Hope you’re all doing well as we enter the final month of 2021! There’s apparently a new variant of concern of the COVID-19 virus dubbed the Omicron variant, so watch out for that (and get a booster if you haven’t already).
Films watched in November 2021:
- Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)
- Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)
- Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
- After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985)
- Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
Memories of Murder, in a roundabout way, brings to mind Jang Hoon’s A Taxi Driver in how it too is a Korean film based on true events that, for want of the full picture, ended up operating on outdated information. I was interested to see it after Bong Joon-ho’s superb effort Parasite won “Best Picture” in 2020, and while it’s not quite up to that (really high) standard, it is definitely worth a watch, being about one of South Korea’s most infamous serial killers (so much so that he’s sometimes called the “Korean Zodiac Killer”) and taking place just before the nation ceased being a dictatorship. It works as both a character study and a period piece, showcasing the inner workings of an underequipped, morally dubious police force.
After that, I, in a move that likely would’ve irked Mr. Villeneuve, watched the newest adaptation of Dune at home. Being released in two parts, I think I’ll have to see them both to form a useful opinion, but I can safely say this film got things off to a great start. It’s also nice to see Oscar Isaac in an actual good film for a change.
In yet another edition of “How the hell has Red Metal not seen this film yet?”, I saw Cast Away for the first time. It’s actually one of those films I had seen snippets of, but didn’t watch all the way through until now. Robert Zemeckis certainly has a lot of winners in his catalogue, and Cast Away is one of them. It truly is incredible how Tom Hanks can carry a film by himself.
It’s kind of strange to think of someone as lauded as Martin Scorsese making an independent cult film after he became famous, but that is what After Hours was. And it’s a great black comedy in which a pretentious 1980s yuppie gets into a series of misadventures after being invited by a random woman at a local café. It’s not one of his more famous films, but it’s worth a watch.
And then I ended the month by seeing Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders. During this month, I ended up completing a tag wherein I was asked by AK about a work I was unimpressed with only to warm up to it later. Another example I wish I thought of was Breathless. You see, I saw it under the pretense of getting into the French New Wave, as it’s considered one of that movement’s hallmarks (some people would argue it was ground zero, in fact). However, I wasn’t impressed at the time because I thought it was amateurish and didn’t explain character motives well. Now, after having seen more French New Wave films such as Hiroshima mon amour, A Man Escaped, Le Samouraï, and Bob le flambeur, I realized the narrative staying silent in certain regards was actually a point in its favor, as it puts the onus on the audience to fill in the blanks. Plus, the lack of polish gave it a raw feel that, in many ways, predicted the punk rock movement of the 1970s. It was a movement that exuded a lot of confidence and assumed the audience was smart enough to keep up, so I now fully understand why that movement is as beloved as it is.
So then, after realizing that Breathless is actually a good film, I decided to dive into Jean-Luc Godard’s filmography. I have to admit that the premise alone sounded interesting, and yeah, it lived up to my expectations. It’s a crime comedy drama in which three people plan a robbery… of their own home. Independent cinema in the 1980s and 1990s was greatly influenced by the French New Wave, and I can definitely see the resemblance, as Band of Outsiders exhibits a lot of the quirky energy you would see in films such as Blood Simple or Rushmore – particularly in its witty dialogue. It also does a lot of really neat medium-specific tricks in its storytelling, so if you’re looing for a gateway film for the French New Wave, this would be a great one to start with.
Games reviewed in November 2021:
Mega Man 7
As I said in the review, Mega Man 7 isn’t really a bad game as much as it is a disappointing one. And when I say disappointing, I mostly mean in relation to the superior Mega Man X. The Mega Man X series is interesting in how it started off with a lot of energy only to eventually fall way harder than the classic Mega Man series ever did (indeed the worst classic installment has nothing on the worst X installment). But while I do think it was kind of unfair that it got dismissed, I think this is a case where the fans were right the first time; Mega Man 7 just doesn’t bring nearly as much to the table as Mega Man X did, and is guilty of bringing back the creative burnout the latter title sought to address.
Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin – Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin answers the question of what would happen if you get if you took Intelligent Systems’s cartoonish Wars series and gave it a darker storyline that wouldn’t feel out of place in Fire Emblem’s Jugdral installments. Matt’s take on the game made for an interesting read.
Return of the Destined Battle! Aether vs. Yandere Simulator, Round 2 – This month, Aether returned to the infamous Yandere Simulator when it turned out the developer could be bothered do actual work and not (just) make a fool out of himself on social media.
Death Stranding Director’s Cut (2021) Video Game Review – Lashaan Balasingam of Bookidote takes a look at Death Stranding – the first game Hideo Kojima made after Konami lost their mainstream relevance by firing him. From what I can tell from Lashaan’s review, it is definitely the most Hideo Kojima game Hideo Kojima has ever made.
A review of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book (PS4) – And lastly, AK continues looking at the Atelier series with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. I do it when a game has slice-of-life elements to supplement its core mechanics; it really gets you to care about the characters.
Links to my articles:
- Mega Man 7 (5/10)