I take back everything I said AAA gaming is terrible

I don’t like The Witcher 3. It’s a shame, because the thing is one of the most technically impressive games I’ve seen and has gotten a billion awards and rave reviews. But it also gathers together some tendencies in pop culture that viscerally rub me the wrong way.

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Suns, long and short

For the past few months I’ve worked my way through Gene Wolfe’s Book of the Short sun, only recently finishing the final volume, and thus finally wrapping up his whole Solar Cycle which began with The Book of the New Sun, and Continued with The Book of the Long Sun. The short story of it is that I liked the Short Sun the least of the three, but still enjoyed it a fair amount.

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2001 coincidence

Are you getting tired of the Lynch posts? I promise this will likely be the last one for a bit, as even I’m feeling the need for a break now. Anyhow, having surveyed different films from across his career and re-re-watched Mulholland Drive, two things are apparent: the first is that the man is my favourite director, and the second is that I’ve boringly come around to agreeing with the critics that Mulholland Drive is probably the best thing he’s done. It ranks with Spirited Away and 2001: A Space Odyssey as a movie that has both been pretty foundational in shaping my aesthetic tastes and has surprisingly weathered the test of time, still retaining its power after the novelty has worn off (and here’s an odd observation: Spirited Away and Mulholland Drive both were released in 2001). But it was only in light of his other stuff that the understanding of its achievement as a David Lynch film really clicked for me.

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Down the rabbit hole

So, as I’ve stated elsewhere here, I kinda really love Inland Empire – it’s one of those films that really gets at the heart of why I love movies in spite of being as close to an anti-movie as a major director has ever likely gotten. Thus, in spite of my David Lynch posts not being terribly popular, I’m going to launch into a tentative interpretation of what makes the film tick.

(So what I’m saying is you should probably just skip this post and wait for my next rant about JRPGs or whatever.)

Inland Empire is a story about stories and their history, using Hollywood storytelling as a launching point. It looks at both their illusory nature, but also how stories also encode more fundamental truths within them. It’s also, in a sense, a ghost story, although like Kubrick’s take on The Shining the supernatural element is pretty difficult to parse, and perhaps even not the point.

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Becoming a pretentious film snob with David Lynch

This seems as good a place as any to note that, upon re-watching Inland Empire, my opinion of the film has shifted considerably towards seeing it as a masterpiece – albeit an aggressively weird one. But I’m here to talk about two earlier, more well known flicks: Blue Velvet and Eraserhead.

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The Top Five Final Fantasies — Beneath the Tangles

Some Final Fantasy fan art I did is now up at Beneath the Tangles, put in the service of yet another list. I’m still trying to get a handle on drawing humans, having invested so much of my effort into drawing creatures with longer snoots and bigger ears, etc. On a couple of occasions (Faris and Terra’s Esper form) I tried to mimic Yoshitaka Amano’s style/designs a bit, and this oddly enough turned out to be what I’m most pleased with.

In lieu of my usual attempts to wrest theological insights from video games, I thought that this time around I’d post a top five list of my favourite Final Fantasy titles, and use it to showcase some of my bad fan art. It’s a series I’ve been a big fan of since since my early…

via The Top Five Final Fantasies — Beneath the Tangles

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The Empire Strikes Back

The next film on my David Lynch revisit turned out to be Inland Empire, which I’ve never seen before. This was largely a fortuitous development: it’s seemingly out of print and not readily available for streaming; but I just so happened to stumble across a relatively cheap used DVD copy in a music store, so there you go.

Anyhow, I can’t remember the last time my feelings about a movie changed so dramatically over the course of a viewing. The first half hour or so was really rough, and I was starting to regret putting down money for it. By the end I was considering giving it a place in my top ten movies. Another watch is probably necessary before that sort of decision, but I definitely love it more than Mulholland Drive – even though Mulholland Drive is by far the better film. In fact, Inland Empire may in fact be a straight up bad movie, or even a movie that’s so bad it’s good. I don’t know. It breaks so many cinematic rules that it’s hard to properly evaluate by the usual criteria.

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Silencio

I’m sorry for the lack of content here – I just haven’t been feeling the blogging itch lately, and a lot of my leisure time has been eaten up by my silly drawings. To make up for it, here’s some personal pop culturey nostalgia.

When I was a pretentious teenager I counted David Lynch among my favourite directors. My adult self, on the other hand, quickly developed a knee-jerk reaction against the man’s films. But this, I think, had less to do with the quality of those films than my desire to not be reminded of that awkward teenager. Certainly I’ve never revisited any of them in the past decade – the 80s cheese of Dune being the lone exception. So lately I’ve been thinking to rectify this and see with more objective eyes what this old love is worth (and this also seems particularly timely, given that we’re getting a new Twin Peaks soon). A good way to start off would be Mulholland Drive, which seems generally agreed upon as his best movie, and was the one I watched first.

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Everything is canon now

So I found myself returning to the original Kingdom Hearts for the first time since it was relatively new. Perhaps it was the need for a palette cleanser after the excellent but admittedly very harrowing NieR: Automata. Perhaps it was the fact that I found Final Fantasy XV, which more-or-less had the same dev team, to be surprisingly good. Perhaps it was Square’s timely release of a HD collection. In any event, I’m giving the Kingdom Hearts series a second chance; which is saying something, considering how my first go-around ended in an emotional dumpster fire partway through Kingdom Hearts 2.

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Things visible and invisible

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has become so iconic and cemented in its status as a classic that it’s easy to forget that it originally opened to very mixed reviews, with as many critics finding it a pretentious mess as those who found it brilliant. And I think this divisiveness accurately reflects how it continues to be received among audiences today. I have yet to find someone who thinks 2001 is merely ok; everyone seems either convinced that it is one of cinema’s supreme masterpieces or else finds it one of the most boring, self-indulgent spectacles put to film.

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