Update: Samurai Champloo, Metro, Fables + First Draft Completed

Quick update: Just finished watching Samurai Champloo and it was simply amazing. Shinichiro Watanabe does it again. I’ve mentioned him before here with Kids on the Slope and he is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. Champloo has one of the best soundtracks of anything and I watch the opening and closing themes every time because they are so damn good. Certainly the best anime OP’s I’ve ever seen.

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I’ve continued reading Fables and it continues to be fantastic. I got two tpb’s for xmas (I think vol. 7 & 8 or thereabouts) and I read them both in single sessions. I think Fables would make a fantastic tv show, however it would be difficult to get the tone right. It goes from being really fun and whimsical to really dark and dire so that would be the main issue.

– Also I finished Metro 2033 redux and am about half way through Metro: Last Light now. I have finished both games before but wanted to play them again and the redux versions are perfect for this. They’re both really fantastic games, the type of which don’t really exist these days. You would probably call them AA games, but apart from some minor polish issues, they feel like AAA games. Also they are completely single player FPS’s and the way the story is delivered is really effective.

I’m playing Last Light on Hardcore Ranger mode which means you take more damage but deal more damage, no HUD, no hints and much less resources. I would definitely recommend playing on the harder difficulty for Last Light, far more context appropriate and challenging. Last Light I think is a lot easier than 2033 as well. I heard 4A games is working on a new Metro game and I will eagerly look forward to it as long as there’s no multiplayer, but I don’t think there would be.

– I finally finished a proper first draft of the novella I wrote. I wrote most of it about a year ago and I’ve just been editing it since then. I’ve sent it out to some friends for some feedback and semi-professional editing so I’ll keep this blog updated to see how that goes.

Happy New Year!

Cheers from JK Pimento

 

A Coen Brothers Critique: Who is Hail, Caesar For?

I just finished watching Hail, Caesar! the latest film to be written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers. For some reason, I PAID for this film on blu-ray and when it finished all I could think was ‘I got nothing out of this’. Now I don’t know why I bought the film, I think for some reason I thought it was a Wes Anderson film. Considering that The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of my most favourite films of recent years, I was looking forward to a new Anderson film. But no, just another Coen brothers affair and I’m left dissapointed.

Hail, Caesar! is a day in the life of a big shot producer, Josh Brolin, at a big movie studio in the Golden Age of Cinema, 1950’s Hollywood. Now I’m no schmuck, I’ve studied film and what the Golden Age was like, so I’m not one to miss the references and all that. Also many of the actors in the film I really enjoy, but for the most part, there are so many shoved in that many only have a single scene or two, so there is limited character development or even room for comedy. This has the added overall effect of taking time away from the main plot lines. In the end, I was left feeling like Hail, Caesar! was a fun, kinda quirky historical piece and that was it. I’ll probably never think about it again.

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Don’t get me wrong, for all intents and purposes it’s a very well crafted and executed film but there’s so little substance, and I know the Coen Brothers films are more about characters than plot, but come on give me something to follow, someone to root for. I think that’s the problem with Coen Brother’s films, they are well made and unique movies with lots of star power so they’re really hard to criticize. I like the fact that they’re meant to be for an audience of a certain educational level and you get more out of them the more you watch them. However, this is meant to be a comedy and I barely laughed a single time. I like the actors in the movie, appreciate the characters, understand (most) of the movie industry references and yet I have no reason to watch it again and have no idea who I would recommend this to.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but if someone like me found the film forgettable then who is it for? 1950’s cinema historians, the George Clooney Josh Brolin fan club, anyone still alive today who worked in the Golden Age of Cinema? The Coen Brother’s could take a lesson out of Anderson’s book in that The Grand Budapest Hotel featured a tonne of actors playing oddball characters, yet each was given appropriate screen time for their role, the narrative was charming and engaging and we had likeable characters to root for, oddball characters to laugh at and villainous characters to despise.

Just like Anchorman 2 was criticized for straying into the self-indulgent at times, I feel as though the Coen Brothers are at risk of the same here. Fargo was a fine film, I enjoyed it much more the second time when I understood more about the subverting of cinema conventions in the narrative. The Big Lebowski is a cult classic that I have to watch again, No Country for Old Men was a great film with a strong central plot and Inside Llewyn Davis was a critically lauded film that I’m yet to see. The Coen Brothers make well crafted movies…when they focus on the narrative.

Once again the problem remains, who is Hail, Caesar! for?

Movie Reviews: Arrival and Brazil

Last night, I went to the theater to see Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and the night before that I watched Terry Gilliam’s Brazil on blu-ray. I do love my sci-fi and both of these are very different approaches to the genre. I’ll talk about Brazil first because I watched it first.

Brazil is a 1985 dystopian science fiction film starring Jonathan Pryce (played the High Sparrow on Game of Thrones), plus a slew of cameos from noted British character actors and – strangely – Robert De Niro. This is a strange film, really bizarre and surreal. If you know any of Terry Gilliam’s other works, like 12 Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then this shares many of the similarities of those films. I think the best things about the Gilliam films I’ve seen thus far are his skills in world building and the whimsical machines which exist in the dystopia.

The actual narrative itself feels somewhat bloated and there’s some ridiculous dream sequences which perhaps drag on for a bit too long. I did really enjoy the film overall and I can’t get the stupid song out of my head that the film is based around. I probably wouldn’t recommend this to your general viewer, but if you like dystopia, sci-fi, Terry Gilliam or just weird stuff from the 80’s then you’ll get a kick out of Brazil.

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My feelings were kind of mixed when I went to see Arrival, mainly because I knew the movie had been received well and Denis Villeneuve was a good director (from Sicario and Prisoners), but I can’t stand Amy Adams. Her role as Lois Lane in the new Superman films and whoever she was in American Hustle (which still stands as one of the most overrated movies ever) really put me off her. I don’t know what it is about her, the fact that she seems to play the same character every time, or I just don’t buy her acting. Anyway, I did really like her in this role so maybe I’ll come around.

So Amy Adams plays a linguist who’s haunted by flashbacks of her daughter who died young from some rare disease. Aliens…arrive (see what I did there) and the military sends after language experts to try and communicate with them. It gets a bit silly with the whole China thing, like ‘oh China is irrational and of course will be the first who wants to blow them up’. Then like the rioting and looting and stuff is dumb and the fact that there is always some dumb American soldier who does something rash because he needs to protect his family. Man am I getting sick of that trope.

The whole reason that stuff is dumb is because the Aliens literally do nothing. The ships just sit there, a door opens every 18 hours and they converse with whoever goes in for a bit. Then the world just loses their shit because aliens are here and the government seems to be doing nothing. Apart from those gripes, the film was quite good. Really smart sci-fi, that avoids alot of the dumb action stuff that often bogs down the genre. The film is so like a Christoper Nolan one in it’s structure that to say any more would spoil it.

Overall, would very much recommend Arrival, especially as a debut sci-fi film for the director that will have you thinking long after the credits role.

Thoughts: Finished Inside and FMA:Brotherhood

So I finished work, got home around 10ish and started playing Inside by Playdead, the developers who made Limbo, with this game sort of being a sequel to that. Roughly 3 and a half hours later and I finished the game and holy shit was it good.

Firstly it seems a little short, but I have to mention that I’ve finished Limbo a few times and gotten all the secrets and that stuff. This is a very similar platformer to that – basically just run, jump and interact – so if you haven’t played Limbo then it would probably take longer. Furthermore the pacing is so goddamn on point, in the sense that I was never like ‘oh I wish this section was over’ that I didn’t mind. There was only one section where I had to look up how to c0mplete the puzzle, and I realised I’d already tried that method but didn’t execute it properly so forgot about it and spent ages doing the wrong thing.

The amount of new areas and mechanics and ideas that the game throws at you is just phenomenal. I’m already thinking about replaying it and getting all the secrets to unlock the secret ending. I only found the first one and apparently there’s like 10 which is crazy because it’s not like I didn’t know they were there. In Limbo, they were hard to get but you accidentally stumble upon them by going a certain way or doing a certain thing.

tldr; Play both games they’re great, the order doesn’t matter but if you play Inside before Limbo then you may feel let down a bit just because of the advancement in production quality, although the art style on Limbo certainly holds up.

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I smashed through the last three seasons of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in the last week after finishing uni for the semester. Boy does that show pick up speed after the first couple of seasons. There’s so much going on and it seems like the internal logic of the show makes sense but there were a couple of things I didn’t understand at the time. I’m sure it’d be like one of those things where you watch it again and pick up on a tonne more stuff…but I rarely rewatch things unless I’m crazy about them.

Would highly recommend, if you’re finding the first season a bit slow then I reckon you can just wiki plot summary the first couple of seasons and blitz through the last three seasons. They’re only 24 minutes episodes so it’s not hard. One thing which bothered me about the show was that the two main love interests finally get together but they never kiss! The whole goddamn, five season, 60 whatever episodes and they never kiss. Now I gotta go OVA hunting, what a pain.

That’s all for today, Have a good one!

ONE OTHER THING! I was flicking through tv late the other night and I started watching Peep Show. I recognised the show but I never really got it, probably because I’m not the biggest David Mitchell fan. Anyway, it’s this unique British comedy which is shot entirely (or almost) from the point of view of the characters, with their inner monologues narrating the scenes as they go. In the episode, the two guys go to this party, end up going bowling and then back to their place with their respective women they hook up with. The sex doesn’t go well for one of the dudes and is interrupted. Later he thinks about going back in for another try and then gets put off by the sound of his mate doing it in the next room. So he leans over and grabs a tissue box, on the nightstand next to the bed the girl is on, as we watch him from her eyes. The unapologetic face that he makes as he shuffles off was the funniest shit.

Here’s a link to the episode, I thoroughly recommend watching the whole thing but if you want to skip to the part I mentioned, it’s right at the end (23 min). It may be somewhat NSFW also. I can’t speak for the series as a whole but this episode was great.

Cheers,