Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jealousy, Here thy naked villany is clothed in flesh.

Oh man, the Oscars were fabulous tonight. They started off well enough, with a number of well-deserved wins, a couple to grumble about, but on the whole very pleasing and refreshing. Achievement in Makeup, Cinematography, and Art Direction to Pan's Labyrinth (Even though I really wanted Children of Men to get the second). Achievement in Visual Effects to Pirates: Dead Man's Chest (I LOVE the Davy Jones costume). Best Documentary to An Inconvenient Truth. Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film (grumble, grumble, grumble). The show ended however with Oscar history: Martin Scorsese winning Best Director for The Departed. Here is a man who has worked and slaved to create some of the greatest films we've ever seen for over thirty years, who has sat in that audience five previous times waiting for that award and walking out of the theater without one, and now he is finally recognized. It was really a pleasure to see him go up there and accept it, you could tell he was genuinely pleased, a certain weary satisfaction was there. This, of course, only makes me want to see The Departed even more. So much so it's been moved to the top of my Netflix rental queue, and I've reactivated my three at a time plan so I can have it by Tuesday. Hooray!

I didn't realise until this year how pumped I get about the Oscars; they're like my Superbowl. Hmm...Oscar party planning duties...

As a total sidenote, Drunken Seven Samurai Movie Night was a stunning success. Thank you guys for attending!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hotel Dusk

What an awesome game. A nice little noir-ish point and click adventure. I expected the story to get melodramatic and over the top at every turn, but it actually kept the perfect tone throughout. It was honest, engaging, and very well detailed. Oh! I need an icon of Kyle Hyde for my AIM buddy icon.

Now it's on to the glory that is Final Fantasy VI Advance. This game is gonna swallow me whole, I know it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Fortress, which may or may not be Hidden

I best make good on my level-upped movie snobbery!

Goddamn, Akira Kurosawa was an amazing director. I've always been a huge fan of Seven Samurai, and about two weeks ago I got The Hidden Fortress from Netflix. These films are forty, fifty years old, but still completely watchable. (I want to digress at this point to stress my statement, you DON'T need to be a movie snob to appreciate his films. They really are enjoyable even by today's film standards.)

The Hidden Fortress is well known for being a heavy inspiration on the original Star Wars: an aging general and a hunted princess run from an overwhelming enemy force, accompanied by two bumbling peasant sidekicks. (Lucas had even originally offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Toshiro Mifune, who plays the general in this film.) The story here is just as powerful: you never truly feel that all hope is lost for the princess and the general, as they bear their fate so stoically. Every tight situation they find themselves in, you're gripped, wondering how they'll get out of it. Kurosawa was known for being a perfectionist, and it shows. From his breathtaking epic landscape shots, to the detailed period costumes, to the way he could capture a look from a character from afar and make it feel all the more powerful. This is present throughout The Hidden Fortress and without spoiling too much, I'll throw out a few examples. You know how in a Hollywood film nowadays, our anti-hero will be holed up in some hotel room, while the cops send out their entire force to take him down, and you'll get a close-up shot of some hallway as cop after cop streams down it, blurring past the camera? When enemy soldiers come upon our heroes in the film, we see them swarm over the bank of a river from afar. This distant framing of the shot and the breadth of the set allow a real feeling of overwhelming dread to set in. Regarding the costumes, when you see the deposed princess' handmaiden and teacher deciding her plan of escape in their cave hideout, and their formal robes are visibly, delicately worn and threadbare, you get a feeling of how far their kingdom has fallen. All these elements, present throughout every little moment of the film, combine to make it an enveloping masterpiece.

In conclusion, I highly recommend checking out an Akira Kurosawa film if you have the chance. I've always got my Seven Samurai DVD ready for another watch!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

About What? I Really Don't Know

I felt like writing, so here I am.

- This week has slipped by unbelievably quickly. As has the last, and the week before that. I'm hoping time continues to blaze by at this pace ( ::knock on wood:: ) so that the next four months pass before I've even noticed. What happens in four months you ask? My planned change of employment. Unless, of course, I happen to get that translator position at Squaresoft... It's funny that Mahea wrote she finds she likes office jobs. I really can't say I do. Perhaps I haven't found the right one, and on the whole I'm not sure where my vocational path lays. Of all the jobs I've had post college, the one I enjoyed the most was teaching English. I've toyed with the idea of taking that up again, but I've given myself a couple years to think about it, as it would be a very large change. I've also toyed with the idea of going back to school, getting a Master's degree. Perhaps Mythology, perhaps Literature. Once again, I need to distill the essence of what I enjoy most, what field I could spend my life in. I think about the future a lot.

- So I did it, I broke down and bought Final Fantasy VI Advance and Sonic Rush, both of which should be coming via Amazon on Friday. I think I've escaped the crushing need for DS goodness for now. Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja doesn't come out until later this month, and I can hold off on Ouendan and Kanji Sonomana. Now holding off on getting a copy of Ar Tonelico on the other hand...

- I've also come to terms with my sleep schedule. Oh woe is me, I'm waking up a half-hour later than I planned! I'm not a kid anymore with school in the morning, and if I can get away with it, to hell with a guilty conscience! I want my sleep!

- Now that I found out about that remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, turns out it's not on Netflix. Too obscure, too indie! Do I get street-cred bonus points?

- Tonight I realised the church-escape scene at the end of Shanghai Noon is a complete homage/spoof on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Though much more lighthearted of course.

- My current Loch Lomond background is beautiful.

- Green tea is still awesome.

And my rambling's become fragmented and loose. Time to head off!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Childhood Lessons

A lot has gone on in the last couple days, but rather than doing my usual laundry list here, I feel like just focusing an entry on one thing.

One part of my weekend was an early Saturday viewing of Pan's Labyrinth. I'd had a positive and a negative mention of it from friends, but as I've been following the coverage on CHUD, I was going to give it a chance anyway. It was a very well made movie, an amazing movie, and I enjoyed every portion of it: from the fanciful costumes and sets of the little girl's fantasy world, to the tense, well plotted conflict in 1940s Franco-ruled Spain, to the nuanced performance of the evil Captain, to Doug Jones' stunning role as the faun (seriously, look up his profile on Wikipedia and you'll see a number of your favorite "creature" performances of the past couple years. Plus he apparently played Cesare in a remake of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which is going on my Netflix NOW). Back to the movie, it handled the weight of its plot arc very well. I never felt I was being completely hammered down, and I never felt that the fantastical pieces were being allowed to hijack the flow of the film. It had a very strong, clear message: the fairy tales, fantasy, and childhood tales we are told to put away to become adults end up making us better people than had we otherwise put them away.

I suppose I took the film particularly to heart as a dreamer, but it's really something everyone should see.