Wednesday, March 30, 2011

REVIEW: Rubber (Quentin Dupieux, 2010)

If there has ever been a movie made for “no reason” it would be Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber. Simply put, the movie is about a tire (like the ones on your car) named Robert that goes on a murderous rampage after discovering he has telekinetic powers. From afar, an audience watches the bloodbath unfold through binoculars. This is the movie’s entire synopsis.

Robert rolling down the highway

It’s hard to rave about a film that takes its time like Rubber does but there are some interesting things going on. Robert has an infatuation with a girl he sees drive by in a Jeep, whom he cannot seem to go through with killing her. Instead Robert follows her to a small town where the havoc begins. Scenes unfold awkwardly with very little sense of motive until they finally end. Most of the events that take place, the audience will try to associate directly with the plot (of what little plot there is) or by the movie’s excessive representation of things happening for “no reason”. Once the audience gets past this theme, which will occur over and over and over again, Rubber feels dry. If only Quentin Dupieux could add dialog like Quentin Tarantino, Rubber would be worth multiple viewings.

The police are no match for Robert

Some of the highlights of Rubber include scenes with Stephen Spinella (Milk, 24) who plays a Lieutenant in charge of the murder investigations in the small town. Spinella pretends to break the 4th wall in several instances, but he’s really just talking to the California audience. Spinella brings comic relief to the monotonous screenplay but he doesn’t appear enough to carry the load. What works and what drives me to be so interested in watching Rubber again is the questions left unanswered. If I listed them, they would ruin the movie, but they are so bizarre, so intentionally out there, even behind all the subtle jerks of “no reason” symbolism, I cannot wonder if Quentin wrote those scenes for a reason.

Spinella at a stakeout tracking Robert

At 85 minutes, Rubber should definitely be experienced at least once. If not to see a tire implode people’s heads but to see how Dupieux creates a parody out of his own movie, feeding the audience exactly what they want but leaving little satisfaction in the end. Did you see what I did there?

Robert walking away from a tire fire
Grade: 84/100

Side Notes:
1. If you wait until the movie ends, you will see the opening scene from another angle.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REVIEW: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Jee-woon Kim, 2008)

Not to be confused with another western with a similar name, The Good, The Bad, The Weird a Korean film set in the 1930s desert wasteland Manchuria. Even though this movie was inspired by Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the two movies do not share themes, styles or motives even with the similar titles so please don’t consider GBW to be an adaptation. In fact, the screenplay is more original than most of what Hollywood puts out today. Hollywood should probably stop remaking movies, adapting screenplays and stealing European sitcoms and really try to pump out something interesting. [/small rant]

Park Chang-yi (the bad) and his gang

Park Chang-yi (the bad and a bandit hitman), is hired to retrieve a map from Japanese officials traveling by train. Before he can get there, Yoon Tae-goo (the weird and a thief) steals the map first. Before fighting it out against Chang-Yi’s gang, Park Do-won (the good and a bounty hunter) accidently helps Tae-goo escape. Tae-goo believes the map will lead him to a buried treasure and tries to keep the map a secret. But the Ghost Market gang overhears a conversation about the map and is now also interested in the treasure. Tae-goo now must avoid, Do-wan, who is tracking the map knowing it will lead to Chang-yi and reward money, Chang-Yi will stop at nothing to get the map for himself, the Ghost Market gang is equally persistent AND the Japanese forces want the map back in their possession.

Park Do-won (the good)

Director Jee-woon Kim does an excellent job balancing the pacing between action, comedy and downtime, with the exception of one overdrawn desert chase scene. The western spin is a nice change of pace from his darker films such as A Tale of Two Sisters and Three Extremes II. What stands out is Kim’s consistent use of Long Takes, which is particular hard to do in action movies due to a high margin of error and having to reset the entire scene if not shot perfectly.

Yoon Tae-goo (the weird) with his dueling pistols in a firefight with Park Chang-yi

Not only is The Good, The Bad, The Weird a change from Kim’s resume but also for Song Kang-ho (The Weird). More commonly known for his role in Thirst, Kang-ho shows both his action hero side mixed with his comedy persona. The use of comedy works well and is usually capped off with Kang-ho’s on screen charm. At 129 minutes the film might be a bit long but there is enough action and comedy to hold interest as well as a satisfying end to the story.

Park Do-won (the good) is approached by a bandit with a large mallet

Rating: 76/100

Side Notes:

1. Yoon Tae-goo (the weird) never reloads his dueling handguns once in the entire movie. He shoots his gun ~500 times.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I'm Currently Obsessed With (Update)

These are the remaining guns I am trying to identify.

And here is the list of guns I believe I've correctly identified, from my previous entry. I still need help with #11.

1. Men In black (Noisy Cricket) (tiny gun top left)
2. 5th Element (most southern gun)
3. Hellboy (The Samaritan) (dead center magnum)
4. Aliens (Pulse Rifle) (large assault gun to the right)
5. Star Wars (Han Solo gun) (Dead center)
6. District 9 (werid looking huge gun in center)
7. Forbidden Planet (upside down at the muzzle)
8. Star Trek (upside down at the cock)
9. Blade Runner (double trigger gun)
10. Drudge Dredd (upside down by trigger)
11. Predator (Shoulder cannon?) ( Trigger?) or Minority Report (shotgun)
12. Stargate (staff at top)
13. Firefly/Serenity (Jane’s Vera gun) (top left big one)
14. Matrix (Agent Desert eagle) (top left)
15. Logan’s Run (muzzle)
16. Space 1999 (Far east weird gun)
17. Lost in Space (upside down above District 9 gun #6)
18. Battlestar Galactica (handle by trigger)
19. Babylon 5 (upside down under Hellboy gun #3)
20. Big Trouble in Little China (Uzi)

Monday, March 21, 2011

What I'm Currently Obsessed With (March 2011 Edition)

In a new segment I like to call, What I'm Currently Obsessed With, I will highlight the thing (Book, Movie, Video Game, Youtube Video, Song, Etc) that... I'm currently obsessed with. Even though it feels like I don't have time for anything anymore (except for that 1 hour time block from 11pm-12am every night where I watch Adult Swim) I still think I can still write about AT LEAST one obsession every month. Who knows, I might even have to make this a weekly bit.

Over at (which for anyone who doesn't know is an affiliation with the SyFy network) made a new posts about the French director Jean-Luc Godard's love for guns in sci-fi movies. So he created a cool picture that includes 26 of his favorite ray guns from various movies and TV shows. I've become infatuated with trying to guess all 26. I currently have 20.

I have been cropping out the guns that I have guessed correctly and later tonight I will post a shot of what I have left. Maybe someone can help me out. Until then, enjoy trying to figure them out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pax East 2011 - Duke Nukem Forever Impressions

I’m not sure why I didn’t write about Duke Nukem Forever first, considering: A) I’ve been waiting 12 years for this game to be released, B) my handle for everything is “Dukefrukem” and C) I quote this game(and Army of Darkness) close to 37 times a day. But I was lucky enough to wait 2 hours in line to play the 20 minute demo of Duke Nukem Forever at Pax East on Sunday, the follow up of the 1996 critically acclaimed release Duke Nukem 3D. What did I think?
Well if you’re not familiar with DNF let me brush up on the history. It was announced back in 1997 that a new Duke Nukem game was in the works and a trailer was even released during E8 in 2008 (see below). The game used the “Quake II engine” and was even close to being completed. A few months later, Epic unveiled their new “Unreal engine” which was more realistic and could feature better open areas in game, so in late 1998 it was decided to scrap the game and start over using Epic’s “Unreal engine”.

Three years later another trailer was released during E3 2001 showcasing the changes that were made to the game’s gameplay and graphics. (see below) It was considered the most impressive showing at E3 at the time. In 2004, the website gamespot reported that the development team and switched the engine a 2nd time, moving to the Doom 3 engine. By 2009, most of the funding at dried up at 3D Realms and the development team asked their publisher (Take-Two ) for an extra $6 million to finish the game. Take-Two countered with $2.5 million now and $2.5 million after the game was completed. The development team refused and all development on Duke Nukem Forever was put on hold.

Luckily, some fans of the Duke Nukem series at Gearbox (a large developer of the popular game Borderlands) offered to buy the Intellectual Property and finish the game. After the Gearbox acquisition, it was confirmed by a Gearbox developer DNF was using an heavily modified Unreal 3 engine and mentioned that 3D Realms had “rewrote, replaced, rewrote again, replaced again, iterated, modified, rewrote yet again”. Fast forward to present time and the game is completed and will be released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on May 3rd 3011. (Final Trailer is below)

It’s great finally getting to play it, but let me start off by saying Duke Nukem Forever is nowhere near worth the 15 year wait… and I don’t think people expect it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m buying it the day it’s released, but you can tell by the gameplay DNF tries to many things aside from being a first person shooter.
The demo starts with Duke taking a leak in the bathroom. Yeh you literally need to hold the right trigger on the controller for the pee stream to be shown. (see trailer if you don’t believe me) Once Duke is done, he goes into a briefing room where soldiers are getting prepared for something. There’s a whiteboard setup with a drawing of a large alien. Duke can pick up pens and erasers and draw on the whiteboard and whatever you decide to draw, one of the soldiers will proclaim, “Oh man! Great plan Duke!”
When you’re done mapping out your strategy you find out you were actually in the locker-room of a football stadium. Outside on the field, there’s a 100 foot alien Duke needs to fight. (sound familiar Duke fans?) Duke grabs the nearest gun and the game throws you head to head with the 100 foot alien. After a long battle, the alien falls to the ground and Duke proceeds to kick the alien’s eyeball through the uprights. Immediately after this happens, the screen pans outward from a TV screen and you realize you have been playing Duke, playing Duke. Duke is holding a controller and there are two women (dressed in school girl outfits, as seen below) on their knees in front of Duke. One of them stands up, wipes her mouth and asks, “but what about the game Duke, was it any good?” Duke responds: “yeh but after 12 fuckin years it should be.”

The demo fast forwards to a driving level and you find yourself in a desert like environment, with all the guns from the first game; shotgun, chain gun, RPG, pipe bombs (which are detonated using Duke’s monster truck car remote) and of course, the shrink ray. Duke is fighting the enemies from the first game as well, Pig Cops and other mutants as he makes his way down a desert valley in his Monster Truck and makes his way into a mine shaft.

The game has no rhyme or reason for some of the environments Duke encounters. Why would Duke need to enter a mine shaft? Maybe this is explained in the full version of the game? And it does not look like much thought was put into an immersive story but rather someone listed a bunch of neat places Duke could be thrown into. In the game’s defense, it does feel like a Duke Nukem game, Crude, corky and plenty of T&A. Nothing innovative will be featured in Duke Nukem Forever but the real question is, will the game end up play like REAL sequel and a parody of itself? Or will it play like unfinished cash grab?

Monday, March 14, 2011

PAX East 2011 Reaction(s) & Japan

It was a bitter sweet weekend here in Boston. As I left my home early on Friday morning to drive to the Boston Convention Center for the 2nd annual PAX East Gaming Convention, news of a major earthquake was sweeping over my radio, twitter feed and facebook. It makes it difficult to fully enjoy an entertainment event knowing that on the other side of the world people are suffering from one of the biggest natural disasters to ever strike. Think about this; what if you were one of the lucky ones to survive the 9.0 (upgraded) Earthquake, only to get hit moments later by a 30 foot tsunami, only to find out hours later that six nuclear reactors are on the brink of failing… The nuclear events are by far the most worrisome out of three nightmarish tragedies. No one wants to see another Chernobyl like event. Right now there seems to be conflicting news coming out of Japan where as some news agencies are reporting fears of a meltdown while others are saying the problems are contained. I wish Japan the best in these hard times.
PAX East however was a great success – 60,000 gamers were expected to show up at the Boston Convention Center, which was held for the first time in the new venue, after complaints last year of long lines causing little space for people to walk through the Hynes Convention Center in 2010. The bigger venue advantages were felt right away with four exhibit hall lines setup at 9am on Friday morning. The four lines were started at all four corners of the main exhibit hall giving people plenty of space to stand in line. In fact, if the PAX crew wanted to, they could have probably sold double the passes and still have plenty of room for the event. One thing they didn’t learn from last year was ordering more PAX East shirts as they were sold out by 2pm on the first day. Luckily I was able to grab one before then and did not have to resort to buying on for $50 off some random gamer like I did last year. (They cost $20 each)
Most avid gamers like to plan their day out ahead of time and I was no different. The first booth I wanted to hit up was Valve’s Portal 2 and boy did they not disappoint. I was close to the front of the line so I was able to get in on the 2nd presentation of the day for Portal 2. The presentation included brand new footage of pre-recorded gameplay in the opening of the game. We were asked not to take any video, but it appears one disobedient gamer decided to take it upon himself to capture the whole presentation. It is now on youtube and I’ve added it below.
It appears you do not play as the protagonist Chell from the first game but another character. Your character is being kept isolate in what looks like a standard hotel room. Your character, (shown in First Person View) is asked to do a series of tasks which is designed to familiarize the player with the controls of the game. The screen fades to black and an unknown considerable amount of time goes by showing the same room in shambles, possibly years later. It is here when you start to feel the charm of Portal 2, when you are introduced to your robotic partner Cave Johnson, which has a British accent, and claims he is trying to rescue you. The room then begins to break apart as you finally realize the room is one of thousands, stacked in some giant futuristic warehouse used for experimenting on humans. The room looks to be on rails as you move to different sections of the warehouse as the walls, ceiling and floor being to crumble away, revealing the dark truth your character has been subject to over the long stretch of time.

Of course, after the Portal 2 presentation, we were all given pretty sweet Aperture Science shirts I'll continue to add more impressions of PAX East over the week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blogger PunchintheFace.GQ.NU

I'm brining sexy back with Punch In the Face 3.0. If you thought my twitter feed, facebook status, Buzz updates were annoying, then you shouldn't find this Blogger section very annoying. I'm going to fill with the content that I loved doing in college; extensive editorials, movie reviews and things that I currently love and hate. I miss those days and I started thinking why I don't write movie reviews anymore... and couldn't think of a good enough reason other than "I don't have time" because of work and school. F that. I'll make time for movies. First update should come after the weekend; After PAX East.