2016 Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
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!

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1Nov/170

Changing Reels Episode 30 – Train to Busan

A neglectful father attempts to reconnect with his young daughter by accompanying her on a train ride to see his ex-wife. What starts off as a simple journey soon turns into a harrowing fight for survival as a zombie virus rapidly spreads across South Korea. This week film critic and Blood in the Snow Film Festival programmer Caroyln Mauricette joins us to discuss Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan, one of the best zombie films in the last decade. We also take time to highlight our short film picks: Waterborne by Ryan Coonan and Paranoia by Sandeepan Chanda, Nitesh Mishra, Amrita Mukhopadhyay, and Sunil Kumar Yadav.

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
24Oct/170

I Am Setsuna (2016)

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

Nostalgia is the core of I Am Setsuna, created and marketed as a conscious throwback to the heyday of '90s JRPGs.  On that measure alone, I Am Setsuna is of questionable quality as its slight tweaks to what made those '90s JRPGs special range from streamlining the experience too much to obtuse mechanisms so poorly implemented I decided not to bother.  But the nostalgia isn't just part of the gameplay - it's fused with the soundtrack, the eternally falling snow, character motivations, and dialogue.  What emerges is an overwhelming sense of melancholy, morphing the questionable quality of the game itself to an overall experience that is an interesting failure.

Folks who grew up on those '90s JRPGs, with Chrono Trigger the most heavily sampled game for I Am Setsuna, will take to the gameplay no problem.  I maneuvered around the top-down world with my party of three without the need for explanatory texts telling me I would get the drop on enemies if I initiated combat from behind.  Those texts were an unnecessary intrusion of flat explanation in this cold world, making me wish I Am Setsuna's developer - Tokyo RPG Factory - took the Chrono Trigger influence more to heart and introduced mechanics inside I Am Setsuna's world instead of signposting around them.  This made I Am Sesuna's opening act cumbersome as semi-silent protagonist Endir, who's supposed to be a skilled mercenary, lurches his way toward meeting the titular Setsuna.

14Aug/170

Oxenfree (2016)

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

It wasn't until yesterday I realized I've developed an affinity for media centering around alienated young women dealing with some vague apocalyptic threat.  In movies there was Before I Fall, The Edge of Seventeen, in music I had Grimes, and in video games Life is Strange and, now, Oxenfree.  While varying in tone and presentation, to say nothing of being in different mediums, there's a liberating feeling throughout all these pieces of art.  Life is open to possibilities in a way media centering around men feels like it's on rails.

Oxenfree isn't as world-weary as any of those other artistic endeavors to its benefit and detriment.  It's nice exploring the world with Alex (Erin Yvette) and directing her conversations like a water spigot where I choose who gets told what as time marches on.  At the same time, Alex and her friends are on an island haunted by the spirits of an United States submarine sunk by American firepower, and by the time Ren (Aaron Kuban) and Jonas (Gavin Hammon) make the same joke about military figure "Dick Harden" I was wondering if any of them were aware the danger they were in.  There's a disconnect between the increasingly grave threats of the spirits compared to the joking tone the cast continues to use throughout Oxenfree.

Whatever reservations I have about Alex and co. treating the situation lightly are moved aside ever so slightly for a remarkable dialogue system.  Alex is free to select conversation topics as they slowly fade from view while walking around the environment may trigger other options to bring up.  No conversation flows with ease, characters talk over each other while Alex's interjections are just as likely to be ignored as they are to silence, and there's nothing stopping those characters from picking up their previous train of thought if interrupted.  This is the primary source for that feeling of spontaneity I felt in Life is Strange and so on, it also means that what the player puts into the game is likely what they'll get out of it.  Granted, that may be true of most art, but consistently engaging with background observations or taking the dead-end paths reveals more information that gives context to the characters' emotional state.

30Jul/170

Layers of Fear (2016) and Inheritance (2016)

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

There was reassurance, darkness, and - finally - pain.  My doctor assured me the stint did not need to stay in for long, it only needed to be installed as long as it took for my body to finally expel the stones it carried around.  I was taken care of for a bit then I was alone.  At some point in the night I developed a fever, the pain medications barely kept the needles digging through my crotch at bay, I couldn't lay down and could barely walk but the fever and pain kept me moving.  Eventually I found my notebook.  I'd been writing poetry before the surgery.  In between my screams, stomping, and falling I scribbled whatever thoughts came to my mind.  The trips between the bathroom, my bedroom, and living room where I insisted on keeping my notebook bled together.  When it finally ended my scribbles were useless, the words were barely coherent, and whatever usable prose remained tied too strongly with the feverish pain from previous nights.

My madness felt like it had no end and when it finally caved to the pain meds as the fever broke I don't remember what happened to me afterward.  Any time I read a video game managed to create a feeling of madness I left disappointed.  Not that it's a sensation I have any wish to return to, but that developers are unable to grasp the tenuous balance between being in control and at the mercy of my worst impulses.  Layers of Fear, despite an intriguing premise, led me to think I'd be entering another video game experience where madness equates to hallucinations out of the corner of the game's vision or my save file refusing to chart my progress.  Those are the sorts of design choices that may lead a player to frustration - not madness.