Can't Stop the Movies - No One Can Stop The Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
16Dec/170

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

The war continues. Both the Resistance and the First Order are reeling after the destruction of the Starkiller Base, and General Leia leads the retreat as Kylo Ren continues his relentless pursuit.  Meanwhile, Rey seeks out Jedi Master Luke Skywalker hoping to understand more about the power that's awakened inside her, and finding out the truth of the Jedi is more complicated than mere light and dark.  Rian Johnson wrote the screenplay for and directs The Last Jedi, and stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the audience surrogate who speaks to me.  While other characters in Star Wars: The Last Jedi  (just The Last Jedi from here on) spin their wheels in diversionary plots and meandering dialogue, Kylo openly vents his frustration at a lack of forward momentum.  It's his psychic communion with Rey (Daisy Ridley) which drives her to be the teensiest bit curious about why the powerful Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) cut himself off from the universe to stare at vegetation for thirty years.  Kylo is as tired of the wheel-spinning inside The Last Jedi's universe as I am watching it from the outside.

There is nothing new in The Last Jedi, written and directed by the usually phenomenal Rian Johnson, and what few advances in diversity were in The Force Awakens are revealed as the hollowest form of tokenism.  Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are all pawns in a proxy war between the entrenched old white guard and the less snappily dressed opposition.  Never has the distinction between good and bad mattered so little, now it's just about who survives plot points repeated from earlier Star Wars films to be shoved into the same cycle for the upcoming ninth episode.

The Last Jedi shows none of the ideological or creative bravery that punctuated Gareth Edwards' Rogue One.  Of course the films serve separate purposes with The Last Jedi an obvious stop-gap between the seventh to ninth episodes and Rogue One afforded a bit more freedom.   But sacrifices in The Last Jedi are emotional beats and little more, with one phenomenally shot moment showing the weight of pilot Paige Tico's (Veronica Ngo) responsibility weighing her down against a metallic grid.  This is a mere setup to give Paige's sister Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) a reason to join Finn on a mission of dubious result and occasionally broad slapstick.  No reason to think about, or even mention, Paige when Johnson can get to the shot of spherical droid pal BB-8 shooting poker chips.

12Dec/170

Changing Reels Episode 33 – Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

We are keeping things loose this episode as we are still recovering from the holidays and dealing with family related issues. So while there is no short film discussions this week, special guest Seth Gorden, the talent to artist who does all of our artwork, joins us to discuss Zacharias Kunuk’s stirring epic Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. Hailed as one of the greatest Canadian films of all time, and inspired by an Inuit legend, the film is a captivating look at how community, mysticism and the sins of the past impact a family in unexpected ways.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes! If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com). You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

Filed under: 2000's, Podcasts No Comments
4Dec/170

Changing Reels Episode 32 – Hush

We are joined once again by film critic Kristen Lopez to discuss the representation of disability in cinema. This time we dive into the horror genre with Mike Flanagan’s 2016 thriller Hush. The film focuses on a writer who is deaf whose solitary life in the woods is disrupted by a masked killer. We also take a moment to dive into our two short film picks (available online for free): Rob Savage’s Dawn of the Deaf and Charlotte Wells’ Laps.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes! If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com). You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

Filed under: 2016, Podcasts No Comments
1Dec/170

Cibele (2015)

If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

Two stories, one likely apocryphal and the other a friendly bit of advice.

In the 19th century, a man and woman meet by chance and go their separate ways.  They continue to communicate via telegraph, their communication blossoms into romance, and they decide to meet once more.  Neither has a clue what to do with the other when they share the same space again, until they have an idea to move their conversation back to the telegraph.  What was awkward now flowed naturally, and their romance continued in the tiny clicks of the telegraph where the silence stood.

The advice comes from a man I knew back in my insurance days.  He was a "worldly" sort, but had the wide swath of knowledge and good nature to back up his image.  I was talking about some problems with my then-girlfriend with him and he said, "Remember, there are three people in the relationship.  There's you, there's her, and there's the two of you together."  Great advice, but the truth is more complicated than that.  There was me and her, sure, but she was shocked at how different I was when hanging out with other friends, and I was similarly surprised at how she changed depending on the social temperature.  The "me" and "her" existed in constant flux, adapting to suit the situation, and we each discovered things about the other when our social dynamic changed.

Cibele thrives in this flux.  You play as Nina, a teenager trying to find her footing in college, as she moves from one personality to the next hoping to find what will make her happy.  The majority of the gameplay comes from searching Nina's desktop, rifling through folders of old poetry and photographs, watching her change as the months pass and the scattered ideas she has of herself come together to form Nina.  The key is to realize none of these fragments are false.  Some are cosmetic experiments - hair dye here, change of clothes there.  Others delve into herself by writing poetry and blog posts.  The conflict comes from those fragments colliding with the world outside her desktop, where the solitude of experimentation ends and messy human interaction begins.

30Nov/170

Torment: Tides of Numenera (2017)

If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

In recent months, I've come to find that videogames may be the most potent medium to experience empathy for another human being.  This is a driving force behind Torment: Tides of Numenera (simply Tides of Numenera moving forward), where science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke's maxim, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" takes an empathetic turn.  The memories of entire civilizations can be crammed into rocks, nanomachines capable of driving innocent farmers to self-destructive heroics burn with a righteous and malevolent fury, and God's discarded vessel can find a way to strike back via research instead of stumbling upon a holy force.  As far as Tides of Numenera's ambition is concerned, developers inXile Entertainment are dedicated to presenting a society where everyone is an open nerve seeking peace.

This has the makings for a chaotic experience since my player character, The Last Castoff, can tap into the thoughts of these shattered people and manipulate their emotions.  inXile, understandably and disappointingly, makes the safe choice by making emotions fall into simple categories.  It's not as easy as red equaling rage or silver equaling nobility, but each color of the emotional force called The Tides tidily places player character actions into one - and sometimes two - emotional statistics.  Rather than ride out the unpredictable nature of human interaction, The Last Castoff's emotional responses are just another power stat to keep track of, and it wasn't until the third act that my dominant tide (gold, for empathy and self-sacrifice) made me an easy target for people looking to unload their burdens.