I realized I look at so many different things here, movies, music, books, comics, etc., I should include something else. Sure, I could also narrow my focus, but I’m not good at that, I want the big picture, all of it. So, today I want to look at video games. Why? Well, just like all the others, they are an essential part of our cultural canon, especially (but not exclusively) for younger people. More than all the others, they engage you actively in an activity, thereby shaping your ideas and values in a different way than other mediums. I’m not saying they have a bigger impact, but it is a more unique impact than just consumer media. Anyway, I think video games have a different way of portraying and transporting cultural ideas. So, I thought I face them now. Here’s my plan: I look at the list of upcoming games (from Wikipedia, all the quotes are from there), pick some games and see what’s there to see.
The Bourne Legacy is a very interesting sequel. I watched it in school with my 7th graders because one of them suggested it. Most of them hadn’t known the earlier movies and were very confused by the plot. I would argue that this comes from a rather intelligently written screenplay by director Tony Gilroy and his brother Dan Gilroy. I know the movie was rather panned by critics but I enjoyed it a lot. The plot is demanding, the acting is excellent because of its amazing cast (especially Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Dennis Boutsikaris) and the action is well-made and mostly has a story-telling purpose. There is a moment where Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) climbs up a house parkour-style and shoots someone, which is expressive physically (although there probably was some trickery involved) but is also filmed amazingly as the camera (by the great Robert Elswit) follows him from the outside of the house through the window to the inside in one amazing take. The action scenes in Bangkok are less convincing, though, and expect us to suspend a lot of disbelief.
Tying in to yesterday’s post about Four Lions, I thought this is a good time to write about something that I also care about a lot but haven’t mentioned yet, which is comics. In fact, since I started again trying to watch every movie ever produced, my comic reading has been strongly reduced. Anyway, I recently read another volume of DMZ, the post-9/11 analogy by Brian Wood and I liked it a lot and thought it was worth writing about.
Four Lions is a movie that you wouldn’t think exists. It’s brilliant in many ways but it is an unlikely success. The story of five suicide bombers as a comedy could have gone in many wrong directions but Christopher Morris directs this movie so skilfully and determinedly that there never is a wrong beat. The acting is wonderful, the documentary style works and above all the movie is extremely funny. I was laughing out loud several times and that doesn’t happen very often. What a little amazing clever and utterly uncompromising movie this is.