Film Archive

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Video Games are not Films. They are TV.

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected […]

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected semi-regular releases is meant to emulate the feeling of TV. And yet, as of right now, TV has moved closer and closer towards using the season as the main unit of storytelling (versus “the episode”)

The argument could be made, especially considering Telltale’s resolution to continue both The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us in a format akin to a TV season, that the season is still a valid construct that could apply to the critical discussion of these games. However, the emphasis on the season on TV in recent years is quite different than the one exhibited by The Walking Dead or Life is Strange. Stories like True Detective’s seasons are more like volumes of a book series, while told on regular weekly installments (equivalent to a book’s chapters) each one to be interconnected into a bigger whole.

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Remembering Wes Craven: Horror’s Guiding Voice

Without Wes Craven I might not have gotten into horror. I probably didn’t know it at the time. I was four and the idea of directors and writers wasn’t really […]

Without Wes Craven I might not have gotten into horror.

I probably didn’t know it at the time. I was four and the idea of directors and writers wasn’t really that prominent in my brain. What was prominent was a snarling one-liner spewing killer that was everywhere at the time: Freddy Krueger.

If you ask me, Freddy Krueger is easily the best of the well-known slasher monster as well as the most accessible. If you want any proof, just look at the Freddy mania that gripped America in the late eighties and early nineties. Even now he’s a household name, occupying the same mental space as Frankenstein and Dracula. Not only does the brilliant presence of Robert Englund provide not just the menace of other slashers but the charisma of a rock star and a gleeful bully. Freddy Krueger was someone who fascinated kids as much as he terrified them.

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Heavyweight Champions of 2014: Interstellar

Space exploration is probably one of the most fascinating human concerns in our times, since it says so much about the idealized human spirit that we constantly chase as a […]

Space exploration is probably one of the most fascinating human concerns in our times, since it says so much about the idealized human spirit that we constantly chase as a society. We’re Survivors, We’re Craftsmen, We’re Heroes, bound not to this Earth but to this universe, and whose dreams are equal to our reach as well as our thirst for knowledge. Or some other philosophical wax.

I have personally always found it fascinating because it’s easy to link it up to another narrative that involves the re-examination of our collective and individual identities: the immigrant story. Much like in immigrant stories, the travelers are people who are searching for better lives and a place where they can finally let go of the emotional baggage that has haunted them in their previous lives, either due to their culture or due to their mistakes (sometimes and most often, both) It is in space, then, that most sci-fi storytellers decide to test and examine how much we’re bound to these concepts of countries, borders, cultures and “home”. And most importantly, the ones that compel me go a long way towards liberating or stripping these characters of these in order to reach a raw, naked emotional truth.

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Why Blockbusters Franchises Won’t Destroy Cinema

I just returned from seeing the Hobbit. I had enough fun, having seen the things that I expected to see with the creativity that Peter Jackson brings, but felt that […]

I just returned from seeing the Hobbit. I had enough fun, having seen the things that I expected to see with the creativity that Peter Jackson brings, but felt that the intent of a children’s book was lost in favor of conforming to the current model of high-octane action franchises. This was something the original Lord of The Rings trilogy managed to pull off without losing the appeal and charm of the initial book. With the Hobbit, a lighthearted children’s book, things became a bit more of a problem. There are plenty of angry reviews of the Hobbit though, so I find it immensely more interesting to talk about its place in the current landscape of films.

As 2014 has passed, you’ve no doubt seen a number of articles, discussing the very subject, many lamenting the overpowering presence of the franchise, bemoaning the presence of Young Adult novel and comic book adaptations. Oftentimes the word ‘teenager’ will be used in a derogatory context, as though teenagers are some subhuman mass dedicated to ruining meaningful film rather than a subset of the human population that are no less deserving of fiction that speaks to them. The general idea is simple, that the dominance of big franchised blockbusters is polluting the market and preventing more meaningful, artistic films. There was even a pretty good movie that lived under that pretense this year.

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Heavy Weight Champions of 2014: Gone Girl

David Fincher is probably Hollywood’s most high-brow mercenary. A new Fincher movie is exciting because regardless of the script-work, we’re always going to get some highly beautiful aesthetic work on […]

David Fincher is probably Hollywood’s most high-brow mercenary. A new Fincher movie is exciting because regardless of the script-work, we’re always going to get some highly beautiful aesthetic work on all fronts. Unfortunately, Fincher’s last two projects before Gone Girl were disappointing because of the material he chose. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network are succesful movies, but they felt weak and overeliant on Fincher’s aesthetic work to carry out stories that most of the time felt generic and whenever they veered out of generic territory, they went into outright insulting and bizarre territory. This is especially jarring in the light of the fact that Zodiac proved to be a highlight in Fincher’s career.

So, when Gone Girl was released, I was apprehensive. On the one hand, this was another adaptation, not unlike Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and I had serious issues with the book in terms of its characterization of its two main leads, which by the end of the book felt less like people and more like plot devices in constant contradiction. On the other hand, Gillian Flynn’s structure really fit the flights of narrative fancy that distinguished Fight Club and Se7en from the pack. And it’s important to remember that Fight Club was also a barely-above average book before Fincher turned it into a turn-of-the-millenium grenade of a cult film.

And then we had the final product. Gone Girl is probably the strongest Fincher release in a career filled with modern thriller classics and it’s all due to the fact that when it comes to Gillian Flynn’s script, Fincher understands that while her characters could be strong and compelling in the page, they do not come across as humans unless someone imbues them with life. Cue Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, taking both roles and turning them from simulacra into living, breathing individuals. Pike, in particular, is a complete stand-out as Amy Dunne, switching from kind and sweet to conniving and menacing in the blink of an eye, she’s the ultimate femme fatale, taking her cue from the Lauren Bacalls and Veronica Lakes of old Hollywood and then ultimately giving them the chance to redeem themselves outside of the narcissist and misogynist narratives that defined them and blossom as the forces of nature they were meant to be.

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Birdman, (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Superhero Hate)

I walked into Birdman accidentally and apprehensive. I had planned on seeing Whiplash but there’s only one theater playing it and because of traffic, my friend didn’t make it in […]

I walked into Birdman accidentally and apprehensive. I had planned on seeing Whiplash but there’s only one theater playing it and because of traffic, my friend didn’t make it in time. In order to save the night, we decided to watch another movie. It was a choice between Birdman and something I don’t remember. The reason I was worried I was wasting my time and money was Scott Tobias’ review for the Dissolve, which makes a pretty comprehensive case against the movie and my own personal conflicted feelings about the Marvel and DC empire.

See, I love superhero stories. They’re powerful, meaningful operatic depictions of humanity’s best virtues put on the microscope so that they can be observed at their grandest and yet experienced at their most nuanced. This could be said of all genre fiction, but DC and Marvel’s spin is filled with an idealism and a humanism unparalleled in my experience consuming all sorts of media. I always point to the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that ends literally with five friends holding hands to vanquish the antagonist…  As many problems as that movie has, the good moments feel so sincere that I could not look away.

But then there’s the business side of things, Marvel’s current film universe has stuck to a very specific formula and tone. While the films have been wildly varied in milieu, everything about them feels factory made. Taken on an individual basis and when we had few releases, this was tolerable because the outings were still fun. But by the time we reached a mediocre Thor 2 and a flawed Guardians, it was quite easy for me to jump off the bandwagon (and occasionally laugh whenever the train went off the rails) while mourning the death of my love for the genre.

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The Amazing Spider-Man: On The Webb Trilogy and Its Failures.

The Raimi Spider-Man films are genuinely some of my favorite films of the 21st century. Wonderfully executed, terminally idiosyncratic and endlessly endearing, those three movies (yes, I’m counting Spider-Man 3 […]

The Raimi Spider-Man films are genuinely some of my favorite films of the 21st century. Wonderfully executed, terminally idiosyncratic and endlessly endearing, those three movies (yes, I’m counting Spider-Man 3 here. I’ll get to that) manage to convey so much love for the idea of Peter Parker and his adventures, it’s easy to want to be Peter Parker; even if Tobey Maguire’s performance is often questionable.  But this is Raimi’s show through and through, and while it’s obviously a showcase of talents for many people (will James Franco ever be this charismatic again?) in the end, it’s about a very particular vision, filled with love and pride for that nerdy kid from Queens who was bitten by a radioactive spider, was confronted with tragedy and then decided that that tragedy should not define anyone in the same way it defined him.

On the other hand, The Amazing Spider-Man films by Marc Webb are…well, they’re competently shot and wonderfully acted (Emma Stone in particular stands out) but the scripts are the ultimate example of what happens when you go by Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat formula without any heart or thought. Every scene feels like it happens here because that’s what the beat sheet said rather than because it evolved naturally from the events we saw before. See Gwen and Peter at the Oxford admission office or Harry telling Peter about his disease in the second film or the first film’s forays into back story for the parents.

However, I want to clarify some things before I continue. My issues with the Webb trilogy (Yeah, I know, please bear with me) aren’t related to me being conservative about comics adaptations. In fact, unlike many other fans, I’m quite fine with The Amazing Spider-Man ditching the “with great power” quote. Heck, I don’t mind that Norman Osborn was never the Green Goblin. My issues are related to three things: the Webb Trilogy constantly feels like the epitome of what committee writing looks like, it does not commit to the idea of being a creative reboot and, perhaps more importantly, the films are pretty ethically questionable (if I were to be charitable)

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Nerdstock Introductory Episode: Meet the team

Well here we go guys. It’s time for you to meet the team behind this madness. Get to know Chris, Anne, Allison, Juan, and Jerry as we spend a bunch […]

Well here we go guys. It’s time for you to meet the team behind this madness. Get to know Chris, Anne, Allison, Juan, and Jerry as we spend a bunch of time talking about who we are and what we love. Or we would have if out love of discussion hadn’t kept getting in the way. Anyway, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. There will be an audio version coming shortly as well for those of you who don’t want to sit in front of a youtube video for an hour and a half.

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Nerdstock Comics Podcast – Episode 0 : Movie Time

It’s time for the party to finally begin. Join me, your host Chris Hansbrough, Xzyliac and Anne Agnew as we discuss the recent Guardians of the Galaxy IMAX teaser, Sailor […]

It’s time for the party to finally begin. Join me, your host Chris Hansbrough, Xzyliac and Anne Agnew as we discuss the recent Guardians of the Galaxy IMAX teaser, Sailor Moon, and all the DC television series’ coming in the next year. What do we think? What do you think? Let us know by giving a listen and dropping a comment on the post below. I warn you this isn’t exactly the best put together show as we’re still figuring out where our feet are at and from now on, Every show recording will be done live, giving us the chance to interact with you, the audience as we try to make this the best podcast we can.

What can you expect? Well, a lot of things. We’ll be discussing our favorite books of the week, the news we care about, and having fun being total dorks with one another for around an hour every couple weeks. So with that out of the way, take a listen and I hope you enjoy the first total mess of an episode we recorded last night.

Xzyliac – Twitter: @Xzyliac

Chris – Twitter: @JudgementScythe / Tumblr : JudgementScythe

Anne – Twitter: @AnneMAgnew

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Pacific Rim: An Ode to Mako Mori

Her expression screams VENGEANCE

Copyright: Warner Bros

Originally, I had just wanted to write a review of Pacific Rim (I’d give it a solid 4/5 stars if you were wondering), since I really enjoyed it and I feel like a lot of negative reviews didn’t really “get” the movie; if you’re criticizing a movie whose tagline is “Go Big or Go Extinct” for lacking subtlety, I think the problem is with you, not the movie. That’s not to say that the movie is perfect; Raleigh Becket is one of the least charismatic and interesting leading men in my recent memory, and women should have been more prominent (Aleksis Kaidonovsky should have had more lines and one or both of the scientists should have been ladies). Even so, I applaud the film for its portrayal of Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi), who is oft criticized for reasons I don’t understand. If you want a proper review of the movie, I’m sure a quick Google search can help you out, but this is going to be a defense of Mako Mori.

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