Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Prompting More Thoughts

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Blah blah blah here's a blog of stuff.

The Filmmaker Shouldn't Affect Your Liking of a FIlm

There's been a strange backlash to Beasts of the Southern Wild the past few months. Maybe it was there all along, but basically people are compiling that this film about poverty-stricken people in the south was written and directed by two rich white kids from New York.


If you ask me, which you kind of are since you're reading this, I feel that's people just trying to find a reason to dislike the movie. As I've always said, I'd rather someone say they just don't like the movie rather than reach for a reason as to why. For me, I just look for a well done story, and Beasts of the Southern Wild had that. I don't hold the background of the filmmaker against them if they're looking to create a story that's outside of their own world. You don't need first-hand knowledge of something. If we were to start taking in to account the background of filmmakers and have that, somehow, determine our enjoyment of a film, well, we'll have to run that across the board of films made by people that we somehow deem "unqualified" to make a film. That's marginalizing and segregating a lot of great films, and where do you draw the line?




I just don't like the whole "You have to be this type of person to make this type of movie" can of worms this would open. How far down that hole do you want to go? Where would you draw the line? I mean, can a British director make a film about India? Can a film nerd make a film about gangsters? Can a brilliant playwright from a bohemian family make a film about the homeless? Because all that happened and some damn good films came from it.

Now, if we're talking about films with heavy-handed social commentary from people that don't know a lot about sociological issues, then that might be a different story...maybe that's what people are missing: it needs to be re-worded. Just because these kids were young, white and well-off isn't the reason, it's that we have to wonder what point they're trying to make.

Still, I was compelled by the story, and that's more than enough for me personally. Why would I want to dig and try to find reasons to dislike something that, quite honestly, has little to do with the film itself? Are people that desperate to find a reason to not like something? Why does that thought process even stem from?



I'm Fine With Remakes…But….

I'm a pretty open and accepting person when it comes to films. Though remakes are a window in to what is wrong with Hollywood on an idea level, the fact that a film is being remade doesn't automatically mean it will awful (and doesn't make the original obsolete, which seems to be what a lot of people worry about for some reason). Some of my favorite movies of all times are remakes of other movies, whether it be remakes years later (The Fly, The Thing) or remakes of foreign films (The Departed, 12 Monkeys), I can name more remakes I really enjoyed than I can remakes that I hated.


Truth is, either I really enjoy a remake or I'm just apathetic to it because I can always just watch the original.


But what if the original is SO unique. That brings us Point Break, which is a remake that's been tumbling around the dryer of Hollywood remakes for a while now but finally plugged in a director, which means it's kind of on its way to actually happening.


"Have you ever fired your gun up in the air and gone "ahhrgh"?"

On paper, Point Break sounds like any other action movie. But that's on paper, unlike most action movies where concept is greater than execution and allows for remakes, here the execution is greater, and far more important, than the concept. Conceptually, you can make a dozen movies like Point Break. It's structurally there to be remade: a timeless good guy versus bad guy story that isn't hindered by an era or style.


Point Break, though, owes its identity not to that concept, but to that execution: the perfect storm of a great and simple action plot with damn good action directing but a silly and over-the-top set of characters that only were unique because of the acting, not because of what was written.


Ask yourself: what do you know about Johnny Utah other than that Keanu Reeves played him in Point Break? Do you really remember anything unique about the character? No. What you remember were the quotes and lines that Keanu put out there, the expression on his face and the strange looks he would give.


What about his partner Angelo Pappas? Other than the fact that he was played (marvelously) by Gary Busey, what else do you know about him?

Plus, his name is fucking Angelo Pappas and he's played by Gary Busey. That, you can't re-create. That's like taking a name like Michael O'Shannon and casting Kal Penn. It's magical.


See my point? Point Break was unique in execution because it was entirely about that particular moment. It didn't have backstory, it didn't even have a sense of a "risk" or "greater threat" that needed to be prevented, it was all in what was happening then with those characters and those actors' interpretations of those characters. There's no depth here, no insight, just silly fun. It's a movie loved because of that and we look past that silly horribleness because there's not a lot of other movies that do that. They'll make it too slick, to neat, and that just shows they missed the (accidental) point of the original.


I'm all for remakes, but Point Break isn't one that will work. Sure, you can make a better movie, improve on it and whatnot, but that wasn't the point of Point Break.


Blood Dragon is the Blood Dragon of Blood Dragons

Initially, I was going to write a bit about Bioshock Infinite, but I think other people have already done better reviews than I could. So, instead, let me talk to you about Blood Dragon. Farcry3: Blood Dragon, actually. My biggest question?

Where the hell has this game been?

It's so simple to see now. So many games today are kind of based and inspired by gratuitous violence and over the top craziness that the 1980s action movie provided, but nobody really went to the extent that this game does. It's not a game set in the 1980s, it's a game that, if it were made in the 80s, it would look like this. This is "past future" if there ever was one: films of that decade looked at the future and technology pretty much like this, and this game nailed it. It's 80s, parodying what the 80s was, but done with a bit of love and affection and detail rather than just doing reference after reference. It looks like what a movie like The Terminator or Exterminators staked their claim on.

It's entirely an aesthetic, but an aesthetic I haven't really seen before. There's a lot of "retro" takes on the 80s but this one just hits a strong note of unabashed cheese. It's not trying to do 80s pop references, it's trying just "be" the 1980s pop reference. That's what distinguishes it. It's hilarious, visually amazing, but most of all it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Awesome and Amazing like when Muscles Collide.

It's a game that makes you want to just go on a 1980s action binge and a brilliant move by the developers and publisher to just be a little silly and have some fun.

A bigger question is, though, is this a possible business model for the future of game developers? Let's face it, the gaming world isn't all that great right now. I'm not going to lament its downfall like some apparently have already, but I do think there's going to be a serious change in business models for game developers and publishers. I don't know if it will be digital distribution, or smaller and chaper titles, but a change is likely to come this next generation, or at least start planting the seeds for that change.

Speaking of videogame faltering...



Is the WiiU in Trouble? Or is Nintendo?

Yes and no on both accounts.


There, I answered it.


Ok, naturally you want to know more. NIntendo's newest console, the WiiU, has been under-performing and, sadly, it seems there's probably not a very good chance for it to get over that hill. Nintendo themselves have noted loses, which isn't good even when you do release a console. Rumors of reasonable prices for the next Xbox and Playstation are going to hurt it, and let's face it, the market that went for the Wii isn't there anymore due to the WiiU being a bit more expensive than a causal player would want to pay for and the console neither there for the core audience either due to lack of game and feature support.


So yes, The WiiU might be in trouble, but believe me, the BIG N isn't. They're fine. They still have the handheld market cornered and they'll probably still be making WiiU games for the duration of this generation. Loss or not this past fiscal year, Nintendo has plenty of money to go around.


Down the road, though, they might just shift gears away from the hardware. I don't know, but Nintendo has the odd ability to create trend-setting hardware and innovate new ideas, yet their consoles have a strange "just not quite there" quality to them. As in: outside of Nintendo, the gaming libraries just haven't hit it out of the park. None, I would say, are "failures" by any means, but they aren't as fondly looked back on as the original NES or Super NES which defined their respective generations (better competition probably has something to do with that these days).


For those that think Nintendo will go the way of Sega, I doubt we'll see that for many years. The WiiU is out. They've committed. That thing is going to try to last as long as it can and Nintendo will be right there. After that, we'll see. They may become software centric, hell they may just convert entirely to the handheld market (which is huge, mind you, especially in Japan and completely in the realm of possibility). But the foreseeable future? Nah, so let's just shut up about it and cross that bridge when we get there. It's kind of trendy to shit all over Nintendo these days and it's getting old.


The Way We Play Will Change Again

It's safe to say that Sony Move, Kinect and even the motion control of the Wii has gone by the way side. At the end of the day, gamers want something in their hand. Something tangible so they can "feel" a little interaction in their games. Everybody noted that, and everbody was pretty much right as even Nintendo has kind of taken that motion-control idea and reeled it back. 

I can't help but think we're all looking at it wrong, though. I feel the days of really long, $60 games is what's going to fall by the wayside. I feel that "gamer investment" is what's dwindling. Gamers approach to games have changed many times over the years. At one time, all that mattered was the highest score. After that, level-based with big bosses. Then in to more open gameplay with selecting where to go and how to explore. It's gotten bigger and bigger in concept, and the games have followed suit to fit that, but I feel that gamers might be looking to take a step back. Keep it all more streamlined and focused.

A great example is what I just wrote: FarCry Blood Dragon. A game you can beat in less than ten hours, only pay about 15 bucks and has a great balance of "main game" versus "side quest distractions." I prefer it over FarCry 3, a main installment game, but bloated to no end. How many side quests, artifacts, item-hunting do you want me to do? Sure, it's optional, but so was Blood Dragon's and unlike in Blood Dragon, I didn't feel it was a "chore" after a few hours to do. I still wanted to do it because the game was short and small enough to want me to do it. After a while, I just stopped giving a shit about all those "collectible fetch quest junk" that really doesn't contribute to anything other than collecting the fetch quest junk. Less is more, and less would really get me to play more.

It's that element that I think will change. The days of people determining the "quality" of a game based on its length should slowly fade. Truth is, that equates to the money you put down on it, and I feel that gamers (hopefully, mind you this is me speculating) will start looking at smalelr and shorter with a chaper price tag as the way to buy games and preferred to pay rather than the multimillion dollar $60 game they have to wait in line for.


The Million Second WTF

First, read this.

Yes, that's real. A game show that ridiculous exists. Or will exist. As though "celebrity" high diving wasn't bad enough, here we have a game that sounds so bat shit insane that it makes me wonder if there's just a Mad Libs book sitting in some exec's office at NBC.

Here's the sad part, though. Actually there's a couple, the first being obvious: that there's a ton of great ideas for shows that are probably going to be nixed because someone said "ok" to this. Reality TV is already awful, but this is just a new degree. For every show, there's probably ten being turned away. I want to know what the other ten are that this apparently beat out.

The other sad thing? There's a group of people somewhere in some office high-fiving each other and going "yeah!" over this. They have champagne and lines of coke lined up ready to celebrate. They all sat down and came up with this idea. They probably toiled though that Mad Libs book daily and boy did it pay off. Not just a show, but a very lavish spectacle of a show. A giant hourglass in Times Square? Broadcast 24/7? NBC greenlit this.

Don't get me wrong, you kind of have to congratulate them on selling it. But at the same time, this is what you're coming up with? Are you really proud of it? Their answer most likely will be "fuck it, money," but I work in the entertainment industry. I know the process. I know there's a huge ladder you have to climb, notes being passed around, meetings and calls held...and nobody somewhere along the way said "is this real?" Even in the early stages of brainstorming an idea, I would think somebody would have said "This is so insane. It'll never sell." Then someone said "Pass the cocaine and let's do this!"

Whooo! *brofist

Ok, enough of all that.


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Thought Prompting 2: Electric Boogaloo

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