Archive for Film

RPG Gaming Dialogue Evolution

Posted in Games, Movies, Random Musings with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by Aaron

Most of my gaming life I have been a fan of RPGs. Role Playing Games. This is a genre of games (like action, shooter, puzzle, etc.) that allows the player to take on a persona other than their own. I don’t want to think too much about the psychological implications of this but I do know it is fun. The best part about it is being something you are not, acting in a way that you wouldn’t in a place you can’t go. Some people can argue that this is dangerous and it teaches people that they can do all these “in game” things in the real world. Personally I think that any adult (I say adult because younger children can’t grasp the concepts of abstract ways of thinking of situations) who thinks they can act in a dangerous or hurtful way in real life “just like in that game” has more way more problems that need to be addressed.

That brings up the topic of sex/violence in films, advertising, video games and more. I don’t claim that I know any statistics but having been an avid gamer/horror fan and also knowing a lot of them, seeing fake violence does not = doing violence. For me there is at least some sort of filter in my brain that says that fake violence is okay while the real stuff isn’t. In fact, I am semi-disgusted when I see images that I know are real. You know those movies, Faces of Death? I got the first one thinking I would want to watch it and ended up turning it off after 5 mintues.

Okay, okay. You may be thinking that perhaps I can deal with it in a responsible way but not everyone can. Yes. I partially and conditionally agree. When I was watching these things and playing these games as a kid, I knew they were in my imagination. Thanks to my parents. Good parenting is the key to raising kids who know the difference between real and fake.

Situations where good parenting is more difficult due to social and economic “variables”  is an entirely different subject. No, I don’t think those kids shouldn’t be playing any less of these games or watching any less of these films. What they should have is a real person in their life who they can look up to who doesn’t have to deal with that intense stuff in their real life. When you see it in your games and movies and you see it out your window, that could be one place the line starts to blur.

Now that I have veered very far from the original intentions of this blog post I want to make a sharp turn and go back to the beginning. This article is an in depth look at the evolution of players choices in RPGs starting at the beginning. Check it out!

Film Review: Blindness

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on June 21, 2009 by Aaron

Last night I watched the film Blindness (2008). Something about this film got me but I wasn’t too sure if I liked it very much. It is about the response to people starting to go blind by seeing white (instead of black), one character describes it as being “like swimming in milk”. The government response being the quarantine of all these people into a jail of sorts. All the “inmates” are left to fend for themselves amongst each other and conditions quickly deteriorate. Our protagonists include Mark Ruffalo, a doctor, Julianne Moore, the doctors wife who still has her sight thought the film, and their companions, Danny Glover, Alice Braga, and more.

You could compare the prison to an internment camp where fear of its inhabitants causes them to be treated as animals and forced to live in horrible conditions. They are given packages of food and that is all. What happens when you put people in a crazy situation and treat them like animals? They start acting like animals. With no one cleaning up because they are more intent on the newness of the lack of sight (this point is illustrated with the lack of any characters being given names), the place pretty quickly becomes a mess. We don’t even know how long they are imprisoned throughout the film when the doctors wife, the only one who can see, forgets to wind her watch.

Just like in most post-apocalyptic films the situation quickly degenerates into the strong vs. the weak. The inhabitants in Ward 3 decide that they are in charge and take control of all the food and give it out as they see fit. First for jewelry, then once everything else that anyone has is in their possession, they move on to women. While watching this I couldn’t help thinking about the Stanford Prison Experiment.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. In this film however, Gael Garcia Bernal, not the doctors wife, plays the part of the King of Ward 3 who pushes the action beyond the unendurable. This can only last so long and I kept finding myself wondering why everyone was letting him get away with this. I had to realize that when faced with extreme situations people never act very rationally. Eventually our characters leave the prison and we find out that, it seems, the entire world has gone blind. At this point the film almost turns into a zombie movie. There are hordes of starving people moving about looking for anything to eat. We don’t see them eating each other but I assume that this isn’t far off. Things look bad, but nowhere near as bad as the were on “the inside”.

The film ends with a message of hope but I think it was too little too late. The director, Fernanado Meirelles, did a really great job showing the horror that follows the collapse of civilization on the small scale of the prison. Then, when they left he took a step backwards. Instead of getting into a crazier and more intense situation, the film takes a more hopeful approach. It is almost as if they are saying that the people who are in prison are more like crazy, destructive warlords and that people who are on the outside, in the same situation, can coexist in a more peaceful anarchistic sort of way. Please refer back to the Stanford Prison Experiment. Our protagonists are the sane, shining light making their way though the insanity of the situation.

I think that I wanted to like it but there is something that doesn’t sit totally well with me. There were some really awesome moments but it doesn’t come together into a really great movie. Meirelles did a good job showing us blindness with the way over exposed film look the whole movie and also used a couple cool little tricks that he should have taken more advantage of.

Should you see it? Sure. Should you see it now? No.

Ender’s Game

Posted in Books, Movies, Space with tags , , , on June 13, 2009 by Aaron

Ender’s Game is probably my favorite book. I only say that because I have read it and reread it more than any other. In fact, the first time I sat down to read it, I didn’t stop until I had finished it. It probably took me 16 hours to do it. Luckily I had a long car ride and stayed awake until 2 in the morning.

When I heard that they were going to be making a film version, at first I was excited, and then about 3 minutes later I said, “Oh god no. Please don’t.” Now it has been almost 10 years since I heard about it and it still hasn’t come out.

Wolfgang Peterson was originally supposed to direct it. Since usually he makes is big budget, not very good films (most recently Poseidon, Troy and The Perfect Storm) it made me even more unhappy. Now that he isn’t I am a little relieved.

I hate to say it, but I think the only way to successfully portray what the book is about is to do an animation. I say this for a few reasons. One, most of the main characters are under the age of 13. Where are you going to find at least 4 really good, or even decent, kid actors? Two, some of what I believe to be the most important scenes in the book for character development are very violent. Real kids and violence don’t go together so well. Three, I believe it will be easier to stay truer to the book in animation form due to the space battles. Pod Racing is not what I want to see.

Look at the animation for Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Even though it is hand drawn and totally 70’s it gets the point across. I highly recommend watching the whole thing if you have time. You can find the whole movie on YouTube.

So, I don’t know how to feel about this film. Regardless of what people say about it, if it does ever come out I will go and see it. I know it is hard to hold a film up to the book but it has been successful. Starship Troopers, by Paul Verhoven, a great movie, although it isn’t much like the book at all. The Shining, by Stanley Kubrick, was an amazing movie, again not like the book. Fight Club, by David Fincher, same thing.

The only books I can think of that I really enjoyed where the films stayed totally true are the new Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson. He did an amazing job of staying true to the book while still making an fantastic film.

So, since I can only think of 4 live-action films that did a good job coming from a book, isn’t it obvious that Ender’s Game should be animated? A lot of people would argue that even the following animation makes Lord of the Rings better…

The latest news that I can find about this project is that Warner Brothers has lost out and their option has expired. Odd Lot Entertainment has picked up the tab…

Bosnian Beermaking

Posted in Beer and Wine, Recipes with tags , , , , on May 19, 2009 by Aaron

This weekend I made beer with a Bosnian Filmmaker. It was pretty cool. Since there is a lot of downtime waiting for your pot of wort (what you call beer before it becomes alcoholic, pronounced “wert”) to come to a boil we had a lot of time to talk. I showed him a video I had made and talked about a few more. He wasn’t that interested in talking about the specifics of my work but more about the over-arching structures of storytelling in general and how my stuff doesn’t relate to it very well.

Oh well… The best way to become a filmmaker is to pick up a camera and do it. You could say the same about making beer. So why don’t you try it! I have included here a recipe for the best batch of beer I have ever made. It is an Imperial Stout (get it?) and I can guarantee that if you like dark beer, this one will be mighty tasty.

So what are you waiting for? This is the 21st century, if you don’t live near a brewing supply store go on that thing called the internet and order what you need! You won’t regret it.

Barrel Chested Palpatine

  • ~1/2 lb. Chocolate Malt 
  • ~1/2 lb. Non-Malted Barley
  • 3 Cans, 3.3 lbs. Coopers Amber Malt Extract
  • 2 oz. Chinook Hop Pellets
  • 2 oz. Cascade Hop Pellets
  • 11g Windsor English Ale Yeast

Place Grain into 2 Gallons of cold water and bring to a boil. Just before it begins to boil remove the grain from the pot. Add Malt Extract and bring back to a boil. For 50 minutes, boil 2oz. of Chinook Hops and 1/2oz. of Cascade Hops. Add remaining Cascade Hops for 10 more minutes. Sparge.