Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

The title of this film is a lie. I swear that the brunette gets more guys looking at her than Marilyn Monroe (not that Jane Russell isn’t a looker herself). This film is actually pretty funny, as a comedy should be.

It has the two leading ladies continually getting themselves caught up in hijinks, from accusations of stealing a tiara to being investigated for a love affair. It’s nice seeing the two women play off each other, and being a little man crazy.

I liked that, it’s not something that I feel like I see often enough in films (maybe I’m not watching the right ones?). Regardless, this film has scenes with men parading around shirtless. Let it never be said that the 1950s didn’t have fanservice for the ladies.

I liked how the women played off each other, they were loyal and always back each other up, no matter the trouble they wound up in. The music was nice and playful, and the romance was well done.

Marylin’s character however has the oddest addiction to diamonds. Yet it did lead to a great musical number, one that’s become iconic and kept alive through people like Madonna. It’s a scene that has been replicated throughout the decades, it’s a nice scene, but not the best musical number of it’s time. Yet it is still good. It’s a great example of how they achieved spectacle in a time before CGI, with it’s great sets and dancing.

This is a pleasant film, that’s smarter than you’d think. Give it a shot on a lazy afternoon if you’re game.

Tokyo Godfathers Review:

 

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the most interesting Christmas film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s about three homeless individuals: a drunk, a gay cross-dresser and a runaway girl. Each have very unique reasons for having ended up in such a horrible situation, literally living in a cardboard box.

It’s a film about family. How these three are one, and how they meet those from lives they’d lost.

The film starts with them finding an infant in the trash. It sounds horrible, and the movie suitably focuses on the horror of such an event. This leads them on a strange adventure as they search for the child’s mother; from them saving a Mafia boss stuck under his vehicle to a car chase at the end. There is a strong element of action in a film that seems to mainly focus on human connection. It’s an odd contrast, but this film is at least spiritually, a screwball comedy.

The strange turn of events shouldn’t make sense, but they do. There is a constant message of ‘Christmas miracles’, which is an interesting take from the Japanese perspective.

This is a bit of a thinking man’s film, but with all it’s comedy and action, it’s really for everyone. It tackles hard topics with a grin, with comedy always waiting in the wings to remind you of the levity in life. This is a happy story. But it does show that people can ruin their lives. That even a baby can be thrown away. That the world can be sick. But in that, you’re rarely alone.

That you have family to combat the winter.

Satoshi Kon made a great film, he’s known to do that. I hope that you look into him and his other works, because it’s criminal that he isn’t better known. It sucks that he passed before his time. This is a great film, it’s animation is wonderful. I loved the art. The script is both well written and funny. The translation, from what little I can tell, did a great job.

Check out this film, and merry Christmas.

Desk Set Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film honestly surprised me. It was meant to be a romantic comedy, instead I got a film that was a light hearted, and warm, office drama. I actually really enjoyed the surprise.

This story is about Bunny Watson (played by Katherine Hepburn) and Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) falling in love, despite her being in a rather one-sided relationship for seven years. Mike loves her, or so he says, but he is married to the business. She helps him with his work, enough to get him promoted and he expects her to drop everything. Just because he has now decided he wants to marry her.

He had no respect for her, and it’s a point emphasised by the film. Hell, Bunny is described as an old jacket by her friend Peg, to be used at his convenience.

Which I think shows a contrast to Sumner. He always treats her nicely, and though for the majority of the film you think he’s going to get her fired because of a ‘mechanical brain’ (a giant computer basically), there is no bitterness there. They become close, and there is genuine chemistry between them. However the romance took a back seat to what really set this film apart. The characters.

They’re all incredibly sweet. They have great banter. There isn’t really a dull moment in my mind. They think they’ll be fire because of a machine, a problem that plagues modern society today. I thought it was handled rather well, despite the machine being larger than half the room. The themes of displacement and distress. That’s realistic.

The relationships between the women felt real, as if they were family. They truly had each others back. They cared for each other. That’s what made the film for me, the human connection.

I know that sounds cheesy, but I appreciated it for that. It is a slow film, so it won’t be for everyone. But I liked that this was a film that explored themes that I didn’t expect of it. Even if it did have a happy ending, showing that the machine didn’t erase their jobs, and that even machines can ‘make mistakes’. I enjoyed that.

Though it did mention some people did get fired due to a similar machine in the payroll department. It just shows that despite it’s loving message of the unfailing human spirit, sometimes society will have upheaval due to new technology. Is that a good thing? Well, that’s beyond the scope of this film and this review.

I’d say watch the film, because it certainly has my vote.

Gaming’s Reputation (is it going down the drain?)

Microtransactions are becoming an issue in this industry, and not because they’re creating a profit. For companies they’re great. They’re a passive revenue stream that is the ‘gift that keeps on giving’. For the companies, that is.

For the customer, they’ve become a leech. How many times can you purchase a game? It’s impossible to tell how bad this is going to get. Just this year NBA 2K18 made you pay for a different hairstyle. I mean, buying the game isn’t enough.

Battlefront 2 had issues with microtransactions that have become well publicised, so did Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Assassin Creed: Origins and even Overwatch is starting to get backlash. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Ubisoft is making more money from ‘player recurring investment’ than their ‘digital distribution’. They’re making more money from their ‘live service’ model and the revenue has only grown year on year.

Sony is looking into it, with their CEO John Kodera stating ‘appropriate exploration and decisions taken in the future’ in reference to microtransactions. I think PS Plus is bad enough, but this is getting excessive.

There is only so much blood you can get from a stone.

Games have an ‘entrance fee’ of a certain amount. In America it’s generally $60. Then consoles expect you to pay for online multiplayer. In most games you don’t have the option of couch co-op. Then you now have to pay for things that used to be unlockable content, or in the worst case scenario, gameplay features.

This won’t last forever.

People aren’t made of money and soon they’ll stop playing; or, and this is worrying, it’ll turn into the mobile gaming market. Yes, there will still be good games, with indie games being particularly healthy in this regard, with just an ‘entry fee’. Or as it used to be known, a purchase.

People may continue to pay enough microtransactions to justify this move, but I don’t think it’ll last. Gaming will get the same reputation that mobile gaming has. All it takes is for enough teenagers to ‘accidentally’ spend their parents money for a real issue to occur. Or a spouse to spend too much money for their significant other to really blow a gasket.

It’s a ticking time bomb. In a few years from now, if all games require additional purchases, how long will it be before people decide gaming, or to be more clear AAA gaming, is just too damn expensive? When a parent looks at a kid and says, I already bought the console and the game, what else?

It won’t be what a parent remembers from their youth. It could stop lapsed gamers from ‘coming back’. It also doesn’t help that the practice of microtransactions are being compared to gambling. It’s an unflattering look.

It’d be different if games updated consistently with new free content to offset this ‘cost’. Titanfall 2 did it a little bit, Overwatch did, so did Arms, Witcher 3 and Splatoon 2. Three of these games you only had to spend money on once (the last three). When Witcher 3 had additional content for sale, it was worth it. The expansions were so big, they were ‘games’ on their own (in terms of length). Even Horizon Zero Dawn had an expansions in a similar vein.

But generally speaking, this isn’t happening.

Gamers are a stone that’s been bled dry. I’m convinced that if it keeps going this way, in a few years, they’d have killed the golden goose. And gaming? It’ll have a reputation that it just won’t be able to shake.

All About Eve Review:

[This Review Contains Spoilers]

This film reminds of Sunset Boulevard, both films came out in the same year, touching on very similar themes. Mainly, abusive relationships and manipulative women. They have different takes on the same subject.

Sunset Boulevard, the main character is killed rather dramatically by a woman. She tried to keep that man the way a spider clings to a fly. Yet in some ways didn’t even mean to do it (you could argue), due to her mental instability.

All About Eve is far more purposeful and you’re not even sure where it’s going to begin with. Eve seems to be the perfect loyal fan to Margo (a great Broadway star). She takes care of everything, studying her, almost as if to become her. It feels creepy, but innocent to begin with.

Margo catches on long before her friends do, and they then declare her paranoid. She even briefly loses her boyfriend, Bill, over the incident.

She becomes angry, suspicious and a woman scorned.

Bette Davis adds such a vulnerability to Margo through her performance, it’s beyond commendable. The emotions that play on her face, the nuances, the way she can move from one feeling to the next. It’s fantastic and one of the most important reasons to watch this film.

Another is to see Marilyn Monroe early in her career. It’s interesting because she isn’t the draw of this film but you see the early glimmers of what makes her one later in her life. She had a winning smile and it’s nice watching her knowing what she later becomes.

Anne Baxter was great as Eve. The character played nice, the victim, the ‘lost lamb’ until her mask slips. She’s a bitch that’ll do anything to be a star, and that’s what she becomes. Ironically not understanding when the same process of physiological exploitation begins on her at the end of the film.

The best part about this film is the writing, it’s just so damn good. When the characters are spending time with each other, they act just like old friends do. The dialogue is perfect in scenes like that. I loved almost every written line, because they were clever, even witty.

In the end of the film Eve wins a trophy, all Margo says to her is: “Nice speech, Eve. But I wouldn’t worry too much about your heart. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be.”

It’s great. I loved it. A very satisfying line and film.

The ultimate problem I had with it is how some of the women are treated. Eve is a terrible person, but she gets slapped by Addison, a man that knows all her secrets. He declares that she belongs to him. That came across as harsh, then again maybe that’s the point of the film? That there are ‘villains’ everywhere. I’m not sure. He also seemingly abandons her at the end of the film, it’s odd and doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps a bit of irony?

Regardless, I still think it’s a great picture. It’s awesome watching Eve use everyone in Margo’s life for her own benefit only for it to blow up on her. I still love this film and think it’s worth a watch. A true classic.

The Lego Batman Movie:

[This review contains spoilers]

I really hope that this movie gets a sequel. I mean it’s like Deadpool, but for all ages. It’s witty, fast paced and without one dull moment. I like this version of Batman, I mean he’s a beatboxing machine, full of himself and has character development in surprising ways. It tackles issues that most Batman media just doesn’t touch.

How did Bruce’s parents dying affect him? Why is he alone? Is he intentionally just pushing people away? Is saving Gotham really as important to him as just being loved by its people?

Some of these questions the film only indirectly touches, but already it has more depth than some of it’s live action counterparts. I loved every moment of it.

The film begins and ends with a bang. It has incredibly catchy songs. It’s a must watch for any Batman fan, especially long-time ones. It has so many references you’ll miss half of them.

It’s a great comedy, and an even better action film.

I watched Wonder Woman and was incredibly underwhelmed. I didn’t have any of those issues with this movie. When it slowed down, I cared about the characters. I liked this version of Barbara Gordon. I mean she went to ‘Harvard For Police’ and is just as much of a badass as Bruce; which I loved.

Also Robin is adorable. He can kick butt. Actually this film has a great version of Alfred, I mean they actually acknowledge that he’s Bruce’s dad, and can also beat the enemy to a pulp.

Also Joker and Batman are in true ‘hate’ for each other. It’s silly, with a weird amount of subtext that’s just a hoot.

Also Barbara/Bruce. It’s a thing that the world needs to deal with, even if all it amounts to in the film is a one sided attraction from Batman. It was funny and I want it to be a thing! Get Hetro together!

The music is fun. The animation is wonderful, the art design just as much. The colours pop off the screen. I have no complaints with the animation at all. Also the action was awesome. I’m sure I already said that. It needs to be said again.

Watch the movie. It’s great. I love it.

What Ever Happened to Couch Co-op?

[This article may contain spoilers to everything]

Remember when multiplayer meant handing a spare controller to your friend? I do. What happened? That’s what I think whenever I boot up a game like Titanfall 2. Don’t get me wrong, I like that game, a lot. But I can’t play the campaign mode with a friend. That cuts down the re-playability to me from hours of fun to 0.

If I wanted to play with a friend, we’d both need two TVs, two consoles, two wifi connections (if you’re in separate houses), two controllers, two copies of the game, ect. That’s not even including potential other costs like microphones, headphones, and so on. This doesn’t even count paying for online multiplayer. It’s ridiculous.

I’d like to play games on the TV with one console. Thank you!

Before you say that the current consoles don’t have enough power, what about Halo 4?

Halo 4 still looks like a game that came out this generation, but it was out on the Xbox 360 when that hardware had become ‘obsolete’. Yet that old piece of hardware is more capable than a PS4 and Xbox One when producing a great looking game with traditional split screen functionality?

I’m just not buying.

I’ve seen people get around this by having two TV’s and the whole set-up with two games and everything. So that they can play on the couch together. That’s far too much effort to just simulate split screen. It shouldn’t be that hard, especially ‘in the future of gaming’. It should be as easy as putting in a disc and handing your friend a controller.

Now there are some modern examples that break the trend, mainly indie titles and stuff from Nintendo (like Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, both coming out this year). It’s nice that the Switch seems to be at least trying to bring it back. But these are more and more becoming the exception, not the rule.

Is this because companies make more money selling more versions of their games this way, while Sony makes you pay for PS Plus for the privilege of playing with your friends? You know, it’s very possible.

I remember when consoles really did have an advantage over the PC and it was the fun that was couch co-op. Now I’m not saying it can’t be done on PC with mods, ect. But it isn’t the same, it not as accessible or as simple as it should be.

It’s not something that as a console player I want to be meddling in. I want it to be simple, I don’t want to work at getting the experience I had with gaming a decade ago. Especially if the mod doesn’t work and I’ve got to figure out why, it seems like too much to ask for something that used to be so easy.

So slip screen, where are you? I sincerely hope you don’t go the way of the Dodo.

Funny Face Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

If you thought Audrey Hepburn was ugly, you’re either dumb or stupid, yet somehow this film wants to convince you that she has a ‘funny face’. Not in this or any other lifetime. She looks like a model and there’s no other way of seeing at it in my mind.

This a musical film about fashion. Honestly, I’ve seem better musicals, Into the Woods springs to mind. Also the fashion part, I thought The Devil Wears Prada did it better. This isn’t to say the film isn’t worth watching, it is. It’s sweet, silly and harmless. However I found it to be rather unremarkable.

The dancing is fine, but given it was Fred Astaire, he really wasn’t at the top of his game. He was rather mediocre, which for him is still far better than the average dancer, but for him. Rather weak. Kay Thompson was enjoyable in her role as a rather sour woman. You warm up to her, but she really did start as rather unlikeable.

This film is a romance between Hepburn’s character Jo and Astaire’s Dick. It’s a silly but affectionate romance that gets into all sorts of trouble. Dick is many years her senior and kisses her randomly for no reason. I suppose that’s romantic, however Jo really did take her time to get close to him. It honestly felt out of place to me, why pursue someone that shows no interest? Especially for the first half of the film.

I didn’t buy the romance. Randomly kissing someone doesn’t lead to instant love. I didn’t feel the build up between them, it just kind of happened and it was odd.

The fashion part of the film is its strongest aspect. It feels believable to me. They photograph her, think she’d be great as a model and she joins in to meet some professor in Paris. Simple, but it works.

The parts of the film that shows off the fashion are lovely and they feel sophisticated. I enjoyed watching what was considered trendy back then. Hepburn just look wonderful in that role. It helps that the colours just popped of the screen, the movie was dripping in it.

This film isn’t for everyone and I couldn’t recommend it. It felt strangely average to me. The plotting was rushed in some places and a little slow in others. The musical numbers were just okay. Skip this one, go watch An American In Paris instead.

Baby Driver Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has a great sound track. I don’t normally talk about the music to a film because normally to me it’s just in the background adding to the ‘emotion’. This film actively makes you notice the tracks being played, from making Baby (the main character) lip-synced to the lyrics to the films action hitting (literally) all the same beats.

It’s excellently done and really sets this film apart from most.

The music is also implemented in a unique way with how it plays throughout the film. It’s either on a radio, or on Baby’s iPod. The music is used as a plot device, by Baby using it to block out the ringing he constantly has in his ears. It’s even great when he loses most of his hearing toward the end of the film, the audience experiences it too, by the soundtrack becoming more muted.

I liked that, it made for an almost interactive experience rarely given by most films.

The plot is fun, but it mainly stands as an action film with cars; and lots of driving. If you’re into The Fast and the Furious, Speed Racer or Redline (the anime), you’ll most likely find something enjoyable here. Keep in mind though, it’s also a Mafia, criminal type film. It’s about a young man getting caught in that sort of life and just wants a way out.

It’s also a romance film and it’s pretty well done. It won’t win any awards for the love story, but it’s nice.

No, this film really shines in it’s action. It seems to have an 80s aesthetic with it’s use of cassettes. Baby Driver lives on it’s great sound track. I’d recommend this film easily to anyone that likes fun.

Whatever happened to the chick flick?

[This article contains spoilers]

Baby Driver reminds me of two other ones: American Ultra (which is not as good) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which is a better movie). It’s is the attitude of these films, the quick editing and the surprising focus on a rather nice romance. Another, better known film, that did this ‘action romance’ better is Deadpool.

I’m not saying that if you liked Deadpool you’ll all of a sudden like all these other films (especially given that American Ultra being the weakest example). But it seems to be a recent trend, come for the bloody fights, stay for the touching story.

I find it strange that the best romance films nowadays aren’t even trying to be romantic films, but action ones. I think it’s a little sad that the romance genre is so sparse and unoriginal in modern times. I’ve brought it up before, but The Apartment has be one of my favourite romance films I’ve ever seen, and funnily enough, that one also has a male protagonist.

Whatever happened to the iconic romantic film? Where are they? There have been some decent ones, like About Time (another male lead…I wonder why?)

What about those really dumb and sappy films that stared Meg Ryan? The movies where it was obvious where it was going? Aiming squarely at that middle age woman demographic? I miss those films. I miss the predictable clichés that you’d see from a mile away. The fact that they love each other so damned much that it hurts to be apart. That soul crushing romance. I love that stuff, yet I can’t think of any true great examples of a pure romance film experience in the last few decades.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Deadpool, I think it’s a wonderful romance and a great action film, but I want more. I want to watch a woman crying like Bridget Jones’s Diary, or see a sweet quirky family dramedy like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But those were over a decade ago.

Some notable mentions should be Silver Linings Playbook. A decent film, but I wouldn’t call it remarkable. It’s more about mental health than romance, and even then, I think it plays down those more serious aspects for comedy (like the father basically gambling everything away. ‘It’s okay because they won the bet’, seems to be the films logic behind it. Real life doesn’t work that way).

Love & Other Drugs is a good film, but it’s narrative is fractured. It moves from a love story to living with a partner with Parkinson’s disease rather fast, but it does ‘go there’ which I appreciate. The Proposal is also pretty funny and silly, but not for everyone. I enjoyed it, but it’s hardly a classic.

I haven’t seen The Fault in our Stars or The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I understand that they’re meant to be good ‘young adult’ romance flicks.

The only great film aiming for this audience that I saw was Your Name, a wonderful film. Yes it’s animated, an action film filled with a time travel adventure. However it’s a love story at it’s core, which is nice.

I guess I wrote this to say, I’m still waiting for a film that’ll knock my socks off. That’ll come out and be sappy, silly and funny. That will be a return of a real romantic film, for an adult. I love Deadpool, but it’s just not that same.

Romance films of the 21st Century, where are you? It’s been too long and you’re sorely missed.