Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Prompt Thoughts

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Trying something new in the New Year, seeing as how my time is going to be pretty limited. Here are just thoughts on news in the entertainment world, now with gifs.

Ben Affleck Should Feel Vindicated

Ben Affleck didn't even get an Oscar nod for directing Best Picture nominated Argo.

He didn't get a nod then went on to win Best Director from the DGA and the Golden Globes.

Think the Academy is kicking themselves right now?

That's a "yes."

So why did the man not get nominated? A non-nom that's even more apparent after those recent awards wins, including Best Picture at the Gloves. Is it because Argo is a bit of a commentary on the ludicrous nature of the film industry and the Academy voters are a bit bitter? I doubt that, the film is still nominated even its director is not and there's plenty of winning films critical of the industry they hail from.  Is it because Affleck isn't a "traditional" nominee that falls in line with what the Academy thinks of as a "filmmaker?" Could be that, they did snub The Town entirely. The fact he's young? No way, Benh Zeitlin is nominated for best director as well for Beasts of the Southern Wild (and deservedly so). Is it because the Academy doesn't know what it's really doing and stupidly nominates Nine films for best picture yet still only leaves five for Best Director and fails to realize that makes absolutely no sense? Or maybe not stupidly - controversy gets eyeballs, eyeballs mean advertisements and advertisements mean revenue. People might just tune in to see if Argo wins, verifying the snubbing of Affleck.


Hmmm…even though that could very well be the case, that also sounds a bit much. It's never all that complicated, at least I don't think it is. This isn't the HFPA and Benh Zeitlin isn't Pia Zadora.


No, it's just a stigma. Perhaps, to the Academy, Affleck still hasn't proven himself. Ridiculous notion considering he's made three damn-good movies and won an Oscar for writing another, but his legacy as an actor could be far from the qualities of other actors-turned-directors like Redford or Eastwood that the Academy o-so-loves.  Redford was in the likes of All the President's Men and The Sting and Three Days of the Condor then won an Oscar for directing Ordinary People. Ben Affleck was in Phantoms, Smokin Aces and Jersey Girl.  Eastwood was in classics like Kelly's Heroes, Dirty Harry and tons of respected westerns before sweeping the Oscars with Unforgiven (his tenth or so directed film mind you). Affleck starred in Gigli.

Could it be that? Can an actor's incredibly mediocre acting career, solid decade or so of being a punchline around the industry, really overshadow his absolute brilliance as a director? Or am I thinking too hard? You know, it just might. Maybe the Acedmy just isn't ready to take Ben "seriously" yet, which is pretty stupid


But the real stupidity is the inability of the Academy to count. You have ten slots for best picture and still only five for best director. This just makes no sense. You don't have a great film without a great director. Why are you nominating nine films for best picture yet still keeping the directors at five? You can have a really good, if not great movie with a mediocre script or average performances, but you need that figurehead to make the final product and deliver it. You can't nominate a film for best picture and NOT nominate the man or woman that's primarily responsible for that picture being great.

This exposes the Academy a bit. They're try to be "hip" and "cool" but at the end of the evening, they just remind us that it's just a bunch of old white guys voting and that they really have no idea what they're doing. If Argo wins and Affleck not even up for nomination, this would likely create what experts call a "shitstorm" which might be why I'm routing for Argo even though it's not my personal favorite movie of the year (I rarely route for these things, but this would be hilarious).

I find myself a bit conflicted as well. I loathe the Golden Globes, the HFPA and their joke of an awards show (and I won't go off on it now as I have in past years) but you know what? They got it right. They nominate five films, and those five films had their director nominated for best director. Simple. Clean. What does that say about you when the Globes show you up? Ben Affleck not even nominated for an award proves the complete out of touch nature of the Academy, and how their attempts at trying to be "hip" by including more movies to be nominated for best picture overshadows their ability to understand what is good and not good in the first place.


Of course…I'm sure Mr. Affleck is doing just fine.



Lincoln Will Likely Sweep the Oscars


But do you know what's a safe bet for the Academy? Lincoln: the safest bet of a movie. It has all the makings of what the academy voter (remember, old and white) likes. Big. Grand. Has that "white people are great" angle and so forth. I just don't see the demographics that is the Oscar voter going for any of the other films. Unlike others, I won't make a big deal of that. It is what it is, and winning an award or not winning an award doesn't really mean anything. Time will determine what films we remember back on (see Citizen Kane which didn't win) and teach future generations and what films we completely ignore (see The English Patient which did win).


But I've written more than enough blogs about awards shows. Just let them be, but don't go getting all upset if something you're routing for doesn't win. After all,  I just wrote a good two pages about how the Academy really has no idea what they're doing in the first place and apparently can't count, so that should tell you something (don't get your hopes up). It'll happen, then the internet will constantly complain.



That Doctor Who Christmas Special Was a Bit "Meh" Wasn't It?

I think I just put my entire thought in the title, but yeah…I was a bit bored with it. It was just all over the place, like it was trying to cram a feature-length movie in to an hour. Deux ex Machina isn't anything new to Doctor Who, but holy balls did this just cram the whole "crying" thing down our throat? I do like the new companion, she's very bubbly and seems funny and might be a good change of pace. Just please don't write her to be annoying. You know, like how the Doctor would always say "Now Rose…don't go do this" and then Rose would do it anyway. As in, every other episode? As in "hey, I can't think of what to write so it happens naturally, so let's just have this dumb broad do something stupid."


Ungh, I hated Rose. Not a character, just a plot device.



JJ Abrams is a solid choice

JJ Abrams has been tabbed to direct the next Star Wars movie. My reaction:



A solid choice, but I worry about one man being the singular vision for two of the biggest entertainment franchises in history.


Still, he has a good grasp on "scope" which I think is important, and he's made some good stuff in the past. So if you have a problem with it, you have to really give me a good reason as to why. I can't think of any. Especially considering how low the bar was set from the creator of Star Wars in the past three films in the first place. Besides, it's all going to come down to the script anyways.

Oh, and stop it with the lens flare BS. Mission Impossible 3 was fine. Star Trek was damn good. I enjoyed the hell out of Super 8 despite the rug-pulling of an ending. So get over yourself, think of something better to be critical about. Stop with the sense of entitlement that you as a fan has. We've been through this before and internet "fans" usually overreact about everything.



Te'o = Who Cares?

For a brief recap, and for those where this news didn't make it to their tv's because they're in another country, Te'o is a college football player who had this wonderful story of how he had a girlfriend that died and it inspired him and his football team to make it to the National Championship. Turns out she never existed.

As much as this is getting coverage, I have to ask: who the hell cares? In the pantheon of sports news and history, this isn't even a footnote. It's just a kid who is either really dumb or lied. One or the other. He's a college kid that, either way, acted like a college kid. Yet he's practically being burned effigy's by the media.

But do you really know why this is getting so much coverage? Because those "legitimate" news people were shown they didn't do their job. All those interviews the kid did, all the stories written, all the packages put together for games on television to tug at your heartstrings. At the end of the day it showed supposed "journalists" completely incapable to fact checking. Instead, it was all brought to light by the internet. The same place you can watch cats hugging teddy bears and bad buy a penis pump.


So all this coverage and grandstanding? It's just all these people trying to make up for the fact that they were all fooled and didn't do their jobs. Because honestly…who really cares? Why is it news in the first place? Lance Armstrong having his wins taken away is news. Some college guy either being duped or lying about a girl? That's called a Thursday in college. Get off it and sorry your ego was hurt because it took Gawker to do your job for you.


The WiiU Risks Being the Next Dreamcast

So the WiiU has been out for a few months now….and it's not doing so hot. It's not a failure, mind you. Just a bit slow getting out the gate. Then again, the Wii was such a huge success, any follow-up probably wouldn't live up to those numbers. Plus, most launches have been slow this past generation.


But the WiiU is a little more on shaky ground.


When it was released, the Wii was successful because it catered to a new demographic: it made those that normally didn't play video games play games. It was cheaper than the competition, as was the software. It rode that casual market for years, being the top console for much of the early part of that gaming generation despite the lack of power on the hardware and lack of support by third party developers. As the meme suggested: it practically printed money.


Now we have the WiiU. Still lacking strong support from third party developers. Still a bit underpowered when put up against what "next gen" should be. Still the first out the gate on the market. Yet, now it's more expensive. Now games aren't as "casual" friendly, much like the price. Now what?


Nintendo is trying to go for two demographics: those they can grandfather in from the Wii, which got them on board, and those that normally would go for a PS3 or Xbox. However, they're failing in both categories: the causal players were brought in more for the price of the Wii, not necessarily the games, which the WiiU now omits. And "hardcore gamers" (ungh, I hate that term as I automatically picture some backwards-hat wearing douchebag yelling in to a headset) don't see the titles, support and power they would expect if they're going to shell out cash for a new console.

Is the underwhelming sales all that much of a surprise? No. The only surprise was the cost of the WiiU. For me, and I know others, that was kind of the deciding factor in not jumping out to get one right away. Then again, I never buy a console at launch…nobody should. We'll see how it all shakes out by the end of this year: we'll see what Microsoft and Sony have planned and we'll see what Nintendo's strategy and reaction will be for their console's second year (usually the determining year on which way a system will go).



Ni No Kuni Won't Save the Japanese RPG Genre


Speaking of changing tastes, not only is the "how" people playing changing, but the genres as well. Ten years ago, Japanese RPGs were still pretty popular. Not as popular as they were in the 90s, but still hanging in there. Its decline was inevitable: costs were going up, the genre kept going to the same well too many times and, like I said, tastes were changing and pretty obviously so (western RPGs and FPS were on the rise). The genre itself is pretty much dead. Big-eyed, hero-of-fate, brooding villain, linear style gameplay can feel archaic, or at least watered-down and stagnant by now. It's no wonder developers have put less effort towards developing J-RPGs. They're expensive, time consume, and having diminishing returns.


Then along comes Ni No Kuni, a little RPG from Japan developed by Level 5 with the participation of beloved animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Reviews for this game have been astounding. We're talking one of the best reviewed games to come out in a while, beloved by many, and sold out in a lot of stored (I know…I checked three near my house and they are all out).


But fans need a reality check. Yes, this is one of the best Japanese RPGs to come out in a long while on a non-dying system (sorry Wii fans, I know Xenoblade is amazing, but it's reach is limited…again, see above) but at this point it's one of those genres that might crop up once in a while with a AAA title, then slink back in to the darkness for a few years where it will probably continue its slow-death.


(You know that's true)

All that being said, I have my copy and look forward to playing it. I haven't written a video game review in some time, so look to that in the next month or so when I really sink my teeth in to it.

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