Friday, January 31, 2014

Games Review: Gone Home

Two of the longest running - and possibly most tedious - arguments in gaming are the "what is a game anyway?" argument, and the "are games art?" argument. Both run and run for similar reasons; they come down to purely subjective value judgement with often hair-splitting results; defining "art" or "game" sounds easy but as soon as you start down the path you quickly find things on the wrong the side of the line, and when it comes to a young medium like videogames, there isn't a lot of history to help you back up any argument you care to make. And now you can throw in a game like Gone Home, which almost cannot avoid being pulled into both of these arguments.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DVD of the Week: Fast and Furious 6

There is something about franchises that get up to the "5s" and "6s" that always generate a certain aura about them; like whatever their other qualities there is something there that people will go and see regardless, so they just keep going. I mean, I think the last film I saw with a 6 at the end started "Police Academy.." and we all know how that ended up, and the other great bastion of big numbers, the Horror Genre, often finds itself beaten with the critical stick for just this tendency. However the Fast and the Furious Franchise has seemed oddly immune to this, maintaining both a fanbase and a watchability factor that seems to deny the normal rules for films with numbers at the end. So this weekend, it was time for Fast and Furious 6.

Friday, January 24, 2014

DVD of the Week: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

I've don't think I've ever "got" Alan Partridge. In fact I'm not sure I've ever "got" the man behind him, Steve Coogan, despite the occasional performance in something I've watched that he's been in. He's got a solid reputation, and a good following, and it's not like I've really got anything against him; but he's never been an actor I've sought out, or actively avoided. He just "is". I also have a great reservation when it comes to TV characters (and to a lesser extend, actors) making the jump to a big screen. Most of the time the result is terrible, a lazy rehash made with National Lottery money so that everyone involved can play at being a movie star for a few months. There are exceptions, of course, but far more duds than hits. So an Alan Partridge movie? What the hell am I watching this for?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Games Review: Papers, Please

So, the Steam Holiday Sale came and went, bringing many heavily discounted offers and leaving with a chunk of my money. It could have been worse, I guess; a lot of the best offers were for games I already owned (thats a good thing, I think) and most of the games I bought were for games that were on the indie end of the market; the sort of small gems that have got a lot of press this year but I've never got around to buying. There's often some discussion as to whether these sorts of sales help developers, as people often wait until a game is cheap before getting it, but my own experience tells me I probably wouldn't have bought these games at all, normally. So surely half-a-sale is better than none. Anyway, the first of these that I loaded up and got into was Autocratic Bureaucracy Simulator, Papers, Please

Friday, January 17, 2014

DVD of the Week: Behind the Candelabra

For a time Behind the Candelabra felt like it could be overshadowed by the strange story of its journey to screen. A biopic set in the later years of famous pianist and entertainer Liberace, and centred on his relationship with Scott Thorson, it doesn't sound too contentious, and a shoo in for an interesting film. After all, to modern eyes of course Liberace was gay, but was fiercely protective of the truth coming out and that conflict, as well as the "Sunset Boulevard" tone of a fading star, well that just sounds great, right? Well yes, apart from the "being gay" bit. It seems that big studios weren't interested in funding what they though was a "niche" film, and in the end it was made with money HBO, and never released in US cinemas. Big Gay Epics being more "European", I guess, it did hit the big screen here though, which I guess is (non-HBO subscribing) America's loss.

Monday, January 13, 2014

TV Review: Sherlock, Series 3

So, after two long years, and many, many theories, the BBC's Sherlock has returned to our screens. And like a Mayfly, after only 12 days and three episodes, he's gone again, leaving us with only another big cliffhanger and an indeterminate wait. Its hard to take, in some ways, given that over in the US they've had Elementary, a very different modern take on Sherlock Holmes and thats been, what, thirty episodes since our chap chucked himself of a building and launched a thousand crazy theories. You'd want every episode to count, every moment to be precious, and every fans hope to be fulfilled. (Some spoilers, obviously)

Friday, January 10, 2014

TV Review: Masters of Sex

Just to prove that we watch TV that isn't Doctor Who, I'll continue my post-holidays catch up with one of this seasons new series from the "quality" wing of US telly; Showtime's Masters of Sex. I get the feeling that in the UK at least, not a lot of people caught this, in part, I suspect, because if you see a show with that title, on late-night Channel 4, you'll jump to the wrong conclusion about it. Oh, Channel 4, I can remember when you were a beacon of quality US drama and genuinely challenging programming, and now you specialize in head-line grabbing exploitation telly masquerading as low-rent social commentary. I wouldn't be surprised if half the people that tuned in for the premier were confused by all the high production values and character-focuses drama on offer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DVD(s) of the Holidays: Round Up!

No, "Round Up" isn't the name of a movie.

So over the Festive Break we did manage to get through a couple of new films, and rather than do long writes for each one - two of them don't really deserve it and the other...well there are other reasons for that - I thought I'd just do a quick catch-up on all three in one go.

Friday, January 3, 2014

TV Review: Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

One of my New Years Resolutions is to try and get less annoyed by the howling void of idiot groupthink that is the Internet. At its best, its a celebratory medium that allows like-minded people to share their love of...well, just about anything, but at it's worse it can be a circle-jerk of snark for it's own sake, it's need for instant response destroying any sort of nuance response. Twitter, of course, is both these tendancies turned up to 11, which is probably why I love it and hate it (as I love and hate myself, as some wizard once said). This reaches some sort of apogee during "event TV", be it a reality show final, a sporting event or, on Xmas Day this year, Matt Smith's swansong as Doctor Who.