Great Scenes: Spock's Solution

May 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

There are many memorable lines in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Many people might consider Shatner’s impassioned roar of defiance – which has since been parodied and incorporated into an internet meme with dozens of variations, as well as in popular culture in general – as the line to take away from the movie. But, actually, the best line comes from non other than Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley).

As the Enterprise seemingly defies the impossible, managing to escape from the Genesis shockwave in just the nick of time, Kirk goes on the com-line to congratulate Mr Scott. But it’s not Scott on the other end of the line, it’s Bones, and it is at that point in which he delivers the pivotal line of the movie:  “Jim, I think you better get down here…”

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Bowlby's Favourite Phrase of the Day

May 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

“This guy’s gonna get an assful of pipewrench” 😀

Personally, I prefer the Head Over Heels: Literal Version (embed below) but everybody’s got their favourites.

Great Scenes: "Meet Me in Montauk"

April 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This collaboration between Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry is a beautiful, poignant piece of work. Kaufman’s screenplay is nothing short of an incredible achievement; I don’t know how he does it, but he somehow manages to weave a story which is not only excruciatingly honest, funny and melancholic, but he also manages to make it complex, without it being made impenetrable.

Gondry also does his best work here – directing, as opposed to writing – cleverly using special effects in a way which is almost restrained (compared to his other works), while keeping the momentum of the film going at an energetic pace.

There are so many great moments in the movie which really stick with me. If someone were to ask me which I felt was the best scene, I don’t think I could possibly answer them – each part being so perfectly integrated into the film as a whole. Indeed, it’s only because of what’s gone before that the film’s dramatic apex holds such emotion for us. And, here, I am talking about Joel’s (Jim Carrey) last memory of Clementine (Kate Winslet) in the derelict house by the beach.

It’s a bitter/sweet scene: Joel’s last memory of Clementine is about to be erased; he knows it, and he is left resigned to that fact. The brilliance of the scene is down to the great writing of Kaufman and the visual prowess of Gondry. In the background of the scene, and in the audience’s mind, is the inevitability that it will all end soon – Clementine will be gone from Joel’s mind forever. The walls of that old abandoned house are, literally, crumbling in on Joel and Clementine’s relationship.

Yet, there is this sense of hope, against all odds, that they might somehow save their doomed relationship. In real-life, Joel ran out on Clementine (not the best memory to end on) and he regrets it badly. It is Clementine who suggests they make a new memory, where he stays – and so the possibility is left hanging for Joel and the audience, and we want to believe it, we really do. But you can’t change the past. We know this; Joel knows this. And so Joel, in the memory, runs away from the house, just as he did before in real-life, but not before Clementine whispers those four auspicious little words to him:

“Meet me in Montauk.”

YouTube Hop-Watch: 'I Wanna Be the Guy' and 'Monty on the Run'

March 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

First off, we have I Wanna Be the Guy (IWBTG for short), which is regarded as one of the hardest games ever created. IWBTG itself was made as an homage to 8-bit platformers/shooters, some of which were well-known for their notorious difficulty settings and unfair level design. Often, the key to beating these games was in memorising the levels and enemy movement patterns, rather than skill. I’ve watched a couple of run-throughs of the game on YouTube and it’s actually pretty well designed for an ‘unfair’ game. The creator – Mike ‘Kayin’ O’Reilly – must really have been walking a tough tight-rope between controller-smashing frustrating and just impossible. Luckily, he seems to have kept to the former – if that makes any sense at all. The thing is, I could go on about how well the game is designed, but the fact I’d never want to actually play the game – I’m not sure what that actually says about it. Maybe I’m just a giant wuss (probably true).

It was from one of the LPs (long-plays) that I heard a particular piece of music in the background in one of the levels. The music in question was from an obscure Commodore C64 game called Monty on the Run. It’s a basic platforming game where you have to run around collecting things and such. That’s not that important; what I found remarkable was the music which I just loved. It taps right into my nostalgia nerve-centre as although I never owned a C64, I did own an Atari ST computer, which was very similar in how it reproduced sound in video games.  I started watching some other videos recommended by YouTube and there’s one with some guy playing the theme on a midi keyboard – very well, I might add – and another with a whole orchestra. The best thing I saw though, was this brilliant video from some Russian guys. Well, you pretty much just have to watch it; it’s just awesome. The fact that some of the text overlay – like the credits – is in Russian just adds to the video’s quirky charm.

The final thing that I actually saw a while ago, but thought it was good enough to mention, is this video in which kinetic typography is being used to portray a scene from Requiem for a Dream. I’m not particularly big on the movie, but by just hearing some of the dialogue in this clip you are reminded of how good the acting in the movie was. Sure, it released Lux Aeterna upon the world – which was used continuously on every single, fucking YouTube video or movie trailer for a good period of time afterwards (I really thought that fad would never end) – but on the bright side, I learnt how to spell ‘requiem’ by heart without any reference to a dictionary. I’m joking, of course; it’s not that bad a piece of music; it’s just the way it is perpetually used that makes it sound even more ridiculous the next time you hear it. It was even overused in the goddamn film and – I think – that was my major problem with it, now that I think about it. The way that film tried to hammer home the message ‘drugs are bad and addiction is hell’, was like Darren Aronofsky putting a power drill to my skull (yes, that was a Pi reference. See! I don’t hate Aronofsky) – to the sound of epic orchesteral music. I don’t think I need to say this, but the film lacked subtelty. Big time.

Anyway – /rant over – there’s also a pretty good typographic portrayal of I Will Be Blood‘s climatic final scene. Obviously, don’t watch if you haven’t seen the film – which I recommend by the way, because it is brilliant (or, as Dr Kermode would put it, because “it redefined the grammar of modern cinema“) – but for everyone else: “DRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE”

Also, on a side note, Dead Space review is forthcoming – that is, if I ever get around to finishing it. Not because I’m scared mind you; I’m just a very busy person. Lotsa lotsa meetings…yeeeeeeaah.

Enjoy; good night, and good luck.

Super Mario 64: The 1up Game

February 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Out of all the articles I have read or watched this week, this particular item has entertained me the most.

Basically, it’s two Japanease guys playing Mario 64, but they’ve changed the rules of the game. Instead of playing the game conventionally – going through the levels, collecting stars and so forth – they have devised a new way to play. The aim of the game is now this: to collect all eight coins in each stage while avoiding the floating 1up mushroom which chases the player throughout. You see, in the original game the 1up mushroom needs to be activated, and from that point on it will chase the player around until it is picked up, thereby giving the player an extra life. So what these guys have effectively done is flipped the game on its head: instead of the 1up mushroom giving you an extra life, it now effectively ends the game, forcing you to restart.

What I love about this idea is just the child-like genius embedded within it. It’s so inventive, creative and nonsensical; I just love it. It reminds me of the games I used to play with my brother and sister. We would cook some ludicrous rules up and just pretend. It makes me happy to see this kind of brilliant, creative spirit because – God knows – we lack so much of it in everyday life. These videos express the most basic essence of a child in ‘play’, in which he creates his own world, his own characters and his own script. In this world there are no limitations or boundaries; there are no ‘good’ ideas or ‘bad’ ideas; there are just ideas.

It just makes me laugh; it’s all such silly, funny nonsense, but there is something so very charming in it all.

Bowlby's Run

February 16, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is my first attempt at a YouTube video – a test really. I wanted to see how the recording quality would come out when uploaded. It took a ridiculous amount of time to upload the file considering the film is only three-and-a-half minutes long. I am considering doing more videos, mostly FRAPS recordings, but possibly with commentary as well.

In a way, I’m surprised at how popular YouTube is as a video-sharing site considering some of the technical barriers to entry. First off, you need to own a computer decent enough to run a game alongside FRAPS in the background, and if it’s a game like Doom 3 or Crysis, then boy, is it going to chuuuug. Second, the amount of hard disk space needed for even a small recording to take place at a reasonable resolution is quite demanding. Then on top of all that, you need to convert the files from their raw format to something a little more condensed. It took me a fair while to find such a program and get it working – and I’m pretty technically minded. Finally, when all this is done, you can start uploading your files to YouTube. This step is simple enough; it’s just that you have to bear in mind that it takes a lot longer to upload something than to download. In which case, 180 megs may seem small, but when you’re uploading something that size it turns out to be quite a burden to carry – at least for my connection anyway. Of course, this is all specific to my experience and is only really relevent if you’re going to be recording something using a computer. If you’re recording from a video camera and want to put the film on to YouTube, then it’s only the last couple of steps you would need to worry about.

Still, I can see the appeal. It’s very satisfying seeing something you made being published in a forum for all to see, especially if it’s something immediately accessable to everyone – like a video. You definately get a buzz from it, and it does make me want to do more, but the time it takes to make something good is considerable. All I did was upload something I recorded on my computer. I didn’t use any editing techniques whatsoever; I pretty much just copy-and-pasted the .avi from my computer to the internet, with no revisions or edits, and that still took me a while to figure out. Maybe next time it’ll be a faster process; that is, if I do end up putting myself through this ordeal again.

By the way, if you do watch the video, then be sure to use the ‘watch in high quality’ option on the YouTube webpage.

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