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Archive for April, 2009

My first thought after watching the movie tonight was where does the name for it come from. There’s trains occasionally in the movie but too rarely to justify the name. Well, anyway, a great piece. It’s directed by Danny Boyle who did Slumdog Millionaire as well. Both movies have a running scene, more about the other similarities below. While Slumdog Millionaire is pretty much the typical Hollywood film, Trainspotting is something else.

The movie is very much fun, especially the beginning. My favourite part was when the four guys went to a club, each picked up a women of choice and everyone ended up rather differently. Similar juxtaposition happens between Renton, the main character, and the other guys elsewhere in the movie as well.  Though not always in a comical light. The movie works well as an anti-drugs film. The world of a junkie is portrayed humoristically but, I would quess, pretty accurately. The dead baby is the most gruesome thing in the movie. But even his death is set in an ironic light soon after as the mother shoots herself up, though of course only after Renton does so.

renton-wc-in-scotland

Having seen Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire last week I couldn’t help put notice some similarities. First of all both had quite a disgusting bathroom. In Trainspotting the main character visits “the worst can in Scotland” and while trying to find a couple of pills he managed to drop into the can he actually dives into it and swims to get the pills. These sorts of jumps into the imagination happen elsewhere in the movie as well. Anyway, in Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal, the main character, gets locked into a bathroom while his favorite movie actor lands nearby. The bathroom which Jamal is locked into is more a shack with a hole in the bottom. Jamal escapes the bathroom by jumping into a gigantic pile of shit. He then goes, all covered in shit, and gets a signature onto a picture of the actor . In Trainspotting a whole family gets soiled by Spud. I’ve only seen two of Boyle’s movies, but looking at these two I’m starting to see a pattern here.

diving-for-pills1

Another thing, which the review on Spill.com pointed out, is that regardles of genre all of Boyle’s movies turn into a crime-movie at some part. In Trainspotting there’s the drug deal at the end and in Slumdog Millionaire Salim gets involved with a crime organization. Perhaps Boyle would really want to direct crime-films, but no one wants to hire him for one of them and so he has to stick a crime sequence where he can fit them. The crime sequence did bring the movie to a dramatic end so it served it’s purpose. The movie is pretty much a must-see film. So if you haven’t seen it get seeing!

(If you like Rome, Kevin McKidd, who plays Lucius Vorenus, is in this film as well)

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In a three part series for Eurogamer, John Walker writes about playing KOTOR, the Star Wars RPG, and picking the choices that cause the most evil. It’s a good read, at least if you’ve played the game. Part 1, Part 2, and part 3 here. It’s an interesting adventure to an old game and I think shows what made KOTOR such a wonderful game.

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Zeno Clash screenshot, Daerdra and Ghat in the woods

I’m playing the game Zeno Clash at the moment and will be reviewing it for Uljas, the student magazine of the universities of Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna, once I’ve finished, sometime next week I hope. As can be seen from a screenshot of the game the art direction in the game is something different. The game was made by a small Indie-studio called ACE-team, who, since they don’t have a large company backing them up, need all the money they can get. Now to that dealing with piracy part:

The picture is from the comments made about a torrent of Zeno Clash on Mininova. What Carlos Bordeu writes is:

“I’m one of the developers of Zeno Clash. I would appreciate you read this if you are about to download this file.

Zeno Clash is an independently funded game by a very small and sacrificed group of people. The only way in which we can continue making games like this (or a sequel) is to have good sales.

I am aware that at this moment there is still no demo of the game, but we are working on one which will be available soon.

We cannot do anything to stop piracy of the game (and honestly don’t intend to do so) but if you are downloading because you wish to try before you buy, I would ask that you purchase the game (and support the independent game development scene) if you enjoy it. We plan on updating Zeno Clash with DLC and continuing support for the game long after it’s release.

Thanks for taking the time to read this… hopefully it will make a difference.

Carlos Bordeu
ACE Team”

In my opinion this is a great way to deal with piracy. Any pirates who read this might, just might, have second thoughts about pirating the game. His comment got quite a few replies as you can see if you click the picture. Perhaps the movie and music industries could learn something from ACE Team’s approach. A band commenting on Mininova about a torrent of their album wouldn’t at least hurt.

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I watched Miyazakis movie Spirited Away tonight and thought I’d post on Mr Miyazaki and how certain things seem to reoccur in all or most of his movies.

chihiro-and-haku-flying

First off all there’s always a flying scene in his movies. He probably only put a dragon in Spirited Away so he could make Chihiro fly on him. What’s cool about the flying scenes in my opinion is the ground below which is always beautifully drawn. The movement on things in his movies is also superb. Haku looks like he could really fly even though he doesn’t have any wings, well, okay it is magic world.

baby-and-the-bird

This isn’t true about all his movies but at least in Spirited Away there’s so many weird creatures that at times you just wonder what just passed across the screen. Also noticeable in the end is the hamster and the bird carrying him. In my opinion their only function is to provide some humour during the more quiet end part of the movie. In the train the little guys lighten the mood a lot by doing pretty ridiculous looking stuff. My Neighbour Totoro also has all kinds of little and cute things. That seems to recur in other anime movies and series also. Hmmm, perhaps the Japanese like cute stuff…

chihiro-in-stairs

Thirdly what I noticed in Spirited Away was the amount of screen time given to pretty mundane and boring stuff that in another film would probably have been left out. As in the scene where Chihiro goes down the stairs. Miyazaki makes this very exciting. When she actually gets down, her hopping is beautifully filmed, even opening the door is wholly filmed.

chihiro-and-river-god

Nature and what pollution is doing to it is powerfully pictured in some of Miyazakis movies, especially in his first one. Giving a bath to the River God is my favourite scene in the movie. The filmography in it is simply wonderfull. Chihiro giving a bath is a very brave thing to do and when she succeeds everyone accepts her, hoah, wonderful. What’s troubling the river god is people polluting his river. The amount of stuff inside the god is simply amazing. He seems to be very relieved listening to the sound of delight he makes after all the trash is out of him. Wish all pollution could be dealt with in this fashion. We never are told what Yubaba does with the trash, perhaps throws it into the sea? Wouldn’t put it below the old bitch.

Can you think of anything else that is common in Miyazaki’s films?

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An interview on Global Agenda, spotted through the facebook-group, an upcoming MMO that tries a more actiony approach. So no dice rolls here. Its set in the future, so the weapons are futuristic and there’s also a sort of spell system, so you can create forcefields or be invisible for a short time. At the moment what most annoys me about MMOs the like of WoW and WAR is how boring playing them is. You just press spells from a quickbar and run around your enemy, which gets old extremly quick. PvP is a bit more interesting but PvE gets superboring, superquick. Global Agenda does a more multiplayer shooter sort of approach with skills to choose.

Here’s a producer interview with gameplay footage if you’re interested:

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Newswipe is a tv-program appearing on BBC4. In it Charlie Brooker takes a critical and sarcastic look at the news, looking especially at how entertaining the news appears nowdays. The fifth episode, nicely found through Youtube, is a sort of best-of compilation and a good way to get into the program. The episodes come in three parts:

In part one of the episode Brooker looks at how the public forms a big part of newscoverage. Features a couple of guys who go within 50-meters of an oil-plant on fire and pictures on snow that people sent to BBC.

Part 2 has my favorite part of the series dealing with American news-reporters, especially Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Pretty scary footage. Also the death of Jade Goody, a British reality tv-star who got cancer, which was widely talked about in the tabloids and tv.

Finally in the last part there’s more on Jade Goody and a look at  a shootout in Germany where a school kid killed 16 fellow students. Especially interesting is what a forensic psychologist has to say on how shooters like him are portrayed in the news.

If you got interested a quick search on Youtube will give you the rest of the Newswipe episodes as well as Brooker’s Screenwipe, which looks at tv on a wider scale.

What I most like about Brooker is the very sarcastic and dark humor. He also doesn’t take himself too seriously. On one episode of Screenwipe he took part in a children’s program as one of the hosts and ended up getting four cream cakes on his head.  An ironic reading makes even the worst crap on TV enjoyable.

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I’ve been following Love through Rock, Paper, Shotgun for some time now and have got my hopes rather high. The game is a not so massively multiplayer game being made single-handedly by game developer Eskil Steenberg. The reason why I have my hopes so high is that the game tries something different. Unlike most MMORPGs like WoW, in Love the players decisions are actually reflected in the world. In Wow you can’t change the environment in any kind of meaningful way. What Love does is try to make the player play a bigger part in game. This very interesting gameplay video shows the game in action and has a commentary by Steenberg.

Since Steenberg is making the game single-handedly he’s had to make a variety of tools that make the game developing process easier and less painful. Watching this video on the tools he’s created you start wondering why no one else has come up with similar ideas. The name of the game is WYSIWYG-game design, short for what you see is what you get. Definitely will be following this one from now on as well

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