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The Boy Who Stole The Sun: DevLog #8

Update Time! Some key features have finally been implemented and settled. It almost feels like the main features are stable. In gamedev, stability is often a fleeting feeling. Anyway, in this video update, I show off graphical and gameplay interactions with snow and water. Flurries have different responses to environmental zones than the player has.

The player has three death states now, being frozen, knocked out (regular death from health loss), and the total-ice-cube-frozen which happens instantly when the player touches the ocean. Since we've got all these working now, there's also a debug key to revive the player.

Special thanks goes to Vincent for his diligent debugging and keeping the list of broken stuff to a minimum. Thanks Vincent!

[Vincent's website:]

Filed under: DVD Reviews No Comments

Changing Reels S2 Episode 3 – Antwone Fisher

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We celebrate Black History Month with the 2002 film Antwone Fisher directed by Denzel Washington.  The film tells the true story of a young naval officer who, through the help of a determined psychiatrist, comes to terms with his painful past.  For our short film spotlight, we discuss Speak It!: From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia by Sylvia Hamilton.

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Filed under: 2000's, Podcasts No Comments

Darkest Hour (2017)

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The beaches are in peril.  Nazi Germany is on the march, beginning Hitler's conquest of Europe, and Parliament sits divided on how to respond.  The only way forward is compromise, setting the stage for Winston Churchill to fly or falter under the pressure of his appointment to Prime Minister.  Joe Wright directs Darkest Hour, with the screenplay written by Anthony McCarten, and stars Gary Oldman and Kirstin Scott Thomas.

Darkest Hour plays like a riff on one of England's oldest traditions, pulling out a production of Shakespeare's Henry V when the country is facing hard times.  Only in Darkest Hour, the mighty leader is a compromise slob who can barely string coherent sentences together in his barely restrained bloodlust who is appointed by the shadowy upper-crust needing a potential fall guy.  Rare is the motion picture that combines disdain for the upper class, astonishment that governments survive long enough to do any kind of good, and still manage to be a fully rousing experience.

I have some hesitation in giving it a full recommendation because Darkest Hour repeats some arguments that enrage me.  Chief among them is the idea that leaders come to us via divine providence and their flaws are what give them strength.  Director Joe Wright anticipates this somewhat, making the bulk of these arguments come from the exquisite Kirstin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill.  When she intones that Winston's lack of grace builds him up, it's hard not to hear echoes of those who defend Donald Trump's similar (to put it charitably) awful viewpoints.  Yet, Thomas says these lines with a hint of humored reservation, and Gary Oldman's near-slobbering take on Winston does little to make the line ring true.


Phantom Thread (2018)

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Reynolds Woodcock is a man of particular taste and undeniable talent.  He attracts women with his beautiful dress designs just as sure as he drives them away with the tight control he keeps on his surroundings.  When he meets Alma, there stands the chance that he found the woman able to put up with his dominating life force.  What he doesn't realize is that Alma is just as capable as he, and he is about to find out what life with her leads to.  P.T. Anderson writes the screenplay for and directs Phantom Thread, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville.

Back when P.T. Anderson's films were a high-wire act of tension and pastiche pulled from his favorite artists, he blended a keen sense of humor to his often bleak surroundings.  His films are so saturated in loneliness that his humor kept things from spiraling into despair.  Even as he's moved on to more self-assured productions the humor, sometimes light and often dark, remained.  His last film, Inherent Vice was funny and melancholic in equal measure, and he punctuates the driving darkness of There Will Be Blood with bleak hilarity that - in retrospect - sounds positively Trumpian.

Phantom Thread is nowhere near as elegant and restrained as its advertising might suggest.  Yes, there are several visions of elegance in the dresses Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) creates.  But the elegance shifts away quickly to make room for the throbbing hostilities between Reynolds and whoever occupies his affections at the time.  His childishness also betrays the stiff surroundings, scoffing that he wants, "no more smudgy things" when his soon to be dispatched lover offers him a sweet treat.  It's in this way Anderson plays up the space between the rigid lines of architecture and carefully tailored dresses, he's conditioning us to look for any discrepancy - be it positive or negative - that emerges from the stoic surroundings.


The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

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Humanity is on the brink of global war over dwindling energy supplies.  Ava Hamilton reluctantly joins the crew of the Cloverfield space station hoping to find a conduit to infinite energy through dangerous quantum experiments.  Julius Onah directs The Cloverfield Paradox, with the screenplay written by Oren Uziel, and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, and Chris O'Dowd.

Be it post-credits sequences setting up later stories, or labyrinthine marketing schemes where lore-heavy diaries are distributed to hardcore fans, it's feeling increasingly like anticipation for the product is the product.  The Cloverfield films aren't patient zero for this phenomenon but producer J.J. Abrams has it clear he will not let an opportunity for marketing go to waste.  The Cloverfield Paradox was kept as tight a secret as possible and went live on Netflix after a trailer aired during last week's Superbowl.  That's a long ways from the time he created several websites to pose many questions about LOST's DHARMA  Initiative that wouldn't be answered, but considering the way internet hounds sniff out the first sentences of upcoming films it was nice to have the product immediately without months of speculation.

Which is a shame for director Julius Onah and screenwriter Oren Uziel.  It's unlikely I would have watched The Cloverfield Paradox without Abrams' marketing, yet its ties to the Cloverfield films are the weakest moments of an otherwise fun film.  Studios are so reluctant to take chances on original properties that any better-than-average science-fiction film has a better chance of being made as part of a franchise than being made at all. Best to cut the losses where I can, appreciate The Cloverfield Paradox for what it is, and celebrate that it exists at all.