November 2021 in Summary: Ο

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:

In theaters:

  • <None>

At home:

  • 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Driver in how it too is a Korean film based on true events that, for want of the full picture, ended up operating on outdated information.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 - Vs. Bass

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.

Featured articles:

Advance Wars: Days Of RuinAdvance 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:

Game reviews:

Other posts:

11 thoughts on “November 2021 in Summary: Ο

  1. Thanks for the nod! =)

    I watched and enjoyed Dune too, but I have got to say I felt I was leaving the movie theater with a few question marks in mind that I think shouldn’t have been there, even if there is going to be a Part 2. Anyway, those questions just made me want to read the books even more, which I will do soon!

    And yeah, I am surprised you hadn’t watched Cast Away!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome!

      I know what you mean; it’s definitely quite a change of pace to see a sci-fi film with that many moving parts. It was definitely one of the premier stories from that 1960s wave. And I think I ought to look into those books myself.

      Yeah, there are a lot of famous films I haven’t seen. It gets really weird when you consider the fact that I’ve watched things like Dekalog first.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I plan to see Dune. Never read the book(s) and I haven’t seen the David Lynch adaptation, but I’ve heard consistently that this new one beats the hell out of it — apparently even Lynch didn’t like the final result. I’ve always been interested in trying it, so maybe now is the time. No way in hell am I going to a theater still, though, so I understand watching at home even if the film is made for the big screen. I might have to check that other Bong Joon-ho movie too; Parasite was impressive enough to get me interested in his other work.

    And thanks for the mention! I really enjoyed that slow-paced slice-of-life feel Sophie had. Highly recommended for anyone looking for that kind of experience, provided they don’t mind all the collecting ingredients and crafting that comes with every Atelier game.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Considering how deep the lore is to those books, it makes sense that adapting it would be quite difficult. It’s a good thing Mr. Lynch was able bounce back with Blue Velvet, huh? It’ll be interesting to see how the next film turns out, but I can say this one got things off to a good start. I don’t blame you for wanting to see it at home; fortunately, it’s good enough that I don’t think seeing it on the smaller screen dampens the experience at all.

      And Memories of Murder was good. It’s not as good as Parasite, but then again, that is a sky-high standard. The only other film of his I’ve seen is Snowpiercer, which honestly isn’t that good. It suffers from the District 9 problem in that the writers went all in on the satirical angle that character motivations make little sense in-universe. Granted, it’s not nearly as bad as District 9 if for no other reason than because it’s not unintentionally racist. Either way, Parasite managed to take Snowpiercer’s elements and make a far superior product out of them.

      You’re welcome! I do think it’s interesting how an RPG would go for slice-of-life elements to develop its characters. That’s what I liked about Persona 4; it was as much a coming-of-age story as it was a murder mystery.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really enjoyed Memories of Murder and how it was directed. The big questions it has us asking by the end were quite thought-provoking and the characters were all so much fun to watch on screen. Dune was a masterpiece for me. I’m also biased when it comes to Villeneuve in general. His stuff just hits all the right buttons for me. Thanks for the shoutout for Kojima’s last game Death Stranding. It really was the most Kojima game you could ever play hahaha I’m curious to see in what direction he’ll go next. 2022 will surely be the year he’ll announce his next big projects and I personally hope he’ll finally venture into cinema because that’s mostly what he makes his game feel like! Hope you had great holidays and I wish you a happy new year as well! Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s a good film alright. It’s also interesting how it turned out in real life that the murderer was actually caught in 1994 – nine years before the film was made. He was sentenced to life for killing his sister-in-law, and later confessed to the murders depicted in this film.

      If you’re going to be biased in favor of any one director, Villeneuve is a solid choice; starting with Arrival, he has been amazingly consistent in terms of quality; I’m interested in checking out Incendies next.

      And say what you want about Kojima, but you have to give it to him for always going full tilt with his ideas. If every other artist had even half that kind of conviction, they’d be set for life.


  4. I was curious to see what you thought of Dune and Breathless. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I haven’t yet seen Breathless, but it’s one of my 2022 goals.

    As for Dune, I wasn’t familiar with the story, so it was a brand-new experience. The sets and cinematography are absolutely amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Breathless is one of those films I didn’t like the first time I saw it, but after having watched other French New Waves films such as Hiroshima mon amour, Bob le flambeur, A Man Escaped, and Le Samouraï (or even films inspired by the movement such as Hard Day’s Night), I began to realize the things I didn’t like about it (such as it’s lack of explanation regarding character motivations) were actually major reasons why it it’s good. It’s an ethos that makes audiences think for themselves, and considering how heavy-handed many writers are, it’s a welcome change. That said, I’m not sure if Breathless would be a good starting point if you want to get into the French New Wave. It wouldn’t be a bad choice, but Bob le flambeur and A Man Escaped would probably be better gateway films.

        Dune was great too. I am looking forward to the sequel.

        Happy 2022 to you too!

        Liked by 1 person

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