Aug 22, 2014

[Movies] Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

Tobie's work in the video game industry has me a lot more aware of various documentaries related to video games, more so the indie creators out there. And I guess the efforts to document the development of Double Fine's Broken Age also had me more familiar with some of the nuances of game development and the kind of people that find themselves trying to make these amazingly creative and inventive games.

I had first heard about Indie Game: The Movie because of its Kickstarter project - or at least the last one. But ironically enough I didn't actually back the project for one reason or another. But I did eventually get a copy of the movie through Humble Indie Bundle 7, and then I eventually picked up the special edition of the movie through Steam.

I didn't even know that people distributed movies through Steam in this manner. And it was a novel way to get the sort of bonus content that we typically associate with DVDs or whatever.

Aug 21, 2014

[TV] Fawlty Towers

I have quite an interest in British television - there's something about the sort of shows that they come up with that really tickles my fancy. In recent years their work with genre fiction shows has really been a bit of refuge from similar shows from the US failing to be all that interesting. But when we go further back there's so much to be said about their comedies and sitcoms - my love of which clearly began with Monty Python.

Fawlty Towers is one of those shows that I've always been meaning to see for some time now but just never got around to it for one reason or another. But recent nostalgia for the Pythons had me finally securing a copy of the 2-series run of the show and getting a first-hand look at why it remains to be such a popular show.

And I have to admit, I totally enjoyed every single episode. The show certainly has a different flavor from Monty Python, but it's still an amazing balance of different comedic elements all in one package. And I can appreciate the fact that they kept the show limited to just 2 series runs in order to maintain the quality of writing as well. The end result is a really solid production with good laughs all around.

Aug 20, 2014

[Games] Last of Us (PS3)

It's interesting how video games continue to evolve. We've come a long way from the only story elements in the game being the basic premise alone and little else. Now we see more and more games trying to integrate a rich story to give more purpose to the core game mechanic. And this has been particularly prominent in several titles released by Naughty Dog.

The Last of Us has gotten a lot of great press for being a game that goes way beyond the level of story experienced with other similar games. There are already talks of the game being adapted into a movie with Maisie Williams starring as Ellie, which is saying a lot given her Game of Thrones fame.

But to give credit where credit is due, the game is pretty riveting even just to watch - and you don't see too many games like that. I keep encountering stories of groups of friends or even family gathering around to just watch one person play through the game while everyone else keeps up with what's going on in terms of the overall narrative. And such shared experiences are something to be celebrated really, especially when triggered by a video game (despite prevailing negative stereotypes).

Aug 19, 2014

[Comics] The Emerald City of Oz

Over the past few years, I've been happily enjoying the various Marvel comic books based on the ever famous Oz books written by L Frank Baum. The team of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young had churned out issue after amazing issue of these comics that have been a sheer delight to read and pretty much just experience. They've been the kind of comics that just reach directly into your heart and give your inner child something to celebrate.

The Emerald City of Oz, unfortunately, represents the final comic title to be released in this series. For one reason or another, it seems Marvel is moving on from this series of Oz adaptations and this is the last of the projects in this series, at least for the foreseeable future.

More than anything, I'm glad that I got into these comics as a whole. From my perspective, this title really helped put Skottie Young on the map, as it were, or at least really helped increase his level of exposure to the level that we can all celebrate his art.

And ultimately, these books are all just lovely.

[Books] The Cambodian Book of the Dead

I'm a bit of a NetGalley regular now since it's a great venue for connecting authors and book enthusiasts to help get the word out about new titles. The independent book review market that has grown over the years is a most interesting one and I'm glad to be part of the entire process. Plus who can say no to free books, right?

The Cambodian Book of the Dead was definitely an effort on my part to try out a title that was out of my comfort zone of science fiction and fantasy. It was positioned as a sort of mystery novel and it came with a rather interesting title that drew me in. Given my experience of reading The Windup Girl, I was rather hopeful that this book might provide an immersive experience that would use the rich backdrop of Cambodia as a canvas upon which the story is drawn upon.

The end result wasn't quite what I had hoped and it took me a lot longer than I expected to get through this book. This may again be a classic case of genre-reader mismatch or something - you know how there are just those books that don't entirely work for you but may work better for others. But at the same time, I think there were some fundamental narrative challenges that the book fell into and made things less than ideal overall.

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