Game Retrospective Part 1 Game Vs Play

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K Dog here for a quick discussion on Game Culture discussing the differences and similarities of the terms game and play. Taking Game Culture in College really got me thinking. This is going to be an average guy’s view on the subject.

 

Game Vs Play; people could possibly equate these terns with Yin And Yang of how different interrelated these terms are. The analogies that can creep up when thinking about the differences between Game and Play are

  • Game is order while Play is chaos
  • Game is the rules while play is freedom.
  • Play is open-ended  in which make-believe and world-building are crucial factors. Games are confined areas that challenge the interpretation with rules and tactics and time and space .

Think of how a kid plays with toys as opposed to a group of kids playing the game tag. One there is no rules, and the other has rules.

These two terms sets up a basic argument on what is is to be gained, or lost, in linear games with rules and  as opposed to an open ended game. When I think about the games I experienced, I think of how Linear games are on the game side and open ended games are on the play side.

What does this all mean. Game, can be equated to following rules and focuses more on winning or completing it. Play, on the other end,  is something that is never ending, and  focuses more on exploring.

What does this mean for the future of gaming? People face the whole dilemma of what game is better, or which game is more fun to play. Game and Play two concepts that are different yet relate to each other to create a dynamic mental picture. The duality of game and play may not just relate to games that we play, but also relate to facets within ourselves and our relationship to others throughout outside world.

This was a short explanation of this major topic that has much complexity than what i described and if anyone wants to learn more read this article:

http://www.gamestudies.org/0301/walther/

To end the article I leave a quote from Shiv Visvanathan

“A game is a bounded, specific way of problem solving. Play is more cosmic and open-ended. Gods play, but man unfortunately is a gaming individual. A game has a predictable resolution, play may not. It allows for emergence, novelty, surprise.”

 

 

 

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Television’s Second Golden Age: Twin Peaks and it’s Influence

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In 2013, David Lynch, an iconic director, cinematographer, and story teller and creator of the most unusual, yet extremely influential show Twin Peaks, made a polarizing but insightful comment that says something very powerful involving the art of TV on cable and Netflix. Paraphrasing, Lynch stated that he did not think that film would have a bright future in advancing and creating mesmerizing stories. Lynch continued that television, now more than ever, is showing that it is one of the best formats to tell a well written and acted story and will only continue to advance over time by giving us stories that are complex, unique and multifaceted with many layers and brilliant ideas (“David Lynch See… Par 1-3). This statement by Lynch, the man who has directed films like Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, will surely get any movie fan or TV skeptic readied for an argument. However, for those who are open minded and can reflect on what David Lynch said, one can appreciate TV and see that it isn’t a biased opinion at all, but rather a well thought out statement that captures the true potential of TV. It is a point of view that accurately captures that we are in the second golden age of the TV drama series and it is Lynch himself who made the most influential TV series that some say influenced the second golden age of Television the most. This influential show was Twin Peaks.

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(Welcome to Twin Peaks)

The second golden age of TV changed TV from a guilty pleasure entertainment to a social conscience art espousing societal and artistic value. Nowadays most people talk much more about shows like Breaking Bad, Dr. Who, and Lost than movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent. These TV shows are seen as compelling and thought-provoking, possessing depth and subtle nuances because of their episodic structure long length compared to movies. The second golden age of television highlights how TV has progressed over the years and turned many TV clichés on their head. Examples that I have learned throughout my Television History class were shows like Moonlighting and Hill Street Blues for being shows in the second golden age of TV. These shows made gutsy decisions like breaking the fourth wall in Moonlighting, and in Hill Street Blues, for having an anti-hero as a protagonist and a grey moral system for cops. One final example is Dallas, having multifaceted characters and cliffhangers. These examples were story concept techniques utilized to create shows that were pushing the envelope on the genre they were set in at the time of their release but offered something different that people never saw before.
No discussion on the second golden age is complete unless we discuss Twin Peaks. This is a TV show that most people do not view as “famous” but it is known as one of the greatest television shows of all time by many audiences and critics. The show also happens to be one of my personal favorite shows and is my pick for the greatest TV drama of all time for its influence and great lasting appeal even to this day. Because of this personal connection I have with the show and its renewal that is scheduled for 2016, it is about time to do a proper research and analysis of this TV show and understand how influential it is and how it changed the art of TV forever. Twin Peaks is a unique and special show that is important to television because it was a show that couldn’t be classified as any sort of genre, an example of the very unique style in Twin Peaks that encouraged shows in the future, and what it’s renewal in 2016 could mean for the future of TV and why people should get excited.
A quality that defined the second golden age of TV was being able to utilize TV’s history and storytelling techniques but use that knowledge to turn clichés around and surprise audiences. As briefly mentioned previously, examples of this can be seen in self parody and breaking the fourth wall through Moonlighting, with its very self-aware storytelling that was not seen from any previous TV show, and Dallas with its multifaceted characters and cliff hangers that made audience participation and immersiveness essential for experiencing the story in its most complete form. What does Twin Peaks have that these shows didn’t have? Well, both of these qualities and many more. Twin Peaks was a one of a kind of show because it was not classified as a single genre show but multiple genres. This TV show was so hard to describe that people had to make up their own word, “Lynchian”.
What is the show Twin Peaks about? Well, it is about a very small town that is away from modern civilization, has a low population, is located near woods and nature, and filled with a lot of secrets with much beauty and darkness. The show follows main character, Special Agent Dale Cooper, who tries to investigate the death of homecoming queen Laura Palmer who was killed unexpectedly by someone in the town. Since this female character was loved by everyone, and there aren’t many violence crimes that appear throughout Twin Peaks, the whole town reacts dramatically to Laura Palmer’s death. Cooper, the untraditional detective and quite possibly the most unique detective to ever appear in a story, and my personal favorite television character ever, has to rely more on just intuition and rational thinking to solve the crime. He realizes that all the other townsfolk, Laura Palmer, and the dark woods of Twin Peaks have dark secrets and double lives and he must figure out what those secrets are by investigating and bringing himself into a place that seems to be both a beautiful surreal dream and disturbing dreamy nightmare at the same time.
Twin Peaks, like Dallas and Moonlighting has a compelling narrative filled with multifaceted characters but also a quirky side and self conscious side that manage to break fourth walls here and there with the main character looking at the audience in the last episode of the series, and characters making references to other shows and movies. Twin Peaks even hosts a fake soap opera, titled Invitation to Love, that Twin Peaks seems to parody at times. To add to this, the series’ narrative incorporates a detective story, and a surreal nightmare atmosphere that is ambiguous but immersive. This atmosphere, as well as complex characters, help to bring audience members into the narrative because it makes audience members similar to Special Agent Dale Cooper, trying to help solve the case by paying attention to what’s right in front of them but also what is hidden underneath, often scenes making audiences discover what the meaning is for the famous red room dwarf infested dream. Now what is that?
Probably the most famous scenes that audiences remember about this show, apart from its multifaceted characters, quirky self parody and creepiness, are the dream sequences that has the main character, Dale Cooper, entering a dream world that is infested with red curtain and a little dwarf and a doppelgänger of Laura Palmer. Not many shows before Twin Peaks ever tried to do dream sequences as surreal as Twin Peaks since the show was made by David Lynch. David Lynch is much known for making surreal movies with dreams and semiotic symbolism so it only makes sense for the show to have a dream sequence. Even in my Columbia class, I have never seen a show that had such emotional and surreal experience that Twin Peaks has with incorporation of the red room. It is just so magical and surreal. The dream has Dale Cooper, unafraid, calm and open-minded, entering his dream world by hearing a poem, “Through the darkness of future’s past, the magician longs to see, one chants out between two worlds, fire walk with me”. Mike, a mythological deity, is a killer who works with another mythical figure called Bob, and they both enjoy living a chaotic, fun life, filled with murder. But later in the dream Mike says that when he found the face of God a little later in his chaotic life, he chopped off his arm with a tattoo and abandoned Bob so that he wouldn’t kill anymore. Bob, in the dream, starts whispering, “Mike, Mike, catch you with my death bag! You may think I’ve gone insane, but I promise, I will kill again”. Then, long after this scene, Cooper enters a red room filled with red curtains, white and black striped floors, a white man statue, a doppelgänger of Laura Palmer, and a dwarf that says, in reversed dialect, “let’s rock”. The dwarf explains to Cooper that he has some good news and that his favorite gum will come in style and that this lady or doppelgänger looks like Laura Palmer and is his cousin. He then says there is always music in the air, and starts dancing in a sexual but quirky way. The doppelgänger of Laura Palmer, who isn’t sexualized or desexualized in any way, comes to Cooper and kisses him in a gentle way on the lips and Cooper agrees and joins his lips to hers, then whispers the name of the killer in Cooper’s ear. Cooper wakes up and is stunned but is very taken aback from the dream and tells his partner on the phone, Truman to meet him in the diner to tell him he knows who killed Laura Palmer. Unfortunately he cannot remember the name of the killer but tells Truman that his dream is a code waiting to be broken and that if he solves the puzzle or breaks the code, he will solve the crime.

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(Twin Peaks and its myth figures)
There have been dream sequences in shows before but not in the confident and surreal way that Twin Peaks goes about it. What does this scene mean? I think it is a mix of the book “The Philosophy of David Lynch”, Ledwon and his book, and my personal opinions that lead me to believe that Twin Peaks is a show about duality and the idea that there isn’t one way to approach the daily tasks of life. Life is beautiful and strange and if one limits himself or herself to the rational point of view, he is missing something that is essential to human nature such as emotions, the surreal, and dream myths. Dale Cooper, a very open man, proves to be extrospective and introspective by being friendly and observant to everybody in Twin Peaks as well as listening to his dreams and surreal elements in the town of Twin Peaks to solve the crime. I believe that David Lynch is showing that there is duality in everything in the world whether it be introspective, extrospective as well as desire and fear, evil and good, the rational and the surreal, feminine and the masculine, and mythological figures and dream creations. The world of Twin Peaks is about understanding these two worlds and learning how to merge the two together peacefully. According to Carl Jung , to achieve individuation one must form duality by harmonizing with one’s persona, a societal mask that makes one aware of society, one’s shadow or things that a person hates about himself and is not accepted, and finally, one’s extrospective and introspective tendencies, all to achieve the best form of oneself or the total person. With so many ideas to interpret in Twin Peaks, audience participation and open mindedness, just like Cooper to solve the case, the world of Twin Peaks is both beautiful and strange and holds so many truths about life and human nature.

DOPPEL EYES
(Scariest moment in Twin Peaks is by knowing that all of darkness and evil exists in everywhere and everybody)


( Shadow Selves and the silouettes of all of the Lost characters, yes this definitely reminds me of Twin Peaks)

This surreal element of dreams and mythology has influenced many shows in the future. Lost, X Files and The Prisoner have surreal elements where there are dream sequences as well as surreal narratives and places. Lost, a wonderful series created by Damon Lindelof and JJ Abrams, made a show that explores a group of multifaceted characters, like Twin Peaks and Dallas, suffering on a deserted island that is cut off from civilization. The island has super natural elements where the island is even seen as its own character, housing the collective unconscious of the entire cast of islanders in the series and their personal demons that may doom them or lead them to redemption. Everyone in Lost is in trouble and everyone has their problems and good qualities, just like everyone in life since everyone has things they like about themselves as well things they don’t like about themselves and deny, their shadow. An example in Lost that has a dream sequence is a dream where Locke, my second favorite character in a television series, tries to open up a hatch with his friend Boone. They get stuck until Locke has a dream where he sees Boone all bloody saying, “Theresa falls up the stairs, and Theresa falls down the stairs.” Then later Locke sees his mother and he is then in a wheelchair and sees a plane flying in the distance and crashing in the island. Locke believes this surreal dream is a sign and tells Boone to find the plane on the island with him to find something that can break the hatch. Unfortunately because the dream showed Boone bloody, Boone died in a horrible plane crash when he found the plane and found a radio transmitter trying to communicate with officers. Lost was a success for its mythological symbolism and surreal imagery and compelling characters.


( “Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs”)

Twin Peaks has not only affected the second golden age in these two ways but also through its portrayal of evil. Mythological figure Bob in Twin Peaks, who has been said to be a symbol of the evil that man does, and Breaking Bad with the transformation of Walter White from bitter teacher to Meth Kingpin named Heisenberg are prime examples. Other themes of double lives also apply to the show Mad Men, with the double lives of Mad Men being in the work place and outside, and Twin Peaks having a town with people with dark secrets. Twin Peaks has been revolutionary and has become a cult show with it being like no other TV show even through today. The show has stood the test of time, and right now the show is renewed for a third season in the year 2016. The show is returning with original creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. David Lynch will direct every episode and Mark Frost, writer of Hill Street of Blues, will be the writer along with David Lynch. There will also be a book bridging the 25 year gap between season 2 and season 3. This is being aired on Showtime and will not be a Netflix original series despite what people may think because Netflix seems to be beating out cable. Is the renewal of Twin Peaks a good thing or bad thing for television? I think it is a brilliant. Not only will audiences get to see Twin Peaks return but there will also be a very epic post modern foreshadowing. In season 2 for the finale, the doppelganger of Laura Palmer said to Cooper in the red room, “I will see you again in 25 years”. The show ended in 1991 and 2016 will be 25 year anniversary after the show ended. I think people have to see this series and watch its renewal because people need to start and wonder why this series was so influential and why it is still amazing even to this day. While Rothman thinks that Twin Peaks renewal isn’t going to be as good as its first airing because when it aired on ABC it was a one of a kind show and now that it is going to air on Showtime it is going to be a “two of a kind show” (Rothman Par 1). With Twin Peaks returning, more people will be fascinated in Twin Peaks and more people will begin to watch it. Audiences today are even more receptive to drama series as the second golden age of television continues to gain in popularity and quality. I think the show is a thought provoking and unique show that influenced so many shows in the second golden age of TV. Twin Peaks is the gold standard of what a television drama series can achieve and underscores Lynch’s view that television will eclipse film as the most effective and artistic storytelling medium.

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( David Lynch is one of the greatest directors and I wish him so much luck for the Season Three of Twin Peaks).

Works Cited
“David Lynch Sees No Future in Cinema; Says the Best Art House Is on TV.”Screen Rant. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Devlin, William J., and Shai Biderman. The Philosophy of David Lynch. Lexington, KY: U of Kentucky, 2011. Print.
“Jung, Carl Gustav.” Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Ledwon, Lenora. “Twin Peaks And The Television Gothic.” Literature Film Quarterly 21.4 (1993):260-270.
International Bibliography of Theatre &Dance with Full Text. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.)
Rothman, Lily. “There’s One Big Difference Between The Original Twin Peaks And The Reboot.” Time. Com (2014): 1  Business Source Complete Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Thompson, Robert J. Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street Blues to ER: Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Cagney & Lacey, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, Thirty something, China Beach, Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, with Brief Reflections on Homicide, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope, and Other Quality Dramas. New York: Continuum, 1996. Print. Continue reading

Game Culture Series Retospective in the Works

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(K Dog)

Over the last few months, a lot has happened to me… mentally. Being in college, learning and not writing something for this blog in a long time, had me a chance to be introspective. I have been thinking a lot. Through this period of thinking I realized that things and my mindset has changed. I have changed and developed and my feelings on art and entertainment has changed, specifically Game culture. Game culture is something I always wanted to discuss on this blog because game culture and video games are special to me personally and made me into the person I am today. Let’s face it, I love to play, people love to play, and I think history has had all evidence that people love the idea to play whether it be escapism, game play competitiveness   or playing a video game story that is imaginative and thought provoking but fun. Really, Video Games are a big part of our culture because it appeals to our instincts of our playful instincts of exploring game worlds as well as our introspective instincts of interpreting and getting something out of an an artist’s or artists’ story by their game. Video games are complex and say a lot about culture and people in the world and there is always the question on what video games exactly are, going beyond what I said. I want to find out how are they important in our life and what makes them similar and different to other forms of entertainment and art like films , paintings and TV. Video Games are evolving just like film was in the early 1900’s and paintings and literature to who knows when. I have never stopped to wonder what my opinions are in games and how it relates of what society thinks of games and what my opinions say of who I am as well as how my opinions differ from others. I am here to start a retrospective, a series if you will of me looking back at game culture figuring out what makes game culture the way it is. This is going to be an objective as well as a subjective series as my goal for this series is to show what other people in society think of Game culture and what my response to these things are. I want to let other people know what I think of Game culture, games and what other people are thinking. This series is going to cover many things and is something I am going to enjoy doing.  Note that I am actually experienced and am eager to challenge myself through this retrospective and I am actually hoping to challenge who ever is reading this retrospective and things that are yet to come. I am taking Game culture class in College right and it is opening my eyes on the different ways video games are made, interpreted and looked at societally as well as subjectively by individuals. This series is a learning experience for me as a writer, an artist, and as a person and I am here to write down what professionals and philosophers say about game culture and give you my own take on the whole thing. I really hope that people reading this will like to join me for my exploration of Game Culture in the history and my own personal opinions about it. I hope you will read my posts. I will appreciate it as well as give me feedback.

Things you will expect in this Game Retrospective. ( These are things that are on my mind and they might not be exactly what I will write down in the future.

Different ways of interpreting the idea of playing and Games and the philosophers and scholars that came up with these ideas:

What is Game, What is Play: Game has rules, play has more freedom

Competitive Play, Learning Experience in play, emotional development in play and examples of these different Games

Game as way to look at societal values

Game as commercial and consuming and profitable parts of our culture or as artistic expressions by authors and the relationship between the two and the similarities to other forms of entertainment

Semiotic Domain in Games

Interaction and relationship between player and world in a video game

Immersion and Meta fiction in a video game and how both work to create a good game.

How life is similar to a video game in many ways according to different philosophers.

Video Game Single player and multi player and how each is different but fulfilling.

Controversy in Video Games

Feminism and sexism In Video Games and how all of people are portrayed

Is video games a double edge sword with no way out of controversy?

Artistic expression verses fulfilling what consumers want in a game.

Post Modern video games and how this is good and bad.

Are video games bad for you or they good for you and arguements for each side  (How this is similar to other forms of entertainment)

Video Games that are filled with violence and require people to do bad stuff in video games. Controversial.

People discussed in this retrospective.

Emcee Prophet ( Youtube Video Game Analyzer)

Ego Raptor (Youtube Video Game Analyzer)

Gee ( Philosopher)

Erving Goffman (Figure in Game Philosophy)

Hideo Kojima (Game Designer)

Shigeru Miyamoto (Game Designer)

Anita Sarceesian ( Feminist Frequency)

David Cage (Game Designer)

Katsura Hashino (Game Designer)

Sigmund Freud ( Psychologist)

Carl Jung (Psychologist)

Roger Ebert (Critic)

Video Games Famous as well as Games I like and don’t like but important to Game Culture that I want to Analyze:

The Last of Us

Mass Effect Series

Mario

Zelda

Metroid

Persona Series

Shin Megami Tensei Series

Knights of the Old Republic

Pacman

Final Fantasy

Metal Gear Solid

Shadow of the Colossus

Grand Theft Auto Video Game Controversial

Paper Mario Series

There is probably going to be way more, but these are just ideas I am thinking about right now and there is going to citations and proof that there are other peoples’ opinions in this retrospective. Video games are subjective and are similar to movies and books and TV but so different. Video Games give us glimpse of our instincts to play but also say something about our identity and how we relate to others as well as we are very different from all types of different individual people. This is me giving a new light to this kind of artistic and entertainment culture known as Game Culture. This is K Dog signing off but will be back shortly.

Miyazaki on the Strength of the Human Spirit: The Wind Rises Review

GMS here.

Two amazing animated movies were released in the year of 2013.  Disney’s Frozen, a tale in which the relationship between two sisters is greater than that between a woman and a man, and Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises, acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki’s final masterpiece and a story where dreams and love must endure the times, fleeting and changing as the wind.

As of today, I can say that Frozen is no longer my favorite animated movie of 2013.

Now, before I get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first.  Yes, The Wind Rises was released in theaters in the U.S. on February 28th, 2014.  But, the Japanese release was on July 20th, 2013, making The Wind Rises a 2013 movie.  You wouldn’t base the release date of a movie made in America on the Japanese release date, even if you lived in Japan, right?  The Wind Rises is definitely a 2013 animated movie, and it is because of this that I am livid that Frozen won the Oscar for Best Animated Movie in the Academy Awards of 2014.  I’ll give the Frozen Fandom a minute to get the pitchforks ready, because I think The Wind Rises deserves the Oscar much more than Frozen.  Yes, Frozen is a really good animated movie, definitely Disney’s best in a long while.  I hate to say this, but all of the Disney movies, even the older ones, fail to impress me as much as the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  Great, now all the Disney fans are going to get their pitchforks ready.  Let me explain myself first.  Hayao Miyazaki is a freaking tank.  Let me repeat myself.  A.  TANK.  He is like a one-man animating machine.  He does most of his work on his own, or with a small team of animators.  Any use of computer animation in his films is pretty minimal when compared to the use of it in Disney’s recent films.  Compare the animation in Frozen to that of The Wind Rises.  Sure, Frozen’s animation is very detailed and beautiful, but in the end it is computer generated, and it looks a bit too perfect.  The animation in The Wind Rises is much more breathtaking because besides the fact that it is FREAKING BEAUTIFUL, you can tell that it was not computer generated.  There’s something to say about someone who can make a fully-animated feature in today’s times and have a minimal use of technology.  However, even compared to the Disney classics of yore, Miyazaki’s work impresses me much more because of his mastery of the craft of animation.  The pictures he can paint are simply breathtaking.  His style is definitely my favorite art style out of any artist I have yet come across.

And, before I continue, Miyazaki’s movies are NOT ANIME!!!!!!!!!!   His work is on a much higher plane, and to group him and his work with anime shows and movies, though those are awesome in their own right, is frankly insulting.  We cool?  OK, just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized historical drama detailing the early life and career of real-life aircraft-designer Jiro Horikoshi, the man responsible for designing the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, used by the Japanese Military during World War II.  His idol, who he frequently visits in dream sequences, is Giovanni Battista Caproni, an Italian aircraft designer.  The historical backdrop of the early 20th Century  and the base of real people definitely made me interested in this film, being the history buff that I am.

Jiro and Caproni: their real life and animated personas. 

The story details Jiro’s life as he grows up with his dreams of becoming an airplane designer, his success as a genius in the field, and his falling in love, all with the backdrop of early 20th century and war looming over him.  The characters are all well developed and very likeable.  I find myself relating to Jiro quite a bit: he is kind and caring towards others; he is smart, yet he gets absorbed in his work quite a bit.  Caproni is a very majestic kind of a person, yet is very inspirational as well.  Jiro’s love Naoko is a very loving and devoted woman, caring about Jiro till the end.  Kayo, Jiro’s sister, is reminiscent of Mei from My Neighbor Totoro: she is very headstrong, yet is independent and cares very much for her brother’s wellbeing.  My favorite character is Jiro’s boss Kurokawa: he is a short man that loves to shout commands at his employees and use sarcasm a lot, and as a result adds some excellent comic relief to this otherwise emotional story.  Kurokawa was voiced by Martin Short in the English dub, an excellent choice, however the character is reminiscent of Wallace Shawn’s character in The Princess Bride.

This would have been so perfect!!!!!

The musical score is wonderful.  Joe Hisaishi, long-time Ghibli composer, once again amazes me with his talent.  The music ranges from somber to some Japanese tones, to even some French tones.  Once again, I tip my hat off to you Joe, you amaze me!

The dub is something to talk about.  Generally, Miyazaki movies have had better subs than dubs, but the English dubs of many of his movies have been pretty good, save for a few (Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro, I’m looking at you!).  That said, I think Touchstone Pictures did a great job of bringing this movie to the States, with an all star cast of voice actors!  Featuring the voice talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin, and Stanley Tucci, how could you go wrong?  Great job Touchstone!

Warning!  Spoilers follow, so read at your own risk! 

There’s something I really want to talk about above all: the themes.  There are many themes in The Wind Rises, yet they are all contained under the umbrella of one large theme, represented by the quote at the beginning of the film:

“The wind is rising! We must try to live!”

All of the events of Jiro’s life, his love, his dreams and aspirations, all of the rest of the themes of the movie center around this one quote.  As Jiro’s life went on, gusts of wind of many forms rose up to meet him, and he was forced to deal with them and try to live through them.  He wishes to work with aircrafts, yet he cannot fly them due to his impaired vision.  Instead, he meets that storm with the decision to become a designer.  The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Japanese Depression, and the looming World War II all rise up to meet him.  There is murmuring constantly in his aircraft designing business about how poor of a country Japan is and how behind they are in terms of airplane design, yet Jiro remains undaunted in pursuing his dream of designing amazing aircraft.  He falls in love with Naoko, yet he finds out she has tuberculosis and must make the choice of whether he wants to still be with her, knowing her time on this earth is short.  His love is so strong for her that Jiro decides to marry her.  Even when her condition worsens, and she would be better off in a sanatorium, Jiro decides to have Naoko live with him, so that she can spend the numbered days she has together with him.

Jiro and Naoko’s romance is one of the most beautiful and poignant facets of The Wind Rises. 

Jiro wishes to design aircraft for the joy of flying them, yet the only way for him to design aircraft is to do it for the purpose of war.  His dream of designing aircraft is constantly tested by the reality of war and the circumstances in his life.  One of the other themes that falls under this umbrella is dreams, and though the realization of these dreams may be tested, we should still pursue those dreams.  Jiro is uncomfortable at the fact that he must design for war purposes, as in many of his dream sequences Caproni has reminded him to not use his art for war.  He even undergoes many dream sequences in which he sees his dream resulting in a failure.

Though he experiences failure and understands the possibility of failure, Jiro nevertheless pursues his dream

Many of the projects he works on result in failures, and this leaves Jiro constantly wondering whether it is all worth it.  With the reassurance of Naoko and her presence at home giving him strength, Jiro continues to pursue his dream.  This also speaks to the power of love: the love you share with another can strengthen your spirit and help you to face any wind that rises up to meet you.

I will end this review with two quotes to think about.  Bothe of these further emphasize this theme of meeting the challenges of life and living on.  The first is a quote to Jiro by Caproni:

“Do you prefer a world with pyramids or with no pyramids?”

I love this quote, as it brings the idea of humans pursuing a dream to the end despite the odds against them.  The pyramids are a triumph of man, and show that despite how grand a scale and how seemingly impossible something is to accomplish, you can do it if you believe in yourself and face head on any challenge, or wind, that arises.

The second is the tagline of The Wind Rises in Japan:

The large black characters read: “We must live!”

Once again, this is reiterating the idea of the strength of the human spirit, and that no matter what wind rises to challenge us, we must remain strong and meet it head on, lest it blow us away.  This theme makes sense when you think of all the hard times the Japanese had to endure.  The depression, the various wars, the nuclear bombs, all were gales that tried to scatter the Japanese to the winds.  Yet, they survived, thanks to the strength of the human spirit.  This is why I love The Wind Rises.  It is not just any anti-war tale, it isn’t just your average romance.  It speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, its dreams and aspirations, and its loves and relationships.  If we understand that we can overcome trials, that we must live, then we will have the strength to survive any tragedy that befalls us, the will to face any obstacle that threatens to put us down, and the resilience to meet any storm head on.

Dragon Ball GT: A Damn Fun Ride

GMS here.  Damn, I know you barely see a lot of me, but I’ve been busy.  First post in a long while, so here goes!  I’m currently writing a review for Frozen and a few other assorted things, but right now I want to address something.  I was talking with a few of my friends who love anime and manga, and we came to the topic of Dragon Ball.  Arguing over how well Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball rate when compared to the fighting manga/anime of today led us to the topic of the GT anime, to which a bunch of my friends went on about how horrible and crappy it is.  Interesting….

Now, let’s all get one thing straight.  GT is bad.

But, is it really that bad? 

I personally really love GT.  Why?  I want to draw your attention to a quote on the back of the GT anime box set, from animenewsnetwork.com: “Dragon Ball GT is a fun ride.”  This is all GT was ever meant to be.  It wasn’t meant to be greater than Z or Ball at all.  Yes, many of the enemies are even more overpowered than even Kid Buu.  And Gogeta SSJ4?  Ridiculous.  The point to all of the overpowered enemies, I think, is to kind of poke fun at the Dragon Ball universe.  A sort of satire, if you will.  I mean, Omega Shenlong is pretty much god incarnate, and he could eat Buu in any of his forms for breakfast and ask for seconds.  You see, what I think Toriyama was going for was to combine Ball and Z into one anime, so as to appeal to those who like both.  And, well, it didn’t turn out that amazing.  Now, I would never consider this as one of the best anime of all time.  But, I think that it is an anime that everyone should see if you are a fan of DBZ, DB, or just anime in general.  There are some great moments here!  The Super 17 arc remains one of my favorite anime arcs ever!  Episode 55, The Heart of the Prince, is actually a really great retrospective on the relationship between Goku and Vegeta.  Piccolo’s sacrifice for the Earth is really moving, just as moving as Vegeta’s suicide in Z.  The Shadow Dragon and Baby sagas are great too!  GT has probably my favorite opening theme in any anime ever (no, not the shitty English one, I’m talking about the Japanese opening.  Give it a listen, you won’t regret it!).  The ending of GT is one of my favorite anime endings ever, as it goes through an entire retrospective of the series, ending with Goku saying goodbye to everyone.  It’s a tear-jerker, and it gets me every time.  Finally, the GT Movie is one of the best DB movies, in my opinion.

That’s not to say GT is without its flaws.  The Black Star saga sucks ass.  It’s terrible.  It’s basically a much lower-grade version of Dragon Ball.  I mean, it’s good for a little enjoyment, but I only really watched the whole thing once.  The Baby Saga is pretty good, but I’d still watch just about any saga in Z over this one.  The Shadow Dragon saga is pretty much crap too, up until the fire and ice dragons and the creation of Syn Shenlong, when it starts to get really good.  Whereas DBZ’s character development is skewered over multiple sagas and characters, far from a perfect way of doing it, GT’s character development is worse: it’s nonexistent.  Neither Goku, Pan, nor Trunks get any character development.  You’d think that when Goku shrunk that this would be an opportunity for some, but he is still pretty much as strong as before, so no.  Pan, first of all, doesn’t get any, and second of all, no one cares about her.  Third, Trunks doesn’t get any either.  Vegeta kind of goes through character development a bit, but it’s the same as before so I wouldn’t even consider it character development.  In the end, all of the characters are pretty static in their development throughout the story, leaving no area for profound development.  In reality, nothing about GT is profound or deep.  You could watch Naruto and find more deep stuff than in this show.

But that’s not the point. 

GT does its job very well: it’s an entertaining anime, with a very shitty, “so bad it’s good” first saga, and then a bunch of really overblown epic sagas following.  I equate GT to Flash Gordon the movie.  It has that same “so bad it’s good” quality to it that I can’t stop watching it.  In the end, I love GT for all of its flaws and triumphs.  GT demonstrates that not every anime can be perfect, some are even terrible, but if you enjoy watching it, than it has done its job.

K Dog’s American Hustle Review

An old 70’s Hollywood logo with a Seventies song “Jeep Blues” playing in the background, Opening statements stating “Some of this has actually happened” followed by Christian Bale doing the most interesting and complex comb over in film history are the first things we see in the movie American Hustle. An opening that is interesting on many levels that tells me instantly that American Hustle is going to be a unique film.

Directed by David O Russell, American Hustle is a movie that is a retelling of the real life Abscam scandal in the 1970’s but more so about the theme of reinvention, and the idea that everyone needs to con others and put on fake facades to trick others to survive. The movie is in the middle of being a character study, parody, and glorification of the 1970’s and the me-ism philosophy that people in the 1970’s followed. The movie  manages to combine drama and comedy to create a story that is ambitious and messy but ultimately a well crafted story that manages to entertain and tell interesting things about how far people will go to achieve the American Dream.

The plot is basically about the Abscam scandal in the 1970’s and about con artists and how everyone in America, even people who are not criminals, are con artists. The story is about a con man, named Irving ( Christian Bale) who works with a woman named Sydney (Amy Adams) to scam people by selling fake art and giving people fake loans. Both of them are caught by FBI agent Richie Di Masso ( Bradley Cooper) who puts them into custody but makes them a deal that if they help him con corrupt politicians they will both be released from prison. They decide to take down a corrupt politician, named Carmine ( Jeremy Renner) who has a good heart but does corrupt things to support the people of New Jersey. They try to con him by getting a fake Arab Sheik to say that he is rich and trick Carmine in accepting fake bribes. In the background Irving has a young wife named Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who threatens to destroy Irving’s entire operation as well as Richie’s boss (Louis CK) who is against it all.

Now before I get this review underway I have to point out that I actually liked this movie and was surprised of how much I liked this movie. The reasons I point this out is because there seems to be a divided fan base debating on whether this movie is a masterpiece or whether it is one of the most overrated movies of all time. I happened to like this movie a lot because It reminded me of a movie similar to Goodfellas, and Pulp Fiction, where David O Russell takes some things that made those movies great and puts them in this movie, while adding his own style to the caper genre creating a sort mocking parody movie of the 1970’s but a complex drama with funny and dramatic moments, and complex and sympathetic characters usually not seen in the caper genre. David O Russel’s film is filled with sympathetic and raw performances as well as tight concise direction.  However this movie is not perfect and you will probably be surprised with the things I don’t like about it but first lets look at the good stuff.

The best part about this movie is the performances. Christian Bale is my favorite film actor working today and he absolutely makes this movie and is my favorite performance playing a character that is complex but very likable. Christian Bale gained so much weight in this role and you cannot recognize Christian Bale at all.  Irving is very relatable because of his heart in the movie but he has this intimidating air about him and wonderful subtlety about him that Christian Bale plays brilliantly. He definitely could be the best lead actor performance I have seen all year. Amy Adams is also one of my favorite actresses working today and she portrays one of the best and complicated characters in the movie where you never know what her intentions are throughout the movie, while still looking incredibly sexy throughout the movie developing a complex romance with Irving and Richie. Bradley Cooper plays one of the funniest characters in the movie playing a “fifteen year old in an adult body” who is an FBI agent. He has so much energy and ambition and wonderful chemistry with Christian Bale, Amy Adams and especially Louis CK’s character making some of the funniest parts in the movie due to their opposite personalities. He creates a character that seems like an unlikable character on paper due to his ambition and stupidity but Bradley Cooper manages to make me sympathize him due to his good intentions and funny behavior. Jeremy Renner does a brilliant job as being the heart of the movie due to him actually forming a friendship with Christian Bale and him having very good intentions to help New Jersey even when he is doing stuff illegally. Him not being nominated for an Oscar is beyond me especially considering that Jennifer Lawrence has gotten more praise than Jeremy Renner as well as more praise than anybody in this movie.

Yes my least favorite thing in the movie as well as least favorite performance in the movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s character. I was never on the Jennifer Lawrence love band wagon and though I just liked her in Silver Lining’s Playbook (she wasn’t my favorite thing about that movie) Jennifer Lawrence is horribly miscast and over acts and strains in her part as Rosalyn delivering an inconsistent accent and an annoying and one hit character that just acts crazy and cries and screams a lot. She delivers funny lines here and there and is good, but compared to the other characters I didn’t believe for a second that this was Rosalyn, I just saw Jennifer Lawrence. At times Jennifer Lawrence spoke a New York accent and some times she sounded like a college girl with a normal accent. The biggest flaw I have with Jennifer Lawrence is that she doesn’t take the time to immerse herself and study her roles. I think she is a good actress, nothing more and nothing less but I was not a fan of her in this movie.

Jennifer Lawrence’s character is actually one of the few things I didn’t like about this movie, but the other performances, direction by David O Russell, soundtrack and 1970’s setting are very good. The movie feels very talkative but always engaging because of the wonderful character interaction that feels very natural, and always fast paced. I get the feeling a lot of the dialogue in this movie was improvised and it is so fun to see all of the characters interact with each other because of this. David O Russell always makes it feel like I am watching these characters in real-time. The story may be hard to follow at times but the character interactions and wonderful acting and 70’s feeling makes this flaw not that bad. The movie is very grey, not black and white, with no bad guys or good guys and the fun thing about the movie is watching each  characters subtle acting decisions and how something could give away their intentions on who they are conning. The film can be seen as a comedy, and trust me it is funny, however the movie is also a drama filled with compelling characters as well as sympathetic characters with great performance and good written dialogue. The story is not that good and if you are not a big fan of the story or understand it that much, the story will drag, but if you are a fan of compelling characters and pay more attention to the characters more so than the story, you will love this movie. Also being a lover of the 1970’s helps a lot too because this movie really paid tribute to the 1970’s. David O Russell really made a good movie that is messy filled with so many character types of the 1970’s and wants to study them. In the process he makes a movie with great performances and soundtrack but it is definitely messy on the plot side of things. But a good mess because the flaws are inseparable from its positives. With so much focus on the story the characters probably wouldn’t have the same effect as they had in the movie. The movie is fast and sloppy because it symbolizes the characters and the period of the 70’s. The tone and pacing fit the character interactions and theme of the movie very well. It is a con game where everyone is in for themselves and confused on who they are and what they want in life.

Objective score: 9.3 Subjective score:9.5

Positives:

Christian Bale is fantastic, Bradley Cooper is fantastic, Amy Adams is fantastic, Jeremy Renner is very good. They are fun to watch but always seem to be in character the whole time. This is an acting movie, which means this movie is mostly about the characters and the performances, not the story.

This movie is so enjoyable to see. There is so much detail in every performance that it reminds me of a stage play and each character works off each other so well.

The soundtrack to this film is so good and memorable. It is  up there with Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction, when it comes to a good soundtrack. The soundtrack is symbolic as well as very memorable going with many scenes perfectly.

I love how this movie embraces as well as mocks the 70’s and how the hair styles and characters match a certain stereotype of the 70’s.

I love the hair symbolism and music symbolism this movie has. Makes me want to re watch the movie and analyze the movie.

This movie is fun. Not as fun as The Wolf of Wall Street, but fun enough, there are more chuckles in this movie then laugh out loud moments and I am okay with that because I like subtlety.

A great cameo by one of the best actors in Hollywood.

David O Russel’s direction is fun, concise, and breaths giving you good character direction.

Unlike most other caper movies, this movie has strong female characters. I loved Amy Adams the best and she delivers one of the best and complex characters ever in a caper film who is not just a housewife usually seen in other caper movies.

Mixed Feelings:

There are many things in the film that remind many people of Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction , Boogy Nights, Casino and some people may call this ripping off, I find it homage. A quote Irving says describing the idea of ripping off ” This painting is fake, people believe what they want to believe, because the guy who made this was so good, that everybody thinks that it is real, so who is the master, the painter or the forger.”  David O Russell, proves that he is a sort of con artist himself but nevertheless an artist. For David O Russell gives a homage to the caper genre movies in the past years.

Jennifer Lawrence’s character is not that good in my eyes but many people like her so take my opinion any way you want.

Bad:

The plot is complicated.

The movie is messy.

The movie is a little long but doesn’t drag like Wolf of Wall Street.

The movie drags if you are watching the movie for the plot.

The movie is too overhyped and that makes people disappointed of this movie.

I give this film a nice recommendation for those who love good characters, character interaction, music that is good, great performances and the 1970’s. Next I am going to review a film that many people I know are talking about. An Oscar contender for best picture and a movie that most people say is going to be winning it. I think you know. 12 Years A Slave. I am K Dog, and have fun at the movies.

K Dog’s Review of Wolf of Wall Street

Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm (pounding chest) is something that I see everyone doing now who ever watched the movie Wolf of Wall Street. The signature chest pounding humming to yourself ritual is done by  all of the stock brokers led by real life con criminal, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) as a sort of immortality ritual showing their love of drugs, hookers, and the desire to live for themselves and cheat others.

The Wolf of Street is a movie directed by Martin Scorsese and is a movie that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. It came out recently on Christmas day and is a movie with fairly mixed opinions with some people calling it a work of genius and others a piece of trash. It is a story that deals with a real criminal named Jordan Belfort and his life being a stock broker conning and ruining people’s lives while in the act making him and the rest of his workers rich. Warning, this movie has no sympathy for the people who were suffered by this con man and it shouldn’t be because this movie is not an emotional sympathetic movie. It is a movie that holds nothing back describing the horrible stuff that character Jordan Belfort did and how cold and ambitious his goals were in making him and the people who worked for him better. This movie if anything is not a mortality play, a comedy, or a drama, it is a movie that I describe as an immortality play of how a man ferociously lives out the American dream in the baddest of terms challenging our thoughts on his lifestyle and makes us question or feelings on this sort life Jordan Belfort is having.

Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that I really have conflicted feelings about and no movie I have ever seen has given me so much conflicted feelings like the movie Wolf of Wall Street. While this sounds like a criticism, I can assure you it isn’t, then again it is. A side of me thinks that the movie is a wonderfully directed movie with wonderful energy and very good performances and the other side of me thinks that the movie was an obnoxious and absolutely disgusting movie with some of the most despicable and vile characters ever put on film. The film has things that I despise like it having no likable characters or characters with redeemable qualities or interesting characteristics about them. But I can’t help but enjoy, or specifically respect, The movie for being an entertaining movie with so much confidence and so much guts with its acting and directing, specifically Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Martin Scorsese.

The movie is a film that shows, in an extreme vulgar way, the life of being a criminal, Jordan Belfart, whose whole life is devoted to drugs, whores and money and how despicable this life is and how on edge and exciting it is. The “glorification as well as insult to criminal life” is something that Martin Scorsese has done a lot of times, through movies like Goodfellas and Casino, and he does it very well in this film showing criminal life the way it is, A horrible despicable lifestyle filled with knuckleheads as well as a life filled with excitement and chaos that plays to our vulgar and id instincts. Me being a fan of Goodfellas, more so than the Godfather, is due to the fact of how Scorsese manages to glorify the mob as well as make fun of it at the same time.  The characters are unlikable but they are fun to watch.

Wolf of Wall Street does this sort of thing that Goodfellas manages to achieve but I think it goes too far in a lot of areas.  First off, this movie is not my kind of movie. Now don’t get me wrong I love Scorsese and respect all of his films but movies dealing with violence, and nasty vulgar scenes that make me extremely uncomfortable is not my kind of movie. Especially when I find all of the characters in this move very unlikable and vile people and the fact that I don’t take away any meaningful sort of messages and relatable situations that usually helps me get immersed in a film or any sort of story. Wolf of Wall Street takes violence and vulgar to the extreme and it is a movie that I could see getting an X rating. Parents be advised, do not I repeat, do not take your kids to see this movie, it will scar them for life and I rarely have seen a movie this inappropriate that I can say this statement. The movie is not gonna give you likable characters if you are the sort of sensitive movie lover like me but if you are not you will probably find these characters likable or at least respectable for their ambitions and chaotic behavior. Scorsese is not trying to make us sympathize with these characters and the genius of Scorsese is that he asks the audience whether they enjoy this sort of lifestyle or whether these characters are vile and despicable. I am in the latter but I will be lying if I did not say that some part of me does not find the lifestyle depicted wild and interesting. The wild id part of my brain thinks this.

The movie is full of humor and low brow entertainment and Scorsese, and the actors hold nothing back when showing the life Jordan Belfort lives. I assume after Scorsese has won an Oscar for The Departed, a film that I don’t like that much, Scorsese now doesn’t care whether audiences are gonna appreciate this movie. Scorsese makes the movies he wants to make and I respect him for that. This film, Scorsese is not afraid to make, that I am sure he was aware of, controversial. I don’t think I have ever seen a movie with so much humping ever in my life. There is sex, drugs, animal abuse, outside and inside the office that Jordan Belfort works. Unbelievable, yes, entertaining, yes and the movie makes you not care on whether some scenes are ridiculous. This is mostly all thanks to the actors.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives the performance of his career and makes a character that is one of the most hateful characters in recent movie memory. He plays Jordan Belfort and in this movie he is equally charming, terrifying and funny. Jordan Belfort is a character that is just fun to watch in Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo Di Carpio plays the character with so much confidence and hard work. I have been impressed with Christian Bale, my favorite film actor working today,  in the movie American Hustle but Leonardo DiCaprio  gives Christian Bale a run for his money. Both play their characters entirely different and it is all a matter of personal opinion on what performance you prefer. I will review American Hustle on a later date but all in all Leonardo plays the character with so much hard work in the film and Christian Bale plays his role effortlessly with hard work on the side, with his amazing body transformation. An example  of Leonardo DiCaprio’s power in his performance  is when he demonstrates his talents as a physical actor having one of the best slapstick scenes I have ever seen in recent memory of him taking a powerful drug that knocks him out having no control over his body or his words while he is in a country club. The scene shows him struggling to get to his car crawling and then, when he makes it to the car, struggles to drive to his house that is less than a mile away. Sounds ridiculous I know but the scene is so well done and acted by Leonardo DiCaprio  and has brilliant direction by Scorsese that it manages to allow the audience to cheer and root for his safety at first and giving us a surprise truth of the whole scene the next day that is brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese.

Other performances like Jonah Hill is also good as well as new comer  Margot Robbie who plays Belfort’s wife who is incredibly sexy and also strong willed if you look deeper into her character. Jonah Hill plays Leonardo’s partner in crime and he proves time and time again why he should be given more credit as an actor and not always a comedian, because of his chemistry with Leonardo DiCaprio and drama scenes. The ensemble is all good and they are all entertaining characters but not complex characters or sympathetic ones. The movie is a cautionary tale as well as a glorification of the criminal life and the actors achieve by giving the audience entertainment and despicable behavior.

This movie is as if Martin has been  looking at the film Goodfellas and saying to himself, okay Goodfellas was controversial back in the day but screw that we are in the 2010s. Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that takes the glorification and vulgar of Goodfellas and cranks it up 100 times. If you are not into vulgar movies you will not like this movie but hey this isn’t my type of movie and I was able to appreciate it. If you enjoy the movie and not look at so much as a sympathetic sensitive movie you will enjoy this movie. I still can’t figure out if I like this movie or hate this movie. The movie is the most inappropriate and over the top movie I have ever seen in my life. This makes A Clockwork Orange seem like a pg 13 movie and makes Goodfellas a PG movie. This movie should really be rated X and pushes the envelope on what movies can show with its depiction of chaos and violence.

Score: Objectively: 9.3/10 Subjectively: 8.8/10 (Surprising)

Good things: Amazing performances and impeccable energy.

Speeches by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film are delivered with so much power as if he is the modern day equivalent to Hitler.

Wonderful direction

Iconic scene imagery and funny slapstick humor (Specifically Leonardo Di Caprio passing out).

Confidence

Bad things:

Vulgar is not even enough to describe how inappropriate and hard to watch this movie is.

It is way too long. 3 hours and it doesn’t even have that much of a story or interesting characters. As Leonardo DiCaprio character says “the important thing is that we were making money and getting richer and richer through the stuff we were doing.” That is all there is to the plot and how fun it is to watch it.

Mixed feelings:

It has no sympathy for the victims of Belfort’s conning and scheming.

The soundtrack is good but there is not a Layla scene from Goodfellas here.

This has been K Dog and I give this movie a good wild recomendation. This has been K Dog. Peace out and enjoy the movie.