Geez, writing that review of Persona 4 wasn’t easy. I liked how it turned out, though. Plus, I’m glad that my longest review thus far is of one of the very few games I would award a 10/10. This past month saw me reach both 100 film reviews and 200 game reviews. I never thought I’d make it this far, but here we are.
Films watched in October 2019:
- Judy (Rupert Goold, 2019)
- Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
- Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)
I’m just going to say it – Hustlers getting critical acclaim has made me less enthusiastic about seeing films in theaters. Now, I don’t know if a given film is getting acclaim because of its own artistic merits or because it dances to the tune of the critics’ viewpoints. It really demonstrates how detrimental confirmation bias is to criticism of any kind. I give video game critics a lot of credit for eventually steering away from that. Here’s hoping that film critics will one day realize what’s what.
Despite this, I ended up seeing two films in theaters. Judy is a biopic that details the final portion of Judy Garland’s life. People complaining about the terrible Hollywood practices that go on these days are entirely in the right for doing so, but they still have nothing on the terrible stuff their forefathers pulled. It’s a real shame how much of a mess her adult life turned into as a result of the highly chauvinistic attitudes driving Hollywood executives. The only problem I have with the film, and part of the reason I have a bit of a difficult time recommending it, is that it very much lines up with how biopics were made in the 2010s. The approach works for stories with triumphant or bittersweet endings, but not so much a tragic story such as Judy Garland’s.
Because I’ve generally been impressed with the films that won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, I wanted to see Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite the exact second I learned of its victory. Naturally, like a lot of good films, it initially got a limited release. I wish that those in charge of distributing films saw my audience because, to my own surprise, it was a packed house. This indicates to me that, despite what cynical Hollywood executives and Paul Schrader insist, there does exist an audience for these kinds of films. Then again, maybe the reason why foreign films barely get shown in theaters is less because there isn’t an audience for them and more because distributors feel they’re making them look bad. I say this because Parasite is definitely one of the strongest efforts I’ve seen this year. Mr. Joon-ho also directed Snowpiercer, which also dealt with class struggles, but feel Parasite to be the superior effort by a country mile.
Having seen and reviewed all three John Wick films, I decided to take a look at Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. This is one of those films that, primarily through its deconstructive elements, proved highly influential, yet isn’t particularly well-known to the mainstream. All I can say is that if you really like a film that takes its audience seriously, has significant rewatch value, and relies on a “show, don’t tell” approach to storytelling, this film will do you no wrong. I’d go as far as considering it the best French New Wave film I’ve seen thus far.
Films reviewed, but not watched in October 2019:
Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 1995)
Apollo 13 has always been a film I’ve admired. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. I don’t remember if I saw it in theaters, but I did see it at home in the 1990s or early 2000s at one point. There has been as least one recent op-ed about why First Man is a right-winger’s dream come true, and that is precisely why I think everyone needs to see this film. Those people need to look back upon the legacy of the space program and realize just how brave these astronauts were for exploring the final frontier. Were there politically charged reasons for these undertakings? Of course there were, but it doesn’t make their feats any less impressive. Whoever wrote that article needs to learn that these are flesh-and-blood human beings going on these missions, which is something both Apollo 13 and First Man do a great job reminding audiences of.
Games reviewed in October 2019:
Honestly, there really isn’t much I can say about Aegis Wing that I didn’t already mention in the review. It’s a decent party game, but an incredibly basic shoot ‘em up when playing it alone. It’s kind of like Four Swords Adventures in that respect, though easier to set up (though also not as good). For a game made by interns over the course of a summer, it’s not bad, but otherwise, it doesn’t really stand out that much.
Pokémon Snap is one of those games that I think really benefitted from the time in which it was released. Had a game like this been released after the initial Pokémon wave died down, critics and fans alike would’ve deservedly lambasted it for its lack of substance. As it stands, because it was released in the wake of its first-generation super-popularity, many see it as a classic Nintendo 64 experience. I couldn’t possibly take away the good times anyone else had with the game, but there’s no getting around that it has aged very poorly. It’s kind of the Nintendo’s equivalent of Myst that way – highly reliant on visuals to its detriment.
Here it is! My fifth review to exceed 10,000 words (over 18,000, in fact). I didn’t mention it in the review because I thought after making a similar observation when talking about Pokémon Black and White, it would be redundant, but I think Persona 4 is yet another game that captured what Mother 3 attempted to go for far more effectively. When your work has a message, hammering it into your audience’s heads is an option, but it requires a combination of finesse and nuance. This is the most evident when parsing the games’ respective villains. They have similar dispositions and motivations, but while one stretches the suspension of disbelief too far through their actions, the other is far more straightforward about their own. At the end of the day, Persona 4 succeeds where Mother 3 fell short because the story is far more focused and knows when to give its characters a break. Also, Persona 4’s dumbest moment is still not as dumb as Mother 3’s. Just saying.
The Death of New Hollywood – Film scholars like to say that the New Hollywood era ended in 1977 with the success of Star Wars. When, exactly, the movement ended is debatable (others say it died with the rise of the new studio system in the 1980s), but I would make the case that it didn’t really die until the late 2010s when its pioneering artists well and truly grew old. Obviously, you can’t do anything about physically growing old (yet), so what I mean is that they are guilty of having mentally grown old. The exact second Paul Schrader blamed audiences for not being good enough, I knew the New Hollywood era was well and truly dead. The death certificate was signed either when Steven Spielberg attempted to (unsuccessfully) delegitimize Netflix or, as Scott of the Wizard Dojo, argues, when Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola attacked the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the former refusing to acknowledge it as cinema and the latter calling it despicable. Suddenly, the same people who used an adverse atmosphere to better themselves instead chose to whine about how unfair it is that audiences don’t appreciate their visions. Sorry, folks, but it doesn’t matter how realistic you make a fictional character; they’re still every bit as fake as anything you’d see from Marvel.
The Legend of Zelda: NES Classic That Started it All – Mr. Wapojif of Professional Moron takes a look at the game that started one of the greatest video game franchises of all time: The Legend of Zelda. I feel it’s the only one of Nintendo’s debut games that I felt wasn’t completely overshadowed by its sequels due to its open-ended nature.
Beneath The Eyrie – Huh, so burning your bridges in such an infantile manner isn’t such a great long-term strategy. Who knew? Francis Black of the Pixies didn’t, which is evident when listening to their newest album. Matt of Hi-Fi Adventures took a look at it earlier this month. My opinion? Not good enough – needs more Kim Deal.
Movie Review – Shazam – Jonathan Pongratz of Jaunts & Haunts takes a look at Shazam!, which I feel to be one of the greatest films from this year as well as the single best DCEU film thus far.
Overcooked! 2 | Review – There aren’t many games out there specifically revolving around cooking, but one of them is Overcooked 2. All I can say is that if the official Hell’s Kitchen game was like this, it probably would’ve gone over better.
Is nostalgia necessary to enjoy old games? – Kate over at Musings of a Nitpicking Girl muses over the concept of nostalgia and whether or not it’s required to enjoy certain works. I’ve made it no secret that I tend to keep nostalgic sentiments to a minimum when parsing works; if something hasn’t aged well, it’s better to admit it than pretend it’s still great.
Why I Love CDs – Although they’re largely supplanted by digital releases, there are still a few lasting benefits to buying music CDs (especially older ones). Emily over at Monster Lady’s Diary explains her own reason for amassing a collection of them.
The Mystery of the Nazca Lines, Peru – As someone who really likes the idea of traveling, getting to read Diana’s of Ideas on Papyrus writing an article of the famous Nazca Lines in South America was quite a treat.
SIX OF THE BEST #20 – FILM DOPPELGANGERS – I’ve always admired whenever an actress or actor can convincingly play two different onscreen roles. Paul of The Cinema Fix takes a look at several classic films in which certain talented people did just that.
Marvel’s Spider-Man’s Unique Take on Dramatic Irony – After a long break from his site, Aether talks about a case of dramatic irony in Insomniac’s Spider-Man game. I’m glad my review of it was able to steer him in that direction.
Still to come:
Now with everything said and done, I do have to admit that I’m probably going to have to cut back on the film reviews. It’s not really that I don’t enjoy reviewing them; I just don’t have the time in between work and attempting to get through the various games I intend to review. This isn’t to say that I intend to stop reviewing them entirely, but I do not intend to do so after each viewing. It doesn’t help that I was getting to the point where I was forgoing watching films because I knew I’d have to write a review of them and thus tried not to let them stack up too much. I will still talk about them at the end of each month, so you can get my recommendations there.
Plus, as the decade nears its final two months, I’m convinced that films have entered something of a dark age. The MCU notwithstanding, I just don’t see the same kind of drive game creators have applied towards their craft during the past ten years in contemporary filmmakers. As funny as it is to make jokes at Owen Gleiberman’s expense, I would rather devote my energy to promoting a thriving movement than lambast a stagnant one. It does probably mean I’ll be writing fewer articles overall, but that should be fine. Despite this, I still intend to watch (and potentially review) every Oscar-nominated film so I can make a “worst to best” list in addition to the obligatory “Best Films of 2019” list.
With that out of the way, I’ll get right to the games I intend to review this month. Having completed an 18,000-word review of Persona 4, I decided to dial things back a bit by reviewing Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. I intended to review it earlier, but I got so bored that I set the game down for several months before finally finishing it a few weeks ago. Doesn’t bode well for the final score, does it? After that, I intend to talk about Colossal Cave Adventure – one of the oldest works of interactive fiction. Once that is finished, I will review Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – the installment that came after Ghosts and infamously starred Kevin Spacey. I will say right now that it wasn’t as bad as Ghosts or Modern Warfare 3, but it was still very much a “meh” experience. With my Persona 4 review out of the way, I will then talk about Pokémon X and Y. I haven’t decided what game will be my fifth review, however. Ideally, I’ll want to knock Pokémon Sun and Moon out of the park so I can finally finish the retrospective (or at least until I inevitably finish Sword and Shield), but we’ll just have to see how it goes.
Finally, as per usual, I will reveal the master list of games from best to worst in my 200 game reviews special. You didn’t think I’d forget to write one of those, did you? It will be released in four parts, detailing the fails, mid-tier titles, passes, and masterpieces respectively.
Links to my articles: