being made here that really enhance the emotions in this drama.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel emotionally about this drama as I, too, am an office worker myself. I’m not really sure how the opening sequence relates to the overall story other than making a distinct comparison but I do have days at the office like the ones depicted here and to go home and watch a drama that might make me relive those drab days is not something I wanted.

However, I really think that at the end of the Misaeng day they do impart some moments of lightness and emotional depth so I’m going to keep watching the drama. It’s not quite Office Space, which felt incredibly cathartic, but it’s very relatable.

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