IMDB Top 250 Project and Reviews 1-7.

IMDB

The Internet Movie Database, for those who live in a cave.

So, I’ve recently been looking for a project of some kind. The Greatest Director thing didn’t really pan out. Turns out it can be hard to follow one director in rapid succession, as it really dulls the pallet. Regardless, I’ll do the same, just not ‘as a series’, just out of loop. So I’d been looking for something since. Recently Tyson Carter of Headinavice.com who I’m sure many of you are already acquainted with, decided to end his IMDB Top 250 project. It’s a large, clunky, and hard to tackle project, but I’d like to give it a go. I tracked down the elusive Tyson, and he was nice enough to write a few words of perspective for this introduction, of which I’m very grateful. Here’s what the bastard had to say:

When Sam got in touch and did the polite thing of asking me if I would mind him taking over the IMDB Top 250 Project, I initially just assumed he wanted all the fame, fortune and girls that came with doing it. He assures me it’s not that, and he didn’t even want to steal the reviews I had already stolen, and simply wanted to start from scratch. Maybe he felt our work wasn’t good enough…
 
Anyway, the challenge outgrew my site, and I had to stop it. As tough as that decision was, I had to get my site back to what I wanted it to be. Since Sam has no objective or goals for his blog and is just coasting through, this project will be perfect for him and will get his lazy ass writing. So this is me, passing the proverbial torch. Please join me in wishing him all the best in reviewing 250 films, on his own. This will be a long old project and I hope he does better than me 🙂

 

As jovial as always. Yes it’s true, I’ve decided to take on this big mammoth of a project. I plan to review all 250 of the Internet Movie Database’s top rankings of user voted films. Why you ask? that’s simple. I don’t really like the IMDB ranking system. People always use it as a means to justify a film choice, or to assert it’s good. I mean sure, if something’s good by committee then most of the time there’s a defensible argument behind it. What I seek to prove by this basically is that a lot of the films here probably don’t deserve their place over different films. And obviously that’s up for debate, everything is. That’s the whole enjoyment of it, really. I may even be proven wrong (To be fair I have seen a large chunk of them in my own experience, but not recently and not the majority of them).

So, obviously this is a big project. But i’m fairly determined, and i’m relatively certain I’ll enjoy it too regardless of the commitment needed. As for how I’m handling it, I’ll generally do one as every other post, along with contemporary releases and older films as I always do. As for the rating, I always found Tyson’s system appropriate for this kind of thing, where as I don’t typically use one. So I’ve decided to judge these as follows, I’ll be using a fairly basic rating system with 3 essential judgments along with a conclusion of how I decided that. In addition I may comment on it’s ranking in the decimal system and whether I find it appropriate.

Deserving – Obviously self-explanatory, deserves its spot among the Top 250, or perhaps even higher along the ranking.

Debatable – A sound entry, but one that’s not necessarily spectacular and could be replaced by several better films, or films similar to it.

Undeserving – In no way does this film deserve to be crowned as one of the elite, nor is it notably unique.

As well as announcing the project, this’ll stand as a starting point essentially. Since the start of my blog, I’ve reviewed the following films among the Top 250:

#51: Django Unchained. (2012)

#100: Raging Bull (1980)

#143: The Sixth Sense (1999)

#141: Casino (1995)

#158: Annie Hall (1977)

#191: The Graduate (1966)

#203: Life of Pi (2012)

However, obviously they’re all missing some relevant discussion about their place in the rankings, why they are there, and the fundamental verdict in the system I just explained. So, In addition to announcing my intent, I’ll add an addendum here to each of my reviews that can be found above. Let’s start with Django.

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Django Unchained (2012) is a fairly notable film. It’s fantastically crafted by Tarantino into a sensationalist tale of exploitation, whilst being a very exhilarating, culturally relevant experience. The screenplay and script are excellent, and they are only elevated by the fantastic cast and performances within Django, particularly that of Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cristoph Waltz.  The score is also pretty fantastic, a mass of homage to the original Django (1966) along with elements of modern music. Particularly that of black music culture, such as recording artists James Brown, and 2Pac Shakur which fleshes out the exploitation motif. Django Unchained is an original, action-packed, cultural and nostalgic experience all in one and truly deserves it’s spot. I’d say 51 is a fair number.

Judgment – Deserving.

Raging Bull (1980) is a brutal, and immersive look into the past of real-life boxer Jake LaMotta from RagingBull (1)the ever-talented Martin Scorsese. For me it really defined the biographical picture, and is one of the only films to really capture the true grit and tragedy involved in Boxing. Featuring unforgettable performances from Robert Deniro, and the debuting Joe Pesci, the film boasts some timeless star power even now. The direction is raw, intense, and truly powerful as we follow Jake to his unobtainable highs as middleweight champ, to debilitating lows as a lonely, bloated bum. For me there’s no real question if Raging Bull is deserving of it’s place among the Top 250. It’s number 100, is probably a bit low. For me, Raging Bull will always be among my top 10 and I’m honestly quite surprised to not see it further up.

Judgment – Deserving

Sixth Sense (1999) is a twist-based supernatural thriller from generally mixed director M.Night Shyamalan. The film toys with ideas of voyeurism as a little boy is haunted by visions of ghosts. A shamed and now distant psychologist tries to cure and guide the boy through his journey of discovery. The problem is, the film is entirely dull once you know about it’s twist and has little replay value in my opinion. In addition it’s twist is generally known, and is a running joke in popular culture. For me I felt the pacing was quite bland, and I didn’t really connect with the films storyline, and the major twist (as many Shyamalan films have) was spoiled for me years ago. I don’t feel Sixth Sense is a notable film, or that great in any sense though not by a lack of trying from Bruce Willis.

Judgment – Undeserved. 

vlcsnap-2013-06-22-15h58m31s239Casino (1995) is a gritty gambling epic also from the mind of Martin Scorsese. Similarly it also stars Joe Pesci and Robert Deniro. Like Raging Bull it has elements of the biographical, but focuses more highly on the drama of gang corruption and elements of a seedy nature within the world of casinos and high life in Vegas. Casino doesn’t pack the brutal punch of Raging Bull, but instead it has a highly stylized and textured feel to it’s very suiting aesthetics and surroundings. It’s a masterclass of building the epic, with it’s use of long winding, yet still intriguing plot-lines and ensemble cast with crucial supporting characters. Casino and it’s gripping tale of dice, drugs, and power easily earns it’s spot among IMDb’s Top 250.

Judgment – Deserved  

Annie Hall (1977) is a satirical romantic comedy from witty auteur Woody Allen. The film feels like a last hurrah in some ways, given his filmography and the very artistic direction he took following the success of Annie Hall. The film follows a comedian who recalls one of the greatest loves of his life, and how he fears he may never be able to forget her. Woody Allen stars as his comedic persona once again, alongside long time collaborator Diane Keaton. The story is told in a very vivid, and complex way as to make it feel a lot more fluid and snappy as opposed to melodramatic. I’m not so certain about Annie Hall’s conclusion in the Top 250. I can see it’s appeal, and how it it’s kind of the pinnacle of the rom-com.  However I feel mostly opposed to it, just because some of Allen’s other work has so much more soul. I suppose that’s just personal bias.

Judgment – Debatable

The Graduate (1966) is a coming of age (kind of?) drama from Mike Nichols. It features Ben, a fairly lost graduate who comes home from college and questions the path he should take next. He is seduced by Mrs.Robinson, whilst also taking a liking to her daughter Elaine. It questions why we live, and why we make the decisions we do. The story sounds relatively unspectacular, but the finished product is incredibly entertaining. It’s a much more unforgiving and remorseful look at life than most Hollywood pictures. It’s also the mainstream debut of Dustin Hoffman. A particular element I found notable in the Graduate, was it’s use of sound. Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ haunts the films meaning, and lingers around the film’s bittersweet tones. The Graduate is perhaps not the most original film, but it’s certainly finely honed.

Judgment – Deserved

Life of Pi (2012) is a fantasy drama from visual master Ang Lee. In my eyes it’s one of the most aesthetically beautiful films there probably ever will be, and certainly has been so far. It’s story details a man known as Pi Patel, who tells a story of his untraditional childhood to a writer who’s lacking in inspiration. Pi’s father owned a zoo, and he sought to move from India, and to do so he would have to cross the sea with his animals. The story unfolds as a freak tidal storm would strand Pi, making his future uncertain. It’s a stunning visual spectacle, supported by a story, about storytelling. The visuals mesh together so well with the inner workings of the story, and ultimately calls back upon the imagination and storytelling that led to cinema’s birth in the first place.

Judgment – Deserved

So that’s my first 7 I guess. It feels marginally Lazy, but my analysis of the film’s would be the same, and this addendum gives some context, and gets the ball rolling at least. The next will be regular sized reviews. I think I’ll probably start with Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. But i’m not certain. Anyway. I’d like to thank Tyson for writing a few words again, and hope many of you’ll join me as I trudge through this ambitious project. Thanks for stopping by, and follow my exploits at Sams_Reel_Views. 

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A Study of Writing Form, and How to Improve as a Blogger.

bloggingSo it recently occurred to me I passed the milestone for my fiftieth  post on WordPress the other day. I suppose that’s a moderately big thing for someone who’s only been writing for a few months. I looked back and read a few of my earlier posts, it didn’t quite dawn to me how much my writing’s improved. In my eyes at least anyway, it seems so much more streamlined and fluid, instead of just merely dancing around the topic. Although I suppose I could be being overly critical, but it’s these kind of things that you have to think about and suggest to really improve at anything. So using my fifty first posts as an example, I’ll explore my own writing style, what was wrong with it and how it’s changed and generally reflect.

Form and Structure

daily-writingNon-fictional writing should always have a clear identifiable structure. It should be consistent from paragraph to paragraph, within a shell. For example if you write something colloquially or more casually it should remain in that function. For example, whilst analyzing Film my scope changes in regard to the current study. For example my review of Rza’s The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) was a very casual review simply because the film didn’t have much to offer in regards to analytical material. In contrast my review of Ang Lee’s visual epic Life of Pi (2012) was incredibly emotive and almost poetic in it’s use of language and description simply to suit the subject matter.In addition paragraphs should generally have a point. If it’s a subsection of writing, why is it as such? This may seem like common sense but at first I often found myself breaking up paragraphs simply because they were neat which is a very bad habit to get into. Also my writing at first seemed very unfocused. For example, a paragraph from my second post, a review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007):

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‘It’s not exactly the kind of film i’d like to talk about scene by scene, as it’s character driven, and I wouldn’t want to suck the narrative dry (Excuse my pun) trying to grasp at meaning and symbolism when I don’t feel it’s really the aim at all of There Will Be Blood. However I would like to talk about the burning of the well in little Boston  The well does set on fire, in a geyser of oil before setting alight, and it could be taken as ideological penance for Daniel, as while it doesn’t spoil his fortune, the well causes his adopted son to lose his sense of hearing which drives a wedge between them, and as we grow to see his son is really the only thing Daniel has besides his wealth and riches. The shot of the burning mining fixture really interests me, as kind of reminds me of the burning effigy from The Wicker Man in a way. To me it’s kind of a symbol of sacrifice, and that there will always be a price to pay for riches and greed.’ 

Let’s approach this one step at a time. ‘It’s not exactly the kind of film I’d like to about scene by scene’. Here my writing is very vague and unfocused, particular via the use of words like ‘kind of film’ as opposed to the film’s title. In the sentence ‘I don’t feel it’s really the aim of at all of There Will be Blood’ I contradict myself, saying that, as I then proceed to talk about the subject I say isn’t the aim. The end of the paragraph isn’t so bad with some essentially sound analysis except for use of the same words such as ‘Kind’. Overall this is very waffley, and doesn’t really do the subject justice. In addition my sentence structuring is fairly poor using multiple commas instead of compounding my points into short and snappy sentences. Let’s reword this into a much tighter paragraph with more panache. 

There Will Be Blood is a life movie at it’s core, exploring the lives and progression of it’s key characters instead of adhering to a traditional and bland story structure. It’s ideology is not overwhelmingly obvious, especially when considered with the fact it’s adapted from a novel. Meaning it’s often open to many interpretations like it’s literary roots. A scene in particular that’s very potent in it’s imagery and symbolism is that of the burning well. The well and the geyser of oil erupting from it light up the sky in flames, burning like an effigy. It evokes ideas of sacrifice and penance stemming from it’s strong themes of religion, in my mind it likened to the burning Wicker Man from the film of the same title. Not Daniel’s riches are endangered , but his son. His son’s sense of hearing is lost and as a result their relationship is put under considerable strain, as Daniel begins to think less of him, considering him damaged in his own eyes. Clearly Daniel has paid a hefty price for his riches. 

The kind of image I was trying to convey.

The kind of image I was trying to convey.

Here we have a much more durable and repeatable structure. The point of the paragraph is made clear, and it conveys the point neatly. On that note, I divulge onto my next topic. 

Style and Panache

A little 'I don't know what'.

A little ‘I don’t know what’.

Your writing should in some way reflect yourself. It should have it’s own style and distinguishable characteristics. As the French would say, a certain je ne sais quoi. I for example try and embellish my writing in a way as to capture the visual imagery that I write about. Cinema is a visual medium, thus I try to accurately convey how the imagery affects me and the film. I could also say that it doesn’t hurt to break down the purpose of your writing. If it’s political it should be in-depth and very visceral. If it’s about food it should try and capture the vivid tastes and aromas. It’s always the most simple things that evade us, most of the time. Form and structure are the very basis of any piece of writing, the style should be the second layer particularly suited to the purpose. However the third part in my opinion is more based on the writer, a writer must always have…

Patience and Persistence

Sometimes your writing doesn’t quite sound like you pictured it would. It’s missing something. You’re not sure what. I think the worst thing to do in this situation is just continue onward. I used to do that, and it’s also a very bad writing habit. Sometimes you just need to do something else. Check twitter, watch TV, have some coffee. Let the thoughts naturally mull and relax in your mind. It won’t help to just sit there pacing at your keys. Writing should come naturally to you, we can all force it but I tend to write unfocused drivel when that happens. In addition to my point on patience, just in general it’s a needed thing. It’s natural to feel disheartened if your post didn’t get any feedback, or if you’ve had a very quite day on your view count. Patience along with some must needed persistence is all you need.  

Overall I’m definitely happy I started blogging, but I’m more happy I’ve really learned the inner crux of it. However I’ve definitely been taught. Reading the words of other writers on your specific topic is a must. It sounds incredibly cliche, but you will both teach and learn and the learning part is more crucial than anything. I’d like to thank my fellow film writers for taking an interest and commenting/liking/following me in my first few months at WordPress. That’s all for now, and I’ve enjoyed writing about something non-film based. I hope you enjoyed it too. 

– Sam. 

Push Start or Insert Credits: Retro Gaming, Nostalgia, and Disney’s Wreck it Ralph.

wreck-it-ralph-poster-m-bison-robotnik

A secondary promotional poster for Wreck It Ralph (2012), depicting M.Bison (Street Fighter), Dr.Eggman (Sonic the Hedgehog), and Q*Bert

Gaming to most is primarily a recreational pass-time with no real significance, this is usually the case with the ‘casual gamer’. However in the past few years/decades Games and Gaming Culture have evolved to not only a sub-culture, but a mainstay of popular culture itself. Part of the reason why is rooted in what’s happening to technology. In this postmodern era technology is basically merging into one, presenting the same access points and platforms with marginally different software. Consoles, computers, phones, Ipads, handhelds are all incorporating the same ideas, apps, features, and widgets as all kind of media is kind of being raised to the same degree in terms of cultural regard to suit this media conglomeration.

However as the evolution of console continues, I find myself yearning for the past in gaming. I’m not saying X is better than Y, or any kind of Box is better than a Cube, Station, Cast, or otherwise.I feel as games become more about the aesthetics and the streamlined technology, that there’s not as much thought put into the design. After all a game’s mechanics and how it plays, should always be the forefront, the central idea not just a generic shell with a different themed aesthetic like some games series have degenerated into.

Gameplay of one of the Home Ports of Arcade Machine classic 'Q*Bert'

Gameplay of one of the Home Ports of Arcade Machine classic ‘Q*Bert’

Obviously this is a huge generalization and is not aimed at any game, series, company or console in particular, and I’m certainly not saying I hate modern gaming as I both own and play them. I can’t remember the last time a modern game really immersed me to the point I couldn’t stop playing it, where I couldn’t fight the urge but play hour after hour until the early hours of the morning as my eyes turned hazy and bloodshot. I fondly remember being a child, eagerly clutching my Gameboy Colour on a Saturday morning, contently leveling up my Geodude in the addictive confines of a plastic yellow cartridge. Pokemon as I understand mean’t a lot to my generation and it’s notion of childhood. Along with the TV Show, the collectible cards, and the general merchandise. There’s a lot of running jokes on the internet about Pokemon now. Mostly referencing the original 150, and how the others’ll never be the same. To me that’s not so much a joke or a quip, but a general statement, an observation of how the things we once knew and loved do change.

Pokemon Blue, and the infamous ‘MissingNo’ a glitch pokemon that would occur graphical glitches and errors, much like Vanellope Von Schweetz.

Pokemon Blue, and the infamous ‘MissingNo’ a glitch pokemon that would create graphical glitches and errors, much like Vanellope Von Schweetz.

There is something addictive about the RPG made by GameFreak that just completely encapsulates childhood innocence. You begin to nourish and care for your Pokemon, as you’d battle trainers, earn badges, and achieve the ultimate dream of cash, money, hoes. I mean uh. Beat the Pokemon League. Yeah. Nintendo specifically was just a huge part of my childhood. Occasionally now i’ll still go on a SNES (Super Nintendo) spree and bust out Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, Super Mario RPG or Allstars, or anyone of the Super Nintendo’s priceless classics. At no point do I think i’m the majority though, I imagine the majority of people are happy with the way gaming technology is advancing. With it becoming more and more attached completely to the online world, with the Xbox One and possibly the PS4 seeming like they both need constant internet integration to properly function. I’m not surprised however, it only makes sense.

SpaceInvaders-Gameplay

Space Invaders circa 1978.

I’m only the ripe old age of 19, so for me nostalgia is mostly the Playstation 1, the Nintendo 64, my gameboy in my actual timespan. Not counting older consoles I’ve still had experience with obviously. I’ve spoken to my dad a lot about gaming in his generation, particularly when I was a young boy I’d ask him. He always remarked how rare it was to see home consoles on their release, the Atari and such. He’d also recall his love of Space Invaders in his teenage years, as multiple people would clamor for the game we now deem archaic and mostly obsolete. There’d be queues in the local cafe, people eager to spend their petty change in order to blast some aliens. Since, the pixelated alien enemy has become somewhat of a pop culture icon, often appearing on T-shirts, in artwork, and the occasional internet meme.The principle of arcade machines are mostly lost now, bar from a few examples, they’re mainly not in production outside of Japan these days.

Ralph appearing in his Video-Game 'Fix It Felix.'

Ralph appearing in his Video-Game ‘Fix It Felix.’

Disney’s Wreck it Ralph (2012) is a wonderful animated little world taking place inside the confines of an arcade. But why the Arcade? Arcades are mostly a thing of Gaming’s past and don’t really bare any relevance to now. Although it’s true, the concept of arcades to some sections of the world are quite the nostalgic thing. In addition Disney and Pixar films often like to hinge around the idea of a community. That community could be anything, a group of toys played by the same child, animals in an environment, citizens under the same feudal aristocracy. As the plot develops something will threaten to corrupt, destroy, or alter that community and this is why the arcade is the setting in Wreck it Ralph. It’s a narrative conceit to convey the endangerment of the video games. In addition it’s also needed to portray Wreck it Ralph’s notion of death, via the macabre ‘Out of Order’ sticker placed on every machine as it’s slowly wheeled away. I don’t suppose these ideas quite work in the confines of a home console.

The first appearance of iconic plumber Mario, in 'Donkey Kong'.

The first appearance of iconic plumber Mario, in ‘Donkey Kong’.

The very concept is drenched in nostalgia for gaming’s past. Ralph is a villain in a game known as ‘Fix it Felix’ in which Ralph must destroy an apartment building before Felix can fix it. Ralph begins to resent his job, and the fact no one really appreciates his rather important role. The game for me, reminded me of the original Donkey Kong without the princess. As Ralph begins to feel more helpless he goes to a help group for villains known as ‘bad-anon’.

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From left to right, A member of the Lin Kuei possibly Smoke from Mortal Kombat. Bowzer from Super Mario (Et al). Zangief from Street Fighter, Dr.Eggman from Sonic The Hedgehog.

They all feel the same dejected way, that the hero soaks up all the glory and the villains are generally left with nothing. Although within the context of the fighting game from which Zangief originates from, that doesn’t exactly make sense as any character is playable. In addition I’ve always had a affinity for the more villainous characters in fiction. Zangief offers quite the humorous account but also some helpful advice, as he utters the words:

Then I have moment of clarity… if Zangief is good guy, who will crush man’s skull like sparrow’s eggs between thighs? And I say, Zangief you are bad guy, but this does not mean you are *bad* guy. –

Disney always did a do a wonderful job of humanizing characters. But to humbly accept that he’ll never be a hero isn’t enough for Ralph, as he ventures into ‘Hero’s Duty’, A first person Sci-Fi based shooter which seems like a kind of mesh between first person shooters titles Gears of War, and Call of Duty. He breaks the rules of the game, but escapes with the ‘medal’ maybe a smart satire on gaming achievements, or gamer points. He stumbles into an escape pod an ends up in the land of ‘Candy Crush’. He meets a sweet little girl named Vanellope von Schweetz who is a ‘glitch’ within the game, and is apparently a mistake by the developers.

Vanellope and Ralph, in the sugary land of 'Candy Crush'.

Vanellope and Ralph, in the sugary land of ‘Candy Crush’.

The famous 'Reptile' fight. Appearing as a palette swapped Scorpion with a different movelist, regardless to what the name plaque says.

The famous ‘Reptile’ fight. Appearing as a palette swapped Scorpion with a different movelist, regardless to what the name plaque says.

The idea of a character being a glitch, not intended for purpose in the game is certainly one that’s well rooted within the game industry. Frequently games are well-known to have unlockable characters, or easter egg cameos by a character not intended for use. In addition, hacking has shown us a lot about the development of games, and the frequently left files, and left over data from scrapped or removed characters or features. The fact that Wreck it Ralph uses this kind of idea as a narrative vehicle for the story, it certainly very intelligent and contextual. If a series embodies this, it’s probably Mortal Kombat and it’s sequels. It’s well known to have very particular requirements to face certain characters as easter eggs, even though the character themselves aren’t playable. Such as the original incarnations of Reptile, or Smoke. In addition the character Ermac originally appeared as a palette swapped error of the character Scorpion, the name actually standing for ‘Error Macro’, which Ed Boon decided to actually include into the game’s canon in later editions. 

Ralph discovers Vanellope was originally a character in the game, her presence altered by an evil character the King of Candy Crush. It’s later revealed he is actually Turbo, a racing character who sought to usurp other racing games, in a plea for attention as he made his way into Candy Crush. 

The Candy King glitching out, as his pixels reveal the truth.

The Candy King glitching out, as his pixels reveal the truth.

The story finishes happily ever after, with the typical Disney schmultz. However, it’s worth noting it’s morality and characters are much more subversive than usual. Ralph abandoned his game to seek glory and recognition, but ultimately that’s what drove original good guy Turbo into villainy, he sought more fame, and more attention.  Admittedly Ralph never mean’t to do any harm, but the imminent destruction of Candy Crush that almost happened due to his ignorance don’t really paint him as a hero after all do they? Is it a heroic trait to clean up a mess you made in the first place? What’s the moral? Seek recognition? or don’t? Or perhaps more accurately be yourself. I’ll stick with that one. I’ll finish this brief look into gaming’s past with a look into the significance of Q*bert in Wreck it Ralph. 

The out of work Q*Bert, with enemies Coily, and Slick.

The out of work Q*Bert, with enemies Coily, and Slick.

Q*bert is a real game character originating from the 80’s, with a series of cross-ports and sequels. In Wreck It Ralph he is a character out of work, as his game’s been unplugged. The poor little guy. At the very end, Ralph mentions how they brought him into Fix It Felix and had them as enemies on the bonus levels, and found them a place to live. How sweet. I like to think that’s a statement that old games and characters will always have a place in modern gaming, and won’t necessarily be forgotten. Wreck It Ralph is a cute little film, with a lot of in-jokes for games old and new, with some very fresh and poignant aesthetics and script. I’d recommend it. It’s been fun writing something a bit off the collar, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. Feel free to Follow me on Twitter @Sams_Reel_Views.

Oh, and ‘Aerith Lives’. =P. 

Storytelling, and the Endless Narrative of Life.

roadHave you ever been walking down an inconspicuous stretch of pavement to ponder how many other people have ever walked on the same path of concrete? Sometimes I do. As I’m bored, my eccentric brain ponders the strange possibilities and consistencies of our mundane lives. Some of you may disregard it as meaningless waffle, but it’s an interesting concept to apply to your more irrelevant, more dull moments. Who is that man pacing nervously adjacent to you, as he anxiously waits for the lights to turn to cross the road? Where is he going? Is he a good guy? Did he achieve all his dreams in life, or is he generally unfulfilled?

PathsWe see people every day constantly, that we’ll never see again. We walk the same streets, eat in the same restaurants, sit on the same seats on a train as these people. Is it a strange thought to ponder who that person was in the split second that you acknowledged their existance? To consider the overwhelming possibilities and mysteries of life in the context of a split-second gaze as you part ways. You could consider what you have in common with this person, and would you get along if you knew them? would you be friends? acquaintances? colleagues? maybe even lovers? who knows. And what greater role do you both have in the perplexing meta-narrative of life?

I usually write about Films on WordPress, and this is the first step in relatively uncharted territory for me, but I do have a passion for creative thinking. With film we often consider shots and frames, and how they portray or bestow qualities on a character. The significance of an image and what it applies to the narrative construct the actor and scriptwriter have created. It’s an interesting concept to apply to life. Just like the cinematic setting bestows the mood upon the scene, our scene in reality affects us, be it the scorching heat of the sun or the relentless pounding drizzle of a harsh rain. Although there’s realistically far too many variables to truly read someone’s psyche from just a passing glance.

To gaze into the window of someone else's story for even just a brief moment. Like a passenger on a train, staring out the window.

To gaze into the window of someone else’s story for even just a brief moment. Like a passenger on a train, staring out the window.

If nothing else it gets the creative juices flowing, especially for those creative writer types. If you’re bored and simply passing the time waiting for a train or bus, sat in an eatery waiting for your order, or simply stuck in traffic, take a moment to survey your surroundings. Pick a subject, and fictionalize a narrative of their life. Be it that middle-aged man looking impatient at the helm of his car, the girl oblivious to the world as she remains glued to her social network feeds, or the seemingly content elder gentleman with the cane. Plot it like a story, with their significant points and their lows. The hardships they’ve traversed, and the joys they’ve lavished in. Their accomplices and enemies, friends and family both old and new. Maybe incorporate your surroundings. Does the steady drizzle of the rain signify the redemption of their soul? or more aptly the sadness they harbor? or maybe it’s irrelevant and they just loath the autumn seasons.

Getting back to the pavement point. Think about the endless sights and memories a road would hold if it were animate. Perhaps the loving gaze of a mother as she walks her daughter to school each day, and back as she gradually blooms into a woman. The journey of an malcontent employee to work each day, before he eventually quit due to shoddy conditions, in the hope of pastures greener. The sad departure of a couple, as they part ways and end their relationship. I was walking today down a road, and the thought simply occurred to me in my rather bored state. I think it’s interesting to be a voyeur, and fill in the gaps of the stories we see. Stories happen all the time. We exist within our own, listen to the stories of our friends. Watch, read, play and hear them in the context of all literary, visual and creative media, even in the confines of music.

It can’t hurt to wonder. Can it?

– Sam.