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Sunday, May 24, 2009

COEX and Coraline

After having a kind of rough week, complete with the early symptoms of a cold/flu and intense knee pain -- overuse, I guess, but going up stairs is murder -- I was ready for a day off. And what better way to fill that day than with food and a good movie!

I felt horrible last night and didn't sleep much, so I skipped church this morning to get a little more rest. You know that feeling where all your bones ache for no apparent reason? That's what my entire night was like. Terrible. 

I met Karen a couple of hours later and we headed to COEX for lunch and window-shopping. COEX is the largest shopping center in Seoul and boasts everything from an aquarium to a convention center, plus tons of amazing shops and restaurants. It's crazy how similar malls are around the world -- seriously, a mall in Korea has the same feel as one in England, the USA or the Philippines. There were even Taylor Swift posters plastered all over the walls of one music store. 

We went to my favorite Mexican place for lunch (it's hidden in Hyundai Department Store, for anyone searching for the Gangnam location). Much smaller than its Jonggak branch, Tomatillo was still dishing out fresh and yummy food. Burritos > anything. I ate way too much but ah well, it's the weekend! One day of eating a massive amount of food won't kill anyone. 

The next couple of hours we just walked around COEX and later moved on to Apgujeong, the so-called "Beverly Hills of Seoul." Lots of fancy shops, fancy cars and fancy restaurants. But we weren't in Apgujeong to shop -- instead, we wanted to see Coraline, which was just released in Korea this week. 

It's only showing at handful of theatres in Seoul and most are showing a dubbed version. I've never understood the point of dubbing movies. It distracts so much from the acting and plot in general; at least subtitles are relatively unobtrusive. After the first few minutes of any movie, you forget you're reading subtitles and just settle in to enjoy the movie. (Of course, there the English-language movies annoyingly subtitled in the USA -- case in point, the beautiful Israeli film The Band's Visit, which had small parts in Arabic and Hebrew but was largely English.)

Anyway, the CGV in Apgujeong was one of the few showing Coraline in English and 3-D, so we headed there for a mid-afternoon showing. I've wanted to see this since it opened in the USA -- Neil Gaiman is such an artistic and literary genius, and the entire process of stop-motion animation fascinates me. Henry Selick, who also directed the classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, did a stunning job on this film. 

Quite scary for a children's movie, much more so than I expected, but an absolutely compelling 100 minutes. Plus, any movie featuring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in starring roles is the kind of movie I want to see (Neil Gaiman said his only input in casting was to demand that French and Saunders voice Forcible and Spink).

Ooh, I almost forgot -- Auntie Anne's pretzels -- you know, "mall pretzels" -- exist in Korea! There's a location in Hyundai Department Store, conveniently near Tomatillo, so Karen and I each snuck a pretzel into the movie. So delicious!

(Food for thought: one original pretzel from Auntie Anne's packs a whopping 370 calories. Just something to think about next time you're cruising around Montgomery Mall and feeling a little peckish.)

Back to work tomorrow and guess who's returning? Orphans....