Film: Chasing Coral – (2/4)

Film: Chasing Coral – (2/4)

This is a tough one. “Chasing Coral” is a wholly flawed documentary, but it is also an incredibly important film that should be a required viewing.

This film draws attention to the volume in which we are losing our ocean’s coral and the ramifications of this loss. What’s causing it? ayou guessed it – global warming.

The film tells its story through a group of scientists conducting an experiment to catch on film this natural phenomenon. It’s an ode to the scientifc method, and further proof that climate change is an undisputed scientific fact.

Movies like this are at their best when they show as opposed to tell. “Chasing Coral” has exhausting moments of telling yet brilliant moments of showing. I wish they were more showy.

Documentaries that urge their audience to take action have to be strongly persuasive in their evidence to have an impact. Again, better obtained by showing. A narrative film gets its messages across by presenting a circumstance, usually relatable, that the audience can have an emotional connection with.

“Chasing Coral” is beautiful and well shot, but all the structural gray areas make the argument less persuasive as they may as well have been preaching to the choir.

So my confliction is that “Chasing Coral” brought my attention to a phenomenon that I would’ve never knew about. It’s important, must-see filmmaking just for that alone.

Video Game: My 8 picks for original XBOX backward compatibility

Video Game: My 8 picks for original XBOX backward compatibility

One of the more exciting moments of e3 2017 was Microsoft’s announcement to expand their backward compatibility program to original XBOX titles.

There are a lot of great titles we could see from “Fable” to franchises like “Splinter Cell” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” Those are some runner-ups, but here are 8 games I’d really like to see:

8. Mercenaries

This game was a ton of fun. I still distinctly remember the many tactics you could use to approach a level. Also blowing shit up was fun.

7. Freedom Fighters

“Freedom Fighters” was a real cheesy game and it was as imperfect as they get. It was also one of my favorite third-person shooters in my youth. I would love to raise that American flag again.

6. Halo CE/Halo 2

I know it’s unlikely that they’ll resurrect the servers for “Halo 2,” and I know we have the ever-broken “Master Chief Collection” to play some of these titles, but I want it all. All the maps, all the game types, etc.

5. Destroy All Humans

“Grand Theft Auto” with aliens! Few things are more satisfying in life than running around a 50s suburban town throwing cars and people around. This is destruction-porn at its best and one of the most satisfying experiences as a gamer.

4. Prince of Persia trilogy

If we just get “Sands of Time” it’s still a yuggge victory. This is one of the greatest story-driven franchises of all time. Modern parkour games including “Assassin’s Creed” pale in comparison.

3. XIII

If we’re talking games with good storylines, XIII is one of the best. This game works mechanically, stylistically, and has so many strong twists and turns in narrative. One of the few games I’ve gone back and beat multiple times.

2. Burnout 3: Takedown

Let’s go back to “satisfying experiences.” Can anyone name anything in any video game more satisfying than taking down a rival racer in “Burnout 3”? Still considered one of the greatest racing games of all time, I would love to revisit this masterpiece

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

This has to happen. Before Bioware created the best trilogy in video game history with Mass Effect, they made this masterpiece. “KOTOR” is still widely considered the greatest “Star Wars” game ever made as well as one of the greatest games of its generation.

TV: Glow S1 – (3.5/4)

TV: Glow S1 – (3.5/4)

This was a pleasant surprise. “Glow,” a Netflix original series, may go down as one of their best shows yet.

Jenji Kohan is showrunning, known for her success with “Orange is the New Black.” She does something really special here with ensemble-storytelling. Alison Brie’s Ruth Wilder is in the role like Piper Chapman, a lead role that often falls supporting to flesh out the rest of the ensemble.

There are plot-driven shows and character-driven shows – “Glow” is the ladder. Everyone of these characters prove to be interesting in this season. Some aren’t as fleshed out as others, but their quirks still keep them intriguing.

Alison Brie nails this role. Knowing her work well from “Community,” I was nervous that her comedic style would be too bombastic for a show like this. She, like the rest of the cast, feels authentic and real in her performance.

Authenticity to it’s characters and it’s comedy lead me to really enjoy “Glow.” I binged it quickly and enjoyed almost everything about it. I also enjoyed the pace at which it moved as well as the history behind the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

There’s a lot to love here and I can’t wait for season 2.

TV: Friends from College S1 – (1.5/4)

TV: Friends from College S1 – (1.5/4)

This was a fun little show. With some pretty funny moments and few gut-splittling funny moments. However it’s about 30/70 when the comedy works.

“Friends from College” strives in situational and cringe comedy. We have a cast of truly despicable characters and the comedy blooms when they’re trapped and forced to address their despicable actions.

In the meantime though, we just have to sit and watch them be despicable with little to no comeuppance. “It’s Always Sunny” is a show that often works well with despicable characters, but they are often given the karma they deserve. We laugh because it feels like justice, and we assert ourselves over them.

Not enough justice came of our characters in this season and all of them, every single one, needs a dose of more karma for the show to work.

I don’t mind sticking with the show, because in those comedic moments – it really works. I laughed a lot. However it’s the rest of the show and it’s execution/pacing that meander.

The show would’ve fallen harder if not for the taleneted cast. Keegan Michael Key does some great “reactionary” comedy here.

It’s also hard to understand why any of these characters want to be around each other in the first place. It almost never goes well for them, and they all have little to no chemistry with one another. They’ll need to repair this motivation in the next season if Netflix isn’t so cancel trigger happy. It deserves another chance.

TV: Castlevania S1 – (No Rating)

TV: Castlevania S1 – (No Rating)

I’m pulling a Roger Ebert-Human Centipede reiview here and refusing to give this first season of “Castlevania” a rating.

The four episode first season was too small a sample size to gauge the quality of the show entirely up to this point.

I normally review by season. I do this because there are many episodes of any given show that serve as nothing more than to build up something in a later episode. Does that episode work on its own? Often not, but it does a great job getting us to the next, big, episode.

Even reviewing seasons is rough because sometimes they are catalysts to something bigger in a following season. And here’s the category “Castlevania” falls into.

Does season one stand on its own? Not at all. It’s entirely first act material. We only begin to know our characters and plot by the end of the fourth episode.

I will go ahead and review the seasons first act capabilities. A lot of what we saw here, at least in episodes 1-3, was an attempt at establishing atmosphere. This show is ultra-violent and had some unfortunate moments of gratuity through this violence.

The violence serves to help establish the atmosphere, but there are sequences primarily in episode 2 where you just want to say – Okay, we get it.

It isn’t at all for children or the squeamish. Episode four laid back on the violence a bit to focus more on character and the next big plot point. It was easily my favorite episode of the four.

As a 4-episode first act, I can’t judge if any of this exposition is building to something or if it will all be lost in subtext later on. So I refuse to review this shortened season, and hope we can establish something fuller in the second season.

Emmys: Updated Predictions – July

Emmys: Updated Predictions – July

No real surprises this year in nominations. It’ll be tough contest in drama with “Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Crown” going at it. “Atlanta” is all but locked for Comedy. “Feud” will probably sweep a lot of the Limited Series categories as well. Go to this page to get the most updated predictions.

Here are the predictions:

Outstanding Drama Series
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Crown
This is Us
Westworld
Stranger Things
Better Call Saul
House of Cards
Continue reading Emmys: Updated Predictions – July

TV: Fargo S3 – (3/4)

TV: Fargo S3 – (3/4)

Season 3 of “Fargo” is much more low key than the previous two seasons. In that way, it because the closest film to the Coen brother philosophy.

Essays upon essays have been written dissecting the “Joel/Ethan Coen philosophy, but one common theme is absurdism. With the original film “Fargo” we are asked to observe, sit on the sidelines, as opposed to take part in the story.

We aren’t revealed details later on that were kept from us, we see any and everything going on in the situation. We are asked to judge, and critique the character’s actions. And much like “A Serious Man” or “Inside Llewyn Davis” in the end we are left telling ourselves “the world is just complicated sometimes.”

Seasons 1 and 2 were great homages as well where we were sidelined, but they were almost overly bombastic when compared to the stylings of the Coen brothers’ comedic work. Season 3 nails the philosophy of its source material in a much more significant way.

We’re not just judging the characters and laughing at the absurdities, questions are being raised about meaning, and the search for meaning.

Many philosophers have written books upon books about absurdism, and no filmmakers have ever brought it to screen the way Joel and Ethan Coen have.

Is this season perfect on its own though? A minor glitch here and there in narrative and pacing. For the most part we avoid gratutious homage, the camerawork exceptional here as well.

All in all it may be the least action-oriented seaon of “Fargo” and maybe the least entertaining on the surface, but it nails the philosophy and works perfectly as an homage to its source material.

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