Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Order: Cremaster 3-- Jimmy's Perspective

I just watched the most pretentious, meaningless, hyped up piece of shit in the world of art film: Cremaster 3. I came in expecting something dense but visually interesting; a film with something to say. I was VERY, very wrong. Cremaster 3, being the only publicly released and mass produced part of Matthew Barney's 5 part series, may not be a representative sample of the series but given what I've seen though, I don't want to see the rest.

Cremaster 3 falls in among the most avant-garde of films in that it has no narrative, no dialog, no direct representation, and absolutely no use within this world or the next. When I think of bad art, I think of performance art: People dancing around in austere settings re-enacting birth through a barbed wire vagina, or lying flat on their back with props and allowing passers-by to use said props on them. This is just the film version. What I gathered of the meaning of this film (at least on one level) was that it is a representation of the rites of passage inside the Freemason Brotherhood or the struggle of the Entered Apprentice. Naturally, the star of the film must be the director, because he, in all his ego-maniacal pretentious glory, is the only one who can truly understand and enact these deep ideas. So, it being established that Barney must be the main attraction, he appears on camera preceded by oh so tacky titles, literally dressed in a green and pink kilt with a fluffy pink traditional Scottish head dress the size of Texas. Okay, maybe not Texas but Rhode Island at least. And, and, he has a bath towel stuffed in his mouth covered in blood. That, coupled with the amazing outfit he's wearing must be riddled with meaning. After being twirled on a platform by a few showgirls wearing nothing but classy shoes and symbolic pasties, Barney proceeds to climb, literally climb the walls of the Guggenheim in New York. For all the “deep thought” placed in the film, the ability to use this architectural marvel's ramps seemed beyond him. When finally reaching the second level, Scottish Barney and the viewer find a battle-of-the-bands occurring between two hardcore New York punk bands with the liberty-spiked fans and stereotypical accoutrement. Again, I stress that this is taking place in art-less Guggenheim. Somehow, this 'tard talked the curators into letting him using the museum, AND removing all the art from it. He does some more crap, climbs some more walls to the annoying ambient music until he reaches the top level where sculptor Richard Serra is tossing shovel-fulls of molten petroleum jelly against the walls of the museum, allowing it to run down the ramps. With this, Entered Apprentice climbs back down among the double amputees (yes, there is a legless woman with glass boots on one level), the rock bands, the Rockettes dressed as goats, and the bathing women with masonic pasties and the movie ends.

This was a thirty minute snippet of the worst three hours in film history. If you need a good laugh or background noise to shoot yourself to, go watch Cremaster 3. As for me, I'll soon be dropping out of college to dedicate my life to hunting down and maiming Matthew Barney for his crimes against humanity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Trauma Center: New Blood (Wii) - Jimmy's Perspective

My much wittier counterpart, Kate, had done an excellent job of delineating almost every aspect of the game that I believe makes it terrible:

--The dialog and plot of the game are something that a 14-year-old erotic fiction writer would contrive... On a bad day.

--The cutscenes would be fantastic if the human mind were capable of a level of gestalt that could render storyboards directly into cinematic masterpieces.

--Gameplay is similar to exercises a kindergarten student could do. The only think that makes it more difficult is the amount of time the player has to complete the ridiculously simple tasks. If a game creator can't be bothered to make something a bit more complex, they'll just make it faster to piss you off. Speed not equal good.

-- The opening video is an obvious rip-off of House MD. Even the characters later in the plot are directly lifted from House (save for one whose gender was changed despite leaving the role and -isms the same). Given the blatancy and the lack of creativity, it seems the creators didn't go to ivy league school. Or maybe that's actually a symptom of actually having gone to an overpriced, under-qualified school like Harvard.

All of those things aside, it is a riot to sit with a few friends and mock the hell out the whole thing. It's worth renting once after it gets sorted onto the discount shelf. I had no idea that letter grades were to be assigned when I agreed to write this blog with Kate so forgive me if my grading is a bit stingy at first.

As a serious game: D+
As a something to be laughed at: B*

*A- if alcohol is involved

Trauma Center: New Blood (Wii) - Kate's Perspective

So you know how sometimes you get a game and you’re just impressed by everything about it? The graphics are sleek, the dialogue crisp and witty, the gameplay perfect, the storylines plausible. You fall instantly in love because everything is just so good.

This is not one of those games.

Now, let me explain: I did fall in love with New Blood. I think it improved on Second Opinion in many ways, the most obvious of which being the multiplayer functionality. There’s just some intangible joy to be found in barking orders at your friends—“Drain that hemorrhage! Give him the sutures, you incompetent pissbrain!” What can I say? There just aren’t enough games that offer such opportunity for playing with someone’s life.

But the real entertainment to be found in New Blood is arguably how bad it is. The dialogue, while not exactly wooden, tends to be remarkably insufficient for the situation at hand. The voice acting (for everyone but the two main characters) is overdone. (Just wait until you encounter the testicle-chinned game show host, Guy.) And the standards are ridiculously lax in the operating room. In Easy and Normal modes, you can actually draw loops with the sutures and still earn a COOL score. The storylines, taking place in Alaska, LA and Maryland, were clearly written by someone who had never visited any of those places, particularly Alaska: the very first thing you encounter in the OR is someone who’s been mauled by a bear. Other operations include grafting the skin of someone who caught fire when the hospital was burned down by an arsonist (and performing the operation in the burning hospital, as far as I can tell), performing two appendectomies for the price of one, and a showdown on television to see who can perform an embolectomy faster. Wow.

But these flaws make for some of the best multiplayer gaming to be found on the Wii. Sitting around with your teammates, it’s impossible not to have fun while laughing at the bear attack victim or the questionable dialogue. Were it smooth and polished, it might actually be more difficult to love. And the Trauma Center team has gone to great lengths to differ it from the last one: there are many more operations involving implants, such as pacemakers (this is actually a rather hefty part of the storyline) and so it doesn’t get repetitive.

On an unrelated but amusing note: if you really want to extend the multiplayer action, watch the opening sequence to Trauma Center, then watch the opening sequence to House MD, then take bets with your friends on how long it will take for the House folks to sue the crap out of the Trauma Center folks. Really.

Final grade: B+