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Monday, 11 June 2012

Anticipation

Howdy all.

Meld Magazine - Melbourne's international student news website

I have had quite the busy week but I've been very happy with how things have turned out for me. On Monday, I met with Karen, founder and editor-in-chief of Meld Magazine to discuss opportunities for me to contribute to the website. I think the plan is for me to come in every Monday to meet the rest of the team, see who I'll be working with and hopefully be able to put up some work of my own up there! We'll see where it goes but it's a pretty exciting venture.

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On Wednesday, I attended a film review workshop hosted by SYN which was somewhat helpful although most of what the speakers said had been already covered in one of my subjects from last semester. I met Nat from one of SYN's flagship shows, Arts Mitten, and we talked about the possibility of allowing me to have a segment on the show about Asian cinema. I just need to come up with something to present and hope it gets through.

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And then on Thursday I began a new volunteering position with ACMI in their offices as a public programs administrative volunteer. It's not as boring as it sounds, in fact I quite enjoy it since it's a huge change from what I normally do at work. I'll be staying on with them for three months and in a lot of ways it almost feels like an internship (and I'm gonna treat it like that). Everyone I met at the office was friendly and, so far, the tasks I've been doing haven't been so taxing. Afterwards, I met up with Ellen and we had a nice catch-up over some ice, haha.
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Bought this today. This is the rare case where I actually WANT TO FEEL EMOTIONALLY DESTROYED AGAIN. Shame and I hope the high-def transfer justifies the quality of the film.

Picked up a copy of "Shame" on Blu-ray during my lunch break on Thursday. I've gushed enough about how much I love this film and you'd think that I wouldn't want to watch such an emotionally draining film again but I'd gladly revisit it. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray transfer isn't all that pretty and the video isn't quite the high-def quality one normally comes to expect from Blu-ray. So that's pretty disappointing. Kinda makes me wonder if the UK transfer of "Shame" would be better...
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THOUGHTS ON E3 THIS YEAR

gamergirl95:

askmajora:

askfiercedeity:

asklord-ghirahim:

banbangds:

How can an ageing Japanese man be so kawaii?

He’s Shigeru Miyamoto. What other reason do you need?

((old yet still kawaii the power of Shigeru miyamoto))

((Okay, when I saw the intro to the Nintendo conference, I was girlishly laughing and squealing
It was so effing cute. This sealed the deal owo))

he is just so amazing. i love him. XD

It was that time of the year again this week where gamers all oogle at all the new toys and all share in the excitement of E3. Whether you're on the show floor or at home enjoying the event through a live stream broadcast, the hype surrounding E3 is usually pretty awesome. I have been blogging about E3 the last few years now and this year will be no exception. I've lost some sleep along the way staying up for some of the conferences but that's okay.

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I only got around to watching Sony and Nintendo's press conferences this year though and wish I would have stayed up for Ubisoft's conference just to experience the announcement of the surprise no one was expecting, "Watch Dogs". Man that must have been exciting. "Watch Dogs" had everyone talking and people were speculating whether or not what we saw was really showing off a game for a next generation console. And with good reason, I mean just watch this:

Are you not entertained?

I got major "Ghost in the Shell" vibes watching that gameplay demo. It looks to be set in an open-world environment too, leading people to call this game "Deus Ex" meets "Grand Theft Auto". Cool, right? Additionally there's a trailer that doesn't necessarily give away story or gameplay but does effectively contextualise the game and gives it a form of relevancy.

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Sony's conference started strong with the reveal of "Beyond: Two Souls" a game developed by Quantic Dream who produced "Heavy Rain". As revealed in the conference, it is said that the game will follow the life of a character and lead us to questions concerning "the after-life". Details about the game were quite vague but a quick explanation of the game was followed by the reveal of Academy Award nominated actress, Ellen Page, providing her acting talent to the video game which proved to be a very interesting move as one of the key critiques of "Heavy Rain" was the performance captured acting of the people involved. So that news definitely gave the project some reverence in terms of actual acting talent. This was then followed up with a lengthy trailer of the game that looked amazing as far as graphics is concerned. I daresay that Quantic Dream may have used the same facial capturing techniques utilised in "L.A. Noire" but have taken it a bit further.


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The Sony conference  lagged in the middle with the curiously bewildering "Wonder Book" - an augmented reality type of peripheral for the Playstation 3 - but finished with a bang thanks to the debut gameplay trailer for their upcoming survival game, "The Last of Us". Naughty Dog, who've really set the bar, as far as cinematic gameplay is concerned, with their hugely successful "Uncharted" series have done it again with "The Last of Us" and really impressed audiences live in attendance and watching at home (I know I had a goofy smile the whole way through!). All the little nuances they've incorporated into the game are fantastic and add so much more depth into the style of gameplay you're meant to adhere to (that being survival! you can't just run and gun and think you'll come out unscathed). For me, "The Last of Us" is essentially "The Road" but less depressing, more sunny and has no cannibals. I think Naughty Dog have gone on record to say that they were inspired by films like, "28 Days Later" and "Children of Men" while making the game. Fair enough.


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Another highlight was "Star Wars: 1313". Essentially, the game is "Star Wars" with "Uncharted"-style gameplay. Not much is known about the game other than the fact that you play as a bounty hunter in a mature "Star Wars" game. The game wasn't shown off that much but what really impressed me (as I'm sure it did with most people) was the graphical output of the title. Incredibly detailed and textured with seamless transitions between cutscene and gameplay, "Star Wars: 1313" was another game that had people speculating as to whether or not a game like this was meant for current systems (reps from Lucasarts admitted that they were running the demo on PC). Here's hoping "Star Wars: 1313" is as awesome as it looks.


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And can we just appreciate the existence of "Lego City Undercover" for a moment? It's essentially "Grand Theft Auto" minus the adult content and completely Lego-fied. It just looks ridiculously fun even if it is aimed at children and I'm hoping it's not a Wii U exclusive either cause I'd buy this in a heartbeat for my Playstation 3.


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I could keep going with my thoughts on E3 this year but I think I'll just end it here. The conferences overall were somewhat disappointing from what I saw and heard (Microsoft especially, according to my mate who had to watch it) but I can't help but love the excitement surround E3 each year. As disappointing as the conferences may be, the love of gaming is what brings people to E3 in the first place. Plus if they were able to surprise everyone with an IP no one was expecting like "Watch Dogs", I'm not sure you would call this year a disaster.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


In preperation for "Prometheus", this week I turned to "Blade Runner", Ridley Scott's other game-changing sci-fi. I've covered "Blade Runner" on my blog in the past but the first time I saw it, I had slept through a bit of it and was also watching it after a long day of uni which probably affected my judgement of the film.

Watching it now, I can completely say that, to me, it just feels a lot more complete than "Alien" and I would go so far as to say that out of all the Ridley Scott films I've seen, "Blade Runner" is his best. It's best described as a neo-noir - a fusion of old and new - and has the tropes of noir we recognise but the memory of noir itself is implanted into a futuristic Los Angeles that looks closer to Hong Kong than any American city I've seen on film.  Again, I feel that much like "Alien", "Blade Runner" really established that grimy, sci-fi neo-noir look that a film like "Dark City" could have easily been influenced by. Having seen it a second time and giving it much more attention, I really appreciated the complexity of the film and the questions it raises. On a technical level, the cinematography is gorgeous and helps evoke an heir of mysticism and wonder to the film's landscape.

I think that a great companion piece to this film would be "Akira" the 1988 Japanese anime as I imagine these films to exist within the same world. Hell you could even add another anime, "Ghost in the Shell" into the mix (I would go so far as to say that "Ghost in the Shell" would not exist had it not been for "Blade Runner" BUT I could be entirely wrong about that). There's just a lot to love about "Blade Runner". FYI: It's Christopher Nolan's favourite film.


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Released in 2009, "Last Train Home" follows a Chinese mother and father who, every Chinese New Year, go back to see their families before returning back to the factories to continue working their thankless jobs in an attempt to help better the lives of their children. Ultimately, the documentary focuses on the struggles of the mother and the father and the effect it has on their family - particularly their daughter.

It's an amazing documentary and you'll most likely never question your own first world problems ever again after watching it. And although the documentary does take a look at an interesting topic in regards to migrant workers and the methods used to transport them back home (as well as other issues concerning China as a country rising to prominence as a superpower, akin to the United States of America), the main story driving the film is about the family's drama and how well told the story of this one family is.

Without giving anything away, the film tells the story so well that I found myself questioning whether or not I was duped into believing if it was entirely fiction (it felt too good to be true!). The film is beautifully shot and while there are minor goofs here and there (boom mics in shot, camera crew visible in shadows etc.) they're more than forgivable considering the circumstances that the filmmaker and crew put themselves in order to capture the chaos surrounding the migration process as well as the inner turmoil of the family.

Also, all those jokes about Asian parents being super strict and reinforcing their kids to study harder and achieve good marks pretty much are explained in the documentary. Like I said, these people work thankless jobs that have very little pay off but they do it because they want their kids to do better than them which is why it's so disheartening to see some of the things that happen in the film causing strife within the family (avoiding spoilers!). Do seek this underseen gem of a documentary.  


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"Prometheus", the semi-prequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien", follows a crew of scientists who venture off into space in hopes of finding the questions about mankind's origins. Some rather large, almost biblical stuff going on already just from that right? For me the film started off really promisingly but eventually fell into bewildering confusion and disappointment. My own personal hype and excitement for the film may have led me to feel some sense of disappointment in the overall product though so there is a bit of subjectivity going in with this review (although let's be honest, all reviews are subjective in one way or another).

I loved some of the acting talent provided by the actors involved but I didn't like some of the characters at all. Well, that is to say I couldn't really care for them (with the exception of Michael Fassbender's, David, and Charlize Theron's, Meredith Vickers). I just think that a lot of the characters were underwritten so that we could marvel at the bigger things going on like the musings about our beginnings and the meaning of life and so on and so forth. Grandiose as these thematic elements may be, I think it was just aiming a bit too high. What made "Alien" a classic was the fact that it was so low-key and unexpected (among other things). This on the other hand goes all out and does very little to explain why things occur and why things happen the way they do. And if there are intentions for sequels to this film (which I believe there are) that explain these questions, in a lot of ways, this makes us question why there needs to even be this film in the first place. And the music. Oh man, how could anyone think that the score for this film was appropriate?! The score would have been great in an entirely different movie but for this? Not at all! It's like putting a laugh track into something like "Grave of the Fireflies" - it doesn't work at all!

Okay so the script and score weren't all that great. Anything good? Sure there is. HR Giger's influence on the film is once again all over it and it's just as much his film as it is Ridley Scott's. The art direction and cinematography are top notch. I really did want to like this film, despite all the negative criticism, I heard about it and I honestly did like the first two acts of the film (even if it was essentially "Alien" all over again).

I feel that there's a lot of squandered potential here for something that could have been absolutely astonishing and for me this wasn't it. Maybe ten to twenty year from now we'll have changed our minds about the film - it worked wonders for "Blade Runner". To sum it up, "Prometheus" is a mediocre sci-fi film that leaves far too many unanswered questions and doesn't quite live up to the hype that was promised. At least it wasn't "The Hunger Games".

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


Nothing but film trailers to show off this week. The first comes from Quentin Tarantino's new one, "Django Unchained" which looks so damn cool and is done in true Tarantino fashion. I am really looking forward to Leonardo Dicaprio's performance in this film moreso than Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx. I can't get enough of that snap zoom on Leo's face when he laughs. Can't wait for this one.


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"Wreck-It Ralph" is an animated Disney film (not to be confused with Pixar who already have "Brave" coming out later this year) that follows a Donkey Kong-esque bad guy, Wreck-It Ralph as he leaves his video game to go find work elsewhere. As a gamer, this film looks like it'll be a lot of fun and I liked seeing some cameos by other famous video game bad guys in that counselling session.


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And the last trailer for today comes from, "The Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki" directed by "Summer Wars" helmer, Mamoru Hosoda. I love the art direction in Hosoda's films and I really hope this film gets screened at the Japanese International Film Festival later in the year.

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What a loaded week... Okay we're at the end. You've either skipped everything or read everything. Now for the usual. This post title is brought to you by Blonde Redhead and is off their album, "Misery is a Butterfly". Enjoy. 


End post.

NTS: Need to find time this week to start changing up the look of my blog. Which basically means changing the banner really... But still, I've had this layout for a while now.

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