Thursday, January 30, 2020

Movie Irreview: Almost Famous


***

I've mentioned this elsewhere (and often), but Almost Famous is one of my favorite films.  It's one of my "desert island" movies and my favorite film that addresses musicians and/or the music industry.  The latter portion of the previous sentence is superfluous, but I don't care.  Maybe that's the point.

Anyway... despite my reservations with Kate Hudson (she just seems too old for me, given the narrative and the character...), this is a near-perfect film.  The characters are great, the journey is great, the dialogue is great, the aesthetic is great.  It's... just great.

That Almost Famous didn't do better at the box office is a pity.  It's not a franchise-launcher or anything, but it's a film that certainly deserves better than audiences gave it.

Movies.  Music.  Presented in near-perfection.

What more do you need?

10/10.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Playlist I, January 2020: Birdy's Theorem

I've had a story called Theorem floating around my head for almost twenty years now.  There have been versions of it popping up here and there, but none of them ever seemed to quite work.  Even this latest version I've been developing since last May or June wasn't seem to be working until just this week.

What changed?

I dunno... but I usually write to instrumental pieces.  This week I've been writing to my old Birdy playlists (you can check those out here and here).  What can I say?  I love Birdy.  She seems to be working me.  Never mind that the music makes absolutely no sense within the context of Theorem's story.

Individual songs up top; complete playlist at the bottom.

Enjoy.


***



























***

The Complete Playlist 1, January 2020


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Irreverent Irrelevance: My Favorite Movies

I talk about movies a lot.  Like... a lot.  But if you're reading this, I'm sure you've already noticed how full of irreverent movie reviews (if you can call them that... maybe "movie commentaries" is a better term) this place is.

I've probably mentioned this elsewhere on these pages, but I have thirteen personal favorite movies.  I like to call them "Desert Island Movies" (as in, what movies would I want to have if I were stranded on a desert island... not what movies about desert islands do I like).

Those movies are (#1 at the top, the rest in alphabetical order):



***

Now, during a friendly meeting with Sheryl J. Anderson, she challenged me to identify what all of these movies have in common.  I had never thought of that before, so I took her up on that challenge, and picked out what I think are two major plot archetypes (groups of people doing something because they're forced to due to circumstance or moral code, and people on journeys to find out who they really are) of which all of these films (save Alien) follow one or both of them.

Actually... as I wrote that paragraph, I think I've identified a third, so let me revisit this concept in the future.

In either case, Alien is an outlier, and exists on my list because it's a perfect horror film (I have a soft spot for sci-fi horror... The Thing is another favorite, though falls just shy of being a Desert Island Movie).

What was my point there?  That challenge affected the way I think about movies.

Now, in another life, I often helped filmmakers develop narrative concepts and focus their pitches.  Assisting screenwriters is straightforward enough... just help get their scripts to a good enough level.  Directors, though, are a little different.  They need to be able to sell their visions and in order to do that effectively, they have to be able to translate their personal thoughts and ideas into the language of the person they're selling to.

And, in order to do that, directors need to be able to not just speak in terms of directing, but in writing, producing, cinematography, production design, editing, and composing.

In short, I expect directors to be able to tell me who their favorite directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, production designers, editors, and composers are.  Almost all of them can fire off directors and composers, many know their favorite writers and cinematographers, some know their favorite producers and editors, and almost none know their favorite production designers.

For whatever reason, the value of production design is underrated and understated in the independent film world.  Yet, it's very, very easy to tell which movies were made without dedicated production designers.

Anyway... that's a challenge I put to people trying to explain to me the movie they want to make.

Whew.

I'm getting to a point, I swear.

A few days ago, it occurred to me that the names of the directors of my Desert Island Movies don't immediately come to mind.  Of the thirteen films, I could only recall ten of the directors.  Three of the films, I had no clue.

And then I realized, outside of perhaps Adrian Biddle and Conrad Hall, I couldn't name the cinematographers.  And maybe I knew half of the composers.  And none of the editors.  Or production designers.  Or, shit... most of the producers... and - ahem - the writers.

Which kinda makes me a hypocrite.  Granted, I'm not going out and selling my vision to anyone, so I'm not a complete hypocrite, but given how much I hate hypocrisy, being "kind of a hypocrite" is close enough to get me to rectify that shit.

Also, granted, these filmmakers are not necessarily my favorite department heads, but given the pedestal I place these movies upon, I should probably at least know who they are.

Without further ado, a list... poorly organized (on purpose), and the first step in alleviating this hypocrisy.

***

Directors: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Cameron Crowe, Gus Van Sant, Michael Mann, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, Christopher Nolan, Curtis Hanson, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Sam Mendes, Nash Edgerton, Matthew Vaughn, John Curran

Writers: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill, Cameron Crowe, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Michael Mann, William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, Christopher Nolan, Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, David Self, Joel Edgerton, Matthew Dabner, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Marion Nelson

Producers: Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Gale Anne Hurd, Ian Bryce, Cameron Crowe, Lawrence Bender, Art Linson, Michael Mann, Bonnie Arnold, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Curtis Hanson, Arnon Milchan, Michael G. Nathanson, Quirin Berg, Hubert von Spreti, Max Wiedemann, Sam Mendes, Dean Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck, Louise Smith, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Vaughn, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman

Cinematographers: Derek Vanlint, Adrian Biddle, John Toll, Jean-Yves Escoffier, Dante Spinotti*, Gil Zimmerman, Wally Pfister, Hagen Bogdanski, Conrad L. Hall, Brad Shield, Ben Davis, Mandy Walker

Production Designers: Michael Seymour, Peter Lamont, Clay A. Griffith^, Missy Stewart, Neil Spisak, Kathy Altieri, Guy Hendrix Dyas, Jeannine Oppewall, Silke Buhr, Dennis Gassner, Elizabeth Mary Moore, Gavin Bocquet, Melinda Doring

Editors: Terry Rawlings, Peter Weatherley, Ray Lovejoy, Joe Hutshing, Saar Klein, Pietro Scalia, Pasquale Buba, William Goldenberg, Dov Hoenig, Tom Rolf, Maryann Brandon, Darren T. Holmes, Lee Smith, Peter Honess, Patricia Rommel, Jill Bilcock, Luke Doolan, Nash Edgerton, John Harris, Alexandre de Franceshi

Composers: Jerry Goldsmith*, James Horner, Nancy Wilson, Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Stéphane Moucha, Gabriel Yared, Thomas Newman, François Tétaz, Ilan Eshkeri, Garth Stevenson

*credited in two films
^film has no credited production designer; listed senior art director

***

Yeah, I just noticed some wild shit here... I'll blab about that stuff in the near future.

My Facebook Ban, Part 2

So... my next ban is for 72 hours.

click to enlarge

It's all so fucking hilarious.

In case you need to catch up, click here: My Facebook Ban

I haven't tracked all of my "indiscretions" this time, but rest assured, I must have posted things akin to "Kill All the Asians" well over a couple dozen times, on multiple threads, on multiple people's posts, all over the fucking place.

And the one that gets caught is part of a running in-joke with my buddy Zach.  For those unaware, my buddy Zach and I post the most heinous shit to each other, often involving disgusting acts between ourselves and each others' mothers, siblings, significant others, and probably pets.

Facebook doesn't touch any of those.

Facebook doesn't even seem to realize that I'm half-Asian.  Which makes this all the more so fucking hilarious.

Making matters worse, Facebook won't even let me poke.

Assholes.  I bet Mark Zuckerberg fucks his censorship bots in their digital assholes, because he really wants to kill his Asian wife.

I'll let you know how long the next ban is for.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Movie Irreview: Avatar (en Français)


***

Before today, I had thought that I'd seen Avatar in the theaters three times.  All in 3D.  And didn't think I'd seen the movie in 2D, on television, ever.

Clearly, I had

Wait... it just occurred to me that maybe I haven't.  Hold up... because what I was going to write was that, based on the link I posted above, that I'd only seen Avatar in theaters twice and had seen it on television once (if you read the linked post, you'll see why one can interpret things that way).

But... no, I've seen Avatar in theaters three times.  All in 3D.  And have never seen the movie in 2D, so I can spare you what I was about to write.  And I can give my brain a break from thinking it's going insane.

Anyway...

I just watched Avatar in 2D for the first time.  Ever (I hope).  And I watched it in French (with no English subtitles).  The movie is outstanding.  I don't care what any haters say.  As my French isn't fluent, I often found myself concentrating on the sheer visual presentation of the aesthetic and the narrative.  I don't think I've ever quite picked up on the use of feet and legs, as well as the use of the phrase, "I see you," as quite as much as I have for this viewing.

The script is even better than I've claimed previously.

Anyway... this one's been rated for a while, and despite my noticing things I've not noticed before, I'm going to keep it where it is.

9/10.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Movie Irreview: Boots on the Ground


***

I'm going to try to be fair when I talk about Boots on the Ground.  The film is derivative.  There's a British World War I horror film called Deathwatch that is basically the same movie, but with so much better characterization and so much better plot.  Never mind the thousand other films this steals from, with nary even an attempt at doing something original.

I mean... you had British soldiers with cameras running all the fucking time.  Fine, I can believe that.  For the purposes of a narrative, I will happily believe that.

What I won't believe are British soldiers with cameras running all the fucking time willingly and wantonly discussing committing crimes while those cameras are running all the fucking time.

That's dumb.  And drives the disbelief factor through the roof.

But, fine... let's just move past that.

Wait, no... let me discuss a general issue with found footage movies (as a rule, I don't like found footage movies... I'm not even sure why I bothered to watch this one).  Eventually, someone is going to start acting so stupidly, no one will believe that's how a normal adult would react, act, and stop to take it all in and determine the best thing to do.

Boots on the Ground is full to the brim of that "I'M A FUCKING MORON BECAUSE THE MOVIE NEEDS ME TO BE" kind of shit.

Ugh.

I was going to give this a 2.  But the acting wasn't terrible.

3/10.

Movie Irreview: Cold Skin


***

Despite it being based on a novel, I'm pretty much of the opinion that the only reason Cold Skin exists as a movie is because of Abe Sapien from the original Hellboy movies and whatever-its-name from The Shape of Water.

Seriously.  No other reason.

That stated, Cold Skin is not a bad movie.  It's just aimless.  It addresses neither the descent into madness it so very much needed to address (à la The Lighthouse), nor the "gone native" aspect it also so very much needed to address (à la Pocahontas, or Dances With Wolves, or Avatar).

I mean, really... it should've at least picked one of those things and ran with it.

Sadly, it doesn't do any of that.  As a result, Cold Skin is just that... kinda cold, and a bit superficial.

I still kinda like it... you're just not missing anything.

Also, worst use of CGI dolphins ever.  And in a totally useless and unnecessary and why-the-fuck-did-you-bother camera shot.

5/10.

Movie Irreview: Phantom of the Paradise


***

If you were to assume that Phantom of the Paradise is a then-contemporary adaptation/update of The Phantom of the Opera, you would be forgiven for the assumption.  While it is an adaptation (or update), it's a wee bit more than that, as well.  There are pieces of Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (quite obviously... since Faust is directly referenced more than once), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (which itself is Faust-ish), and even a reference to Alexandre Dumas' The Corsican Brothers.

All that out of the way, this is not the type of film one would expect to find so many literary references in.  Phantom of the Paradise is, simply put, bat-shit crazy.  That it's a fun movie is irrespective to its failings, and perhaps even its accomplishments.  That it's a movie that's opened my eyes to the pre-Tarantino Tarantino-ization of pre-existing material that De Palma clearly was all about years before Tarantino... is a confusing sentence.  That De Palma even seems to out-Gilliam Gilliam before Gilliam was Gilliaming is...

Yeah, whatever.

This is fun.  And insane.

7/10.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Movie Irreview: Colossal


***

I meant to see Colossal when it was out in theaters.  Missed it, of course, and have been meaning to see it ever since.  Occasionally, it would pop into my head, then vanish, and I would never queue it or track it down.

Until today.  After a series of completely unconnected reminders.  Magazine reference here, a friend on Facebook's memory there, etc., yada, word.

Anyway, ignore the trailer you might have seen.  Colossal is not, at its core, a light-hearted movie.  Indeed, it's pretty friggin' dark when you think about it.  Sure, the metaphor is that our worst characteristics take over our personas and cause trouble when we let them get the best of ourselves, and...

Well, no, that's it.

The film begins quite quirky and goofy, then morphs quickly into something... not profound... profound isn't the word.  Uncomfortable, maybe?

I dunno.  It's an interesting film.  I enjoyed it.

7/10.



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Video Game Irreview: Aliens: Colonial Marines



***

Aliens: Colonial Marines launched to great fanfare in 2013.

There was only one problem...

Aliens: Colonial Marines was a dumpster fire.

I soooo wanted to buy the game then.  But, I didn't.  I saw and ready too many complaints, and there would ultimately be a lawsuit brought against the publisher for false advertising.  The publisher lost.

If you've watched the trailer above, you're probably thinking how awesome and atmospheric it looks.  Yeah... that's not what the game looks like.

Anyway, fast forward to the end of 2015, and Aliens: Colonial Marines is on sale for less than $4.  I'm curious, so I risk it.  I play it 24 minutes before I realize how much of a crapfest it is.

Fast forward to this year, I'm morbidly curious, so I finally play the whole thing.  I'm a bit surprised.  It's still pretty terrible, but it is atmospheric.  Michael Biehn's performance as Hicks is god awful (he either phoned it in or isn't used to voice-over work).  You actually get pretty tired of hearing the pulse rifles and smart guns firing.  It's just... by the numbers.  And the aliens are fucking stupid.  Like... they just stand there.

Rewind to summer of 2018.  Somebody found a typo in the game's programming.  Apparently, it makes the aliens less stupid.  And a bit scarier.

Fast forward to this year, and I fix the typo.  The aliens are definitely less stupid.  And a bit scarier.

The game still ain't great, but it's not the dumpster fire that it was.  The person who found the typo has created a mod that apparently makes the game pretty amazing.  Sadly, all attempts to install it on my computer result in failure, so I guess I'll just take people's word for it.

If you're a hard core fan of the Alien franchise (as I am), I think you'll actually like this game now.


6/10.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Movie Irreview: Kill List


***

Director Ben Wheatley made Free Fire for A24 films.  That movie was pointless.  Based on Kill List (not for A24), Ben Wheatley likes to make pointless films.

I love the review blurbs on this poster.  No, my bones weren't rattled.  No, my nerves weren't shredded.  It's not diabolical (well... maybe).  It's certainly not brilliant.  I am not unhinged.

And I am not unhinged because, mostly, I'm bored.

Sure, the first two acts are intriguing enough.  Yes, they're slow, but events unfold in a manner in which you want to see what happens next.  Except... there's no substance.  Sure, there are hints of substance... hints of intrigue, hints of mystery, hints of vengeance, but...

There's no fucking story here.  It's not scary.  Why people call this a horror, I'll never know.  Maybe because there's a cult involved.  Or maybe because it's just scary that people get to make pointless fucking movies like this.

Still, the cast is good.  The cinematography isn't.

Bleh.

4/10.

Movie Irreview: The Autopsy of Jane Doe


***

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a fine, atmospheric film, and one sure to please hardcore fans of the horror genre.  For me, though... it's pretty damned good for two acts... and then it sorta falls apart.  Translation: I find the ending kinda lame.

But... the acting (for the most part... minus an exposition scene or two) is superb.  The production design is wonderful.  The camera work is good.  I mean, really, as far as the generally low standards this genre has, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the better recent efforts.

That stated, it's fairly predictable.  I called two aspects of the film in advance looooong before those very predictions unfolded on screen (one regarding a specific action regarding a girlfriend character... like... exactly how it unfolded... and another regarding the general backstory).

Anyway, if you absorb horror well, you'll like this one.  Cinemaphiles, however, won't care for the ending.

But I said that already.

6/10.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Movie Irreview: Aliens (Again)


***

Yes, I've written a review (ish) about Aliens before.  Yes, you'll see it reviewed again.  It's just so damned good.  I think of all the movies I've seen, I've seen Aliens more times than any other.  I have a feeling that the original Star Wars is my second most-viewed film, but I actually haven't watched that in years.  At least a decade, I'm thinking.

Anyway, my friend Sheila popped in and insisted we watch Aliens, so we did.  A day or two ago, I read a comment on IMDb that stated:

"At the end of the movie there is the climactic battle between Ripley and the Queen Alien. This was not necessary, as the queen was occupied with laying eggs and only became aggressive when Ripley started burning the eggs. Ripley should have just taken Newt, slipped away from the egg chamber and escaped. Since they were going to nuke the planet anyway, attacking the queen was pretty stupid, as the Queen followed them and then somehow was able to board the ship."

Now, I'm a nitpicker, but this one goes too far.  Initially, I was inclined to agree with it, but upon viewing the scene, whoever posted that is dead wrong.  I might go argue the fact.

Aliens has flaws.  Several of them.  But it's still a perfect movie.

10/10.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Movie Irreview: Brightburn


***

Brightburn purports to try to answer the question, "What if Superman were a bad guy?"  And while it does touch on the subject, it avoids the general philosophical nature of that iconic character and attempts to go straight-horror in its answer.

Sort of.

That is, to say, there's no philosophical discussion at all, and the horror sequences are there mostly for gore (and what delightful gore it is!).

"What if Superman were a bad guy?" has been answered several times by DC Comics themselves, and to much more powerful and effective, well, effect (sorry, ran out of words there).

But...

Brightburn is entertaining enough.  There are more a couple logic farts that are almost eye-rolling (one involving a "getaway drive" and another involving a "hunt"), but they're not too terrible in light of the overall narrative.

And the ending isn't great, despite a smile-inducing cameo by Michael Rooker.

Critics were unduly harsh on this film.  I think it set out do to what the filmmakers wanted it to do.

7/10.

Monday, January 6, 2020

My Facebook Ban

As mentioned in my review for the atrocious Doom: Annihilation, I got into a bit of a spat with Facebook.  Every now and then I "live post" a movie (usually a terrible one) in order to make the experience of watching such terribleness a little more enjoyable.  So my friend Zach and I decided to "live post" our thoughts on Doom: Annihilation.

I'll spare you the major details of the film, but in Doom: Annihilation, there is a squad of eight space marines.  Four are white characters.  The other four are minorities.  Now, I'm not one to complain when a minority is killed off in a science fiction or a horror movie first (as lame a trope as that is), but in this particular movie, the order of the first four marine deaths goes...
  1. Asian dude.
  2. Black dude.
  3. Asian girl.
  4. White dude in ridiculously heroic fashion.
So I posted a sarcastic comment.  Literally, all I wrote was, "Oh, kill the Asian guy.  Fiiine."

And then this happened:

click to enlarge

Which I thought was fucking hilarious.

Now, keep in mind that by this point in the live posting, I had posted DOZENS of incredulous comments concerning just how fucking bad a movie Doom: Annihilation is.

So I challenged the censoring, and was met with this:

click to enlarge

Which absolutely pissed me off.

So then I posted another comment which also got banned.

click to enlarge

And that's when I really lost my shit.  So I posted a TON of heinous shit, thinking Facebook would go nuts.  The comments that I posted include:
  • Oh, kill the black guy. Fiiiine.
  • Zach is white. He should die.
  • Oh, kill the Asian girl. Fiiiine.
  • Minorities should not be marines is what I'm learning from this movie.
  • Kill the Asian guy, Facebook, you fucking retards!
  • Oh, kill the Asian guy. Fiiine. Ban this out of context, Facebook, you fascist Nazi fucking retard drooling fucks.
  • Oh, kill the Middle Eastern guy. Fiiine.
  • Oh, kill the Asian guy. Fiiine. (yes, I posted it again)
  • Kill all Asians, Facebook, you stupid retarded down-syndrome HIV-infected abortion-clinic-bombing anal-sex rectum-ripping cum-guzzling pieces of diarrhetic shit! Try again, fucktard Facebook cops!
  • Facebook drools like people with the wrong number of chromosomes.
  • As if they're going to get a sequel out of THAT piece of Asian-killing shit. 😂🤣
  • It's the game where they kill all the Asians.

ALL of which remain on the post, and NONE of which were censored. Yes, including the reposting of the exact comment that started this mess.

On top of that, I posted "Oh, kill the Asian guy.  Fiiine." as its own, independent post.  It was not censored and remains on my page.

I even changed my Facebook bio to "Kill all the Asians," and that's apparently fine, as well.

On another thread, I commented: "Facebook censored me three times tonight. Because they're fat, lazy, worthless, retarded, Asians worthy of being killed, homo-retarded, cum-slagging-fucktards who should be taken into a Nazi gas chamber and fucked in the eye sockets until they convert to fundamental Christianity and wage Jihad against lazy, non-white single mothers taking advantage of welfare because their inbred cousins were too dumb to get into college."

That comment, too, remains untouched.


But this is the comment that actually got Facebook to issue me a 24-hour posting ban:


click to enlarge


I shit you not. That's what did it.

What makes this insanely hilarious is that 1) my original post was criticizing subtle (if hopefully unintentional) racism in bad movies and 2) that so many people are on Facebook complaining about how the media tries to control how we think and interpret things.

Dudes and dudettes... we're all about to be sheep.  And Mark Zuckerberg is going to be the shepherd fucking us all in our bloody ripped rectums.

I'll let you all know how long my next ban lasts.

Movie Irreview: In the Tall Grass


***

Made it to 1:11:29.  And only because Doug and I were seeing who could last the longest.  He wins.

In the Tall Grass is an absolute fucking bore.  What a waste of Patrick Wilson.

1/10.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Movie Irreview: Doom: Annihilation


***

Doom: Annihilation is a raging turd-fest of a piece of shit movie that somehow got made.  The directing is horrible.  The acting is atrocious.  The script is holy-fucking-shit-where-did-you-learn-how-to-write go-fuck-yourself bad.  The action is laughable.  Almost everything about this film is god awful.  However, the production design is not bad.

Skip this one, watch the original Doom instead.  That ain't good, either, but it's a helluva lot more fun and competent than this piece of discarded trash.

I'm giving it an extra point for the aforementioned production design, though.

Also, remind me to tell you about the fight I got into with Facebook because of this movie.  I'll tell that it at some point here regardless, I'm sure.

2/10.

Movie Irreview: The Hole in the Ground


***

I almost didn't watch The Hole in the Ground on account of it being distributed by A24 since, you know, I generally dislike or despise A24 films.  But I did watch it.

I almost quit watching The Hole in the Ground on account of it beginning like many A24 films.  Slow, boring, too much standing around and staring at the scenery.  But I kept going.

I will say that the second half of the movie is an immense improvement over the first.  For the first 40 minutes or so, there are two, maybe three scenes of horror interest.  Now, a lot of people might claim that the film was just building its ambience, its feeling, breathing life into what comes next... and to that I say, "You can fucking do that without being slow and boring."

Anyway...

It does finish rather well.  There are few leaps in logic that might leave you bewildered, and the music gets annoying in how much of a signpost it is... "be scared here because we're cuing your fear musically rather than showing you anything that should scare you!"  Not that there aren't any scenes of shots of that nature, but...

Whatever.

I have to admit to The Hole in the Ground being the best A24-labeled movie I've seen in a very long time, though that ain't saying very much.

6/10.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020

Movie Irreview: Scarecrows


***

After reading a very misleading "recommendation" in an online magazine article, my buddy Dan and I watched this terrible movie called Scarecrows.

It's boring, poorly acted, poorly edited, and poorly staged.  All but one of the characters are complete idiots and none of them act in any way logically.  Seriously, there's a scene in which a character who has been killed comes back as a monster, and when he's defeated, the survivors learn that he has no internal organs and has been stuffed with straw.  Their reaction to this "holy shit!" moment?  A couple of lines of dialogue and a shrug or two.  As if, you know, that wasn't weird or anything.

On top of that, given the absolute travesty in portrayal of the military elements of the film, I was surprised (flabbergasted, really) to learn that the director is an Army veteran.

Like... seriously... if your prop money bags are stamped with "U.S. Army," why the Hell would you record a voice-over stating that the off-screen robbery took place on a Marine Corps base?

Anyway... Scarecrows loses points for the poor military depiction, a ridiculous voice-over for one of the characters (and not even the main character), the overall stupidity of the characters, the bad acting, the bad writing, the bad editing, the bad directing, and a pointless use of a dog.

It gets a point back for the well-designed scarecrows, though.

3/10.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Video Game Irreview: The Evil Within



***

I was recommended The Evil Within back in the day when I had money to spend, so - as with many of my video games - I bought it and never touched it.

Fast-forward to a few days ago and, having watched Alien, I decided to replay Alien: Isolation (the game that got me back into gaming).  After starting it, I suddenly felt the urge to play something new (to me, anyway... I get that this game is five years old).

And, so... The Evil Within.

The aesthetic is wonderful.  The gameplay is mostly simply, though with a couple of hiccups (I hated opening the weapons menu on accident during combat... damned thumb-stick clicks).  The story is...

Well... I like it.  It's a bit high-tech A Nightmare on Elm Street, combined with everything we've grown to love about twisted Japanese horror tropes and designs.  There are obvious connections to existing games (the Resident Evil franchise, for one), but there were some subtle nods (accidental or otherwise) to horror games of yore that I love (Silent Hill 4: The Room and The Thing, to name but two).

Not sure I'll play the sequel, as these types of games tend to exhaust me, but maybe someday.

Docking it points for some of the control issues, as well as confusing NG+ save system.  But otherwise an excellent, excellent game.

7/10.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020: An Irrespective



***

Well, it's a new year.  I'm ready to give up.  I think the clinical depression and anxiety are under control, but I'm still depressed and panicking about everything.  Flat broke.  Credit is ruined.  Couple of scary health things I've been ignoring and will continue to ignore.  Part of me hopes to have something terminal so I can quit worrying about it all.  I'm really only hanging around for Starbuck and Sagremor, I guess.

Two years ago, just minutes after midnight, I lost a friend.

Today, just minutes after midday, I lost all hope.

C'est la vie.  Asi es la vida.

Happy New Year.

***

If I could face them
If I could make amends with all my shadows
I'd bow my head and welcome them
But I feel it burning
Like when the winter wind stops my breathing
Are you really gonna love me when I'm gone?
I fear you won't
I fear you don't

And it echoes when I breathe
Until all you see is my ghost
Empty vessel, crooked teeth
Wish you could see

And they call me under
And I'm shaking like a leaf
And they call me under
And I wither underneath
In this storm
 

I am a stranger
I am an alien inside a structure
Are you really gonna love me when I'm gone?
With all my thoughts and all my faults
I feel it biting
I feel it break my skin so uninviting
Are you really gonna need me when I'm gone?
I fear you won't
I fear you don't

And it echoes when I breathe
Until all you see is my ghost
Empty vessel, crooked teeth
Wish you could see

And they call me under
And I'm shaking like a leaf
And they call me under
And I wither underneath
In this storm I feel it

And they call me under
And I'm shaking like a leaf
And they call me underneath
To this storm

- Of Monsters and Men, "I of the Storm"

Movie Irreview: Splinter


***

If Isolation is the best remake of Alien that I've seen, then Splinter might be the best remake of The Thing that I've seen.

That stated, Splinter has its problems.  The characters are designed well enough, but their actions are inconsistent as Hell.  In one situation, they behave and speak and question the way you probably think people in that situation would behave, speak, and question.  In other situations... not so much.  They also break their own rules of logic willy-nilly, and that can get annoying.

Still, for the first two-thirds of Splinter, you'll probably keep your complaints to yourself and just enjoy the ride.  Yes, there's a really, really silly sequence involving a... never mind, I won't give it away... but that sequence works within the narrative.

Sadly, the climax of Splinter starts off with eye-rolling stupidity.  It ends all right, but there's an extended chunk of nonsense that is hard to swallow.

Anyway, horror fans will like this.  And though I seem like I'm being hard on the movie (because I am), I quite enjoyed it.

6/10.