Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Week in Geek (18-24/02/13)

Buys

After enjoying so much Elmore Leonard on TV and movies, it's about time I bought a book of his. I'm easing in with the collection of short stories that includes the basis for Justified, Fire in the Hole. Otherwise, it was all DVDs this week: Battlestar Galactica Blood & Chrome, Argo, Robot & Frank, Game of Thrones Season 2, Skyfall, The Man with the Iron Fists and Doctor Who's The Reign of Terror.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: In Season 2, Misfits shows it's not afraid to fool around with its status quo. After all, they've got to finish their community service SOMEtime. But that's not all that's going on. As if a riff from Heroes, there's someone from the future who's come to save their lives and make sure everything goes as planned. And in the Christmas special includes as a 7th episode, there are more drastic measures taken to make sure the characters aren't right back where they started by the start of Season 3. Despite the drama, this is the season that made me laugh the most. Or maybe I just keyed into Nathan's sense of humor. Dude's hilarious in the most disgusting way. In any case, I don't know how I can wait around for Amazon to offer Season 3... Oh yeah, DVD extras, there are some, and it's a very good package. There a bonus scenes that are exactly that, not deleted scenes, but bonus content shot from a voyeuristic point of view and telling little stories and gags around our gang working at the community center. The making of material covers the look and design of the show fairly comprehensively, as well as life on the set, plus there are small making ofs for each and every episode. Fun stuff.

Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django is a pretty mind-blowing experience. It's a western apparently populated with Japanese pop stars speaking in variable English accents, as two clans, the Reds and the Whites, fight over a town's gold. It's anime in live action, much of the time, exciting, but also funny and tragic. Now what's especially interesting is the Django brand which has recently made a splash thanks to a little film called Django Unchained, which you might have heard of, made by a guy called Quentin Tarantino. Well, THIS movie was made in 2007 AND Tarantino's IN IT. It's more than a cameo - he gets 2-3 scenes on a terrifyingly expressionistic set - but when the Django song came up in the end credits (in Japanese of course), there could be no doubt of the cross-pollination at work here. Not sure which way it went either. Miike is a very inventive director, and he plays with the form, throws strange images at you, and often plays to metaphor, delightfully. The only thing I'm not sure he gets away with his forcing his actors to speak English, which often makes the dialog come across as stilted and at time difficult to understand (we kept the subtitles on). One of the strangest westerns you ever might see, so put it on your list, cinephiles! Strong extras too, including a long making of documentary that talks to almost everyone (except Tarantino, dang!) and principally follows the shooting. I do think the narrator is a bit too reverential to the director and overselling the movie, but it's good otherwise. You'll also find some deleted scenes, trailers, and as you sometimes find on Asian releases, selected clips, basically scenes you can watch without having to forward through the entire film.

If you've been reading my daily Doctor Who reviews, you already know I think The Talons of Weng-Chiang is classic Who at its best. But what about the recent Special Edition release. Any good extras? First, everything that was on the original release is also here, making this a direct replacement for your old version. In fact, they didn't produce a new commentary track for it and only included the old one, which to be fair, has a lot of the people you would have wanted to hear from - Louise Jameson (Leela)' John Bennett (Chang), Christopher Benjamin (Jago), producer Philip Hinchlcliffe and director David Maloney. The production notes are likewise the same. A third disc contains the original extras, including the excellent Whose Doctor Who vintage documentary made while Talons was shooting (as evidenced by the visit to set from which we get a lot of behind the scenes material), Hinchcliffe's (hostile) TV interview relating to it, Blue Peter's Doctor Who theater crafts project, very rough outtakes from the last two episodes, a weird TARDIS Cam with space whales, trailers and continuities, and redundantly, a shorter photo gallery. As for the new material on the second disc, there's a good making of documentary, and to go further into the story both on screen and behind the scenes, featurettes on: Why Hinchcliffe left the show (not by choice!) and what stories he was thinking of developing for Season 15, the truth of what Bob Holmes did or did not filch from the story originally slated to be made, the literature behind the story, the true story of Limehouse, a quirky documentary on the music hall tradition performed AS music hall, and a visit to all the locations used on the show. A vintage interview with Tom Baker (who really seems to dislike journalists and their really stupid questions) and the longer photo gallery complete this impressive package.

Audios: With The Prisoner's Dilemma, Simon Guerrier adds another layer to the Key2Time trilogy and manages to find a way to avoid the same-old-same-old feeling of Nyssa's Companion Chronicle. Ace, too, has appeared in a large number of Big Finish audios, so he doesn't give her the story's first voice. Instead, it goes to Zara, the twin sister of the Key2Time's short-lived companion Amy. As living key segment trackers, these girls have no experience of the real world and that creates an interesting point of view as we're taken through a prequel to the trilogy. Ace gets to narrate some part so the story as well, and again, she's got a stronger point of view than Nyssa did. It seems the problem with The Darkening Eye wasn't that it used an already well-worn voice, but that it didn't get her anything interesting to say. But The Prisoner's Dilemma does, it's about trust, something often missing between Ace and the Doctor, and if you liked Key2Time (its second chapter was may favorite audio last year), this is a must-listen.

Zines: Finished reading the 15th issue of Diary of the Doctor Who RPGs, dubbed the "Chess Issue", because no avenue of Doctor Who-related gaming will go unexplored, apparently! So there are enticing reviews of a couple of Doctor Who chess sets, including homemade ones, paper miniatures to make your own, an article on chess tropes in Doctor Who, and two very good chess-related adventures (including one that features the deadly Live Chess seen in A Good Man Goes to War). It's not all chess, all the time though, and you'll also find a few gaming-related news briefs, a review of Wil Wheaton's Just a Geek, gamer etiquette regarding dice rolling, complete FASA stats for Peri, Time Lord stats for Bessie and the Whomobile, two Gazetteer articles that introduce new planets, a bit on H.G. Wells' wargame (possibly the first ever), instructions for a craft/four-point yarn TARDIS, a non-chess adventure module on an ice planet, a short event report only marginally related to Who, an article on starting sessions which I found a little bewildering (I guess it's useful for large groups that cross in and out of the game, but found is strange for most small-knit group games), and some interesting mechanics to handle those pocketfuls of props that seem so handy on the show. Overall a very strong issue that follows its theme admirably, but also offers great variety.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Act IV, Scenes 1-3 - Hamlet 2000

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Green Arrow to Green Lantern.

5 comments:

idiotbrigade said...

OOOH!

PIRINGO!

Siskoid said...

Which I think should be Berubz' honorary KFF nickname for having suggested this movie.

Craig Oxbrow said...

Misfits S1 and S2 were storming. S3 was okay, despite a key cast departure. S4... not so much.

Siskoid said...

I'm sorry to hear that.

Craig Oxbrow said...

And I, to say it...