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Archive for May, 2009

House M.D.

I’d been away from the series for some time but now returned to watching the fourth season, which is where I stopped watching since there were no more episodes at the time. The fourth season begins with a sort of reality-tv like thing where House has to pick a new team. If you haven’t watched the series at all Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) is a genius doctor with a limp and quite a cynical attitude towards life in general, in a very entertaining way though. He works with a team. Every episode revolves around House and his team solving a hard diagnostic case. Anyway, House is picking a new team in a reality like fashion and that’s where I start watching.

That is a nice cup

One thing that I enjoy extremly about the series are the pop-culture references, to put it very boringly. House watches tv and in one episode tries to get back cable-tv to coma patients, which had been stripped to save money. Of course he only wants this so he can watch cable-tv himself. House is quite the genius since he manages to solve all his cases when all he seems to be doing is slouching around doing anything except work. What he does is usually a pop reference. He watches tv, plays a DS, plays guitar(Van Halen), but most importantly pokes into the lives of people around him.

Who gets fired next

The medicine doesn’t really interest me about the series at all. Its just a backdrop for the brilliant character of House. Hardly anyone would want him around if they didn’t have to see him at work. No, the drama and dialog is why people like House M.D. He looks at other people with the same diagnostic attitude as he uses on patients and what’s bothering them. Most conversations in the series revolve around someone analyzing someone else. Its happens so much its a bit ridiculous. The patients always have some underlying motive, House acts so unpredictably and always with an agenda that he gets analyzed a lot. Perhaps the funniest dialogues in the series are between House’s friend Wilson and himself.

Wilson and House blocking the walkways

The humor in House is pitch black, cynical and brilliant. His tongue is extremely sharp and witty. House says what he thinks straight and with no care for hurting anyones’ feelings. If you look at him he’s quite a miserable person, or atleast that’s what everyone in the series says about him. “Miserable” is used so often in the series you could base a drinking game around it. If you like dark humor and a cynical attitude House is the series for you. Once you watch one episode it’s hard not to watch the next one. Gregory House as a character is brilliant and Hugh Laurie fits the role like glove. He must be American at heart! So get watching already.

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This is a quick (very quick mind you) translation  of the review in Finnish which can be found here.

Downfall is the first game of Harvester Games and made almost entirely by Remigiusz Michalski. He’s behind everything except for the music, he does sing during the ending credits though. Downfall is basicly a very traditional point-and-click adventure game. Text is the most important aspect of the game. The games graphics also look a lot like older adventure games. What separates Downfall from other adventure games is its horrorbased story, which is very bloody most of the time. People get murdered during the game in a multitude of ways.

Hotellihuone

The game begins when Joe Davis, who you direct during the game, and his wife Ivy drive into the yard of a hotel. Ivy starts hallucinating violent things and the couple go into the hotel for the night. In the morning Ivy has disappeared and soon you find out that the entire village where the hotel resides is cursed. There’s only bodies in the hotel’s restaurant and there’s also a dead axe-murderer on the loose… Soon you find out that Ivy has been kidnapped by a Sophie named woman, who is quite the monster as you will see. To save his wife Joe has to kill four memories of Sophie, which keep her alive. The memories appear as younger versions of Sophie.

Hotellin keittiö

The story in game is pretty much taken forward with text. In all of the handdrawn locations you get a description of the items in it by clicking on an item. The descriptions are Joe’s view of things and often very humoristic. The pig in the kitchens cold storage gets the comment: “I poked it, its dead.” An interesting detail in the game are the choices you are given from time to time. These are few and far between but have an effect on how the story ends and let the player have an effect on things. I would have liked to see these choices more often in the game.

Kellarissa

The locations are stylistically drawn, even if part of them are rather dreary. A bigger color scale wouldn’t have hurt in some of the rooms, even if the grey in some rooms was for  stylistic effect. The game’s appearance is my biggest problem with it, this is of course understandable given that Michalski was doing the game as pretty much a one man project. Sprite based graphics are still rather ugly. Once you get used to it you don’t give too much attention to it. The text is what you should focus on.

Smoothie minun makuuni

The game mechanics are very traditional adventure game stuff. Your time is spent solving puzzles and talking to people. Most of the time the puzzles aren’t too hard. At some points I did get extremely stuck though and at one point had to contanct Michalski for help. What you had to do was extremely simple as I found out. Part of the puzzles have to do with killing the memories of Sophie. The funniest puzzle in the game is making a fattening smoothie. The recipe was weird to say the least and the rock-riff that played while you mixed it up made this scene one of the funniest in the movie.

The games sound-effects and music also deserve a mention. The music differs from very fitting to annoying in some of the locations, all of which have their own sound or music. In the hotel garden it rains, in the lobby there’s a clock ticking. Understandably there’s no voice acting in the game.

Hotellin aula

The dialog in the game works well and is even funny at times. Especially the scene where Joe is lying in a grave and has a conversation with two corpses was very funny. The humor of the game is very black and blood spills as well. If you can look past the graphics and a couple of bugs and concentrate on the text the story and characters suck you in. Soon you notice wondering with Joe what terrible deeds he is ready to do to save his wife.

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Watched this magnificent movie a while ago and finally got around to posting about, had the pictures for it ready a long time ago as well, but here goes. Its the first film of the Coen brothers I’ve seen and I definitely want to see the rest of them now. The basic setting is that this guy Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) bumps into a drug-deal gone bad and finds a suitcase full of money. This gets him chased by this crazy hired-killer Anton Chigurh (super-creepy Javier Bardem). Watching from the side of the whole mess is an old sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). He’s the main character of the movie as well. The actors have been  cast brilliantly, each actor does his role almost perfectly. There aren’t any weaker links in the cast. Especially Javier Bardem, man is he scary as Chigurh.

Chigurh and shopkeeper small

The movie graps your attention from the first moments and doesn’t let go until you’ve seen the whole movie. The movie is extremely exciting for the first hour or so. You’re on the side of your seat all this time. The action sequences are set apart by long sequences where its just planning and listening and being wary. It’s a very slow movie but it gets away with it. Being slow isn’t a bad thing and highlights the action parts very much. If you take a quick look at the movie it’s an action/thriller flick but it’s got many layers beside that. The sheriff’s talks with his uncle for example are great. Dialogue in general is brilliant in the movie. This is thanks to Cormac McCarthy, upon whose book the movie is based on. Almost all dialogue in the movie is straight from the book and works surprisingly well in the movie.

Moss on the hunt small

Having read the book I can say that the movie is one of the most faithful to a book that I’ve seen. Don’t know if it’s because I saw the movie before the book or why, but I think the movie tops the book in many ways. Of course you can’t compare literature and movies but I think the movie is the definitive version. The action parts are biggest thing that’s been changed and the changes work well in the movie. The dog for example is an addition. The shootout at the hotel is a very short episode in the book, but in the movie it’s the height of the action, final showdown so to speak. After that the movie changes more into a slow going drama with occasional bouts of violence.

Moss and dog small

What I most liked about the movie was the atmosphere it created I think. There isn’t any music in the film which is always refreshing. I find that in new movies music is often overused. From the first moments when there’s those slow views of the desert in the West and the voice of the sheriff speaking, you’re instantly captured into the movie. I’m reminded of Sergio Leone somehow by the slowness of the movie. At no points is anything in a hurry in it. The dialogue takes the time it needs, the action playes out in peace and so forth. Especially the scene where Moss hides the suitcase of money into an air duct its great how meticulously its filmed. Every part of the operation is on film. I find it great that the movie doesn’t underestimate the viewer. The movie goes forward at its own pace and you’re expected to follow. Most of the time you’re guessing what the characters are trying to achieve.

If you want a great action movie with a deeper level and great characters you have found what you’re looking for.  Definitely will check out the rest of what the Coen brothers have filmed.

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Thought I’d post some impressions on the game I’ll be reviewing for Uljas once I get it finished. The game is a traditional point-and-click game. Except that its set in a horror-type environment. In the beginning the main character you play with, Joe, and his wife Ivy stop for the night in a hotel. Joe’s wife starts rambling as soon as they step out of the car. The couple enter the hotel but Ivy disappears during the night. Later you find out that a character named Sophie is behind the kidnapping. Sophie is some sort of a monster in human form, or I think so, haven’t bumped into her yet. Your task is to kill 4 memories of Sophie that reside in different rooms of the hotel. Nough about the story.

Pikku Sophie

The atmosphere in the game works even though the graphics of the game a done with sprites, look at the pictures and you know what I mean. The graphics get the job done though. Like most adventure games what’s important is the text you’ll be reading. There’s descriptions about most items inside a room that give you a better understanding of the game world. The dialog is well written and the puzzles are quite crazy. More on that below. One thing that has the most important role beside the text are the music and sound effects. The music in the game is rather simple, with some music mixed with ambient sounds. In one room there’s a clock ticking for example. When a Scandinavian rock singer, Vincent Vielo, appears, this sort of cheesy rock/funk music starts playing. At one point when you’re blending a special smoothie from, well, won’t spoil that one, a guitar riff plays, which got me smiling.

Hotellihuone

Like every adventure game there’s puzzles in this one as well. One involved getting a key to a room from the stomach of a cat. It ended with cutting up the cat with a knife to get it. When you start killing Sophies memories you have to do it with increasingly mean and cold-blooded ways. As usual I’m stuck on most of the puzzles for quite some time before figuring what to do. So far in the game I’ve bumped into the weirdest of characters, had a dialogue with two corpses, removed the brain from the body of the town’s crazy axe-murderer and replaced it with a pig’s brain, which I got after sawing it’s head open. The game is creepy but not scary. It’s more of a horror comedy than actually scary. Anything with a german doctor called Doctor Z who also happens to be neo-nazi is just too cheesy to be taken seriously.

Haudassa

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Hold tight

My little brother recommended the Bourne trilogy to me. I’ve now watched the first movie and I can see why little bro liked it. The movie is about a special agent, Jason Bourne, suffering from amnesia. For the entire movie he’s running away from the people he used to work for. If you stop and think about the plot is ridiculous but so very entertaining, which is the key word concerning this movie. The story is a complete no-brainer, an excuse for all the magnificent action sequences and wall-climbing and agent-stuff going on. The hero with amnesia is one of the oldest cliches. Especially in videogames.

Tell me what you know!

What is also worth mentioning about the movie is the music. Its spot on almost every time its used. The only place were the music didn’t work in my opinion was the driving scene with the mini and police. The music was sort of boring there. The way the driving was set-up caught my attention as well. You know when Bourne and Marie, the girl he picked up with him, sit in the car that there’s a driving sequence coming. The feel of the movie is good music besides as well. The excitement is kept up for the entire movie. You’re on your toes all the time, waiting to see what happens next.

Wouldn't want to be in that car

Still, the action sequences are the best part of the movie. Bourne hasn’t forgotten his skills, so he fight with his instinct. The fighting scenes are fast and brutal. Hands and other limbs are broken and one guy even got a pencil in his arm. The gun-fights work well also. The very last fighting scene took a turn to the ridiculous with Jason jumping down between a staircase from a crazy height with a dead enemy below him. During the fall he kills another enemy by shooting him right between the eyes. That went a bit over. Otherwise the action worked well and didn’t go over too much.

Its not all fighting

To say something for Bourne I liked it a lot more than Casino Royale. Bourne isn’t as ridiculous as the earlier Bonds and as a character Jason is a lot more badass than James. Casino Royale of course tried to make Bond a tougher character but even though they were succesfull in that I didn’t enjoy the movie too much. I wish the rest of the trilogy keeps the excitement up. The movie was brought to a nice end in my opinion so I can’t see any other reason for making more parts than money, but they might be entertaining nontheless. Perhaps the best way to describe Jason Bourne is a cross between Mission Impossible and James Bond, just better than either of these. Nothing can beat Die Hard though;)

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I know I wrote in my about section that I wouldn’t be writing about music but I have to make an exception since I had such a nice experience on Wednesday. The name of the duo was of course Vermillion Lies. They played at Kerubin Kuppila. I don’t know how to describe their music. The duo consists of two sisters, Zoe and Kim. They came all the way from Canada to play for us, and some other places in Finland and Russia. They both sing while one of them plays guitar and the other plays some weird drum kind of thing. During the gig they took the weirdest of things from a big box they had with them. Of course the crowd had to ask what’s in the box before we found out what exactly would be played during the next song. The things included a sort of grill, a dancing marionette that made a nice cloppity-clop sort of sound. At one point they played a washing board.

The lyrics were quite different from song to song. The first song in the set was about two sisters, a true story they said, who were tied together by the ends of their long hair. Then one of them met a man, who then cut their hair in two. One song was about the galaxy, which in the song appeared as quite a sexy place. If you’re interested you can go to their myspace to listen to their music yourself or even download their albums here. They’re all over the Internet so if you do like their music there’s a twitter to follow, Facebook group to join, live feeds to follow, blog to read and a website where you can find most of the aforementioned as well.

Recently I’ve been in closer correspondence with Indie-gamedevelopers after starting to review games for Uljas, the student magazine of Joensuu. They’ve been kind enough to send review copies of their games and been very polite and nice in doing so. Especially ACE-Team whose game Zeno Clash I reviewed. I haven’t asked any bigger game studios for review copies so I don’t know how they’d respond to a query. The same goes for Vermillion Lies. I’d call them Indie as well. They were wonderfull on stage and were kind enough to talk a little after the gig as well. What I’d like to say is: Hurray for Indie-games and indie-music!

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Deadwood

Deadwood poker

As a big fan of westerns I had to check out HBO:s series Deadwood. I’ve watched the first season and started watching it again now. So I thought I’d post some thought on it. The first thing that trikes you is how grimy and dirty the characters look. You feel that this must be pretty close to what the people in a mining town would’ve looked like. What people do is also pretty disgusting. Like it probably was in reality as well. In the second episode one guy pisses on the corner of a bar and chats with a couple of guys passing at the same. The series seems so gritty and real on the outside already.

Settling the deal

Then there’s what the people in the series do. The meanest motherfucker in the series is Al Swerington, the owner of the bar/brothel Gem. He’s basicly the leader of the town (that does change later in the series), but in the beginning he’s the crime boss in town. Making crooked deals with a rich guy from town, murdering anyone he pleases and then getting rid of the body by giving it to the towns pigs. Besides him all other character also have their own number of flaws. Calamity Jane is a chronic drunk. Wild Bill is no hero and like in history he gets shot in the back by some idiot he angered. My favorite character in the movie though is Seth Bullock. He used to be the sheriff in Montana but came to Deadwood with a friend of his to form a hardware store.

Bullock and Trenchmouth

Bullock is your typical western hero. Trying to do the right and honest thing. He instantly gets cross with Swerington and there’s a great tension between them. All the badass characters in the movie are incredibly pissed all the time. Everyone seems to listen very carefully to who they’re talking to and think at the same time: “Is this fuck insulting me?” Bullock especially. He even walks extremely tensely. Hands on his sides, probably in fists as well and shoulders held closely. My favorite scene in the series is when gets in a fight with this extremely tough indian. What’s great about the fight is how real it seems. No fancy moves, just a fight to the death. The most disgusting character in the series is the hotelkeeper. The man reeks of dishonesty miles away. He makes me feel physically revulsed.

whores!

Later in the series what’s great is that even though most people in Deadwood seem to hate each others guts they have to try to get along nontheless. Especially when legislation arrives to town and the guys you don’t like can’t be murdered anymore. The series seems to be about civilization arriving to the town. The episode where the city officials are chosen is a good example of this. Bullock naturally becomes sheriff and the hotel keeper is chosen to be major(so Swerington and other big guys can bully him around). If you want a gritty and realistic western series Deadwood is for you.

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