Monthly Archives: November 2012

Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

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Synopsis 

Independent Gamers explain the trials and tribulations in making games on a shoestring budget in this fascinating documentary,

First Half

I had briefly heard about this movie before in the build up to Super Meat Boy’s release and heard whisperings of it throughout the internet. So initially I thought this would be interesting; the other half didn’t and was reluctant to watch it, preferring more depressing subject matter such as cults and drug documentaries.  I mean how could a movie about a load of nerds sitting in there bedrooms coding a video game be any way interesting? Well let me tell you how! 

The story focuses on 3 games being developed, Fez, Braid and Super Meat Boy. All of which are different in their style but each are handled by a team of 1-3 with the common denominator being they want to recreate games from their childhood that were fun, had lasting memories and were, to be blunt, tough as fuck. I really don’t know how to review a documentary  i can’t say characters because they’re real people. So simply i’ll call them “The Guys” as a catch all term. The Guys creating Super Meat Boy are heading to a really tight deadline to get on the Xbox Live Service roughly a month to 6 weeks to get the game up to scratch both on the industry side of things and their own quality. The Guy from Braid is discussing how his game was a sleeper hit and from playing it myself it is an amazingly beautiful piece of art. Lastly, The Guy from Canada who has been making Fez, which has won awards back in 2006 but as of making this movie has not being released and his struggle with previous business partners, taking the game to PAX and trying not to come undone by what is an overly ambitious project on his behalf. The movie would be up there with my two other favorite documentaries, “Anvil” and “King of Kong”. If you like your docs or are intrigued by the gaming industry give this a whirl.

 

Second Half

This was something we watched on a whim, to be fair. “Timecrimes” is slightly intimidating  and this was something totally different. 

It centers on the development of 3 different Indie games, “Super Meat Boy”, “Fez”, and “Braid”, and how they came into being. It also focuses on the trials and tribulations of the developers behind these titles.

The concept of an “indie game” is that its not made by one of the big gaming companies,  that its just a couple of guys in their houses getting together to make something that they like to play. Nowadays, indie games are a dime a dozen, but back in 2006/2007, they were almost unheard of, at least in the format that they exist in today.

Each of the 3 games is very different, and the reasoning why and how they came into being are all different also. When “Super Meat Boy” is under the spotlight, it highlights the tension felt by developers in the lead up to release day, and the agony of waiting to see how the world will receive it.

This is a very interesting documentary, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in gaming, and the process of developing a game on little to no money.

 

TL:DR First Half: Documentary follows game developers

TL: DR Second Half: Games made on no money become massive cult hits. Film charts this.

 

Next up: “These Amazing Shadows” (2011)

 

 

Argo (2012)

Argo (2012).

Argo (2012)

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Synopsis

Argo is a Canadian science fiction movie shot in location in Tehran (Iran). That’s what the CIA want you to believe.

First Half Review

To date, my only viewing of a Ben Affleck movie is Dogma, which is one of my favorite films. I love strong dialogue, which Argo has tonnes of. It’s why I like Smith and Tarantino films so much. Affleck’s character in Dogma is one of the few roles I have seen him in that isn’t Rom Com

I would always figure that Affleck would kinda just stick in that genre. I know The Town came out 2 years ago, and heard great things about it but, while he is a solid actor in Dogma, I’ve never been expected him to amount substantial. I think I saw “Gigli” for my crimes; that could be what turned me off him, but I’ve drunk enough to forget if i saw it or not…

So going into Argo, I knew the bare minimum about the plot and wanted to see it mostly thanks to high praise from South Par,k which is what really piqued my interest.  I knew it was to do with the CIA removing their own people from Iran during the conflict in the 70s/80s.

Grand so. I like my historical thrillers (note to anyone; don’t start watching Oliver Stone’s “JFK” at 12am). Over the last few years I’ve started watching more movies in this genre;notably Frost/Nixon.

Argo. It was fantastic. The basic story is as mentioned above, but to get the people out of Iran, they decide to create a fake film production studio, get a real script, storyboard it, the whole shebang, and then scout for desert locations, one of which being Iran.

There are a number of times during the movie where the tension is so palpable that you could hear a pin drop in the cinema, I think until I became aware of it, I  hadn’t blinked for about 3/4 minutes it was that tense.

The cast is strong without being overbearing. The opening sets the tone and gives vital back story in an imaginative and fun way. There’s a certain documentary feel to the movie that draws you into it. Again, Affleck directed this very well and it would be a shame for him not to get something in the 2013 Oscar season.

The supporting cast includes the ever fantastic Brian Cranston and John Goodman. It includes documentary and archival footage during scenes which sets the tone and the desperation at the time. This movie has to be seen by anyone who enjoys good cinema.

Second Half Review

Argo is one of these movies that I wouldn’t normally see, especially in the cinema. But this one is different. It’s engrossing, and choc full of tension.

The whole point of the movie centers on the Iran Hostage Crisis in late 1979, in which 6 American embassy workers escape from the embassy. This inst a spoiler, it happens in the first 10 minutes. Ben Affleck plays Tony, who plays Kevin, is tasked with getting them out.

This movie builds slowly and takes a while for anything to happen, but when it does… The tension in this movie is something else. There were literally times I was unable to look at the screen it was so tense. The scene in which they arrive at the airport is something else. I couldn’t watch it!

The scenery, the costumes, everything, just screamed 1970’s, and as it so well done, it doesn’t feel over done. So many awful clunky glasses, so many porn star moustaches…

I’d definitely recommend this movie. If you want understated action, realistic plot and Ben Affleck with a beard, go see it. I’m trying not to give too much away, but go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

TL;DR –  First Half Review: Affleck has created a strong thriller with a fantastic supporting cast that should win some Oscar, and I hate Oscar movies.

TL;DR – Second Half Review: Ben Affleck has a beard and pretends to be a big Hollywood bigshot to save people’s lives.

Next up: Timecrimes (2007) (this time for serious)

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca (1942).

Casablanca (1942)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Rick just wants to run his bar in Morocco, but as always, a woman causes problems; so do Nazis.

First Half Review

So I had heard about this once or twice before (sarcasm) but i never had any real urge to watch it. I knew it was a classic, but the back of my mind was always saying “nah”.

Well i was wrong. First of,f a little rant, what the hell has happened with modern story telling in movies? That dreck like Transformers, Avatar and many others that are all flash and no substance. Casablanca was one of the most beautifully shot movies i have seen. The actors had screen presence; you cared about them, you felt their pain, joy, friendships, and that was in the first 20 minutes.

The film tells the story of Rick, an American living in Unoccupied French Morocco (Casablanca) during World War 2, Rick owns a bar/cafe/casino and is a very cocksure and a charismatic fellow. Living in what is essentially an open prison in Casablanca, we find out very quickly that another man (Victor) is being chased across most of the world by Nazi’s after escaping a concentration camp, and he has a dame with him. Rick’s friend Sam is playing the piano when Victor and Ilsa walk in, we learn that Rick, Sam and Ilsa know each other.

I’m not going to say any more about the plot after that. The movie is fantastic. For a film that is over 80 years old it stands up better than well and puts many modern movies to shame in it’s story telling and character development. The music is perfect. I’ve had “As Time Goes By” stuck in my head for the past day, It also reminds me of Fallout, the video game series. There are lots of small little nuances in the game are linked to the movie. This movie is pure cinema. iI you haven’t seen this, rent, buy, download, see it in the cinema, Just watch it. You won’t regret it (Unless you think Twilight is high art)

Second Half Review 

I’ve never seen Casablanca before. It’s one of those movies I’ve heard loads about and I’ve seen loads of references to in other movies and tv shows, but have only now watched it. I have to say, I loved it.

I loved the old feel of the movie. It’s the perfect movie to watch on a rainy afternoon, or in my case, a dreary Monday night with waffles and beans, and tea. The story begins with the news that  German couriers have been murdered and their travel documents have gone missing, in Unoccupied French Morocco, We meet Rick, the handsome heartbroken American, who owns “Rick’s Cafe Americain” in Casablanca, a rip roaring good time bar, with song, wine and gambling going on in the back room.

Then Ilsa walks back into his life. The movie shows us their whirlwind romance some 2 years before, in Paris, on the cusp of the invasion of Paris by the Germans. Rick wants out and wants to take Ilsa with him. She doesn’t show up at the allotted time to leave, and Rick is heartbroken. Now that she is back in his life, its probably not going to go to well for him.

This movie has everything. A solid story, some great lines, and not even the memorable ones. The romance and heartbreak in this movie feel real and Rick giving up the woman he loves for the greater good rips his heart to pieces.  I laughed and I cried.

TL; DR First Half – Watch it. Just watch it.

TL; DR Second Half – “Here’s lookin’ at a timeless romance, Kid”.

Extra Time

Carrotblanca

If you dont have 2 hours to watch the movie, here’s an 8 minute Looney Tunes version

Next up: Timecrimes (2007)

Eraserhead (1977)

Synopsis

Henry is on vacation and gets a wife and a baby

First Half Review

Well now, this is going to be fun. I’ve briefly heard of this film before. It’s on a lot of “best of” lists. So when it came out of the hat, I thought, “cool, this should be good”. How wrong was I.

This film is a mess of biblical proportions. The story, well there is no real story in a sense, follows the story of Henry who after sleeping with a girl called Mary. He gets her pregnant and she gives birth in a matter of days to what seems to a sheep foetus. Mary and Henry marry, Mary leaves Henry, Henry loses his head in a dream to radiator lady.

Seriously, this movie makes no fucking sense. I have no idea why it is on so many “best of” lists. I might be missing some blatantly obvious thing that has this as a masterpiece, but no. If this was made nowadays, with the internet around, it would be up there with “The Room,” albeit with better acting. The script is nonsensical and the plot is missing. The director, it seems, refuses to explain what the movie is about when asked in interviews. The fact it was made in the 1970s and shown only at midnight showings tells all you need about this movie, in that it was only given a limited run.

It has been the biggest waste of 90 minutes since i watched Ireland play Germany last month. Avoid this film. The pluses I can give it are the sound is haunting and creepy. That’s really it.

Onto the second half now I think, this should be good.

Second Half Review

Oh dear. Just… oh dear. I’d never heard of Eraserhead until it was pulled out of our Movie Box. Normally, I’ve at least heard of the movie we will watch but not with this one. After seeing it, I’m not surprised I’ve never heard of it. It’s godawful.

I think its the film equivalent of that one really “random” person that we all know who is really weird just for the sake of it, not because of any particular traits they exhibit, but just because they like the idea of being odd. This film is that person. I’m sure it has some deeper meaning, some subtext that I’m just not getting, and I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to understand it. But nope. Still weird as all hell.

Henry is on vacation from his job. He returns home to find out that his girlfriend called and invited him for dinner. Whilst at her house, the start of the weird stuff begins. Mary and Henry marry due to her giving birth to some weird sheep baby, and its ALL downhill from there. That’s where the plot ends as far as I can tell. The rest of the movie involves a scorpion tail, a mound of dirt, a girl with hamster cheeks that lives in Henry’s radiator, and a sex scene that takes place in a cauldron which was a bed. Of course, these are only some of the things involved, I don’t want to spoil the movie!

Just No. I don’t think would watch this again. And I would caution anyone against it, unless you are that weird person that i was talking about…

TL; DR First Half Review: No, bad David Lynch, bad!

TL; DR Second Half Review: A man has tall hair, a woman lives in his radiator, and there’s a deformed baby!

Next up: Casablance (1942)

Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Synopsis

“The Empire Strikes Back” is  the second movie in the original Star Wars trilogy  We join our heroes from the first movie as they operate in a secret rebel base. This is where things begin to go wrong for our intrepid crew and of course, things will only move from a desperate situation to a hopeless one throughout the course of the movie.

First Half Review

So, how do I review a movie that everyone has seen or heard of that is so ingrained in our culture in tv, film and games?

To be honest, i haven’t got a clue. I saw this movie first over 20 years ago on VHS and again while working in a video shop sitting through both trilogies in one day. No customers came in so why not?

I’ve watched the family guy spoofs, robot chicken spoofs, played games based on the universe and after the movies ended and so i really don’t know what to say. It’s a science fiction space opera at it’s best. It has the funny moments, the dark moments, “That Moment”, to quote Dante from Clerks “It ends on such a downer, Luke gets his hand cut off, Han gets frozen in carbonite”.

It set up tropes in media for years to follow; the middle film in a trilogy now always seems to have a big reveal, a dark ending, loss of hope only for the protagonist to redeem themselves in the third chapter. This can be seen in Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy and the Lord of the Rings. The movie is a classic; sure it’s hammy at times, but remember it is a kids movie at heart. It isn’t “high art” compared to some movies, but it’s fun. It brings you back to your childhood, whether or not you saw it when you where a child or when you were drunk in your twenties with a load of college friends who are shocked at you not seeing it prior to that moment.

So not really a review as i think the movie for me is unreviewable due to bias and copious viewings of it. If for some reason you haven’t seen it and like sci-fi, go watch it,

Second Half Review 

This was the first time that I have watched this movie in its entirety. I was aware of the big reveal and the main plot details before I watched this, having not lived under a rock for the last twenty or so years. Even so, I still enjoyed this movie. The story felt real and the characters had depth to them, in a way that other movies don’t.

I really felt that the characters had grown since “A New Hope”, and I could see the burgeoning romance that existed between Han and Leia, the depth of friendship between Luke and Han, and the common tragedy that united them all. Even when Luke is warned that he is walking into a trap to save his friends, he still does it. Even though he knows that he will tempted and lured towards the dark side, he still does goes to save them.  Leia and Han have perhaps the definition of a school yard romance. The name calling, the cocky attitude, the way Leia berates Han when things don’t go to plan, it is all very child like, but very sweet. This culminates in perhaps the greatest declaration of love on the big screen ever. The “I love you”, “I know” moment. It encapsulates so much about their relationship, and screams scruffy nerf herding scoundrel.

Even though the movie is over 30 years old, it doesn’t feel dated or stilted. The effects hold up pretty well, and the sets, whilst a bit retro, still give the space vibe that is required. The movie has funny parts, has gut wrenching parts, sweet parts and shocking parts. Definitely one of the better second parts of trilogies I have seen.

TL; DR First Half Review: Sci-Fi classic,

TL; DR Second Half Review: Han is cocky, Leia is coy and Luke is an idiot who loves his mates.

Next up: Eraserhead (1977)