Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review: Black Mirror, Series Two Episode Three, “The Waldo Moment”

Posted by Matthew on February 28, 2013
Television / Comments Off on Review: Black Mirror, Series Two Episode Three, “The Waldo Moment”

Black Mirror

Charlie Brooker is back again folks. Three more extreme but within-the-realm-of-possible stories to get us thinking about ourselves.

I’m going to warn you right now that this will contain spoilers. I am going to do my best to keep them to a minimum however I can’t talk about everything I want to talk about without including a few so I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen this episode yet you’d best bookmark this, go watch, and come back. There will also be some spoilers for series one of Black Mirror. Normally I’d consider a previous series fair game, but spoiling some of this stuff would be like spoiling who Kaiser Soze is, so seriously: go watch and then come back. You’ve been warned.

The last episode of this series concerns a down on his luck, already self loathing failed comedian Jamie and his creation Waldo.

Jamie hasn’t had any success, although it’s implied his friends all have, on his own but he has created a computer animated character called Waldo. Waldo is controlled and voiced by Jamie so that when they spring him on unsuspecting guests on the television program he’s a part of he reacts in real time and generally just takes the piss out of whoever he is talking to, and in particular a new conservative politician played by Tobias Menzies (late of Rome) called Liam Monroe.

There is also Gwendolyn. She’s running for the labour party in the same by election, but she has no qualms about what’s happening. It’s a safe seat for the conservatives and she’s just trying to raise her profile.

Things get a bit crazy when, after he’s had a surge in popularity, Jamies producer starts talking Waldo spin off and having Waldo stand in the by election that Monroe is running in.

They set about having Waldo follow Monroe around and in doing so steadily gains popularity. At the same time Jamie meets Gwendolyn and they hit it off and have a splendid night together but then she blows him off so she can focus on the campaign. Jamie does not take this well.

At the all candidates debate Waldo is doing his schtick when Monroe attacks Jamie directly and he has a moment that, to be honest, I think a lot of people would. He tells of Monroe for being a phoney, claiming to represent the regular folk of his constituency but actually holding himself above them and toeing party lines and when Gwendolyn chimes in she barely gets a word in edgewise before he outs her and just trying to get a bit of face time.

And that’s when things go off the rails for Jamie and for us.

As Waldo gains popularity Jamie slowly goes a bit mad as while he’s controlling Waldo, everyone else is controlling him, particularly his smarmy producer Jack (played by Jason Flemyng) who threatens to take Waldo out of his hands since Jamie created Waldo but doesn’t own the rights.

They both recognize the potential for Waldo to be influential but where Jack revels in it, Jamie is repulsed by the things they are proposing he do. They even are approached by “the agency” to take Waldo worldwide as a mouthpiece to control the masses.

When Jamie finally snaps and start telling people not to vote for him, he’s ousted and Jack takes over and immediately incites a crowd to attack him. When Waldo takes second place in the election, Jack incites the crowd to riot.

This episode isn’t subtle. The black mirror shows us not only how tired people are of the system, but how easily they can be manipulated just by something that’s new and different, not just spouting the same old bullshit. It makes a mockery not so much of the system itself but how the people in it operate.

Further, when Jack takes over and Waldo takes a turn for the darker, how easily all that good will and attention gained by that moment of pure and honest outrage can be used to manipulate people into kind of terrible things.

Monroe has one great line as well when asked about Waldo he says “If that thing is the main opposition then the whole system looks absurd –which it may well be– but it built these roads” That is to say, we may not like them or the system, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.

Basically the black mirror here shows us how, in our apathy, we can be controlled pretty much because we let ourselves be.

THis episode wasn’t as good as the rest because it’s bit, well, obvious. There aren’t as many big ideas as there are in White Bear and the ideas aren’t as affecting as those explored in Be Right Back, Some of the ideas were also explored better in last years episode “15 Million Merits” in which a man is ripped out of complacency in his life in a dystopian future.

It’s still a solid outing, but because of all that I think it might be my least favourite to date even if the ideas it explores might be the most relevant to us today.

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Review: Black Mirror, Series Two, Episode Two, “White Bear”

Posted by Matthew on February 28, 2013
Television / 1 Comment

Black Mirror

Charlie Brooker is back again folks. Three more extreme but within-the-realm-of-possible stories to get us thinking about ourselves.

I’m going to warn you right now that this will contain spoilers. I am going to do my best to keep them to a minimum however I can’t talk about everything I want to talk about without including a few so I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen this episode yet you’d best bookmark this, go watch, and come back. There will also be some spoilers for series one of Black Mirror. Normally I’d consider a previous series fair game, but spoiling some of this stuff would be like spoiling who Kaiser Soze is, so seriously: go watch and then come back. You’ve been warned.

Ready? Good.

Episode two starts out with a woman waking up with no memory of who she is or where she is. As she explores her surroundings it becomes clear that some sort of cataclysm has happened. The world is a mess. People don’t speak, they simply film her with their cameras and cell phones but won’t interact (except to run away when she gets too close).

Soon she meets a couple on the run who explain that a signal went out over everything with a screen that turned most of the people into mindless, filming zombies while a small percentage of the population remain unaffected. And naturally, a small group of the unaffected are now homicidal maniacs because that’s what happens when society collapses.

Soon it turns out that, as with most episodes of this series, nothing is quite what it seems. As it turns out the main character was convicted of helping to kidnap, torture and kill a young girl with her boyfriend. He did most or all of the unspeakable things while she filmed the whole thing. The Boyfriend dies before he can be tried and sentenced and so the world has decided to take their grief, hate, and anger out on her.

The entire set up is just curel and unusual punishment. She reaches a certain point in the story they’ve set her up in and then the curtains draw, she’s shown who she is and what’s happening, and then they wipe her memory and do it all again (at least 20 odd times from the glimpse you get at the calendar).

This episode is nowhere near as seubtle and certainly not as quiet as the previous episode but it’ll certainly make you think. While I don’t quite think the circus they create to punish the main character is currently something we should expect, it’s also disturbingly plausible if you think about our current addiction to spectacle recorded via cellphone.

And that leads to another question, are we actually experiencing our lives or are we just recording? Are we removed from what we are doing because we’re too busy recording it? That seems to be the main question in the black mirror in this episode and the plot certainly drives it home, because anyone can see that whether she actively participated in the crime (it’s not stated, but implied that she just did the recording) that this is cruel and unusual torture.

It’s a brilliant bit of satire anchored by Lenora Crinchlow’s performance (which is superb). Also, Michael Smiley shows up as one of the more sinister characters which is good, but whenever I see him I wish in the back of my head that he’ll hear a sound and start raving.

All in all this is a great episode and you should definitely have watched it before you read this.

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Awesome: Iron Man 3 Posters

Posted by Matthew on February 28, 2013
Posters / Comments Off on Awesome: Iron Man 3 Posters

Iron Man 3

You may have already seen these, they’ve been being released to the web over the last couple of weeks that I’ve been doing other things, but in case you haven’t hit the “read more” link to see all five of the new Iron Man 3 posters.

Continue reading…

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Trailer: The Conjuring

Posted by Matthew on February 27, 2013
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The Conjuring

Some people really like to be freaked out or scared by the movies. I am not one of those people. SO here’s a trailer for a film I might not ever see, not only because it’s in a genre that I’m none too fond of but because HOLY SHIT THIS IS A PERFECTLY EXECUTED CREEPY AS HELL TRAILER.

Seriously, this trailer is like someone asked themselves “hey, what can we do to freak the shit out of Matt?”‘

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Awesome: Kees van Dijkhuizen jr’s 50 Years of Bond

Posted by Matthew on February 27, 2013
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skyfall

Kees van Dijkhuizen jr is the guy behind such amazing zupercuts as the “[the films of] series –in which the tone and style of a director is explored in each video– and the [cinema] series –in which the years worth of movies are cut together in retrospect.

Now his attentions are turned to Bond, and this might be my favourite of his work to date.

Amazing, right? van Dijkhulzen is rather adept at picking his clips to capture the essence of a film/series/etc, and he’s done pretty masterfully here.

Here’s his write up:

When it comes to cultural icons, James Bond is one of the biggest and most influential. These past 50 years we’ve been able to experience 007s finest adventures on the big screen, including last year with the excellent SKYFALL which shattered box office records. This piece, set to Adele’s ‘Skyfall’, revisits Bond’s adventures, from Dr. No to Skyfall, taking you through the various eras of the Bond legacy. Get those Martinis ready!

This is in no way a full retrospective of the Bond films, the only way to truly live 007’s adventures is by seeing them yourself. And what better way to do that than with the Bond 50 Collection on Blu-ray! Each film has been restored to its former glory with pristine picture quality. They really outdid themselves with the 4K restoration process and so every frame of footage used in this video is straight from the source, maintaining the best possible quality from edit to upload.

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Tomb Raider: Sweet Desperation

Posted by Simon on February 26, 2013
Editorial / 1 Comment

The young one

The internet, for all its splendour and doorways to the world, has completely ruined the art of keeping a secret. Long gone are the times where you would buy a game based purely on how you felt about the series or how many demons were being depicted midway through the beheading process on the cover art. Every single exciting title – from one dollar to sixty – is mercilessly dragged through the preview PR procedure, feature bulletpoints carefully managed for maximum digestibility, until the actual game is almost an afterthought. It’s a double-edged sword, but with both edges cleanly slicing away your satisfaction – either the game cannot live up to your expectations, or it is clearly painted as something you’d never, ever play. Halo 4 was a recent victim of this. Speaking as someone who lapped up Halo 1-3 and adored ODST, Halo 4 made a dull hollow thud, even after the preceding cacophony of exciting previews, web episodes and…Mountain Dew cross-promotions. The dire Aliens: Colonial Marines even showed how preview gameplay sections can be a total fabrication. More tellingly, the main reaction to the release of Temple Run 2 a few weeks ago wasn’t anything to do with the gameplay, but more about the fact that it had been released with zero warning or fanfare, a singular reminder of what it felt like to find a new Spectrum cassette on the shelves. The internet is the antithesis of surprise.

However, very rarely, there is an exception. Sometimes the collected previews can put you off so much that the review of the finished game is something to be savoured, our inner schadenfreude preparing to feast on the low number at the end as justification of our pessimism. Then, when all the reviews in fact paint a different picture, the most wonderful thing happens:

You realise you were wrong.

Tomb Raider‘s path from all-conquering Playstation icon to industry joke has been as rocky and treacherous as any of Ms. Croft’s signature tombs. Toby Gard’s original vision of a cocky, adventurous Indiana Jones analogue – female purely as a sales strategy – became as outlandish as the breasts that came to symbolise her. The tingling pleasure of being lost with only your wits to help you through ancient puzzles – punctuated by fighting the odd leopard or, you know, T-Rex – was soon lost as each sequel shifted more towards combat against entirely average evil European henchmen. Core’s final series entry, 2003’s Angel Of Darkness, was an entirely unsuccessful attempt to drag Lara into a more serious, darker focus amidst a broken game of shifting abilities and forced combat. Lara’s popularity took a downward dive onto rocks, leaving a screaming, crumpled mess at the bottom.

A few years later, design duties having been ripped unceremoniously from Core’s hands, the responsibility to push Lara back into the limelight was passed to Crystal Dynamics. Their reboot, 2006’s Legend, is actually one of my favourites in the series. There was still entirely too much combat, but the joyous feelings of emerging at the top of a forest waterfall, or pushing the final piece of a gigantic spacial puzzle into place, had been placed back where they belonged. It was met with good reviews, as was the cleaned-up version of the first Tomb Raider, Anniversary. Unfortunately, 2008’s Underworld was less successful. CD fell into the same trap that had ensnared Core towards the end, which was to add unnecessary darkness in a bid for greater realism. I enjoyed Underworld to a point, even if the puzzles at the end went on too long, but it all felt so gritty and joyless. It finally seemed like there was no way to make a Tomb Raider game that could still capture that old adventuring spirit whilst ticking the boxes for what the men in ties decided the gaming public wanted. Uncharted filled the gap for linear Indiana Jones emulation, and Lara, once again, shifted backwards into irrelevance.

Uh-oh

And that’s where she lay until publishers Squire Enix decided that there was still money in the banana stand. What do you do with a once-classic figure who had drifted far from her glory days? Reboot. Again. The collective sigh could be heard from all quarters of the internet, not just because of the decision’s inevitability, but also from those that remembered the good old days and knew that poor Lara was being lined up for another critical mauling. First reports didn’t help matters – young Lara, innocent and vulnerable, stuck on an island with evil all around. It all felt like a marketing exercise based on teenage fantasy surveys. There seemed to be increased focus on the two sides of the franchise that were not required – more darkness, more combat. Gameplay scenes showing cover-based shooting. Lara bound and hanging upside-down in a torture cave, screaming and yelling and groaning with every cut, bruise and fall. A furor when one dev mentioned we would have to save her from “rape”. Lara, in the process of being re-re-invented, seemed to be something that could no longer be connected with the words “tomb” and “raider”. It seemed to be a steady, unstoppable slide down to review disaster.

However, there was a twist in the tale. The reviews emerged, over a week before release (an oddity in these days of tight embargoes), and they were all largely glowing. In fact, they seemed to unanimously agree that, past the first third, it was something very special indeed. Their evidence all pointed towards the same vital aspect – the return of desperation. This, for me, is gaming’s secret, magic, rare ingredient.

I’m sick of invulnerability. I take no pleasure in running headlong into a field of enemies, having just learnt how to hold a gun, and clearing it out with no problem at all (I’m looking at you, Far Cry 3). Hiding while bullet holes heal Wolverine-like and my vision changes from blood-red to you’re-fine-now grey is just ridiculous. I don’t need perfect realism, I just need to not be broken out of my immersion by a college boy expertly using a sniper rifle (HELLO FAR CRY 3 HOW ARE YOU). This works both ways, though – in Halo, in the glorious Vanquish, I am a super-soldier tank-wearing human, but the enemies I face demand brains as well as brawn. Running and shooting at the Covenant, on Heroic or Legendary, will soon result in a dead Chief.

Press [X] to become great [SNIPER]

The Uncharted series receives a great deal of criticism about its linearity, how the player really only has minimal control over the unfolding narrative. This is true, of course, but it’s not the whole story. What really makes Uncharted is the expertly managed feeling that your avatar is only just getting through each engagement, the skin-of-his-teeth kind of storytelling that served the good Indiana Jones films so well. The writing, animation and set-pieces – particularly in Uncharted 2 – combine to create a righteous Boy’s Own adventure that frequently leaves the player gasping. My highlights both involved jumping – leaping across the internal walkways of a tower, avoiding gunfire and rocket launchers, and later diving between speeding jeeps, white knuckles grasping for traction on each narrow landing. Pure cinema thrills. Also, the first Motorstorm is superior in its series as it perfectly captures this same sense of clinging on, this time to the handlebars of your motorbike as you burst out from the surrounding carnage. The sequels left it out, and suffered as a consequence.

This sense of desperation against greater odds can also work from a first-person perspective, usually the mainstay of bulletproof mantanks. I loved the second half of EA’s 2010 Medal Of Honor reboot as it dared to do something that Call Of Duty would never attempt – it rounded you up in a disintegrating mud hut, encroaching enemies on all sides, before making you run away for your own survival. It’s a shame that the shockingly bad sequel, Warfighter, wasn’t brave enough to follow this lead, instead pandering back to the needs of the CoD demographic (and failing miserably in the process). Mirror’s Edge played with the idea of a vulnerable free runner actually being more burdened by a gun than without, highlighting the way you had to use your agility to escape the situation (at least, until the forced combat). The final chapter of each Left 4 Dead episode is a mad rush for the finish, hopelessly outnumbered with only your co-op friends to help you through.

Intense difficulty can also create the kind of desperation that is sharp and addictive. In recently playing the wonderful Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Dead Or Alive 5, I was reminded of the adrenaline thrill connected with the need to watch enemy attacks and react accordingly. There are little things more satisfying (in gaming, anyway) than being hopelessly beaten down and still emerging victorious thanks to some well-timed blocks and parries. This is further intensified when, in something like Geometry Wars or Super Hexagon (which I’m increasingly convinced might be the perfect game), you smash through your personal best and just hang on, instincts controlling your fingers while your heart screams in slow, breathless beats.

How does this link to Tomb Raider? By all accounts, it’s all down to Lara. She turns from shrieking, terrified girl to stalking hunter with bow in hand, until the end of the game apparently hints at the cocksure raider we know and love. However, it is we that shape her new skills and share in her vulnerability, her desperation to survive in the face of so much danger. There is still a clear line between combat and exploration – to the slightly irksome point that tombs are “optional” – but both are designed to their respective strengths. The combat pushes Lara into silent use of the bow, the exploration has vistas and physical puzzles that will delight all old-school fans. There are a few negative points, but critical feedback has turned the new Tomb Raider into something entirely tempting and exciting, and all because Crystal Dynamics decided to focus on the pure fear of a young girl alone in the jungle, the odds so stacked against her that it’s almost not worth fighting.

Almost.

 

 

Some recommended reading:

Ellie Gibson’s excellent review on Eurogamer

Kotaku’s review

Kotaku – Why The New Tomb Raider Works

 

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Awesome: Matthew Vaughn to Produce Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four

Posted by Matthew on February 26, 2013
News / Comments Off on Awesome: Matthew Vaughn to Produce Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four

Matthew Vaughn

Good news everyone! Check out this tweet from Mark Millar:

Matthew Vaughn is probably currently known as the guy who directed X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass and Layer Cake, but he also produced all of Guy Ritchies early/good stuff (Snatch, Lock Stock, etc).

Josh Trank proved he can do superheroes with Chronicle, and with a solid producer behind him with a history in the genre? There’s no reason not to be pretty damn excited.

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Trailer: Game of Thrones Season 3

Posted by Matthew on February 26, 2013
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Without Further Ado:

I’m quite excited by this. This season promises to get into territory I’ve not read yet (I haven’t read books 4 or 5) but also it’s finally time to maybe see some real dragon action!

It’s amazing how a good trailer can get me excited for something without actually showing me anything substantial. I suppose that’s the point, but still.

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Trailer: Kon Tiki

Posted by Matthew on February 26, 2013
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In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl built a raft of balsa wood and with 5 other men set out from Peru to Polynesia to prove that Peruvians were the first to settle there.

Kon Tiki was the name of the raft.Kon Tiki won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 1951, the book that Heredahl wrote, and now it’s the name of the dramatization of what happened.

This was actually up for Best Foreign Language film this past weekend at the Oscars and from the trailer I can say that it at least looks gorgeous. Will be keeping an eye out for this one.

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Awesome: Everything Wrong with Inception

Posted by Matthew on February 26, 2013
News / 1 Comment

Cinema Sins put out another in their series of “everything wrong with” video here, this time on one of Simon’s favouritesL Inception.

As someone who liked inception I gotta say that at while some of this is a stretch, some of it is pretty spot on.

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85th Annual Academy Awards Live Blog and Results

Posted by Matthew on February 24, 2013
Live Blog / 1 Comment

85th Academy Awards

Howdy folks. Watch here for all our thoughts on the Oscars tonight! Newest updates at the top, and I’ll update with a winners list as we go.

Winners

  • Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor
  • Paperman for Best Animated Short
  • Brave for Best Animated Feature
  • Claudio Miranda for Life of Pie for Best Cinematography
  • Life of Pi for Best Visual Effects
  • Anna Karenina for Best Costume Design
  • Les Miserables for Best Makeup
  • Curfew for Best Live Action Short
  • Inocente for Best Documentary Short
  • Searching for Sugarman for Best Documentary Feature.
  • Amour for Best Foreign Language Film
  • Les Miserables for Best Sound Mixing
  • Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall tie for Best Sound Editing.
  • Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress
  • Argo for Best Film Editing
  • Lincoln for Best Production Design
  • Life of Pi for Best Original Score
  • Skyfall for Best Original Song
  • Chris Terrio for Argo for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained for Best Original Screenplay
  • Ang Lee for Best Director
  • Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress
  • Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor
  • Argo for Best Picture

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2013 Oscar Predictions

Posted by Matthew on February 24, 2013
Editorial / Comments Off on 2013 Oscar Predictions

85th Academy Awards

The Oscars are later tonight and Simon and I will be live blogging them. Just for fun, I’m going to lock myself into a few predictions.

Sundry Categories

Without going into too much detail on these ones here are how I’d like to see a few of the categories with less fanfare to play out.

  • “Skyfall” to win Best Original Score.

It’s the only memorable one of the nominees.

  • “Skyfall” to win Best Original Song.

Best Bond Song in years and just a great song. Outside chance for Everybody Needs a Best Friend from Ted, but doubtful.

  • Roger Deakins to win Best Cinematography for “Skyfall”.

There’s lots of reasons to love Roger Deakins, but more to the point he’s never won the awards despite some brilliant work and Skyfall is a gorgeous film.

  • “Prometheus” for Best Visual Effects.

Prometheus is not a good film, but it’s a gorgeous film and the effects are seamless.

  • Animated Movies

I haven’t seen all the nominees for best Animated Feature, so I have no idea who will win. I have hoever seen all the nominees for Best Animated Short and I really hope that Paperman wins.

And now, on to the big ones.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “Argo” – Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” – David Magee
  • “Lincoln” – Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” – David O. Russell

I want to say Argo, but it will probably be Lincoln. In the battle between American heroism and America’s most beloved president, I think it’ll go to the president.

Best Original Screenplay

  • “Amour” – Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained” – Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” – John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” – Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” – Mark Boal

Quentin Tarantino has to win this one. Django is almost entirely overlooked in the nominations, but there’s no denying the screenplay is the best this year. Tarantino’s dialogue is amazing as always. You can question his directorial choices but you can’t question how he writes.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams – “The Master”
  • Sally Field – “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables”
  • Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
  • Jackie Weaver – “Silver Linings Playbook”

Are you kidding me? Anne Hathaway. Everyone here is great, I wish that Amy Adams will win because she is as amazing as everyone else in The Master, and also because I’d really like to see the Academy slightly embarrassed by having all the actors win while their movie nor director is nominated, but Anne Hathaway plays a hooker with a heart of gold, doing everything for her kid, with a debilitating disease, in an adaptation of a beloved stage musical.

Yeah, it’s Anne Hathaway’s year.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin – “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”

No clear winner here. Everyone is amazing and everyone has won before. I don’t see Christoph Waltz winning since he did just a couple years back for a very similar role, I don’t see Robert De Niro winning because unlike Jennifer Lawrence (whose performance is elevated above the movie she is in) he’s good but not great.

Alan Arkin was great but also was how Alan Arkin always is.

So that leaves Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’d love to see Philip Seymour Hoffman win because he and Joaquin Phoenix are both spectacular in The Master, but Tommy Lee Jones I think might win for Lincoln because Daniel Day-Lewis isn’t going to win his trophy.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – “Beasts of Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”

Do we even have to talk about this? I’m pretty sure this is Jennifer Lawrence’s award to lose as of this moment. Silver Linings Playbook may not be a great film however Jennifer Lawrence is great in it. She’s already been robbed once (have you seen winter’s Bone? She’s amazing) too so that pretty much locks it down.

So here’s hoping that Jessica Chastain wins next year, because Jennifer Lawrence is going to win this year.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington – “Flight”

As with the Best Supporting Actor category there doesn’t seem to be a clear front runner here. Everyone did great. I was particularly surprised by Bradley Cooper who is getting better and better. However, I think it’s going to go to Hugh Jackman because say what you will about Les Mis, he acted the shit out of it.

It’s too bad too, because Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in The Master.

Best Director

  • “Amour” – Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” – Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” – Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” – David O. Russell

Steven Spielberg. Honestly, of all the directors eligible to be nominated this year he’s the only one on this list that would also be on mine. Paul Thomas Anderson, Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Quentin Tarantino are all missing for the record.

Best Picture

  • “Argo”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Les Miserables”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Amour”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Argo has already won almost every major award there is in this category, including the Golden Globe, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and SAG awards. You know why? Because it’s a great film and it deserves to win.

It’s also the safest bet because unlike Zero Dark Thirty, which I think is a better movie, it’s a story about one man’s heroism and the Academy eats that up.

Outside chance for Les Miserables, but for all the fanfare at its release no one is talking about it anymore.

So, Argo it is.

Later tonight we’ll be live blogging the show so you can watch in real time to see how I did with my predictions then! In the mean time, do you guy have any predictions or movies you are pulling for to win?

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Podcast Episode Forty Two: Die Hard, Cloud Atlas, PlayStation 4

Posted by Matthew on February 22, 2013
Podcast / Comments Off on Podcast Episode Forty Two: Die Hard, Cloud Atlas, PlayStation 4

Awesome Froday1

We’re finally back! It’s been weeks since we have been ab;e to get together and record for you guys so we cover quite a bit in this episode. Die Hard 5, Cloud Atlas, the PlayStation 4 announcement, and a host of other topics. Get comfy folks, this is Awesome Friday!

As always we’d love your feedback so either shoot us an email comments@awesomefriday.ca, get ahold of us on twitter @posterboy81 for Matt and @manbiteswonders for Simon or just leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

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Review: Black Mirror, Series Two, Episode One, “Be Right Back”

Posted by Matthew on February 19, 2013
Television / 2 Comments

Black Mirror

Charlie Brooker is back again folks. Three more extreme but within-the-realm-of-possible stories to get us thinking about ourselves.

I’m going to warn you right now that this will contain spoilers. I am going to do my best to keep them to a minimum however I can’t talk about everything I want to talk about without including a few so I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen this episode yet you’d best bookmark this, go watch, and come back. There will also be some spoilers for series one of Black Mirror. Normally I’d consider a previous series fair game, but spoiling some of this stuff would be like spoiling who Kaiser Soze is, so seriously: go watch and then come back. You’ve been warned.

Good. Let’s begin then.

Be Right Back stars Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson as Martha and Ash, a young couple. He is clearly addicted to his phone and the internet, to the point where he doesn’t hear her offering him ridiculous things and she has to tell him to put his damn phone away and interact with her. We get just enough screen time with Ash to get a sense of who he is and who they are together and then he dies.

Wracked with grief Martha is signed up by a friend for a service that basically is an app that lets you speak to the dead. It scrapes data from your social media profiles, emails, videos, photos, anything you can feed it and comes up with an approximation of the person in question.

What follows is both an exploration of grief and anguish as well as the question of the human experiences. We follow Martha as she is emotionally laid low and then raised up again by speaking to this approximation almost non stop.

When she drops her phone the system offers her “the next step”, an artificial Ash with the personality profile uploaded.

I’d like to point out here that both Atwell and Gleeson are superb. Atwell has to run the gamut of human emotion and does so beautifully. Gleeson plays both the internet addicted boyfriend and the approximation thereof well, in particular the contradicting states the False Ash has to exist in.

At first Martha takes full advantage, and I mean full advantage, but it soon becomes apparent that all is not right. Her grief is both quelled and then returned with even greater power. False-Ash at first being a comfort comes to drive her to the edge of sanity because he’s just not Ash.

And therein lies the reflection in the black mirror. Slowly but surely we’re putting more of ourselves online and more people are interacting with facebook, twitter, and every other form of online communication you can think of, and many friendships are made and broken vie these methods. You come to feel like you know someone based on the things they put out there but through False-Ash we’re reminded that none of that can replace the human experience.

In the climax of the story False-Ash is driving Martha to the edge of her sanity because on the one hand he’s right there with her, but on the other he lacks all the mannerisms, all the little tics, and the emotions that aren’t registered online. When she orders him to jump off a cliff and he willingly goes she rails against his utter willingness and how he isn’t acting like Ash. He then takes that information and mimics Ash not out of some sense of preservation but because that’s what False-Ash thinks she wants.

Be Right Back is far more subtle than any of the previous episodes to date. Not hard when you consider that last series had a man fucking a pig, a man selling out, and a man relentlessly torturing himself with recordings of his life built into his brain. That doesn’t actually make it any less thought provoking though, in fact I’d say just the opposite. It’ll make you think about grief and the lengths you might go to, but also how you interact with your friends and family.

Black Mirror is about holding up ideas and showing us reflections that we haven’t considered, or maybe reflections we don’t want to consider about society and technology, and it’s off to a lovely start for this series.

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Awesome: Bungie Unveils “Destiny” *UPDATE*

Posted by Simon on February 17, 2013
News / 2 Comments

 

Bungie has finally drawn back the curtain on their first project since they left Halo behind them and sold their souls to Activision. Destiny seems to be an FPS MMO hybrid – a persistant sandbox galaxy that requires a mandatory internet connection. There won’t be subscription fees and they’ve been quick to pull away from the MMO connection, but the structure of the combat certainly sounds more like this genre than any other:

“Players love MMOs and open world games more for the emergent gameplay than the gameplay crafted by their designers. They remember the things that happened because players got together and did stuff, whether it be some dramatic boss fight at the end of an hour-long raid or the exploration of a cave discovered off the beaten track. Story lead Joe Staten expects Destiny will work in a similar way, with players building their “personal legend”.  

 

It’s all a little vague still, with no gameplay or even screenshots to speak of. However, Bungie has certainly demonstrated in the past that they are able to single-handedly redefine online multiplayer, so they have the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Also, the concept art is stunning:

The beautiful Pike

 

Check it out at Eurogamer’s comprehensive write-up here.

 

UPDATE:

The official Destiny website has released an introductory video with a few snippits of gameplay and, more importantly, a sample of the new score by Marty O’Donnell. More excited now.

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