If not for the pandemic, cinema lovers would have flocked to theaters for the next Marvel or DC superhero movie. Instead streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ have drawn the attention of people mostly holed up in their homes. (Even the House committee on ways and means on July 28 was attracted to these as source of revenue, having approved a bill imposing a 12 percent value-added tax on digital transactions in the country.)
With studios holding on to their crown jewels with expected huge returns, audiences have been treated to re-runs, low-budget flicks and a few originals. According to PC Mag, the 10 best video streaming services for 2020 are Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, VRV, YouTubeTV, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, fuboTV, HBO Max and Tubi.
Netflix is ranked number one, and rightly so. It has been pouring money into films that cost millions starring the most important actors and actresses. Among its decorated originals are “Roma,” “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.” But I guess it has gained more subscribers lately with Hallyu or Korean Wave. It has flooded its line-up of features with K-drama. Or maybe it’s just my wife and I becoming late bloomers in getting hooked?
The Oscar win of “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, gave artistic credence to South Korean-made features and made international audiences curious of what Netflix offered. Of course, Filipinos must have been among the first to be bitten by Hallyu as early as 2003, with “Bright Girl,” “Autumn in My Heart,” “Lovers in Paris” and “My Girl.” And Filipinos could not just have enough that remakes were produced by GMA Network and ABS-CBN. The one currently showing is “Descendants of the Sun” with Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado in lead roles.
I had always favoured Hollywood talkies, though lately, there has been nothing as good as “Forrest Gump,” “The Truman Show” and “Jerry Maguire.” The TV miniseries that remains to be on top of my list is “Rich Man, Poor Man” (telecast in Channel 7 in 1976) that in a way impacted on my life journey.
The K-dramas that I’ve seen so far have reignited my interest in TV viewing. They deal on human-interest themes and have captivating characters. The storylines at times are unexpected, while the sets are realistic, if not elegant. The romantic scenes remind us of those old films when a kiss was enough to tell us of affection and the closing of the door meant intimacy. Hollywood made features nowadays are just too liberal about sex, violence and language. Think Quentin Tarantino, and you know what I mean.
Let me list down my top five K-dramas this far: “Misaeng: Incomplete Life,” “Revolutionary Love,” “Itaewon Class,” “Crash Landing on You” and “The Heirs.” I am sure there are many others worth our while, but we can’t binge view all the time. We have our own reality dramas to live.