The Last of Us

My last console was the original PlayStation. I’ve been a PC gamer since then, up until moving last year and leaving my desktop behind. Playing ‘The Last of Us’ on a PS3 tonight for the first time was a cinematic experience.

The storytelling. The sound design. The camera direction. The score. The use of vibration in the controller to convey certain things. The “cut scenes” are perfectly blended into gameplay, and I got that same feeling I did when playing ‘Bioshock’ for the first time, where I was watching the opening video and then nothing happens for a while. Then I realised the game had kicked in. The opening to ‘The Last of Us’ is that on steroids.

The emotion I felt was very real. The tenseness is on par with any film or TV show, and moreso because you’re in control of a character and the camera. I hesitantly approached each window or door, turning the camera at times so I wasn’t facing the window, avoiding the potential crash of glass. I was projecting my own fear and heightening the suspense due to my paranoid direction.

Even the gameplay tutorial is done in the most minimal, intuitive way possible.

I had to stop playing to write this down. From what I’ve read, I’m guessing my mind will continue to be blown.

Standard

Enemy

‘Enemy’. An intriguing premise knocked out of the park by Villeneuve! Hypnotic, suspenseful, original. Shot and scored magnificently!

Two shots of glimmering eyes in darkness are absolute stand-outs. One of Gyllenhaal, another of a “woman” walking upside down. The silhouettes, and swooping, sepia-washed city all create an inquisitive, unnerving atmosphere that’s backed up by a lovely score. Gyllenhaal is doing wonders by portraying two characters in the most nuanced of ways.

Continue reading

Standard

12 O’Clock Boys

’12 O’Clock Boys’. Tragic as both a character study and broader social commentary on what people live for in their day-to-day struggles. Dangerous escapism as seen by outsiders looking for the temporary kind is darkly ironic.

Lotfy Nathan found someone special in Pug. Bright, ambitious, destined for doom. Nature nor nurture have been particularly good to him as a young boy, and it doesn’t look like that cycle is stopping anytime soon for him and others in Baltimore.  What’s been eating away at me ever since I walked out of the theater is how much Nathan’s decision to document Pug’s quest drove him even further. Would he have done everything he did if a camera wasn’t on him? The ending seemed particularly exploitative.

You see the pursuit of power, fame and notoriety, driven all the more by social media. The film ending where it does, I’m afraid of what effects this will have on the next generation of Baltimore’s 12 O’Clock Boys.

Standard

2013: My year in film

A list seen this year in Australia, Austin, New York and San Francisco, hence some 2012 releases making it in.

Warning: I rate films too highly. Take it as a relative measure. I begrudgingly preface this post every year with the same message, in various word lengths.

In alphabetical order…

Image

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Quite simply, everything works. A character-driven, brooding, complex, Malick-esque romance.

All Is Lost
A near-wordless marvel! Robert Redford’s physical, nuanced performance commands admiration. The score and sea, worthy allies.

An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story
An unbelievable true story that grew off the screen into a once-in-a-lifetime, shared experience at SXSW, with the man himself being there.

Before Midnight
The perfect ending to the perfect trilogy on love.

Blancanieves
The lighting, the symmetry, the composition. Just, wow. One of the most beautiful looking films I’ve had the pleasure of watching.

For Those in Peril
There’s no way a debut has any right to be this good in nearly every respect. Haunting, assured filmmaking, with an ending that’s hugely rewarding, yet ambiguous. I do remember screaming “FUCK YEAH!” I had the same reaction to ‘Take Shelter’.

Gravity
If cinema is about the moving image, this embodies it to its fullest. Like nothing I’ve seen. Cuaron and Lubezki are gods.

Her
Thank you, Spike Jonze, for an utterly brilliant, exploratory look at our future, and the collision of humanity and technology. Joaquin Phoenix confirms yet again that he’s one of the best actors going around. Scarlett Johannson’s voice acting, a joy.

Inside Llewyn Davis
My favourite character and performance of 2013. Oscar Isaac is a revelation. I felt hopeless and sad.

Saving Mr. Banks
Very, very special. No expectations going in, floored on every count. Hit me harder than anything this year.

Upstream Color
Incredibly thought provoking, visceral and hypnotic. Carruth’s writing, score and direction are all stunning. The sound design melds right in too. The film that stuck with me most.

What Maisie Knew
Emotionally turbulent in the best possible way. Onata Aprile gives a most captivating performance.

Zero Dark Thirty
A remarkable, gripping achievement in storytelling. A rollercoaster through Jessica Chastain’s head and a quietly devastating ending.

Continue reading

Standard

Her

‘Her’. Thank you, Spike Jonze, for an utterly brilliant, exploratory look at our future, and the collision of humanity and technology. Joaquin Phoenix confirms yet again that he’s one of the best actors going around. Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting, a joy.

Writing feelings on behalf of other people, programmatic feelings, faking feelings. This runs throughout, begging the question of what an authentic feeling is, and how much of a one-way, need-based thing it is at times.

And from a purely HCI perspective, ‘Her’ makes me a believer in voice interactions. It’s a deceptively simple take on technology that’s not constantly in your face via pieces of different size glass. No radical Minority Report hand-waving dominating here.

Continue reading

Standard

Inside Llewyn Davis

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. My favourite character and performance of 2013. Oscar Isaac is a revelation. I feel hopeless and sad.

The ending hit me hard because of all the brilliance before it. I was immersed inside Llewyn Davis’ world and had no idea what was happening. The writing, looking back, could be accused of putting him in predicament after predicament, but all I felt was sorrow, only questioning it briefly while watching. The world’s a cruel enough place, and as much as I love the character, he doesn’t have a lot of karma going for him.

Continue reading

Standard

Six weeks with the Nexus 5

Image

PSA: I switched from a Nexus 4. That’s the context any comparisons I implicitly make will be in relation to.

The Nexus 5 feels better to hold and touch, it’s lighter, the screen is a vivid, beautiful piece of glass to look at, everything is faster, transitions and scrolling smoother, the camera’s better (especially in low-light), the LTE is welcome, the battery gives me a day.

Continue reading

Standard