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Film, music, books, culture, youth and pornography in a country of prudes.

Death to Cyber Nanny and Professor Old Bore

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Three things that are ultimately useless.

1. Internet censorship. Whether it’s ISP based filtering, college/school/company/institution firewall blocks, or nationwide blackouts.

2. Education. ie, the drivel we are bashed in the head with ad nauseam from kindergarten through school through college. None of that ever matters.

3.  Conservation. For every glass of water you save by turning the tap off, some fat American (or European or Indian and so on) is wasting ten; effectively negating your action.

Now, making gross statements like these without offering any elaboration is quite easy. But, while number 3 is mostly a joke, the first two aren’t. If I have to explain why, then, brothers and sisters, enlightenment isn’t quite yet within your grasp. But Yours Truly will help you find the way. In the future.

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Written by Jesus Eastwood

July 28, 2009 at 9:52 am

Posted in Culture, Stupidity, Technology

Tagged with

Sam Who?

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Who is this Sam Worthington fellow and why is he friggin’ everywhere? He cannot act, doesn’t look good, lacks charisma. He doesn’t even have all the qualities that’ll make him an everyman. Like, say, Dennis Quaid. So what is he doing in this business, taking away lead roles from people who should be doing them?

While I’m at it, Christian Bale is similarly hopeless. We don’t need new idiots playing good parts. Give them all to Will Smith. At least we’re used to him.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

July 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

Fallout 3

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Click to open the official website.

Click to open the official website.

In Fallout 3, Bethesda’s update on the post-apocalyptic pastiche, there are exactly three things wrong:

  • Chance upon a female Raider and odds are she’ll be wearing armor that clearly reveals all she’s wearing is a bra underneath. Shoot her, kill her, take her armor, and all of a sudden there’s a tanktop instead of a bra. This is a censoring decision, sure, but it breaks the world.
  • The character animations, frankly, suck. They look like they’re walking on the moon. All other animations feel like they belong in 1995.
  • The dialog and the dialog animations. The voice-acting is atrocious. The lip-syncing is horrible. The face-syncing is unforgivable. They look around every which way like drug-addled morons, eyelids at half-mast, delivering their lines with the finesse of George W Bush. In this post Half-Life world, they really have no excuse.

And that’s it. You could point out many other things, sure, like the uninspired interiors, the repetitive dialog trees, the stupid enemy AI, and so on, but these are necessary evils for a game with such a grand scope.

And by grand I do mean that in every sense of the word. Please note that I got the negatives out of the way because the rest of this review is going to be shameless, drooling praise (minus screenshots, because I was stupid and didn’t install FRAPS beforehand). So, to begin with the best thing about the game: the (grand) world.

I waited a week after finishing the final level before beginning this so I could be sure I was over the initial wonder. Waited for the woman to let her hair down, so to speak. But that seminal moment when you leave the Vault, that blind flare of light that then fades out into the bleak landscape that forms The Capital Wasteland. It’s beautiful, with nearly no expense spared in depicting this desolate beauty, marred only, I’m sure, by limitations of current gen hardware. Ever building shows signs of decay. Every structure is meticulously crafted. Some of the places you’ll see make for such awesome vistas you have to wonder how they managed to ship this game at all.

Much has been said about the missions and VATS and the game’s historical innacuracies (the buildings would have fallen off and decayed if it really had been so many years since fallout, not be in more or less structurally sound condition) and the game’s departure from previous Fallout games, but the things no one talks about: the missions are quite varied, and some are great, but the stupid dialog and the animations almost always ruin them. VATS is quite hit and miss – I decided to play a missile launching, mohawk wearing jackass, so I decidedly had more opportunity to see things getting blown up in slow motion in VATS than, say, a small weapons expert, but it still gets old quite fast.

But for  every single time you think they could’ve done better, things right themselves when you step out into the open. You have to experience it. I was never once irritated that we had to traverse such long distances on foot because there was always so much to see. Example? One of the first things you’ll probably do after getting shafted from the Vault is make your way to Megaton, a remote settlement wrapped around an undetonated nuclear bomb, complete with its own cult (Children of the Atom).

On your way, hey, look, a big water tower. Naturally, I explored. Had my mohawk guy take a nice big gulp. But wait, the water is radiated. Lost HP. Curses and bollocks. Looking around to get back on path to Megaton, but what’s that in the distance? Head there. This boy comes running at me asking me about his father. I say, stuff it, jackass, I got bigger things to worry about.  Right to my left, a mall. Explore, of course, expecting zombies, because a mall and zombies are like the  internet and porn. Except, it’s full of Mad Maxesque raiders. Die, reload, run to Megaton… but, look, a shiny future car sitting unattended next to a gas pump. Head there. Enclave eye bot broadcasting some political bullshit. Shoot it with the BB gun. Turn around to get back on path to Mega… but hey, is that… is that a fucking two headed cow?

The game keeps throwing this shit at you in a constant flurry. If you’re the sort who considers exploration a vital part of your gameplay, as opposed to running and gunning your way through like some jackass on crack.  I confess that near the end of the game I started losing the patience to explore every interior room, but when outside, my word, you cannot stop.

There’s a story amid all this, but it’s competent at best. With a supporting cast that, again, suffers from the horrible dialog. But it is, without a doubt, true, that the best missions in the game aren’t part of the main quest at all. Much has been made of the Bladerunner-esque android-identity mission. But the game is littered with such gems.

The worst of these involve traveling for ages in underground railway lines. But even these aren’t enough to just put you off.

But enough about that, because shitloads of reviews talk about them. Here’s the one thing not many do: the final level. You become a spectator to perhaps the greatest robot to grace videogame history. A giant behemoth of clinking metal, built as a line of defense against Communist China at the height of whatever war destroyed civilization as the Fallout world knew it. He shoots tremendous lasers, tosses mini nuke bombs at targets like it’s going out of style, rips apart defenses with all the grace of an animal tearing his meal, and looks cool like you wouldn’t believe. You never realize how fucking huge this game world is till you’ve seen him destroy it. All the while mouthing lines that mock our Cold War with eerie accuracy.

What happens afterwards is a killjoy, but fuck it, man, I’m all for backing a horse that runs for his life and stumbles at the finishing line than some graceless wonder.

Now, if only we could ride bikes in this crazy world.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

July 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Game Review

Tagged with , , , ,

In Bruges

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Click to open the IMDB page.

Click to open the IMDB page.

Don’t let the publicity or the posters fool you. In Bruges is not a caper, or an action film, or necessarily a film for Bourne enthusiasts. Sure, it has assassins and there are murders. But consider: it has midgets, specifically, a midget who, when high, talks of the impeding war between all whites and blacks. Midgets included. It has a mangy asshole making fun of Americans. Not just any Americans: fat Americans. It takes one of the biggest digs at Canadians since the South Park movie. And it gets away with it. Fabulously.

All the good reviews of the movie have already praised the dialog sky high, but it really is something else. Constantly surprising, utterly unreal, and entirely too scripted, but as hilarious as anything Russell Peters ever did. These people don’t speak like you and I, and thank Christ for that.

The premise is simple: two assassins, after a bad hit, get sent to Bruges to lay low for a while. Which, of course, as they figure out, isn’t quite true. They’re sent here for a hit; all they have to do is wait for their boss to call them and deliver further instructions. The things that happen afterwards are quite predictable, but don’t hold that against it. Because what happens happens with such obvious style that it doesn’t matter.

Colin Farrell fits the bill as a smarmy asshole with an opinion on everything that isn’t him (ie, it’s bad). I’ve never been a fan of the guy, but it’s hard to go wrong with a line like, “Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”

Or, “I don’t hit women. I would never hit a woman, Chloe. I’d hit a woman who was trying to hit me with a bottle. That’s different. That’s self-defense, isn’t it? Or a woman who could do karate. I would never hit a woman generally, Chloe.”

Or, my favorite, “A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in fuckin’ Bruges!” The lead up to this line is pitch perfect.

The whole sordid mess is filled with lines like these; even the parts where you expect at best cliche chatter.

Watch it once for the dialog alone.

Then there’s Bruges. Nearly every time Ray (Farrell) badmouths the city, it’s punctuated with a gorgeous vista of the city right after. And, in yet another dig at the wealthy white, they make it exceedingly clear why the city remains beautiful: because it’s in, as they say, fucking Belgium.

And the ending? In the snow and the costumed freaks? The midget’s trot? Ralph Fiennes’s expression before he pulls the trigger? Flawless.

Don’t pass this up as another thriller like I almost did. It’s not. It’s refreshing proof that cinema makers, given the chance, can still do it. Even in fuckin’ Bruges.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

June 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Windows 7 Starter – 3 Application Limit

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You gotta wonder, with all these leaps in technology and the dawn of the modern man (and other appropriate cliches), do these huge corporations really still think like old farts, or is it part of some world wide movement to just look stupid? Why’d they want that? Who knows, maybe so that when they fuck up for real they can hide behind the “We’re stupid like this only” wall.

Perhaps it’s just a publicity stunt (they removed the limitation yesterday); but if it is, it’s dumb. After Vista, that laughing stock of the OS world, and Games For Windows Live, that laughing stock of the gaming world, what Microsoft needs to do is set its image right (Windows 7 so far seems to be a significant step in that direction), not maintain its presence in the public consciousness with such asshattery.

In this age of nearly infinite technological choice, where do you even get the idea that the public will embrace crippled ware? An OS with application limits? Games with limited number of installs and a crapload of other piracy prevention methods (which don’t work anyway)? Songs, movies, books, with silly DRM wrappers? Seriously? If you’re gonna think solely about your company and your partners rather than your consumers, the consumers will ask you to kindly fuck off.

Unless you’re Apple.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

May 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Lost Season 5 Finale

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Spoilers abound.

When Sawyer asks Jack why he wants to go back to the way things were so bad, he spews some nonsense about Kate.

What he should have said:  “Because I want to bury my father.”

That’s what he said in the first season’s finale to the airplane ticket counter girl.

It would have been the perfect line; certainly an improvement over the Kate drivel.

Now, of course, criticizing Lost is like criticizing your two year old brother for drawing stick figures instead of an Alex Ross painting, but still, what were they smoking?

In a show that earlier promised it wouldn’t pull any Terminator crap (the soldier from the future is John’s father, oh my!), then suddenly changed gears to “let’s try to change the future” for no apparent reason, it should come as no surprise when Juliet has a sudden change of heart, but still, what were they smoking?

I kept thinking that the Jacob who touches everyone off the island is the other guy, the bad guy, but alas, no such luck. I kept thinking it was awesome that the ass-kicking Locke had returned, but alas, it turns out it’s an impostor. What were they smoking?

And the end? With Ben becoming a pawn yet again? What were they smoking?

Let’s not even talk about the bomb in the backpack.

All that wasted potential. You gotta wonder why people even watch this. And yet, Yours Truly can’t quite stop. The wonders of pop culture.

Because I want to bury my father.

Would’ve knocked it out of the ball park.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

May 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Television

Tagged with

The Pianist

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Click to open the IMDB page.

Click to open the IMDB page.

Polanski can portray the consequences of unchecked lust. He can explore human nature in all its raw ruthlessness. He can’t do sympathy. Oh, he tries. He pulls most of the tricks you’d expect from a Julia Roberts movie (only, they’re not really tricks, because he’s not jerking us around), and sentimental audiences, I’m sure, wept a bucket (the Oscar win confirms it) but, while it’s true that you can make a good movie on anything if you’re able, Polanski simply belongs out there where the men are savages held back only by the loose parchments that form the local law and where the underside of all cities and people is cold, black, nasty.

The first time I saw the film I wondered if Polanski was making a bid for the Oscars, selling out. But, no, even outside of his area of excellence, Polanski can’t quite manage a bad movie. It’s all there, those unflinching touches you’re used to see from the man; most apparent when the Nazis destroy – no other word for it – acre after acre of both hope and infrastructure. But it lacks what his best films have: the ability to leave you frustrated, irritated, perhaps outraged when you leave the movie hall because what you saw just hit home. Hard. Hearing those famous words in Chinatown; seeing the betrayal stinging Hugh Grant’s face – the things Oprah doesn’t do.

The entire story in two sentences: Nazis happen. One man tries to survive.

We’re supposed to care about him, clearly we are. But I didn’t. And for a movie such as this one, it’s the biggest possible failure. Adrien Brody’s to blame, I suspect. He tries, you can’t say he doesn’t, but he can’t pull it off. He looks the part; he just can’t play it.

Why see it, then? Why, because it’s Polanski, of course! I’ve just about had my fill of war movies (watching Defiance last month made it quite clear), but when I had the chance to see The Pianist again yesterday, I couldn’t refuse it. It gets better the second time, of course, because you’re not expecting greatness. And then you can concentrate on other things, like freezing the frame to marvel at the devastation in all its disrobed beauty.

And the music.

Written by Jesus Eastwood

May 20, 2009 at 10:54 pm