Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Still Prompting Thoughts

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Third installment. Just thoughts and commentary on stuff.

What's More Subjective, Comedy or Music?

Food for thought: if you could recommend one comedy movie to someone, what would it be? Blazing Saddles? The Big Lebowski? The Hangover? Hell, what about She's All That with the late Freddie Prinze Jr.?

Oh, he's not dead? Sorry, Freddie. Or should I say Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Anyways, I've always found it really hard to recommend comedies because I know that what one person finds funny, the other person may not like. It's really the only genre that I always have a difficult time discussing and find it as hard to recommend or talk about with others as it is to talk about great music. "Oh, you never listened to Rush?"

A good drama is a good drama, good action good action, scary is going to be scary, but's a little more narrow and not as broad because there's so many different styles of comedy. Plus, people tend to respond more intellectually to comedy than viscerially to something that's scary or thrilling or emotional. I'm sure there's some study about the effects of comedy on the human brain versus something that's sad or exploding, but I can just look at my group of friends and see how different it all is and how they're also strangely passionate, moreso than when talking about other types of movies, they are when defending or discussing their favorite comedy movies.

One might love The Hangover, but the other guy thinks it's just overdone tropes and would take a Billy Wilder movie any day (that other guy would be me, by the way).  Another guy can't sit through Young Frankenstein because it isn't throwing gags and jokes at you every ten seconds like you have ADD, nope, he'd rather see something more in your face and quick to the punch like a Ted. Or maybe another just doesn't want to do too much thinking and doesn't want to get in to satire, like Wag the Dog or In the Loop. Then it all explodes in to name calling, that the other person doesn't know what they're talking about and that "everyone else is wrong, I'm right" dick-wagging bullshit that sometimes film snobs degerate to.

Pssst...this movie is funny.

I don't know, I just can't ever to find a good middle ground to discuss comedy with people. Plus, comedy is tough to determine what is "good" and what is "bad" in terms of what is "funny." I think the quality of a comedic film can still be judged, more about how it's all put together - less about the "what" specifically is funny and more the "how" and "why" it's supposed to be funny in relation to the stories and characters. That being said, I think we all can agree that Adam Sandler isn't funny.

But he probably is to someone. (insert dramatic music here)



Well, Those Games Are Surprsing

You know, while everyone is out there playing their Halos and Calls of Duties and Hopscotch, I fired up a game that took me completely by surprise. Sleeping Dogs. And you know what? I couldn't stop playing it. I'm not a huge gamer, I play when I have time, but this was, for the first time in a while, a game I actually made time for. As in…scheduled my schedule around scheduling time to play. What's that? Laundry? I can cram that in there between missions, right?


Sleeping Dogs, structurally, isn't that much different than any other open world game where you dive around a city and punch people. But the different eis HOW you punch in this game, as in: it didn't half-ass awesome kung-fu combat. I think that's what made it so addicting, and why I'm surprised more people aren't out there playing this thing. It's a hidden gem if there ever was one, and I'd even dare say that it has a decent little crime story in the vein of a John Woo film with Chow Yun Fat (as in, not a "wow" but at least told pretty well). If you haven't played this, do yourself a favor and check it out.


Then it occurred to me: did I like it so much because I had absolutely no expectations on it? I mean, I had to remind myself the name of the title a few times to where I was thinking "OH yeah..that one game about dogs n shit."  Sometimes, you just have to give it a chance.


Even if the franchise is so old and worn and you burned yourself out on, literally, over a decade ago. Enter Tomb Raider, a game with, again, I had no expectations because I hadn't played a Tomb Raider game since the fourth one and, even then, was getting a little sick of it all. I think the developers knew that as well. It was a tired, over-exposed franchise that needed to reinvent itself - because it NEEDED to reinvent itself. Insert "necessity the mother of invention" thought here.


Now Tomb Raider doesn't really invent anything, but it took elements from games that were very Tomb Raider-esque to begin with, namelessly the Uncharted series, and did a few twists with it. It's kinda-open world, focused more on exploration and secrets and still manages a nice dose of puzzles and problem solving with some incredibly fun combat. Hell, throw in a solid lead dynamic in a newly-modernized Lara Croft and you have a winner. The story is serviceable, but Croft herself is what really shines. She's still a bit sexualized, but she also comes across as someone who grows in to the role of a hero rather than just some superficial cover girl.


Though the writing has its share of hiccups, namely the rest of the cast, the story, the backstory…the whole magic thing…ok, not so much "share" as much as "majority of," but they stayed pretty consistent with her personality: vulnerable, but willing to do what it takes because that's what heroes are supposed to do. You kind of watch her grow and never doubt that she cares for those around her, even if the motivations are a bit lacking. (seriously, that one girl is a bitch for no reason, I'd have thrown her off the boat or just say "look, I only save your ass from flaming lava death so how about less bitchiness?")


The show-stealer is the bow and arrow, though. Talk about fun to use, Tomb Raider reminds me of Red Dead Redemption in that respect. Sure, there are other games with that weapon, but none done quite as intuitively as this one. I have other weapons at my disposal, full of upgrades and so on, but I used the bow exclusively.


Only downside, as of this writing, is that it's a bit too easy (I'm playing on the normal setting, so I should have chosen hard) but I can't say that for a lot of games with infinite lives and hundreds of checkpoints these days. The "Game Over" screen is long gone. Other complaint is that it's incredibly short. I'm nearing the end, sitting at 78% with one more area to go, so I'm just backtracking for goodies before the final section, but it's only been less than 10 hours of playing it. Shortness isn't a problem, but the sense of "there should be something more" is. But hey, it's fun, it at least got that right.


This is the most I've played games in at least six/seven years. And as if that's not enough, Bioshock Infinite comes out soon.

But more on Bioshock Infinite later.




The Worst Time for Movies?

So, when is the worst time for movies in theaters? We all know it's not Summer, that's when every studio unloads their big flicks. It's also certainly not Awards Season, which is about from October, late October, to Christmas. So we have about August to October or January to whenever the first big summer flick comes out (which is getting sooner and sooner these days, Avengers came out in May last year).


2013 hasn't been all that great so far. It's fine, some decent flicks (like Oz) but I've really had little interest in what's out there. Sure, you might hit a few gems, like Spring Breakers, but this time of year is always a little drab.


But man, nothing beats the post summer/pre awards time. Thats' when shit is unloaded upon us because it usually consists of movies that the studio has no idea what to do with. Sometimes they're good (Scott Pilgrim) but usually they're bad (The Bourne Legacy, Total Recall, Hit and Run all came out during that time last year. Even decent movies like Premium Rush, but it's so obviously a movie that the studio wasn't sure what to do with so they just unloaded it.


Yeah, that time frame is probably the worst. People are tired of the blockbusters and they aren't quite ready to get out to see the awards contenders or even indie flicks. Exhaustions, folks.




Pretending to be "Nerdy"

Folks, don't pretend to be "nerdy" and a "geek." I don't know when it became trendy, but apparently it is. There's kind of two categories here: there's actual nerds and geeks, then there's the "Hollywood/hipster/cool" version of nerd and geek. I think this is best summed up in a meme, something that used to be nerdy but is now really cool for some reason:


In the end, even trying to be "nerdy" is still not being yourself.  Though, I will admit, it's nice that being "nerdy" isn't as taboo as it once was, it's still the presmuption of being nerdy rather than actually being a nerd.  One look at what makes money at the movies is proof of that (Superheros everywhere!) But there's still a difference between all those people that go out to see The Avengers versus those that have been reading The Avengers since they were 10.

I was trying to think when it all started. Early 2000s, maybe? That's when videogames began to get really big, the early Xmen and Spider-Man movies were doing pretty well and the whole "Hipster" thing started. It's just been escalations since then, and you know about escalation...




Go Away, IMDB, You're Drunk

Guess what, nobody likes IMDB. Especially this woman's suing the company, which spawned this particular entry. If you're too lazy to click and read, basically an actress is suing IMDB for posting her age without her permission because putting her age on there would "limit" the roles she could play in terms of age.

Ok, first off, the age issue isn't even IMDB's fault, that's the casting personells problems and a bigger issue than just putting up someone's birthdate.

But that doesn't mean IMDB isn't without issue. Now when I talk about IMDB I really refer to "IMDBPro" which is full of other information beyond basic credits. We're talking office addresses, phone numbers and details that aren't available on IMDB. They fashion it off as "insider" info, but truth is they're not all that much different than Wikipedia.

I'll let you in on a secret, nobody in the film industry likes IMDB and there's been a strong shift away from it. Birthday thing aside, their information is out of date for the most part, credits all over the place, agents and reps often incorrect and there's no sense of professionalism around it. That's why most, not all but most, people and companies use Studio System. It's not as flashy and fancy, but at least you're pretty damn sure the information is correct.

By the way, I'll be shocked if the actress wins her court case. IMDB doesn't pass itself off as a "casting resource" even if casting directors lazily use it.



Exclusive Reviews?

Click the title for a big of a hub-bub, bub, on this week's "videogame culture needs to grow up" entry. This time, IGN going around the internet saying "Guess what, guys! We got an exclusive Bioshock Review before the other guys!" Gee, and people wonder why video game "journalism" and "critique" isn't taken seriously? Why not just argue over which happy meal toy you got over your friends while you're at it. 

Oh, you aren't eleven? Could have fooled me. I mean, is this where we're at? Still?

When one of your biggest sites for video games acts like a kid on the playground who just got the latest toy and shows it off to show how much YOU DONT HAVE IT, then that's a problem


Wait, I covered this last time on how gamers are generally assholes and the gaming press no different.


That's right…now I remember...everyone is Lucas.

So bad...


Well, I guess I should cover how hit-driven/ad revenue websites lack credibility on things like this, but I'd like to think people are smart enough.


You're smart enough, right?


I'll assume you are. Compromises, conflicts of interests, what haveyou, "professionalism" is absent in video game press.



On a Final Movie Note

Another thing to ponder. What genre of film is the most "re-watchable" for you? I tried to think of an answer for myself, but I watch so many films repeatedly that it's hard to. Even if I've seen that horror movie a dozen times (ahem..The Thing) I still love to watch it. It no longer scares me, I know what happens, the story is etched in my mind, but I still love to watch it even if I don't have the same reaction. Same for thrillers and suspense with twists. many times have I seen Rear Window or Psycho now?


Comedy can be pretty re-watchable. Even if you know the punchline to the joke, it can still be funny as long as you hear that joke over and over.  Kind of like enjoying a song on the radio, but if it's overplayed you begin to dislike it.


I think dramas are the least re-watchable. Especially if they're profound and weigh on you. I mean, I saw Lincoln last year, and I really don't need to see it again. Actually, the more I think about it, I think I go back to dramas the least when going through my DVD collection.

"oh...look. The Killing Fields..."


(then why the hell do you own it?)


I think action is probably the most rewatchable. It's pretty superficial, not a whole lot of thinking, and action movies tend to make you turn your brain off. For example, I was watching Iron Man, again, just this past weekend. Now I've seen this movie at least six or seven times now, but I couldn't get away from the television. It was as though I had no memory of ever seeing it before. I know I could sit there and say "oh, this is about to happen" and "this really cool part is coming up" but I wasn't, it just kind of washes over you. I think that's why action movies are so universally loved. Everbody likes to turn their brains off once in a while.


It's also why, I think, critics can be a little too harsh on action flicks. Sometimes I feel like they're trying to find logic and sense in something that's intentionally meant to have neither. Sure, sometimes some are just poorly made, or feel cheap and half-hearted, but if your biggest complaint is "oh, he'd never survive that fall" then you're just doing it wrong.  


Well, that's it for this one.


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