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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street Review: Ludefellas.

Talking about this movie is a struggle for a couple of reasons. One, it feels like there's too much ground to cover for a single review. Two, it seems like when I really think about it, there isn't much to talk about at all.

It's the same Scorsese shtick you've seen before, but different. A entire film's worth of material is covered in it's first 40 minutes alone, yet it seems to repeat itself two more times before the end... but differently. Half of me wants to call it a complete waste of time, half of me wants to call it a masterpiece. It's the most effective piece of manic film making I've ever seen. Except for the first 20 minutes, the entire film is paced like the coke sequence from Goodfellas. Does that sound exhausting? It should, because it is.

But it's a good kind of exhausting. Because it's just so charming, it felt like it was always two steps ahead of me. Say there's a scene with DiCaprio sniffing cocaine out of a hooker's butt hole with a straw (there is). In the back of my head I'm over it "yeah I guess that's kinda funny in a schlocky, desperate kind of way" I think to myself. But Scorsese knows I'm in that head space and adds just a little something that brings the visual punchline together and suddenly I'm laughing the loudest of anyone in the theater.

It's 3 hours of that, over and over. DiCaprio is coning the rich and poor alike with phoney stock bids and eventually sets the tone for the next decade of wall street trading. He uses that capital to land a trophy wife, a mansion on the most valuable real estate in America, and to fund a crippling addiction to a sleeping pill discontinued in the early 80's. He's so rich he was on drugs that didn't exist anymore!

I'd like to think there isn't a shirt that can make me hate someone instantly... but there it is.

This is the Dicaprio show, for sure, but a standing army of bit players get some of the spotlight too. Jonah Hill is the creepy sidekick and he kills it. Some of the more improvised scenes drag with him, but it's crazy how skeevy and adorable he is all at once. Also, Margot Robbie makes the most of her 20 some-odd minutes of screen time by owning every single second of it.

She's got the kind of screen presence you can't teach, and I'm not just talking about the her scalding good looks. On paper her role as the second wife goes from being naive arm candy to half-hearted landscaper. Not a whole hell of a lot for her to work with. But the more I think about her choices, the more I realize she's playing a lot more than she's getting played. Which is kind of awesome. But sadly there's no three dimensional female character within a square mile of this movie, but it's not her fault.

Does this film do justice to the reality of the real wolf's reign of life wrecking selfishness? I can't say, his daughter has some choice words for us viewers, and they're worth reading from what I saw. But what I can say is this is Scorsese's best movie in  well over a decade and it's extended quaalude overdose sequence is worth ten bucks on it's own. It's great, insanely repetitive, and if you give it enough time it'll give you one hell of a contact high.

Is Mob City smart, boring or... hell I don't know, Jay what do you think?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Troy Baker on the Indoor Kids

I'm no stranger to podcasts, which means I'm no stranger to the Nerdist network. The Indoor Kids in particular is one of the more interesting discussions being held on the games industry. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordan are enjoyable enough on their own, but stir in some adorable marital back and forth you can only hear from the couples you know are gonna make it, and it becomes the most entertaining discussion being held on the industry.

They've had some legitimately good episodes before, the Bioshock Infinite double date was hysterical. But sometimes true luminaries from the business drop by, Tom Bissell and Film-Crit-Hulk come to mind, and those always stand out. But after their sit down with the actor Troy Baker (who's so effortlessly charming it makes me physically angry) something tugged at me in the back of my head. Something that said that this is worth remembering.

Some like to wring their hands and say the industry will soon crash just as it did in the 80's.
There may well be a financial culling of the herd. But to suggest our culture will simply abandon gaming as we did back then is absurd and I should probably write a whole 'nuther article about that... moving on.

But with people like Baker and Johnson turning in performances like Joel and Ellie, it's no longer a matter of time before games catch up with the quality and the subtlety of film. I say we're already there.

Listen to the episode not just for your own curiosity, but to pay things forward for people like Baker. He more than deserves an hour your time, and I promise it's worth your while.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Steam Winter Sale is scrumptious!

The best thrice yearly thing in PC gaming is here again, this time with a frostier texture. The Summer, fall, and winter sales consistently outdo themselves. And this one is no exception.

Max Payne for $4.00?

Right here.

Tomb Raider for $13.00?

They got that too.

Borderlands 2 GOTY for $15.00?!


Breath it in guys. Breath in the steam.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Yellow Sea is a Netflix gem.

I'm always up for a hidden gem. I'm usually never too hyped and almost always surprised. Sometimes the surprise is that I think the movie is actually terrible... but either way, I'm out of my comfort zone.

I've always wanted to dig more into Korean cinema. I goddamn loved  The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, but Thirst left me dry, and some bastard spoiled Oldboy for me. So when I'm not in the mood, 9 times out of ten, I'll stick with American Dad episodes I've seen a million times instead of broadening my horizons.

The Yellow Sea has a fascinating first 30 minutes (that's all I've seen so far, I got an early shift) and I can't wait to finish it. But before I go, I'll say I love how the Chinese/Korean border politics drive the conflict. I'm just along for the culture now. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Florida tea party Facebook group has co-opted that Bioshock Infinite mural for their banner.

Yep... that mural.

I wish I had something to say about The National Liberty Federation using one of the most satirically racist paintings I've ever seen unironically. But there are no words for this. Except maybe, wow.

...and why.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Here's a devilishly good trailer for House of Cards, season 2.

I really liked the first season of House of Cards. Perfect? no. But taken as an experiment for an entirely new mode of entertainment consumption I found it wildly successful. It kept everything that made the British original unique, while taking advantage of what would make an American setting interesting. So yeah, 2/14/14 is a red letter day for me, and those letters read Netflix.

And I like how the composer fit that spiritual into the main theme, there.

Nice one, Beal!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fallout 4 IS real. But the teaser was fake... I don't know, I've lost the plot now.

Kotaku's investigative team is saying that Fallout 4 is real and will be set in Massachusetts, as was long thought to be the case.  This comes from leaked documents from a casting call for a Bethesda project called "The Institute" in which the phrase made immortal by Ron Pearlman is found.

So, there! They're totally working on it. Boston's cool, I can get behind that too. I'm just breathing a huge sigh of relief here, it had been far too long for me. It's been over 3 years now, I need a new Fallout yesterday.

But I can wait.

Here's some of the leaked documents: