Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Warp Whistle

Mario warps to an unusual place:

[via Boing Boing]
New eMusic/other downloads of March:

1. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
2. Various artists - Slumdog Millionaire OST
3. Various artists - Wall-E OST
4. Fever Ray - Fever Ray
5. Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
6. Mono Puff - Unsupervised
7. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
8. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
9. Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
10. Eef Barzelay - Lose Big
11. Doveman - Footloose
12. Jacaszek - Treny
13. Uri Caine Ensemble - Uri Caine Ensemble Plays Mozart

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Underrated: Majora's Mask

Offworld has a lovely little tribute to what I feel is the most under-appreciated game in the Legend Of Zelda series.

Majora's Mask, much like Windwaker, got a bad rap for all the wrong reasons. Windwaker garnered a lot of criticism from fans who felt betrayed by the fact that the more "realistic" graphical style of Ocarina of Time was replaced with cutesy cell-shading and loose animation. Most of those criticisms went away after the game was released. If you aren't utterly charmed by Windwaker the moment you start playing, then there's just no helping you.

Majora's Mask didn't fare quite as well. Many people simply didn't play it. And many who did play it either didn't care for it, or became too frustrated to finish. Admittedly, the game is not quite as accessible as other Zelda games, due to it's unusual time mechanic. Many people just couldn't deal with a Zelda game that imposed a time limit on their adventuring. I wonder if this game was actually hindered by the fact that it was part of the Zelda franchise, and whether it might have found a larger audience as a standalone title.

The fact of the matter is, if you are willing to make the extra effort to dig into this game its rewards are fantastic. It is one of the most emotional games I have played, surprisingly. As you relive the same days over and over, gradually discovering each of the world's characters and their unique stories, it begins to weigh on you. More so than any other game I have played, you feel the weight on your hero's shoulders as he tries to save a doomed world. Because you become involved in the minutiae of their lives. You do your fair share of dungeon crawling and boss battling, too. But the real pull of this game is in helping each and every citizen of this small world find what their heart is seeking.

It is truly unique, and a damn shame that it hasn't been explored more in future entries of the franchise. Nintendo was on to something here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Waltz With Bashir

This is a fantastic movie. A true story about an Israeli man trying to recover lost memories of his time in the military during a brutal massacre in Lebanon. It's also beautifully animated. Using animation for a documentary could have been gimmicky but it is used perfectly, and is actually key to making the movie work. While some documentaries take turns cutting between interviews and staged reenactments (which don't always fit together visually), the animation makes everything feel like a whole. It gives greater weight to scenes that may have felt artificial otherwise, which is important since many of the scenes are representations of the narrator's memories and dreams. I'm so glad other countries understand animation isn't just for children.

I highly recommend checking this one out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


In Outlander, Jim "Jesus" Caviezel (or Jeviezel, for short), plays a man from outer space who crash lands on Earth during a time when Vikings were kicking the shit out of everyone and everything. Stripped early on of any futuristic gadgets that might come in handy during such a time, Jeviezel must survive on wits alone.

But he's not alone for very long. He easily befriends a Viking clan after helping them kill a large bear, moves in on the future king's girl, and then gets everyone to work together to kill a huge evil space demon that glows in the dark and slaughters people willy nilly. All in a day's work. Did I mention that Ron Perlman also shows up and does some ass kicking with giant mallets? I didn't? Well, he DOES.

And that space demon that they're intent on killing - it only wants revenge because Jeviezel helped annihilate its entire species and took over its planet. The monster is the good guy, and it's still a pleasure to see it get its ass handed to it. Because monsters are different and they deserve to die.

If you haven't seen Outlander yet I can only shake my head and wonder why. Vikings throw down against some aliens, y'all. Go out and see it, and you will witness a time when men were men. Especially if they were space men.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Hey, guess what? Watchmen doesn't suck! In fact, it's actually pretty good!

As a huge Alan Moore fan, who's been burned pretty bad in the past (ahem, LXG), I was really apprehensive about this movie. I really wanted it to be good, but the trailers gave me some strong doubts about whether it could be. Turns out, some of the things I was most worried about ended up being my favorite things about the movie. Go figure.

What worked really well:
Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, and the Comedian absolutely own in this movie. The trailers really do all of them a disservice. They are note-perfect representations of the characters, in my opinion.

Night Owl is very good. Not as pudgy as I would have liked, and the costume could have been more faithful to the original design - but those are minor quibbles.

The attention to detail is wonderful. Say what you will about Snyder as a director, but the guy has an almost obsessive knack for visual adaptation.

While I would have preferred an ending more faithful to the book's (especially since everything else was adapted so meticulously), the new ending is similar enough to work. I wasn't necessarily happy about it, but I didn't hate it.

What doesn't work so much:
Carla Gugino as the older Sally Jupiter. The age makeup was not effective. They should have just double cast the part. There's actually a scene where she wearily says "I'm sixty-five years old" and it was enough to elicit some chuckles from the audience. It's not Gugino's fault. Snyder should have handled it differently.

Silk Spectre II, despite having a killer body, was fairly dull to watch. Especially during one the film's most critical emotional moments near the end of the film.

The soundtrack is not very good for the most part. There are some great songs used in the movie, but almost every single one doesn't fit the tone of the scene it's used in. Or they are just way too obvious or overused, like "Ride of the Valkyries" during the Vietnam flashback. The songs call attention to themselves so much that it completely took me out of the moment. The worst is probably the use of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during the film's only love scene. It just didn't match with the way the scene was shot, at all.

I really enjoyed the movie. This was due in large part to both Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan. They were, hands down, the best part. Dr. Manhattan's origin scene was particularly amazing, and fortunately had the best-used piece of music in the whole film. Because those characters work so well the movie actually has a fairly strong emotional impact.

I have no idea how this movie will be received by the majority of people who haven't read the graphic novel, but this movie wasn't really made for them anyway. I think any fan of the book will be mostly pleased, except for those who just cannot allow the slightest liberty to be taken with the material. Nothing is so radically altered that it completely derails the experience (ahem, LXG). I'm happy that I liked it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Come Back, Conan, As Soon As You Can!

After trying to make it through three episodes of the new Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I've gone into some sort of Conan withdrawal. My hands shake, and my mouth dries up, and I begin to wonder if late night television was ever funny, or did I just imagine it? So far, Fallon's schtick has included sketches about Facebook, beer pong, popular YouTube clips, and getting college kids to do "funny" things on camera. Late Night has officially become the go-to program for all your painfully sub-par frat boy humor.

I understand that when Conan took over Late Night from Letterman he wasn't perfect right out of the gate. There was a lot of room for improvement. But Conan always had a unique writing style and point of view. Can someone please tell me what style Fallon has, beyond mumbling something unintelligible and then being the only one laughing? I have no doubt that Fallon will improve with time, but I can't foresee anything ever coming out of his show that reaches this level of greatness:

June can't come quickly enough.

New Star Trek Trailer = !!!

Click the HD button to watch the good quality version:

This looks better with every preview. Easily my most anticipated movie of the year, so far.

Fever Ray - "If I Had A Heart"

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Alright, Slumdog Millionaire was an entertaining film. The children were cute, the music was great, and everything looked very pretty. The story was suitably engaging and held my interest for the duration of the film.

I don't understand why everyone is going ape shit for this movie. It's good, but it's not that good. The story is riddled with cliches, and the ending wraps up so easily and neatly that I feel it cheapens everything that comes before it. I do think it's nice that the next time I feel like writing something contrived I can justify it by saying "it's fate", and people will think it's inspired. I just didn't buy it, and that made it very difficult for me to connect with this movie.

I've now seen two of the Best Picture nominees, and I feel this was easily the weaker of the two. I was trying to understand why this was everyone's favorite movie, including the Academy's. The best I can come up with is that it's uplifting. Okay, that's fair. But compared to Milk, a movie that's inspiring, uplifting, and true? No comparison.

Slumdog Millionaire is a very nice story, and I'm glad so many people liked it. I certainly enjoyed it, but I don't think I'll ever have a strong urge to watch it again. Now can someone please tell me when Freida Pinto's next movie is coming out?