Culture

Essays on culture.

Tron: Legacy (The Movie, This Time. Not The Soundtrack.)

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The new designs for Tron: Legacy are extremely beautiful

You know, just to be clear.

So, I don’t feel it’s necessary to say too much about Tron: Legacy. It’s beautiful, mellow, and contemplative. The original Tron, if you will remember, was not an action movie. Neither is Tron: Legacy.

But it’s gorgeous, and it’s interesting enough, though the script (admittedly better here than in the original) could use a little more… pizazz. They have the seeds of some interesting ideas carried through from the original, including the exploration of the intersection between religion and technology. But these seeds barely sprout, or the code doesn’t branch, or something.

I get the feeling that given some time, the mythos of Tron is going to flesh itself out with fan speculation. Perhaps I’ll find some line of fanboy logic that satisfies my desire to chew on the Tron universe better than Tron: Legacy itself does.

On The Victrola: Tron: Legacy Soundtrack

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Tron: Legacy

With talk that includes comparisons to James Cameron’s Avatar, Disney’s Tron Legacy is getting some incredible hype as it leads up to its release next week. Leading the surge of Tron preview media content was the release of the original score, created by French-electronica-legends Daft Punk. (more…)

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

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Two days ago, I had the good fortune to see an advance screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. When I left the theater, I had the distinct impression that I had learned a lot, about movies, about games, and about culture, and it’s taken me a couple of days of near constant thought to suss out my feelings about it.

So, is it good? Maybe. I certainly enjoyed myself. But I couldn’t help but feel that Scott Pilgrim succeeded in all of the ways that I expected it to fail, and failed in all of the ways that I expected it to succeed.
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Kick-Ass

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Sometimes, it’s the movies that I like best that are the most difficult to write about.

It’s easy to pull apart and examine films that aren’t great. How to Train Your Dragon, for example, was a decent, though not spectacular, family-oriented animated romp. Its visuals were great, though lacking the polish of a Pixar film, and its story was cute enough, but it dragged somewhat to start and could’ve had a stronger script. C+, B- is its final score, in my opinion.

See? Easy.

On the other hand, approaching a film like Kick-Ass, a film so superbly crafted, so incredibly choreographed and so wittily incisive, is a tall order. Where do I start? Do I focus on its excitement, its beautifully bad-ass fight scenes that pit interesting, flawed, yet relatable heroes against shrewd enemies? Should I instead choose to focus on its commentary, the brainy aspects behind its perfected pugilism, and laud the fact that it examines and challenges the idea of vigilante justice in a similar way as Watchmen? Or maybe I should begin by talking about its quasi-realistic, Tarantino-esque style that intermixes images of brutal violence with the fantasy of superheroism?

I suppose that the most succinct way for me to communicate how I felt about Kick-Ass is to say that I’ve seen it three times, and believe that it was well worth it. It takes what I thought were the most interesting parts of Watchmen, namely the critical examination of normal people acting as a vigilante, costumed superheroes, and throws away all of the “inside baseball” type comic industry and culture trappings that make Watchmen somewhat difficult for non-fans to understand and take seriously. If you have any interest in watching an exciting action movie with interesting characters, you should definitely check it out.

In an entirely unrelated observation, anthypophora is so useful, rhetorically.

Artists

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I just read Roger Ebert’s latest.

My addition to the cultural dialog:

If a bunch of people can get together with a stage, a set, a director, some lights, a script, and some imagination and make art, then why is it’s art-ness suddenly nullified when the director invites every member of the audience to play the starring role?

Here’s a photo gallery of the first 10 people that popped into my head when I thought of gaming’s auteurs.

For each of these men and women, I can say, without a doubt, that I interpret the world differently after having interacted with their work.

And for that, I thank them.

Companies and Cash Flow, or, Why Assume They’re Dumber Than You?

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In discussing the launch of Square today on Twitter, someone brought up an argument that I’ve heard from a myriad of different people about a myriad of different services: “It’s gonna fail, they have no revenue stream.”

My reaction to this is one of irrational anger. The question seems to me to make some faulty assumptions, most heinous of which is the assumption that the people who came up with the damned idea for the company in the first place never asked themselves that very question.

The fact of the matter is is that if a technology or service is good enough, someone will pay for it. Armchair business managing is pointless- you have no real perspective on what it takes for any business that you perceive as “set for failure” to actually do so.

I’m reminded of the start of the radio broadcasting industry; people then asked, “Who will pay for a message to no one in particular?”

Ultimately, what we as users of cool technology should do is just that: use them. Who cares if I have no clue how they’re generating revenue? They have a lot more at stake than I do; they’ll figure it out.

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