The Walking Dead, Season 2 review

Walking Dead Season 2

I’ve definitely come to have my problems with Telltale of late. Telltale rose to popularity doing games like the Sam & Max series and relaunching Monkey Island.  Their games, at that time, were classic point and click adventure games in the spirit of King’s Quest, Space Quest, and the original Monkey Island games.  They involved smart scripts, inventory puzzles, and just smart, intelligent puzzles in general.  They put out a Back to the Future game that received a lot of fanfare, a Jurassic Park game that didn’t, and then things got interesting with their first Walking Dead game.

Instead of focusing on puzzles, they focused on story-telling and player choices.  You didn’t have to to scour the environment for clues or objects, or use your brain to try to solve tricky puzzles. Instead, Telltale’s games became all about making a decision between two bad outcomes, and trying to stomach the results of whatever you just did, and whatever you didn’t do.  The first game was hugely successful, and it grabbed me with its potential to be the video game version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Immediately after completing my first playthrough of the first chapter, I went ahead and created a second playthrough where I made all of the polar opposite choices.  I wanted to see the part of the game I must have missed with the choices I didn’t make.  And that’s when I found out that I had missed absolutely nothing.

Despite Telltale marketing this game based on player choices, and making claims that the gameplay would “radically” and “drastically” change the gameplay and player experience based on those choices, the end result was negligible.  Choose to save one character instead of another?  Didn’t matter, the character you saved would die shortly thereafter anyway.  All of this was because the team was building the game, and creating each chapter, as the previous chapter was being published.  They didn’t have the time or the budget to create truly branching story lines, or choices that resulted in truly different outcomes.  Whatever you did, they needed all players to essentially be in the same place at the beginning of the next chapter, and with Season Two, at the beginning of the next game.  Essentially all choices had to be boiled down into the same set of results.

And while that disappointed me, A LOT, what made it worse was the audience continuing to buy what Telltale was selling hook, line, and sinker.  The first game won a lot of Game of the Year Awards and received universal praise, and the second game continued to be marketed based on the hook of player choices determining gameplay, with that being the only real type of gameplay in the game.  And the reality is that those choices are never more than cosmetic, and determine nothing.  These games are nowhere near as fun as Telltale’s Sam & Max games, and don’t really require any kind of thinking.  The need to choose between two bad outcomes is undercut by the knowledge that the result will never be more than cosmetic, as well as the fact that, over time, the player starts to get numbed by every decision creating two bad outcomes.  The trophies are all story-based, so nothing is missable.  You could literally just never make a choice when presented with them in dialogues/conversation, and the end result won’t be much different from those made via passionate involvement.  The same can be said of Telltale’s recent The Wolf Among Us game, based on the Bill Willingham comic book series, Fables.  Yet, Telltale’s games are now more popular than ever, with a Borderlands game and a Game of Thrones game on the way, and a solid bet of a Season 3 of The Walking Dead coming some time after that.

It’s a good thing for Telltale that the stories they’re telling are compelling, because at this point, that’s the only thing going for them.  I love Telltale, and I still enjoy their games, but I long for them to go back to games with puzzles in them, or to actually deliver on the way they’ve been describing their current slate.  I want a Walking Dead game where, during one playthrough, I only see perhaps 25% of the game.  To see the rest, and collect all of the trophies, I’d have to go back and do multiple playthroughs, and make very different choices… and the game itself would alter its course irrevocably.  I just want the game that Telltale has been selling to us but not delivering.  I also want them to fix their broken game engine that sees a lot of really unnecessary stuttering for a game requiring such low memory.  Yes, their cell animation is gorgeous, but there’s no reason the game has to pause the way it constantly does.  Until then, I’ll still buy their games and enjoy them, but they’re no longer in the 9-10 score range for me, and I won’t be making any more day-one or season pass purchases. Instead I’ll wait until after the whole game is released and the entire bundle goes on sale for $5-$10.  That will also save me from having to endure the multiple month-long waits in chapter delays, something that has continued to plague Telltale over their last three game releases.

7/10

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Published in: on August 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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Far Cry 2 review

Far Cry 2

Yes, I realize I’m pretty late to the game on this one, seeing as it released for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 back in 2008.  I spent about a decade playing far too much World of Warcraft, which means that all of my other video games, including PS1, PS2, PSP, and PS3 games, experienced an insane amount of backlog.  I’m slowly trying to catch up.  I’m also a collector and completist by nature, so I usually try to go back and start at the beginning when it comes to franchises.  In this case, I’m still waiting for Far Cry Classic to go on sale on the PSN, and I’ve been itching to get into the Far Cry universe, so I decided on a whim a couple of weeks back to just jump in with Far Cry 2.  I also happened to know that Far Cry 2 is a completely different story and universe from Far Cry Classic and didn’t require any story familiarity with the first game.

My experience ended up being a somewhat split one.  Far Cry 2 came out early in the PS3’s life-cycle, and I can see how at the time the graphics and gameplay would have been cutting-edge.  Even by today’s standards, Far Cry 2‘s graphics have held up pretty damn well.  The AI isn’t shabby, either.  Instead of overly simple AI that repeats a pattern or two and then resets, or AI that is fairly forgiving or blind when you take out NPCs standing near them, Far Cry 2‘s baddies will fan out in various formations, sweeping the nearby tall grass and working together to track down you, the sniper, trying to infiltrate their camp.  In shooters I usually prefer a two-fold approach of sniping from a distance, and a shotgun for close combat.  Unfortunately, in Far Cry 2, the sniper rifle and shotgun occupy the same weapon slot, so I ended up going with sniper rifle and Uzi.

As far as the AI was concerned, I found my best tactic was usually sniping from a distance and taking out an enemy or two, then staying hunkered down while I dashed from my hiding spot around the enemy camp, either clockwise or counterclockwise, at least 90 degrees.  This meant that the AI would be looking for me in a place I no longer was, and I could either take some more of them out from my new hiding spot, and then rinse and repeat, or sneak into their camp to steal an item if I needed to do that.  The more I was able to pick them off one at a time, the easier I made it for myself if I eventually had to fight a swarm of them.

Far Cry 2 employs an interesting system with its player characters and the “buddies” you encounter.  At the start of the game, you’re allowed to choose who you play from a list of about 8-10 player characters.  The rest of those characters end up being “buddies” you meet during your campaign.  Some of them you meet at the start of the game or half-way through, some of them you encounter through story missions, and a couple of them you might miss altogether if you don’t find them on your own out in the terrain.  There’s a trophy on the PSN for finding all of them, and each of them provides additional missions to you once you do locate them.  Be forewarned: if you want to play all of the buddy missions, you have to start alternating them with other missions very early on in the game.  If you don’t, seeing as how the game only offers you a buddy mission each time you complete a main mission, weapon mission, or cell tower mission, you could easily lose the opportunity to complete all of the buddy missions.  Also, if a buddy dies in combat before you’ve completed all of their buddy missions (there’s 2 per buddy) you lose the ability to see that content on that playthrough.  Mercifully, there’s no trophy affected by that.  However, there are trophies for subverting each of the main missions, and if you lose enough buddies, you’ll lose the ability to subvert those missions.

How do you lose a buddy?  Two ways.  One, if you die, and you have a buddy on “rescue duty,” he’ll come along and pull your bacon from the fire.  This can sometimes be bad if you bite it early during an encounter with an enemy camp.  If there are an overwhelming number of AI enemies still alive, they may very well take down your buddy while or shortly thereafter saving you.  If your buddy goes down, it’s up to you to save him with a healing syringe during the firefight.  If you take too long, he dies.  If he goes down three times over the course of the game, by the third time you won’t be able to save him.  And then your next best-buddy becomes your new rescue buddy.  Second, you can lose a buddy during the missions with them if you choose to subvert the main missions.  Often you’ll find the final part of the subverted mission involves you running to a new location to save your buddy from an onslaught of enemies.  Sometimes you can reach the location to find that there’s nothing you can do, and they’re already dead.  Other times you might reach the location to discover that they don’t actually need you and they’ve already killed the AI without you.  It’s entirely random, so the best course of action in these instances is to save at a safe house before going to the location where you’re meeting a buddy, and if they are dead by the time you get there, or even if they die during the fighting (hell, even if they go down during the fighting forcing you to use 1/2 of your revivals on them), simply reload the game at that previous safe house.  It’s also a good idea, given how the buddy system works, to use a guide to find out where your buddies are all located and then rescue them first thing after the start of the game and then again at the half-way point.  And again, make sure you alternate your buddy missions early in the game, and early after the half-way point, if you want to see all of their content.  Other than that, the rest of the trophies aren’t really missable.

All of this was stuff that I loved.  But there are two glaring problems with the game.  The first is simply repetition.  The single-player game really asks you to do two things.  The first is exploration.  I spent the first two-thirds of the game just wandering around, freeing my buddies, exploring the terrain, hitting the enemy camps, freeing the safe houses, and finding all of the collectible diamonds.  Once I’d achieved that, I actually started the missions, the meat of the game.  The missions always entailed you going into an enemy camp to kill someone or steal something.  Since on the PS3, unlike with the PC version, you can’t save whenever you want, this meant that after every mission I’d go back to a safe house to save my game so I wouldn’t have to repeat the mission.  I also found myself using a lot of the bus stations, located in the outer corner sections and the middle section of a nine-section grid map (I don’t want to call them quadrants because quadrants are groups of four).  As fun as this was, and as smart as the AI was, this got pretty repetitive over time.  My other problem with the game is how much time I had to spend running across the terrain to get to different sections of the maps, even when using bus stations.  Obviously that’s something you need to do when searching for collectibles, but by the time I got to the missions, there should have been an easier way.  Using vehicles on roads didn’t get you very far, because roads would go through enemy camps.  You’d either end up taking so much damage to your vehicle, that you’d have to fight your way through a camp, or if you did make it through, one camp was the most damage a given vehicle could take.  And unlike with the safe houses, the enemies at an outpost would reset once you left the area, so there was no way to clear them permanently and make life easy on yourself.  As for off-road vehicles, you could only take them through certain sections of the game before you inevitably hit rocky terrain that prevented driving of any kind, or a well-positioned enemy camp/outpost.  Either way, you usually ended up back on foot for a large portion of the game.  I have a feeling later iterations like Far Cry 3 have found a way around this.  I don’t even mind having to run for the first half of the mission, but at least provide me a way to hearth or teleport out when I’m done, and not have to spend another 10-15 minutes running back across terrain to turn the mission back in.  There’s really no reason for all of that tedious walking, and it amounts to a huge chunk of the final game time. It’s also a problem when you can’t take on more than one mission at a time, even one of a different type.  There was no quest log, so I couldn’t simultaneously be doing a weapon mission, a cell tower mission, and a main mission.  This often meant running across a lot of terrain to pick up a mission, running across a lot of terrain to complete it, running across a lot of terrain to turn it in, running across a lot of terrain to pick up a different mission, and running across a lot of terrain to complete that mission, sometimes back where I’d started.  Even when using vehicles whenever I could, it amounted to far too much running and backtracking in general.

Unfortunately for me, some of the multi-player trophies are hard to come by and require a ton of time in multiplayer.  Multi-player isn’t something I’m very interested in to begin with, but I have managed to get all of the multi-player trophies in all of the Assassin’s Creed games, because there’s always been at least enough of a player base for that to be possible.  I’m not sure if I’d want to put in the lengthy time required to get all of the Far Cry 2 multi-player trophies if I could, but for me, it wasn’t even an option.  I logged on a couple of times and only ever saw 2-3 people in the lobby, which wasn’t enough to get one round going.  I also couldn’t find any posts on various online boards of current players looking for people to complete the multi-player section of the platinum.  And so I had to simply console myself with getting all of the single-player trophies, and letting the multi-player trophies and the platinum go.  As a completist, I’m not really happy about it… but there’s nothing I can do about it, either. That’s what sometimes happens when you play a game six years after the fact, particularly one that has a trophy set that depends on now-out-of-date multi-player.  I’m also currently finishing up the single player campaign for Resistance 2, and I know the servers for the multi-player on that one have recently been pulled down, so I’ll be in a similar situation there.

Other than that, I was fairly happy with the game in general.  As I’ve already mentioned, the big problems were the inability to get places more quickly, and the repetitiveness of the mission structure.  But just from playing similar franchises and knowing how they’ve evolved, I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into Far Cry 3, and eventually Far Cry 4, as I’m sure those elements have been streamlined.  My ongoing search for the collectible diamonds and exploring the terrain, as well as many a good fight with the smart AI in some of the enemy camps, was chock full of good times, and I’m definitely interested in repeating those experiences in more polished and evolved game engines with improved graphics.

7/10

Published in: on August 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Guest trailer (9.17.14 release)

Another genre project from a Downton Abbey cast member, instead of Rose Leslie this time it’s Dan Stevens.  The film in question is the follow-up from Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the writing/directing/producing team responsible for 2011 festival hit You’re Next that saw eventual theatrical release in 2013, as well as the indie anthology curiosities V/H/S, V/H/S/2, and The ABC’s of Death, and features an 80’s throwback vibe.

Published in: on August 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Honeymoon trailer (9.12.14 release)

What Game of Thrones fan doesn’t love Rose Leslie as Ygritte telling Jon Snow that he knows nothing?  Well here’s a genre flick starring Leslie as a newlywed to Harry Treadaway, Dr. Victor Frankenstein of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.  Their honeymoon takes them to a family cottage in the woods, and as always in these types of movies, that’s just not a good place to be.  However, this first feature from writer/director Leigh Janiak isn’t a slasher flick, but instead more psychological, pulling inspiration from the likes of early Polanski and Philip Kaufman’s ’78 Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  The film was a hit at Tribeca and SXSW, but be forewarned that early festival reviews have been mixed, including Variety calling it “flat and forgettable” and Film School Rejects criticizing it for giving too much away too early on, leaving the characters to play catch-up with the audience for most of its running time.  Still, I’m planning on checking it out as a genre fan and for Leslie and Treadaway.

Published in: on August 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby trailer (9.12.14 release)

But wait, wait, wait… don’t rush out to see this film on opening weekend.  Why?  The film was originally conceived as a dual-point-of-view narrative told in two separate films.  But as is often the case, the studio, in this case The Weinstein Company, got nervous about initially releasing a film with two different cuts that play very differently and will no doubt incite audience confusion. So instead they’ve had had director Ned Benson fashion a third film, entitled The Disappearance of Eleanor Ribgy: Them, that will balance the two points-of-view in one film.  That film will release on September 12th, with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers releasing as two separate films 4-6 weeks later, for a total of three films.  Yes, Weinstein Company, let’s make it even more confusing for the audiences.

It may be easier for the marketing team to focus its promotional material on the compiled version, but that version will have to eliminate half the material from each of the originally-conceived versions.  And with an indie movie like this, if it does take off with mainstream audiences, it will through word-of-mouth and after-the-fact, when all three films have been released.  If you’re truly interested in the material, seeing Them first will simply spoil much of both His and Hers, while not providing the experience of either… kind of like a Cliff’s Notes version of a novel.

Jessica Chastain is likely the finest actress of her generation, and early festival reviews have claimed this is far and away her best performance to-date.  James McAvoy is certainly no slouch, either, and there’s already been talk of Oscar nominations for both of them.  The films feature supporting performances by Viola Davis, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Ciaran Hinds, Bill Hader, Jess Weixler, and The Blacklist‘s Ryan Eggold.  The story is about the two sides of a romantic relationship and the way each character views the events and their motivations behind it, particularly the rough terrain that relationships can encounter.  So do yourself a favor and wait a month or two after the initial release and see both of the His and Hers versions instead of the truncated Them.

The Skeleton Twins trailer (9.12.14 release)

Like a lot of great comedians, from Robin Williams to Steve Martin to Bill Murray, both Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader are both hilarious, yet capable of so much more.  Wiig has really resisted being pigeonholed after her departure from SNL; she did megahit Bridesmaids, but has resisted a sequel and repeating herself in similar vehicles, instead taking a lot of dramatic roles in smaller indie films and slowly cultivating a career that will allow her to do more than just be funny in big summer blockbusters.  The Skeleton Twins sees her paired with Hader in a movie that looks to be funny, but that often achieves its humor through character and the relationships of a lived-in, real-world pain.

It’s written and directed by Craig Johnson, whose only other film was the very indie True Adolescents, starring Mark Duplass.  If you know Duplass and his work in a lot of what has been termed mumblecore, you have a good idea where this film gets its roots. The Skeleton Twins won a best screenplay award at Sundance, and also features Luke Wilson and Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell.

 

Published in: on August 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Drop trailer (9.12.14 release)

Like a lot of movies, this film had a better title during production: Animal Rescue.  It had to do with a sub-plot about the rescue of a pit bull, and the movie’s central theme of rescue and redemption. But like a lot of movies, I guess the suits thought it wasn’t on-the-nose enough, and so instead we get the very generically retitled The Drop.

First of all, this is the last performance of James Gandolfini, shot in the spring of 2013, before his death later that summer. Secondly, its the first screenplay written by crime novelist Dennis Lehane, arguably the best crime novelist working today.  Previous novels of his that have been turned into films are Gone, Baby, Gone, Shutter Island, and Mystic River.  And as good as those films are, his books are better.  They’re so well-written that something is often lost in the translation to screen.  But with The Drop, this is the first time Lehane himself is penning the screenplay.  Yet the origins of the story behind The Drop are a little more complex than just an original screenplay.  Many, many years ago, Lehane tried to start a novel based on the idea, and he couldn’t complete it.  A decade later he turned it into a short story called Animal Rescue.  That eventually became the basis for this film, and Lehane agreed to adapt it himself into a feature length screenplay, and that begat the full-length novel version that’s releasing this September alongside the film.  Lehane also wrote several episodes of The Wire, and serves as a writer and creative consultant on Boardwalk Empire.

Thirdly, the film is directed by Michael R. Roskam in his English-feature debut.  Roskam previously directed 2011’s excellent Oscar-nominated Belgian crime film Bullhead, which featured a career-making lead performance from Matthias Schoenaerts. Schoenaerts has a supporting role in The Drop, and the film stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in the male and female leads.

As Above, So Below trailer (8.29.14 release)

And here’s one that’s an example of a genre film I’m pretty stoked about.  Apologies if you’ve already seen this trailer on commercials or in a movie theatre, but I think the Dowdle brothers are immensely talented and just haven’t had their breakout hit yet. Previously they did The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine, and Devil.  The Poughkeepsie Tapes was a first feature that had some spotty acting, but made such good use of the found footage genre that audiences were confused about parts of it being real.  This resulted in it being pulled from distribution in 2007 after playing Tribeca, and it wasn’t until this year that it finally was available to audiences via VoD.  Quarantine was an American adaptation of the Spanish film [Rec], and it was remarkably faithful to the original.  As much as I like the original, I think the two are almost interchangeable.  Devil got the simultaneous marketing buoy and stigma of being produced by M. Night Shyamalan.  While his name is a well-recognized one that may have helped sell some tickets, at this point in M. Night’s career it may have also kept a good portion of the audience away, particularly if they thought he directed it.  While Devil has its problems, it’s also a well-made little supernatural genre thriller.

With As Above, So Below, they seem to be playing with Christian mythology not unlike some of the [Rec] films, and the cave setting calls to mind elements of The Descent.  I know the Dowdles are open to the possibilities of sequels with this one, but I still don’t think this will be their big breakout hit.  The found footage and shaky cam genre seem to have run much of their course, and there aren’t any big names here.  But they did shoot in actual caves, not on sets, and one actor was reportedly so uncomfortable that there’s little acting in his performance.  If you like B-movies, this one may be the cure for the late August heat.

The One I Love trailer (8.24.14 release)

And so begins, once again, my highlighting films I’m excited to see and curious about by sharing the trailers.  Most of them will probably be stuff flying under the mainstream radar in my hopes of getting the word out to people I know who might enjoy them but don’t necessarily know about them.  But I’m also a huge genre fan, so don’t be surprised to see a mix of genre films and even an occasional trailer for a big blockbuster that has me stoked.  My plan is to post a bunch of these at the start of each month for films premiering that month… although if there’s an early trailer released for something that really grabs my attention, you’ll be seeing those as well.

But kicking things off is this little indie that just came out this weekend.  I’m always up for honest and intimate explorations of relationships, but it seems as though there may be more to this one, and the trailer even name drops Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze as a reference point.  The cast is a solid one, featuring Mark Duplass, Elizabeth Moss, and Ted Danson.

Mid-2014 Re-Launch

It’s been two and a half years since I posted a blog, and I disappeared in mid-Top Ten list.  There were a variety of personal reasons, from the break-up of a seven-year relationship that I’d poured my heart and soul into, to the diagnosis of my sister with a terminal illness.  It all just got to be too much, and I found myself without the desire to write about movies.  In fact, for a time, I really stopped going to the movies.  Which if you know me, is saying quite a lot.  I’m the person who was called “the movie guy” by friends in high school, and ran the organization that programmed my college’s film schedule.  I don’t think I have the kind of following at the moment to warrant going into an expansive detailing of my personal problems, but a brief explanation does seem necessary for whoever might have been waiting for, or curious about, those last two write-ups in my Top Ten of 2011.

At this point, I don’t really feel like going back and writing full reviews of those last two films from 2011.  Also, the films aren’t as fresh in my mind anymore.  If there were requests, as is always the case, I’d be happy to do it.  But for now, I think the mention of the titles should suffice.  So… drum roll, please… the titles of my top two of 2011 were The Help (#2) and The Artist (#1).  The Help was pretty much everything I want from a Hollywood drama, and the kind we rarely seem to get any more.  Great writing, great performances, with an important subject matter.  It definitely saddens me that super-hero films have taken over the landscape to the point where indie movies need to have A-list names to get wide theatrical distribution, and solid, meaningful dramas are few and far between.  I was excited to see The Artist from the first time I saw a trailer, perhaps six months prior to release, when I thought I’d probably be the only one who’d enjoy it.  As a huge cinephile, I loved the way it charted a course though some of the history of film, and commented on the shift from the silent era to talkies while also telling a very specific fable-like love story of its own.  It was a perfect gem of a film, and I was really elated to see it find a larger audience and win the Academy Award.

There are certainly criticisms to be made of either film: I’ve seen some say that The Artist is overly simple and not complex enough, and I’ve also read comments about how The Help essentially whitewashed its story by the narrator, and supposed hero, being a young, white woman.  I’d argue both points.  I don’t think a film like The Artist needs to be complex; in fact, the whole point of it was to tell a very specific, simple fairy tale-like story.  In my mind, it stands next to the best of Chaplin and Keaton, while not trying to compete with the kind of physical comedy that made those films great.  As for The Help, the narrator being Emma Stone’s Skeeter Phelan simply read to me as an honest depiction of the times and a necessary convention.  Viola Davis’ Aibileen Clark and Octavia Spencer’s Minnie Jackson were not weakened for me because of Skeeter’s inclusion, and I can’t think of a way that their story would have otherwise gotten to the upper-class whites and created a similar change.  But Skeeter was never the hero of the film to me, and I don’t think there was an agenda of the film to make her into one.  She was a catalyst character.  When I think of The Help, I think of Davis and Spencer and their strength and the racist, weak-minded whites that were so slow to change and required dissenting voices from within.  If the film had simply followed the black maids and not had a Skeeter Phelan in it, it would be a much different film.  We’d see the day-to-day of the their lives, and perhaps that story would be even bleaker and more naturalistic.  But there wouldn’t be a way for those lives to change. If you wanted to see a documentary about those times, obviously any big Hollywood movie isn’t going to scratch that itch, and this movie is not that film.  Often, real change takes generations and a slow erosion of prejudices over a long period of time; and that’s not always the stuff of a two-hour Hollywood movie.  What The Help did do was give us powerful performances across the board and put it all into the public consciousness, starting a larger conversation at a time when prejudice of all kinds, including racism, is still rampant in many parts of the country and the world.  The film jettisoned working actor Viola Davis onto the much-deserved A-list and proved that Tate Taylor could handle a large cast and direct an ensemble to career-best work.

Changing the topic and looking forward, I’m planning to start writing on this site again.  I’m hoping to do at least a few entries a week, and the posts will likely also include television, books, and video games as well as films.  Right now I’m really enjoying The Leftovers and The Bridge, reading A Game of Thrones (the first book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series) and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, and playing Far Cry 2 and the point and click adventure A New Beginning.  I’d like to do smaller reviews for something I have an opinion on, like the fact that I’m enjoying Far Cry 2 now several years after the fact even though it has improvements that could be made, and likely have been, in the sequels.  But my video game list is long, and I’m spending some time now trying to catch back up with old stuff.  I also plan on soon playing the first two Medal of Honor games that were released for the original Playstation.  And I’d like to do longer reviews for something like Halt and Catch Fire, something that I’m experiencing along with the zeitgeist, at a time when opinions about it are very fractured.

I’ve also put up a Paypal button on the sidebar to the right.  I’d love to be able to work on this site and do several entries a day, but for that to happen I’d need to be making my primary income here. I don’t expect that to happen, but if it does take off over time as I’m able to write when I can, perhaps I’ll eventually be able to increase the amount of time I spend here.  For the time being, I’m also venturing into the world of self-publishing, and that may need to receive the lion’s share of my time, at least for now, for purely financial reasons.  But I do expect to be posting here again more regularly, and I hope you’ll join the mailing list and add your voices to the comments sections.

Oh, and finally, it looks like I’ll be attending TIFF for a few days in September.  Unfortunately, I’m only going to be able to catch 2/7 of the films I really want to see, since I’ll be there during the week and I don’t have any premium tickets.  So I won’t be seeing The Drop, Manglehorn, Nightcrawler, Top Five, or While We’re Young.  And because of simultaneous showings, I also probably won’t be able to make Wild or 99 Homes.  I’m also disappointed that Birdman won’t be playing the festival.  And since I’m attending with my mother and we’re attending screenings together, the midnight showing of REC 4 is probably also out.

But I am hoping to see Foxcatcher, Whiplash, and The Imitation Game.  I may also be seeing The Equalizer and The Keeping Room, or we may opt for Red Amnesia or A Second Chance.  I’ll post a final list once I’ve made my selections in a week or two, and you can expect to see write-ups for most of those in September.

 

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