After really looking at my new banner/layout, I kinda actually don’t like it now. So I’m gonna change it again and actually try to do something hand drawn like all my other banners. Also, I’m frustrated with the new template layouts Blogger has set up – it’s not to my liking at all.
I was able to check out Game Masters at ACMI this week and the exhibit is fantastic. My favourite bit of the exhibit is probably the very beginning of the gallery space where they’ve set up a bunch of old arcade games and have really made it feel like an arcade. It’s great to hear all those bleeps and bloops in that narrow walkway. I wrote a piece on the Game Masters exhibit for Meld actually, so you can read more about it over there.
Oh and while we’re speaking of Meld, I also wrote up on article about how social media has found its way through mainstream entertainment. This one just so happens to be my first article on the website. Cheap plugs FTW.
JB Hi-Fi had a pretty massive sale again over the week and I managed to snag these two games for only $32! I doubt either of these games will ever come this cheap ever again. Most AAA games in Australia are never priced under $20 (at least not to my knowledge) so this was a steal as far as I’m concerned. And I know I said I wouldn’t actually buy any more games until I finished Chrono Cross but I figured I ought to take advantage of the situation cause these two games might not get another sale like this for a long while.
I also started watching HBO's newest television drama, The Newsroom and the pilot of the show is absolutely stellar. Aside from a few gripes about some of the characters in the show, I reckon the show has a lot of interesting things going for it and the writing and direction for the pilot was really solid. I look forward to the rest of series.
I forgot to make mention of this last week but I ordered some In the Mood for Love photo cards, each the size of an A4 piece of paper but I have no idea what the hell I'm meant to do with them. I mean there's space on the walls to put them and everything but... I dunno. I'll figure something out.
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
Welcome to the NHK isn’t your average anime to begin with. It stars a hikikomori (a term used to describe someone who shuts themselves in their room/apartment essentially cutting themselves from any real interpersonal social contact) who meets a girl that promises him that he can be cured of his hikikomori status. Sato (our hikikimori character) believes that a conspiracy has been made against him to shut him away from society and that a group called the NHK is behind it. So yeah a lot of quite bizarre stuff going on already.
I did like the anime from the first ten episodes that I saw last week but the show never really made an indelible impression on me. I will say though that the fact the show even goes to the lengths that it goes to is quite admirable and explores an underbelly of Japanese society that few shows are afraid to discuss – yes they even go into the weird world of anime sex video games. Along with Eden of the East, both shows highlighted that there are obvious problems with Japan which lie in the vast number of student drop outs who either regress into a hikikimori status or simply live on handouts and allowances but don’t actually make the effort to get a job. But Welcome to the NHK doesn’t use the hikikimori problem to move the story but just uses an example of one hikikmori and builds a story around him. The results are mostly hit and miss, I feel, and it all builds up into a far too familiar romantic set-up that has been played out in many anime and dramas in the past. As a whole, the show is essentially a coming-of-age story albeit with a skewed take on the formula. Needless to say, the show didn’t end up the way I thought it would so I was left unimpressed and dissatisfied with the final product. It’s not to say the show was bad, just that it wasn’t for me.
Pixar’s latest film, Brave, tells the tale of Merida, a Scottish princess who has no interest in becoming a typical princess and simply wants to revel in fun and adventure. Essentially a tomboy-like character, Merida reminds us of our rebellious teenage years (although specific mention Merida’s age is never made) but on a larger scale, Merida stands for feminism and doesn’t want to accept her natural gender roles. Like all Pixar films, there’s a lot of heart and emotion rooted in some pretty deep themes which is no different with Brave. Despite this, however, Brave trades in story and depth for gags and punch lines. Too much time is spent in the set of the gags and the jokes themselves and then you kinda forget that there’s a story somewhere in all of this. The film begins powerfully but that light diminishes over the course of the film. No real threat is posed against Merida other than her mother who wants nothing more than for her daughter to accept her role as a princess and even the later threat of the film isn’t given enough time. There’s some fantastic voice talent and the animation that we’ve come to expect from Pixar is of the highest calibre – unfortunately the direction and story are weak and uninspired. It’s one of Pixar’s more mediocre films (Cars might be even better than this) but despite all of its shortcomings there’s a lot to like about Brave which is mostly attributed to the likability of the characters and the very simple, albeit derivative, story about how our fates aren’t set in stone and that we’re in control of our own destiny. It’s preachy by Pixar standards but it’s appropriate Disney material. And then there's Merida's hair. Good lord, her hair is amazing.
TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
In film news this week, trailers! I’ve gotten lazy with writing up actual film news and mostly show off trailers now, ey? When something newsworthy does come about I’ll be sure to put it up on the blog and let everyone have a flounder around. Ba-boom! This week, we have brand new trailers for Looper, the time-travel actioner starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis and The Man with the Iron Fists, a film written, directed and starring Wu Tang Clan’s RZA that pays homage to the kung fu flicks of yesteryear.
And that's all for this week. This blog post title is thanks to Can and can be found on the soundtrack to Anh Hung Tran's Norwegian Wood, the film adptation of the Haruki Murakami novel of the same name. I really want to get the film on Blu-ray and watch it again - I feel like it could get better with a second viewing.