August 26th, 2004

trista

Region 0, SASsy OA, and my hatred for Tolkein

The Regionless DVD player arrived a couple of days after the Region 3 DVDs did. I am now the proud owner of Uzumaki (great manga, less than great movie, alas), Jun Oh (soon to be remade in America with Sarah Michelle Geller), Nideo Nakata's Dark Water (Also soon to be remade in America with Jennifer Connelly), and the Japanese Kill Bill vol 1 (aka Kiryu Biryu). I got to watch Uzumaki, and I'll write a review of it soon... The nutshell is this: better in retrospect than while actually watching.

The DVD player is quite nice. I must rate it on Amazon.

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Gaming we did while Al was here was composed of two different games.

First, I ran a brief Silver Age Sentinels adventure, involving the dastardly plot of The Iron Vulture to kidnap his It-Girl, on the scene newswoman Ms. Mia Helprin. The Iron Vulture was a 57 year old swinger from the 70s, who refused to act his age, and was foiled by the timely intervention of Mi Kao (Al's speedster martial artist guy) and White Hat (Trista's Item of Power chick). It was fast, furious and funny.

Then, we played through an all too brief d20 Oriental Adventures game, which spanned Saturday to Sunday. Trista's character was a samurai, mine was an arcane weilding Wu Jen, and together we discovered an invasion of an army of macabre, wicked rat beings into our kingdom. We witnessed their brutality, and managed to somehow elude them, taking a message first to our Phoenix Clan family stronghold, and then to the Son of Heaven, the Emperor himself. It was a very dark, very moody piece, quite well done. Kudos to the good Al for entertaining me.

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I am a psychic vampire. Well, not really. But one of the things I enjoy in gaming is the emotional connections formed between people. This is not something others usually dig, and Trista mentioned that it can be perceived as a form of psychic vampirism. She apologized a lot for making this observation (IMHO: she apologized for waaaay too much), but it got the old brain cells firing. So, here's what I perceive:

I like emotional gaming because I am similar to an actor. When a thespian is on stage and performing, depending on how the audience reacts, the performance changes. When the audience laughs at the funny bits, or cheers at the happy spots, weeps at the tragic ones, or shivers at the scary ones, it makes all the difference. A mutual exchange of energy, this dual parasitic thing, benefits the entire performance.

What concerns me is one question: am I perceiving accurately, or am I instead leeching off of people... Hmmm. It bears some thinking.

*

Well, I picked up the New and Improved World of Darkness rulesbook. I'm impressed with it. The system is streamlined. Much is the same between this Storytelling System and the previous Storyteller System. As is evident in the names, the real changes are subtle. Ultimately, the point of any game is to enjoy. To have fun. The point of this system is to tell stories together, as was the point of the last system.

*

At the Lord of the Rings display at the Museum of Science, I let slip that I am not a fan of the movies. I suppose this is and is not true. I enjoyed the movies when I watched them. I enjoy the music. I have seen Fellowship three times (twice in theaters, once in Extended Edition DVD), Two Towers twice (both in theater, once as extended release, once as 'normal' theatrical release), and Return of the King once (in the theatres). I own the big box of Fellowship Extended (the one with the wacky bookends). I thought the movies were perfect gems (well, the extended editions, anyway; Two Towers theatrical cut was a hodgepodge at best), and are probably the best high fantasy films yet (although Conan: The Barbarian is still wonderful). However, I do not swear by them. I do not like the novels. And I will never, if I can help it, read any Middle Earth books by J.R.R. Tolkein, again. I have no interest in Middle Earth. I never really have, and hopefully, I never will. Seeing the movies fostered one brief kernal of Maybe I should give the books another day in court. Then I read some of the simpering prose, the overwritten passages, and I promptly put the book down and decided to do something better with my time.

We own Tolkein. We own more copies of Tolkein than we do the Bible. I read the trilogy once, many moons ago. I recall liking the Hobbit the best. Now I am done, thank you. The movies were a wonderful experience. Much like Interview with the Vampire, the film was in many regards superior to the text.

The MoS display was also wonderful. The amount of detail that went into the costumes and sets and... Astonishing. I can only hope I write something that touches someone so profoundly that fifty years later, they will apply the same levels of time, patience, love and effort to realize that work in another medium.

*

Well, this weekend I encountered Power Gaming. The Good Al is a Power Gamer (not a munchkin, though). Power Gamers view character creation and encounter design as a test of numbers. They try to use their numbers to produce The Most Powerful Piece As Is Humanly Possible. A good power gamer will do this and still maintain a sense of story. A bad power gamer becomes a Munchkin -- the pursuit of Power for its Own Sake, which, as we know from faerie tales, is a Bad Thing.

So, we got to listen to how a Power Gamer and his group of fellow Power Gamers design characters and such. Interesting to listen to, but it holds nothing that motivates me to try it. However, for those who enjoy it, bully for you! I am fully aware, there is more to gaming than what I do.

*

So, Bob and I are developing a TV show. On the side, I'm also working on some stories (a Borderlands thing, a giant monster story for the Australian Daikatsu! antho, and a Ghostbreakers antho piece), a sitcom idea (for the Bravo Situation: Comedy contest).

Joe called last night, and asked if we wanted to start production work on "Yummy Folks" this weekend. Sounds good to me.
  • Current Mood
    grouchy but trying not to be
there!, Hello

Uzumaki: The Review

Uzumaki. Spiral into horror. Vortex. Really Bad Thing.

And not so good a movie, either.

Hmm. Where to begin? Well, let's start with the source material. Uzumaki is a Japanese manga, written and illustrated by Junji Ito. The horror begins with one family, and then spirals out to include a whole town. It's a horror piece, serialized over the course of several months through a couple of mangazines. Chilling, disturbing and containing of all the great things that make up a particularly excellent piece of horror fiction.

The movie. Takes many of these stories and purees them. Blends them. Pours the concoction onto the screen. The result? Well, in a word: huh? Plenty of stuff must have stuck to the glass walls of the blender.

Beginnings without resolution. Resolutions without beginnings. A through-line that doesn't really connect to anything.

This is a movie about the strange things that happen in a girl's town, and it succeeds in being just that. A catalog of nightmarish images (excellently rendered) and a series of strange things. However, the piece is lacking a lot in just about every traditional element of storytelling: character, plot, etc.

However, it is a nice thing to behold. Some of the images will remain with me. Watching the movie, I was lost in a strange and surreal landscape. The next day, the movie was much better, thus I feel the piece is better as a half remembered dream than a real experience.

Uzumaki.
  • Current Music
    uzumaki score