August 2013

Evil Dead (2013) (6/10)

This was a movie that did not need to be made. That said, it's reasonably entertaining but not at all scary or funny or anything that made the original Evil Dead trilogy so great.

The Thrill Kids by Vin Packer (8/10)

Another yarn about corrupted youth from Vin Packer. This time it's four disenfranchised teenage boys who become a vigilante squad looking to clean the bums and and degenerates out of the city. They're lead by Bardo Raleigh, a smart and charming young man who is obsessed with discipline and order. The rest of the crew is made up of a jazz bebopping nut case, a love struck mope and a mentally unstable herpetologist wannabe. You kind of know where the story is going from the beginning and the end falls a little flat, but overall a good tale of hooliganism.

The Politics of Against (Reduction Print)

After editioning this print, I thought I'd try to do a version of the same print using the color reduction method of multi-tone woodblock printing. The way this works is I first print the block as it was originally cut in a light gray ink, then I cut away at the block again and print on top of the gray image in a darker ink. This makes the finer details appear in gray and the broader outlines appear in black. The result is a slightly more subtle tone shift and a nicer image (in my opinion).

BioShock 2 on PC (9/10)

BioShock 2 - Screenshot

The original BioShock was a great game with an interesting plot and a wonderfully unique setting. I never really understood the bizarre take on Ayn Rand though. It seemed to say that if objectivism is taken to its logical extreme that would mean people who believe in individualism and self-ownership would immediately start modifying and enslaving people against their will? That makes no sense at all, but it was enough to give you a bad guy to pursue. BioShock 2 takes place in a more deteriorated Rapture several years after the fall of Andrew Ryan. This time, however, the collectivists are in charge and, whad-do-ya-know, they suck too. I guess the theme here is it's cool to be an indecisive, on-the-fence moderate.

The Raid: Redemption (8/10)

This was a good Indonesian action film that has a minimal plot and zero character development. A bunch of cops go in to clean out a drug lord's apartment complex and everything goes horribly wrong. What it lacks in narrative competence it makes up for in tension-filled and well orchestrated scenes of blazing gun play and brutal fist fights.

Extra Width by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (9/10)

Format: 
CD

The Blues Explosion (at least on these earlier recordings) occupies a nice space between the raw, rootsy rock of bands like the Bassholes and the driving rock of Touch and Go bands like The Jesus Lizard. As much as I like this release, I think the follow-up Orange is much better.

DEFCON: The Documentary (8/10)

I have enjoyed all of Jason Scott's documentaries. His films tend to be about somewhat niche areas in computing and how those technologies affected the people who use(d) them. This one is about the DEFCON hacking convention. There's a little bit of history about the convention, but mostly it is interviews with attendees and organizers about what it is they like so much about the gathering. To me, I felt like about quarter of the movie could be interchanged with any film about a group of people with similar interests meeting up in Las Vegas.

The Galaxy Primes by E.E. Doc Smith (3/10)

I don't think I really like science fiction. Sure there have been a few stories I liked, Dune, The Ender series, and the novelization of The Wrath of Khan, but most of what I have attempted to read has been either overly technical, poorly written or just plain dull. This one is kinda a little of all three. The story is about four intergalactic space travelers, the first to ever leave Earth, who teleport to various planets around the universe and meet with (conveniently enough) humans who don't seem at all surprised that aliens are visiting their planets.

Crysis on PC (9/10)

Crysis - Jungle Boy!

Crysis feels much more like the Far Cry sequel I wanted back when I played Far Cry 2. Once again you are dropped into a lush island paradise in which you must shoot everything that moves, including the chickens. The overall level design is fairly linear, but each set piece can be approached in many ways. I would always prefer turning on my cloak and then sneaking into a secure location before going on my shooting sprees. It's not quite a Thief game, but this stealth system works reasonably well. And once the snooping ended, the gunfights were very fun and manageable.