This Week in Geek (20-26/04/09)

Buys

Two new DVDs this week. The first is Frost/Nixon (see below), and the other is Zack and Miri Make a Porno, because I simply can't pass up a Kevin Smith movie.

Based on this interview, I also procured myself the pdf copy of Chad Underkoffler's new RPG, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies. I've always loved Chad's designs in Pyramid Online, and have used more than one in my games, so I was more than happy to send some bucks his way. I'd say everything he's done, I've found fun and original, and this is no different. Imagine a world like snowglobe with floating islands in which pirates and privateers fly. 'nuff said.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: I flipped a number of films over the week, the first of which was A Few Good Men. I'd seen it plenty of times before, as have you, I'm sure. This time, however, I had my eye on Aaron Sorkin's writing tropes (I'd never realized he'd written it those other times). Yeah, now I can see how some of it was transposed to Sports Night, West Wing, etc. The DVD has a skippable commentary track by director Rob Reiner. He hardly ever speaks! I hate that. The documentary features are much better.




Next up was Burn After Reading. The only thing I know to expect from the Cohen Bros. is the unexpected, and that's what I got. A comedy by virtue of its stupid middle-aged characters (I mean that in a hilarious way), but with some pretty dark Cohen moments as well. I'm damn near close to saying they made George Clooney into a believable dork. Accompanying interviews are pretty entertaining, what with the Cohens' usual obfuscation and each cast member getting his or her due.



Then, Alexander Fodor's Hamlet. Wow. I'm really ambivalent about this experimental, artsy take on my favorite play (I'm collecting them, so the purchase was a no-brainer). Sometimes clever, sometimes pretentious. Sometimes stylish, sometimes awkwardly staged. Sometimes beautiful, and others, amateurish. Whatever it is, it's always interesting and never boring. Fodor does things like change the sex of Polonius and Horatio, creating entirely new relationships with other characters (Horatio is majorly hot), and one can't dismiss his (e)state of Denmark's corruption. The omni-presence of the ghost is also well handled. I'm less entranced by the acting by all these first timers, especially Hamlet's. I mean, fluffing lines? One thing's for sure, the staging definitely undercuts Hamlet's arc, or else heavily hinges on you knowing the story and thus deducing its meanings. Deleted scenes restore some important beats, but not many.

And then last night: Frost/Nixon. Entrancing. I wouldn't have believed it from a talking head movie about, you know, trying to get an interview with someone, and then sitting down for that interview, especially from Ron "no style" Howard. But it totally works as an intellectual boxing movie. The performances are top notch, nuanced, funny, and moving. Frank Langella in particular... I felt immense sympathy for his Nixon, and by ricochet for the real Nixon when I saw parts of the real interviews on the extras. Ron Howard supplies an excellent commentary track that made me appreciate his work a lot more, and making of documentary features are well made, including a visit to the Nixon Library.

Books: Nice weather has allowed me to start reading again (I do most of mine while walking to and from work), so I finally finished What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, edited by Robert Cowley. Though it sounds like it would turn into sci-fi, historians actually use their essays to discuss the pivotal moments of various events, and how they could easily have gone another way, and what consequences this might have had given the personalities and trends of the time. I started reading this years ago and got bogged down in the American Civil War. Just not my interest. Not compared to the Antiquity or the Middle Ages. Of course, once I got past my hurdle, it was all World War/Cold War goodness.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 6 cards, completing the Infinite Space expansion. Next up, a small premium set based on Sarah Jane Adventures Series 1.
Someone Else's Post of the Week
Topless Robot had this ridiculous notion of making Kafka play video games from the 80s, and you know what? BRILLIANT. I never realized how their repetitive nature was a Kafka novel in the making.

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