'Southland Tales' (2006) DVD Review

March 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Oh. My. God. Where to begin?

The film is a total mess: the plot is totally incoherent; the dialogue is drivel; the characters are shallow, unbelievable caricatures; and the acting borders on poor to so-so. The film wants to be everything and ends up being nothing. I have seen a few people try to defend this film, claiming that because it is conceptually interesting and has a few impressive set-pieces, it should be given the benefit of the doubt. This is just totally mistaken. The film is terrible – and, I mean, really really bad. Just because it contains a few clever ideas, it doesn’t stop it from being crap.

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'Road to Perdition' (2002) DVD Review

March 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

… And Hollywood’s obsession with dysfunctional father/son relationships continues. Sam Mendes had a hard act to follow after the impeccable American Beauty; luckily, he doesn’t disappoint us. Road to Perdition is an astounding piece of work. The story is a simple one but poignant; the cinematography is beautiful and complemented perfectly with another wonderful theatrical score from Thomas Newman. I have seen this movie around half a dozen times now, and the fact that I keep coming back to it shows that there is something there that stands the test of time.

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'The little white lie that grew' – by Clive James

March 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Link to the BBC article.

I love this article, not just because it is well written, but also because I find the subject an endlessly fascinating one: that subject, of course, of being human. Clive James describes the story as tragic, and the Greek term could not be more apt in this case. The Greek philosophers were lovers of humanity – in all our flaws, deficits and wondrous virtues. They were true philosophers.

The story of a man – a good man, a judge no less – who is brought down by the very principles he sought to uphold every day of his working life, brought down… by a speeding fine. It is nothing short of tragic and, at the same time, humourous that even the best of us are vulnerable to the dangers of being human. If there were no tragedies, there would be no comedies, and without either, life would be an exceedingly dull experience.

'A New Taxonomy of Gamers' – by Mitch Krpata

March 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

I have, only just recently, been made aware of this excellent 11-part series called “A New Taxonomy of Gamers“, written by the very talented Mitch Krpata of the Boston Phoenix newspaper and Paste magazine. It’s really just a fantastic piece of work that, as well as being well-written, is also extremely well thought-out.

Mitch makes the wise suggestion of doing away with the ‘casual’/’hardcore’ labels and instead, opts for a more sophisticated, more complex and, frankly, more useful system for broadly classifying gamers. To sumise his astute observations, he believes that we should start by dividing gamers into two broad categories: ‘Skill Player’ and ‘Tourist’. A ‘Skill Player’ is one who plays games to excel at them, either by perfecting their game through mastering the gameplay, or by exploring every facet of the game, making sure that no stone is left unturned. A ‘Tourist’ plays games for the experience of being absorbed and engrossed into the game world. To ‘Tourist’ players, playing a game is not about trying to ‘beat’ it,  but about having fun and taking in what’s available.

There are more categories to the taxonomy which Mitch introduces, and I recommend anyone interested to check out the full series of articles. With regards to the ‘hardcore’/’casual’ distinction: I think most gaming pundits have recognised for a long time the irrelevant and contradictory nature of those terms. It is only because there has been nothing to replace it with that they’ve stayed in the current vernacular for so long. Now, fortunately, an answer has been provided, and I’m all for embracing it.

Intentionality vs. Improvisation (Edge GDC Article)

March 25, 2009 § 1 Comment

This post is in direct relation to the following article:

GDC: Stop “Punishing the Player”

The reason why I am taking the time to comment here, on this particular article, is that it links strongly to my review of The Path and opinions stated in the 4Player article I submitted recently.

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'Double Indemnity' (1994) DVD Review

March 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

Murder is a fascinating subject – one which exposes one of the very darkest facets of humanity. As such, it serves as the core theme for many a film noir story. Double Indemnity carries on the tradition in proud manner, weaving an exhileratingly tense, moody and utterly engrossing yarn. It is a deliciously sordid tale of deception, corruption, conscience, love, hate and betrayal…

***There will be spoilers***

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'The Path' PC Review — Featured User Review 27th-29th March on GiantBomb.com

March 24, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’m going to save the reader a lot of time here by getting to the point: The Path is not a good game; in fact, it’s not a game at all. It’s not fun. It’s not exciting. It’s not even that enjoyable. What The Path is, is interesting, mysterious, clever, atmospheric and – forgive me for saying so – poetic. The Path is a puzzling ‘interactive experience’ which has no real aim or end goal. The Path is aimless; and yet, if you keep an open mind, and if you bury your preconceptions, you will find that ‘playing’ it yields a unique experience – one which you won’t forget any time soon.

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