Review: Ode to Joy Season I

As Ode to Joy II  欢乐颂 2 is geared up for release, here’s a review of season 1 of the hit series from 2016.

Witty dialogue and a cast of memorable characters make Ode to Joy one of the most fun sit-coms in a while.  Unfortunately, the  series is often dogged down by attempts to shift to a melodrama that makes the ff button a necessary friend.

The series focuses around the unlikely friendship between five women who share a floor in an apartment complex in Shanghai. There’s Andi (An Di?), the business professional with a fear of human touch, Qu Xiaoxiao, the heiress fighting  for the family inheritance,  Fan Shengmei, the gold-digger with an entitled family, Qiu Yingying, the happy-go-lucky college grad,  and Guan Ju’er, the ordinary white-collared girl who has never said no in her life.

Coming from a misogynistic rural  family, Fan Shengmei (Jiang Xin) is vain, self-centered, but also righteous and protective. She would lie to help out a friend, but also to save face. The first lets her befriend the women in the apartment complex, but the second gets her in trouble  as she falls for men who use her vanity to play her.  When she falls in love with a  man faked his own wealth to date her, she is caught between love and vanity.  Imperfect, complex, and sharp-tongued, Fan’s characterization is perfect.

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Review: The Devotion of Suspect X

Verdict: Director Alec Su’s second attempt is an improvement from his first and benefits from a much better story, stunning cinematography, but the screenplay is still choppy and leaves more to be desired.

The brilliant story of The Devotion of Suspect X is recaptured for the Chinese audience in director Alec Su’s second film. Aided by a much superior story, a better cast, and more fitting cinematography, Alec Su unfortunately is handicapped by his poor control of the film.

The suspense/detective tale with a twist features Zhang Luyi as Shi Hong, a genius and a loner who tries to help his neighbor Chen Jing (Ruby Lin) to cover up her murder of her ex-husband. Unfortunately for the pair, their crime caught the eye of Tang Chuan (Wang Kai), a physicist and Shi Hong’s best friend in high school. Tang Chuan is called upon to help detective Luo Miao (Ye Zuxin) to solve the murder, but along the way gets caught in the crime itself.

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Devotion of Suspect X opens this weekend in U.S./Canada/U.K./Australia

You can usually tell who’s on the same side by the matching clothes.

The Devotion of Suspect X is one of three detective films airing this weekend, but viewers abroad will only have a chance to see one, so you should take it, if only so my local cinema will be motivated to air it next weekend.

The film stars Wang Kai, Zhang Luyi, Ruby Lin, and Ye Zuxin, and is directed by Alec Su. Screening information here

Devotion of Suspect X trailer, NYC meet-up announcement

 

N.A. Poster by Yvonne_丫丫@Weibo

Lucky fans abroad will actually see the film before those in China, where the film airs on April 1st.  N.A. poster by Yvonne_丫丫@Weibo

Detective thriller “The Devotion of Suspect X” starring Wang Kai, Zhang Luyi, and Ruby Lin,  has finally released an official trailer.  Its overseas distributor, China Lion Group, has also confirmed it will be released in the U.S. and Canada on March 31st, one day ahead of China.   London and Australian distributions are still in thetalks.

Also, a group of Wang Kai fans are meeting up in NYC on the morning of April 1st at AMC Empire near Times Square to watch it.  Let me know if you’re interested or join the group on Weibo.

 

Couple stills for Ode to Joy 2

Season 2 of Ode to Joy has released stills of the five ladies Liu TaoJiang Xin, Wang Ziwen, Yang Zi and Qiao Xin and their respective pairings. I’m still interested in checking out the premiere, though I’ve been keeping hopes low after season 1 fell short of expectations.

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When a Snail Falls in Love confirms air date

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When A Snail Falls in Love has released new posters and a trailer, along with an official air date of October 24thWang Ziwen (Ode to Joy) stars as the titular ‘snail’ Xu Xu, a physically petite newbie detective learning the ropes with her superior Ji Bai, played by Wang Kai (recently seen in variety show Fighting Man). The two are currently filming Ode to Joy 2.

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Wang Kai fields sexist question about “leftover women”

Dear reporter: If you don't have anything important to ask, don't.

Dear reporters: If you don’t have any good question to ask, don’t.

While attending a charity event this week, master Wang Kai gracefully responded to a WTF question from a reporter following a couple of questions about a potential relationship with Stay With Me co-star Joe Chen Qiao’en.  Props for him for giving such an eloquent answer, because I would’ve just been shocked someone just compared my friend to leftovers to my face. Full interview here.

Q: Would you two talk about relationship problems? You know a lot of people are saying Chen Qiao’en is a famous “leftover woman”, and recently there’s been a lot of celebrity “leftover women” getting shotgun weddings, what are your thoughts? 

Wang Kai:  “Leftover women” isn’t necessarily derogatory. In today’s society, I think it should be complimentary. Because you’re excellent enough, because you have a higher standard, so you might be in a relationship later. But that’s not a bad thing. The relationship that’s right for you will just come later.

Note: “Leftover women 剩女” is a recently coined term to deprecate unmarried older women, comparing to leftover food. Chen Qiao’en actually had a drama, SOP Queen 胜女的代价, which trie to reclaim the term for career-focused women.

Forget fanmail – young Chinese are finding a new way of paying tribute to their favorite stars: charity

On Weibo, the "Ming Cheng Road" sparked hot discussion and a hunt for the mysterious patron.

I ask myself, “What would you do if you had more time?”
You could have done so much more if only you had time.

Ming Cheng is best known as the handsome and diligent butler of the well-connected Ming family in 1940s Shanghai. He also happens to work for the KMT intelligence agency – and as an undercover operative for the Communist Party of China.

The fictional star of TV drama The Disguiser, a hugely popular spy drama that aired in China last year, Ming Cheng quickly became beloved by viewers as a brave and resourceful patriot. He was a character whose very appeal seemed to spring from the dramatic period in which he resided – until, that is, this spring, when Ming walked out from the screen into the real world.

In May, news began to spread online about the construction of a 1.5-kilometer dirt road in an impoverished, mountainous area of Sichuan Province that was to be a boon for the village, allowing for students to attend school and the local economy to develop. The project in and of itself wasn’t so unusual – what was, was the plaque naming its benefactor. It read, “Donator: Ming Cheng.”

Fans of the show were abuzz – who really donated that road on behalf of Ming Cheng?

I cried when I first saw news of this because Ming Cheng is so close to my heart, and it was incredibly touching to see that a fan chose to do this in his name.   Since then, a few of Wang Kai’s fans have individually donated roads in the names of Xiao Jingyan from Nirvana in Fire, Fang Mengwei from All Quiet in Peking, and a school library in the name of Qi Yong from Educated Youth in his home-province.

More on Global Times’ article on fans of Chris Li Yuchun,  Lu Han, Kris Wu, and TF Boys  doing charity here.

P.S. The caption is a hint to the next Disguiser Discussions post.