Patrick R

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Everything posted by Patrick R

  1. Movie/TV recommendations

    So I'd still maybe disagree with you a little about what is and isn't plausible (I think Snowpiercer and Inception are highly implausible, while Under the Skin's technology is merely inscrutable) but I think I resist using your definition of "hard sci-fi" (while acknowledging that, if it's indeed what most people mean when using the phrase, it doesn't make any sense for me to stubbornly cling to my own definition) because I'm just not the kind of dude who can pick out what is and isn't against the laws of science, especially when it comes to films that deal with other worlds, alien species or civilizations centuries in the future. And saying Iron Man is hard sci-fi because there's a lot of scenes of Tony building and testing his suit while Star Trek: The Motion Picture isn't because the warp drive isn't supposed to work like that (or whatever inconsistencies pop up in the Star Trek series) feels strange to me.
  2. Movie/TV recommendations

    My conception of "hard sci-fi" may be mine alone. I feel like sci-fi films driven mainly by ideas tend to occupy one place in my mind while films driven mainly by special effects and spectacle occupy another. Of course it's not a binary and a film can do both: 2001 is a hard sci-fi and also a feat of special effects that still look incredible to this day. Ex Machina is a small-scale film with excellent CGI make-up. For me, something like Alien isn't "hard sci-fi" because while it has concepts and ideas it explores, that is all a distant second to it being a horror movie. Gravity, Snowpiercer and Inception feel closer to spectacle driven Hollywood roller coasters than any of those others I branded "hard sci-fi". Gravity is a film of basically no ideas, it's all thrilling momentum and tension. Snowpiercer has very broad ideas (and a setting that only really make sense as metaphor) but is defined, to me, by it's action set-pieces. Inception, granted, IS a film of ideas but features a few too many high concept fight scenes and CGI set-pieces that separate it in my mind from something like Coherence or Under the Skin.
  3. Movie/TV recommendations

    This also happened with Neil Blompkamp, now that I think about it. Also I'm not a huge fan of Alex Garland, though response to his work seems to be trending up instead of down so maybe I'll be more into Annihilation than I was Ex Machina. Either way, me and critically acclaimed mid-budget contemporary sci-fi films don't seem to get along. Meanwhile Shane Carruth and James Ward Byrkit's work is either ignored or met with mixed response and neither of them have made a movie in 5 years. This made me curious so I looked it up. Here are hard sci-fi films from this decade I loved: Under the Skin, Coherence, Upstream Color, World of Tomorrow. You take off the "hard" restriction and you can add Gravity, Snowpiercer, and potentially Inception & Cloud Atlas (loved at the time, doubt I'd love as much now) and potentially Contagion and Shin Godzilla (could be considered sci-fi but feel like wildly different things).
  4. Movie/TV recommendations

    As someone who only thought Moon was "pretty good", it's been a trip seeing the rise of expectation and fall of disappointment at every subsequent Duncan Jones film. In 2009 I felt crazy hearing all the raves. Now, less so.
  5. Filmmaking

    This seems like a good bet to me. There are all kinds of spiritual guides who seem like they'd fit this role. Also doesn't mean it can't still be a person of color in that role.
  6. Movie/TV recommendations

    Long live physical media.
  7. The Asian Film Thread

    I want to see Eastern Condors so bad.
  8. Movie/TV recommendations

    I agree with his points, though not that it's the worst movie since Crash, it wasn't even the worst movie nominated for Best Picture this year. But I see now I never paid off my asterisk. Here, let me do that now: *Media where people posthumously set forth a complicated series of events in motion via letters and other devices always make me think those people are The Joker. Hannah in 13 Reasons Why is The Joker, Jigsaw in the Saw movies is The Joker and so is Chief Willoughby in Three Billboards.
  9. The Asian Film Thread

    I took a break from this to prep for an upcoming commentary track I'll be recording on George Romero's film Martin, but I have two quick ones to share. Mahjong I watched back in mid-February and, after the sublimity of Yang's Taipei Story, it was a bit of a let down. This is only partially the film's fault. It was via a very old DVD release (possibly a bootleg) and the subtitle track was awful, with nearly every line featuring some kind of broken or nonsensical English. As always in these situations I try to give the film the benefit of the doubt and assume there's nuance I'm missing. On the other hand it also features a kind of sprawling directionless "young adult ennui dovetails into criminal behavior" plot that at this point has become a laughable cliche of Chinese cinema for me. And it doesn't help that there's several very bad English language performances that stick out like a sore thumb. There's a number of small moments throughout the film that I found interesting and moving but nothing that compares to Taipei Story or the reputation of Yang's other work. On the other hand, I absolutely MELTED over Shin Godzilla. Earlier in this thread I hypothesized that Godzilla movies just weren't for me and while Shin Godzilla is too much of outlier to have proved me wrong, exactly, it does at least point towards what I desired: ruthless disaster response procedural minutia. So I guess that means I'm a bit dull. At any rate, Shin Godzilla is almost experimental in how it withholds the traditional thrills one associates with kaiju films, mostly eschewing massive urban destruction (though it's present) in favor of exploring Japanese bureaucracy. Committees, chains of commands, and endless departments of international governments all butt heads on the right response to the irrational terror that is a giant monster. I kind of knew I'd be into this sort of thing, but didn't expect to be so moved at the same time. Shin Godzilla tells a highly convincing and detailed story of red-tape and buck passing but also is able to find joy and inspiration in spontaneous collectivism and humanity's ability to solve impossible problems. I never thought I'd cry at a Godzilla movie but I also never thought there'd ever be one like this. If you are into detail driven procedurals like Zodiac or All The President's Men, I can't recommend this enough.
  10. Movie/TV recommendations

    The Shape of Water is SO UNBELIEVABLY BLUNT. Not just that but predictable too. I get it's going for a broad fairy tale thing but does that count out the least bit of nuance or subtlety? Maybe I'm just not a Del Toro guy? I hated Pacific Rim (deadly dull) and haven't watched his other stuff since high school, when I loved it on a design level but I fear returning to The Devil's Backbone and Cronos.
  11. Filmmaking

    The differences in both lighting equipment and photochemical color photography means it almost certainly won't be the exact Bava look, but it's certainly worth exploring. Maybe upon trying (and failing) to capture Bava's look you'll stumble upon your own. I can't claim intimate knowledge of Bava's process but I'd be shocked if most of those lighting effects were accomplished with anything other than color gels and an insanely exacting eye.
  12. Dark Souls(Demon's Souls successor)

    I have had some pretty awful dental procedures recently (hey kids, if your gums bleed don't just ignore it for 7 years) and in the recovery time I wanted to go to a comfort game and somehow Dark Souls, a game that I'm pretty sure just takes place in hell, is that game for me. A lot is said about how hard or brutal it is but I find it exceedingly welcoming and warm because no matter how insurmountable something seems (and the first approach always seems insurmountable) there is always an approach you, a guy who sucks at video games, can take to overcome, whether it's a summon that cheeses the boss (thank you, Maneater Mildred), a realization that you can easily run past swinging blades if you take off all your clothes, or a stroke of luck breaks your way. I have a tendency to reject most media that implies you're ok and everything will be just fine, so Dark Souls's mix of fuck-you level design and there's-no-wrong-way-to-play game design is as close I get to embracing an inspirational story. I spent an hour last night trying to beat the Iron Golem and each time I got a little bit closer, chipping away his health a little closer to nothing each run. After one particularly close attempt I gave myself one more try and proceeded to make him topple off the cliff about 45 seconds into the fight. I know I annoyed my neighbors when I jumped up and cheered but holy God, this game is so great. Also, there's still enough people playing the X360 version for me to mess around with the multiplayer, which was a nice surprise.
  13. South Park

    I watched the first 3 or 4 episodes of the first season about a week ago and was shocked at how well it held up. I mostly think South Park is awful and has been a net negative on the culture, but before the tired "how do we tackle this current event as two rich libertarians who wish to protect our complacency at all costs" approach took hold South Park had a very specific tone and aesthetic, much closer to underground comics than anything else. South Park felt like a real place, the humor truly odd and surprising. I watched Season 18 a couple years ago and mostly felt like the show had become defined by having no real point of view and being held hostage by "hot button issues" it was completely incapable of tackling, but the first season had a real voice to it. And very earnestly strange vibes. Of course it had a lot of lame jokes and bad catchphrases too, but whadya want, it was the 90's. Asspen and Stanley's Cup are forever great, though.
  14. Filmmaking

    When I was in my summer school filmmaking class there was a student who couldn't think of an idea that would fit a 30 second to minute long silent short film. My teacher put his hands on their shoulders, looked them straight in the eyes and said "Then do a water balloon fight. Everyone likes a water balloon fight. They can be any length and they look great." I'm not necessarily saying make a film about a water balloon fight (it's February) but with a short film you really need so little context, so little backstory and your premise doesn't need to be clever. You could make a short about someone looking for their car keys and it'd be the valuable learning experience you need. Try searching "short horror film" on Vimeo . Even if you don't want to make a horror film, amateur/student horror shorts are nice because they're usually structured around a single gag, available locations, don't require much nuance from your surely amateur actors and are narrow in scope the way your first films should be. Here's a couple: Shiva Masterpiece He Can Help Whistle
  15. The Good Place

    Glad to hear it because, up through episode 6, it is decidedly not this, or at least not in anyway that's clear given the available information. Everything I've seen so far is "learn the arbitrary rules of Good Place glitches and base behavior on avoiding those because those increase your chances of getting caught and going to hell forever".
  16. The Good Place

    I've now seen 6 episodes of The Good Place. At what point did it click for most people? There are parts I like but other parts I really don't. I really don't like either of the neighbor characters (particularly the DJ guy who is maybe the worst flattest actor I've seen in a sitcom, his mumbling line deliveries killing every joke) and the premise of the afterlife really annoys me, especially as a moral center to the main character's quest to be a good person. So goodness is determined purely by volume of acts and only the top 1% get to go to heaven while the rest burn in hell forever? So if you're a child who dies of an illness tough shit, you don't deserve heaven as much as the rich person who donated a lot to charity? The only thing that's keeping me watching, other than the overwhelmingly positive reception, is the hope that the nature of The Good Place gets subverted and addresses this stuff. I have some faith in that, but my fear is they'll keep stringing along the nature of the place too long and I'll run out of patience before it does.
  17. Filmmaking

    Excellent! As someone who came up with an idea for a modest short film in mid 2016 and is now still in the process of editing that film, my advice would be to work quickly and just bang something out. My professional friend who is helping me said that the credo of the indie filmmaker is "The next one will be better" and that means a lot more to me now than when I started. By the time anyone sees this thing it will be nearly 2 years in the making and as proud as I am of how it's coming along, it's hard to imagine a final result that will make that feel like time well spent. If I had been less finicky about getting everything right and made a half dozen shorts in that time I would have learned much more and quite possibly a couple of them would have been better than what I'm working on now. They might have not been amazing but they'd at least have put me further down the path to making something amazing. My advice would be to take stock of what you have (equipment, props, locations, people who can help you), come up with a simple and VERY short story (or simple concept if you want to eschew narrative) about 3 minutes max and try to bang it out over the course of a week. Even if it's terrible it will give you a starting point to work off from, ideas of what you want to improve, what your strengths are, etc. And if you're doing a narrative thing make a shot list. The actual shooting of my short went really well because my shot list was a road map to the day's work and I was able to schedule our time wisely. And if you're going to work with actors, set some time aside for a rehearsal. Even if it's just running through everything a couple times with script in hand it will make you think about how to block and stage your shots in much more practical concrete ways. In my head my movie looked like Ozu and the blocking of my dialogue scene was very static. Then during rehearsal I realized that I'm not actually a brilliant screenwriter and the ineffable poetry of my words wouldn't be enough to hold the audience rapt with attention, so I reworked it to be much more dynamic and it made everything better. If I had realized my mistake while I was supposed to be shooting I probably would have worried too much about getting everything done on time and left it at the bad blocking. But if you don't have time for rehearsals, that's fine, just get it done. As an aside, here is the only other film I've directed (unless you count a 30 second silent film I shot on 16mm as part of a summer school course). It was co-directed with my ex, but since it was for a school project of theirs they got sole credit. We thought we were being really Woody Allen but it's actually more like an early Eric Rohmer film, even though neither of us had seen his work at that point. Really rough on a technical level and my narration (our golden-throated narrator we lined up cancelled at the last minute, so I had to do it) makes me cringe, but all in all it's not terrible for an amateur movie made by teenagers with a camcorder and Windows Movie Maker.
  18. I had a random thought about movies

    I know as a rule that most editors hold continuity at a very low priority, so it might just be a natural result of him allowing actors to try lots of different things on set, perhaps to maintain that kind of energy in the performances? Making sure you take a sip of your drink or hold your arm in the same place every take can be stifling and I know a movie like Wolf of Wall Street had a fair amount of improvisation. But maybe it's intentional too. He's certainly aware of it, at any rate.
  19. Marvel movies

    God help me I think I'm gonna see Black Panther in theaters. I can't believe I'm going to fall into this again but I at least have faith in the production design and cast, if not the Disney machine.
  20. I had a random thought about movies

    There's a great cut in Duel where the truck is driving by the main character's car window and Spielberg cuts in the middle to a different angle and the way he messes with time adds an extra 5 to 10 feet to the truck's perceived length. And if you ever watch any Scorsese movies, especially later ones, they're a veritable bonanza of poor continuity. Basically no two shots in the opening of The Departed cut together cleanly. Continuity errors are wonderful.
  21. 13 Deadly Sims is the best video feature. So glad I happened to try a month of Premium right before the first episode came out.
  22. Recently completed video games

    Sinkr is a perfectly fine puzzle game about operating various contraptions to put round pegs in round holes and square ones in square holes. It introduces a few of it's mechanics in slightly obtuse ways, and I found the difficulty ramp pretty steep towards the end. 60 levels in total, worth the 99 cents I paid for it though the "responsive ambient music" mostly consisted of the four same piano notes playing whenever you did anything and that got annoying fast. It's on Kongregate so you don't have to buy it to play it.
  23. Star Wars Episode 8

    Given the harsh reaction to it by it's core fanbase, I'm convinced that Hollywood will take the opposite lesson.
  24. The Asian Film Thread

    Burst City sounds like a must-see. I saw two films today with nothing in common. The first was Porco Rosso, on jennegatron's recommendation and she was absolutely right because that movie's great. I think the pulp adventure sensibility of Porco Rosso works well to counter-act what often feels like an acute sentimentality I often feel with Miyazaki's work. It tackles a lot of the same ground he'd later cover with The Wind Rises, particularly the tension between the purity and joy of flight and the corrupting nature of war, but I think it's much better here. The plot is very 1940's Hollywood and the eponymous lead reminds me of Humphrey Bogart, if Humphrey Bogart was an anthropomorphized pig. That it's never explained how Porco, a former human, became a pig and his curse is never relevant to the plot was a welcome surprise. I thought for sure he'd turn back human when he found love or when he started acting less selfishly but his form mostly appears to be a symbol for his trauma. The art direction is great but it's a Ghibli movie, you could have guessed that. On the other hand, I also watched Zinda Laash AKA The Living Corpse AKA Dracula in Pakistan. I'm a really big fan of the 1958 English film Horror of Dracula so watching this was a real trip, as Zinda Laash is basically a scene by scene remake of it. There are liberties taken in order to move the action from 19th century Europe to contemporary (1967) Pakistan (here the Dracula character is just a professor who turns himself into a vampire) but for the most part this is such a direct rip-off that most scenes are even staged the same way, just in black and white, with a much smaller budget, and with Urdu musical numbers. They even got a guy who looks just like Christopher Lee, but it's all the weird little differences that make it so interesting. Horror of Dracula came from the famous Hammer Studios, who grounded a lot of their horror films in a very Judeo-Christian sense of mythology. Obviously, taking place in Pakistan, there are no crosses in Zinda Laash, no prayers, and not even a lot of traditional vampire trappings like stakes and garlic. Just knives and sexy surf rock dance numbers to represent the seductive power of female vampires. It's not a great movie but at one point Not-Dracula tosses a baby to his female vampire follower and shouts "Feast on this!" so it's some kind of experience. If you aren't a die-hard Horror of Dracula fan, though, you probably won't find it as interesting as I did.
  25. Solitaire: The Lonely Hearts Club

    A combination of slow days at work and the Microsoft Games library being the only thing on the computers there has started me playing a lot of Solitaire card games, specifically Freecell and Spider Solitaire. While playing them I had a thought: is every newly dealt hand actually winnable? I never questioned it but now I wonder if 1. those classic Microsoft versions of those games just shuffle the cards randomly when dealing, regardless of winnable state OR 2. they randomly select from a preset number of hands already determined to be winnable OR 3. The nature of the game designs means there's no such thing as an unwinnable hand. I did a little digging and apparently and found a thread some people arguing about Freecell in the 90s, and discovered some people specifically liked going through them number by number and also found this which guesses that all but 14 are solvable. Spider Solitaire and Solitaire seem have lower rates of winnable hands, but still high chances.