Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Director Hiroshi Minagawa, character designer Akihiko Yoshida, game designer Yasumi Matsuno, and composers Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata have all returned to "revitalize their masterpiece for a new format and era – created with the simple idea – how TACTICS OGRE would be if it was developed and played now."
And with that final straw, a million gamer backs cracked at once with the realization of one terrible, soul-crushing truth: "I now need a PSP."
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
New album out October 5
1. Architects & Engineers
2. Do You Love Me
3. On the Ocean
4. This Could All Be Yours
5. Stay with Me Jesus
6. Bad Bad World
7. This Is How It Feels to Have a Broken Heart
8. What You Call Love
9. That's No Way to Get to Heaven
10. Jesus and Mary
12. Do What You Want
Sunday, July 18, 2010
“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
-Morpheus, The Matrix, 11 Fucking Years Ago.
Since it's publication in 1641, Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy has continually presented Intro Philosophy students with the question: "What is Real?" Filmmakers have toyed with this notion through the years, presenting stories and cinematic structures which questioned the very reality of the narrative presented. Inception, Christopher Nolan’s latest shitstorm of dumb, attempts to Memento this cinematic mainstay by presenting a sci-fi heist movie of dreams within dreams the ending of which raises the question of how, exactly, the film began.
Inception presents a world within which persons may enter another’s dreams by way of a machine which is never explained. Often, dreams are entered for the sake of extraction: Stealing a memory or bit of personal data “locked away” in the subject’s subconscious. The opposite of this is inception; the act of implanting a memory into the subject’s subconscious such that the subject believes the idea to have been its own. How does all of this happen? Fuck you, we don’t ask those questions.
From this premise two storylines develop which are, throughout the narrative, shoddily intertwined. The first is the heist movie. Leo is hired to implant into the mind of Scarecrow the idea that Scarecrow will dissolve his dying father’s energy empire. Only Leo can do this, since inception is really difficult, because the characters say it is difficult. The second is the love story. Leo has somehow contained his wife, or memories of his wife, or dreams of his wife, in levels of his dreams (shut up, it’s possible). She routinely enters into the dreams of others, via Leo, in an attempt to foil Leo’s plans and reclaim her…freedom? Something? I don’t know, but she’s pretty pissed.
While Nolan attempts to blend these stories into a harmonious whole, there is a fundamental tension throughout the film of which narrative takes precedence. Some scenes are overtly heist-movie with car chases, 0-G hallway fights, and battles in snowy fortresses. Other scenes explore the relation of Leo and his wife, Leo’s pain over his estrangement from his children, and his unconditioned yearning to return home. The transition between these two narratives flows as smoothly as bricks.
The real problem, though. Or, perhaps it is “the dream problem” is that the movie itself is presented as an example of the question of the plot: What scenes are real? What scenes are dreams? Throughout the film the audience can surmise two means of discerning dream from reality.
1) The audience is told that Leo’s top spins forever in dreams, but eventually stops spinning in reality.
2) One may notice that in dream scenes Leo wears a wedding band, but in “reality” he wears no ring.
The film ends with Leo placing the top upon a table, spinning it, and walking away. The final shot is of the top spinning, faltering slightly, continuing to spin, cut to black.
OH MY SHITS! CUT TO BLACK? BUT DID IT FALL?!!? THAT’S SO BRILLIANT!
No, that’s shitty fucking storytelling. Leo’s left hand is obscured in the shot, so one cannot see whether he is wearing a ring. The top is not shown to fall or continue to spin, so one has no idea how the movie ends.
That, in itself, would be infuriating enough. The problem is that the reliability of the top is brought into question if one spends 5-minutes thinking about the story. At multiple points in the movie the audience is told that persons who enter dreams need to carry a totem with them (in Leo’s case, a top) which will behave one way in dreams, another in reality. The point is made very clear that one must never allow another to touch one’s totem, lest another know its properties and so be able to manipulate how it behaves in dreams (which is possible because SHUT UP!). The flaw is that Leo’s totem, the top, was previously owned by his wife. So, both he and his wife know its behavior. If Leo’s wife is dead this is no problem. If Leo’s wife is alive, and the whole movie occurs within her dreams? Well, then the top wouldn’t indicate anything now would it?
OH MY SHITS WHAT IS REAL?! THAT’S SO BRILLIANT! GIVE NOLAN A MILLION BLOWJOBS!
There are many problems with Inception. The main problem, thought, is that it presents an unsolvable riddle, a puzzle with no end. In order to discern reality from dream, one may refer either to the top or the ring. The ring’s validity is founded upon the top. The top may be faulty. It is fundamentally impossible to discern whether or not the entirety of Inception occurs within a dream or reality. The puzzle, the riddle is basically:
X may be discerned via Y or Z.
You are denied Y and Z.
Solve for X, asshole.
That is not ambiguity; that is not interesting; that is not good storytelling. That is shit, tripe, nonsense. Inception is, fundamentally, an illogical clusterfuck of stupid which attempts to accomplish in two and a half hours what Morpheus stated in 38 words, 11 years ago, and which Descartes clearly articulated in sixteen-fucking-forty-one.
Yes, the film requires a bit of thinking. Sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is damned handsome and Ellen Page is eternally fuckable. The hallway fight is cool, the city bending in on itself is kind of neat. But the fundamental flaws of the film undermine the entirety of the experience. One does not know how the movie ends (Is Leo in reality or a dream?) which dissolves any certainty one may have had at the beginning. The film is an Oreo of two unsolvable riddles sandwiching a creamy heist-movie center.
This would have been revolutionary if The Matrix had never happened. This would have been insightful if Descartes had never written his Meditations. As it stands, thought, Inception is a shoddy, illogical, poorly constructed shitstorm of dumb which is only justified by that one shot where Ellen Page’s shirt is wet and clingy.
If you want to be intellectually stimulated over questions of reality? Read Descartes’ Meditations.
If you want to be thrilled by a quazi-philosophical action movie? Watch The Matrix.
If you want to be slightly aroused by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page? Go see Inception.