The Alpha Primitive

Film reviews, essays, commentary and sundry writings

Ecstatic Joy Part One: Casanova 14

A sad week, with the loss of both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. To compensate, I'll be looking back at some happier times, when four pieces of art rendered me speechless.

First up is the realm of comic books, and the final issue of the second run of Casanova, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Fabio Moon. 

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Shock and Awe

Television game changers happen from time to time, but rarely are they ever as captivating or surprising as what happened in the 15th episode of season five of The Good Wife. Thoughts within

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Bioshock Infinite and Burial at Sea: The Extraordinary Comstock Theory

What follows is my attempt to understand and explain what I now think is going on in Ken Levine’s crazy little mind as it pertains to the mechanics of the Bioshock universe after the events of the first part of the Burial at Sea downloadable content. As such, there will be heavy spoilers for the endings and twists of both Bioshock: Infinite and Burial at Sea. So you won’t want to read this until you’re caught up. Additionally, this is less of a review of Burial at Sea than it is an attempt to analyze its events. I know it’s probably a little too short. Loved it anyway. But I'm a sucker for Irrational and its games. That much is probably clear by now.

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The Metatext of Bioshock Infinite

There will be spoilers within this bad boy. Not just for Bioshock Infinite, but for the original Bioshock as well. If you would like to hear my thoughts about the game sans spoilers, you can see them here.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

 

Currently, I am approximately halfway through my second play through of Bioshock Infinite, Irrational Games’ blockbuster new entrant to the Bioshock series that has had much of the gaming world (myself included) enraptured (snicker) for the better part of a week since its release.

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Big Stakes, Big Ideas and Big Payoffs in Irrational's Bioshock Infinite

“You’ve come to lead my lamb astray, but thy crook is bent, and thy path is twisted!”

What makes a game Bioshock? If it is indeed true that Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite do not at all overlap (no comment), then what, other than name brand recognition and critical fervor, makes Bioshock Infinite a Bioshock game? We have this assumption of what it means to be Bioshock that is plot and setting based, as we’ve already had two games set in Rapture, with Big Daddies and Little Sisters and Brigid Tenenbaum and Andrew Ryan. So we assume that what it means to be a Bioshock game is taking place in Rapture, with the specter of Andrew Ryan floating over everything, and plasmids and ADAM and splicers. Of course, Bioshock 2 wasn’t even created by Ken Levine and Irrational; they were too busy working on the game that would (eventually) become Bioshock Infinite. Now, Bioshock 2 was a good game, and it had a good story, and it had some fantastically good DLC (Minerva’s Den is the sickness), but it wasn’t remotely on the same level as its predecessor. 2K Marin did a very good job. But they didn’t have Ken Levine. So it makes you wonder that, if Bioshock 2 had never been made (which would have been a shame more due to losing the last ten minutes of Minerva’s Den than anything), and if Bioshock Infinite had been the second title to feature the name, would we be so tied to the concept of Bioshock as Rapture and Andrew Ryan and Gatherer’s Gardens? Or would we think of Bioshock more as the collective idea for a game? A set of parameters independent of setting and character that can be applied to any number of eras or design philosophies.

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Chance Encounter: Part Two

It’s amazing how quickly time can pass when you look back at things. One day, you give in to the impulse of talking to an alluring stranger at a train station, and the next thing you know you’ve got a ring box in your jacket pocket as you begin the most important night of your life. You’re not going for some grand gesture or choreographed moment; you have learned over the whirlwind that has been your thirteen month romance that she not only wouldn’t require such a grandstanding and overt storybook moment, but that the whole thing just wouldn’t be her style. It was tough to suppress such instincts, as a lifetime of movies have painted such a moment as a societal standard: the bigger the better. But she wasn’t about standards, societal or otherwise. That’s what you love about her. Who cares what society thinks, what culture expects of you? You don’t, and she doesn’t. She’s too fiercely independent to find herself pliant to the whims of others, let alone some disembodied gestalt entity that is modern manners.

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Chance Encounter

It begins simply enough. Lonely strangers standing at the crossroads of life. A shy acknowledgement of shared fate, standing in an airport terminal, a train station, a bus depot. It could be any number of features tat sends you down the path. A furtive glance and a wry smile. That realization that you're both just a bit taller than expected of your genders. That cascade of jet black hair that falls just perfectly around her shoulders. The way he holds his briefcase just so. The way she clutches her purse with a ringless hand. And, of course, for the baser among us, the well toned ass, the full breast, both dressed to show off their innate genetic strengths. The symmetry of man and woman, together in this one moment, together in the knowledge that, at least for now, there just might be another person in this world with which you just might be able to to spend your life. Or a few years. Or even just one night. It's the connection that matters. The connection that makes us just a little more than simply animal, even if the purity of it all, the purity of physical attraction is undeniably animal. A connection. It's what we all want. That spark that makes us feel alive.

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2013 Oscars: Predictions

In my history as a film fan, I have never seen as many Oscar nominated films as I have seen for this year. I have seen every major Hollywood film up for nomination save two, The Impossible (Naomi Watts was nominated for Best Actress) and The Sessions (Helen Hunt nominated for Best Supporting Actress). I’ve even seen all of the nominees for Best Animated Short (and will hopefully get a chance to check out the live action nominees at one of the art house theaters here in Boston before next week), and four of the five nominees for Best Documentary (The Gatekeepers has eluded me). As such, I feel more confident in my analysis and predictions regarding this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. For the purposes of this article, I will be listing the nominees for each category, as well as my predictions for who will win, who should win, and my personal favorite of the year (which may or may not even by nominated), and maybe some comments depending on my thoughts. So here we go (starting from the bottom of the official list and moving up in reverse alphabetical order. Because why not?).

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2011 Oscars: Reactions

The irony that permeates the night after the 83rd Academy Awards marked the official end of the 2010 movie season is the way that Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the two young, hip movie stars tapped to host the show and inject some youth and excitement into the proceedings, had to preside over The King’s Speech winning every major award. Many of us talk and threaten and bluster over boycotting the Oscars when things like this happen, when Crash defeated Brokeback Mountain or Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan, but I feel betrayed this year in a way that I haven’t felt in the past.

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