It is rather about the best of what I have watched till date starting from the lockdown of last year. I am presenting this post similar to what a friend would relate to your over a casual dinner. I am not putting things in a definite structure. I am not ranking the programmes. So, if I discuss something first does not mean it is the best or the worst of the ten.
Theatres have either been closed or become out of bound areas for the less daring. I have a TV but I do not have a cable connection. So OTTs have been my only source, Netflix and You Tube being the leading platforms. Many OTT apps and services have been started in India. But they are way behind in terms of the quality and quantity of contents and functionality of their apps.
Up to November 2019 I used to occasionally discuss about favourite movies and serials under a series of posts that I termed ‘watchings of idle hours’. Hope this post will compensate for all the posts I could have written in the last eighteen months, had I continued the series.
This Japanese series Midnight Diner – Tokyo Stories has been a long time favourite. Having watched both the seasons available on Netflix, it was a pleasant surprise to come across the series – Midnight Diner (sans ‘Tokyo Stories’), which was released much earlier, sometime in 2014. It has three seasons. I was surprised to read the New York Times review where in it was stated that you can not binge watch the series as it is slow and meditative. Dear NYT Critic, you may be as wrong as you can be. I have been binge watching it since last week. Maybe you are speaking from the perspective of typical teenagers who can binge watch only fast paced, loud and violent shows. Coincidentally, this is one of those few shows where my wife gives me company or you can say the vice versa.
For those who have never heard of this series let me give a brief. The series is based on a popular manga (graphic novel) series. Most of the actions take place in a small twelve seat restaurant (Izakaya) located on a by lane in Tokyo. It is open from midnight twelve to morning seven. There are regular customers and there are occasional ones. Each episode explores either some interesting background or some interesting episode from the life of those customers. Of course a character’s favourite food is an integral part of each story. What impresses me most is the portrayal of human emotions and relations. The customers come from different backgrounds – some not so honorable. However, we are too human to be black and white heroes or villains. Every one has some weaknesses and some an angelic sides. At the end of the day, the angelic side wins. Everyone also has a survival instinct in spite of not making it big. Quite often it is the so called losers in the stories that leave a more lasting impression than the winners.
Another serial from the far east – South Korea to be precise – that fascinated me and made me binge watch is this romantic drama – When My Love Blooms. I watched this last year perhaps around this time. The series is still available on Netflix. The romance of the main characters that begins in their teenage takes a break and resumes in their middle ages when both are married to different persons and are in totally different circumstances. The romantic stories of the middle age and the teenage run parallel so as to maintain the mystery concerning their break up. This too is slow-paced. But the beauty of the people, the artistic quality of the sets, the enchanting background music, the impressive performance of the characters, superb camera work – in brief, the high quality work done by the whole production unit not only compensates for the slowness but also makes a virtue out of it. I feel that making it fast paced would not have done justice to the theme.
Before you draw the conclusion that being on the wrong side of fifty, it is natural for me to like slow paced shows full of melodrama, let me tell you that I completed watching ‘Game of Thrones’ for the second time. It was not exactly a second time since the supposed first time was not a thorough watch as I fast forwarded often so as to finish watching is as soon as possible.
Game of Thrones is available on Hotstar that has many interesting English movies and series. Problem is, the OTT platform has hardly added any worthwhile show for almost a year. Similar is the case with many Indian OTT platforms. They attract new viewers with a magnum opus and then forget to add worthwhile new content regularly.
I am not going to introduce the series to you. If you have not already watched or heard a lot about GOT and are interested to know, you can visit the wikipedia page or some other site. I would elaborately state my views about the ending of the serial which got a lot of backlash from the hardcore fans. So here is a spoiler alert. If you have not watched the series read no further.