Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Why I'm going to see a 3D movie tomorrow.

If you don't laugh at 1.21 you're a far better person than I.

I'm gonna do it. There's no use trying to talk me out of it. I've made up my mind. My life's not worth it anymore but that's not the point. Tomorrow I'm going to see Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

It's not that I have much investment in the Ice Age opus. I couldn't tell you if I've seen both or only one and in that case which one that would be (Taekwondo-dos? I remember that being funny. That was funny right?) I'm going for one reason and one reason only and that's the silly glasses.

You see, 3D is so busy getting talked up by the distributors and down by the critics it's become the yo-yo thrown at the 3D-bespectacled House of Wax audience (reference - citation needed). Mark Kermode is peddling a very convincing argument as to the fact 3D is supposedly what will save cinemas and yet they're charging us more for it. They're charging us for keeping them going, but hey that's kinda how businesses work. I'm not so interested in whether this is the future of cinema as we know it (James Cameron is making Avatar 3D so clearly he thinks it is, but then again he also thinks the same thing about himself) or just a gimmicky gimmick developed to support the interests of the plastic 3D glasses industry, what is important is that I'm going to see one tomorrow; I'm handing over my money. Is there any more beautiful thought for movie producers than that?

Kermode - so disgusted he looks at the camera 33% less than usual.

Because the fact is I like 3D. I like paying to have things pointed as much as the next heterosexual man. It's fun and has more dimensions than that 2D shit down the hall (Does anybody go to 2D showings of 3D movies? Surely it must be like paying for cheap seats at the theatre because they face the wrong way. Like the shadows on Plato's cave wall but more depressing.) I went to see Bolt and it was a lot like seeing a Disney movie about a dog but somehow the point-factor made it that little bit more enjoyable. Monsters VS Aliens was by no means the saviour of cinema that Cameron's looking for but it worked. Things pointed and I gurgled like a baby with a pimped-out mobile above its cot.

For me 3D is spectacle (must find... workable... glasses pun), it's an event, it's what going to the cinema was before they started building them in shopping malls as a creche for bored teens. I'm not a complete cretin, yes I'd still like the movies to be good but I'm willing to take a risk for a film that might not be because dammit, 3D is fun. I'm not sure whether it can translate to serious cinema or whether it will always be in the low-brow, base enjoyments of comedy and horror (Wish I'd seen My Bloody Valentine. Bloody pointy things > Regular pointy things) but I like it and I'm going to see it so stop hassling me and how did you get this number?

Also, Up? August? 3 months later than the US? In the words of Gob Bluth: "Come on!"

I've got to say, it'll be nice to see what a good 3D movie looks like.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

You have been watching... but why?

Industry secret: keeping audiences in empty studios will leave them desperate for laughs.

Charlie Brooker has a new series on a terrestrial television channel! Put away your idols and effegies because whatever god you've been praying to it sure as hell worked - and if you don't belong to a belief system that has a hell, rest assured, there's still a Charlie Brooker.

Screen Burn, Screen Wipe News Wipe and now You Have Been Watching. Who cares that is defies any logical progression of naming for Brooker soap-boxed as long as it has footage of reasonably acceptable and popular television shows played along to voice-over that explains precisely why it's the first horseman of the apocalypse? And it does. Unsuprisingly, that's the best bit. Charlie's imaginative profanities and undesirable analogies cut through even the most unthreatening middle-of-the-road daytime shows with the kind of tenacious satire usually reserved for child-molesterors, politicians and the messy middle-ground. Brooker's back on TV, and all is either right with the world or next on his agenda.

So why then is You Have Been Watching such a disappointment?

Brooker when he was TV's least favourite child. The one you leave alone in the house when you go on holiday.

Well firstly because it's not just Charlie on a sofa. It's him behind a desk while three nobodies witter away the time that could be filled with more Brooker. It's like he's been fed into the Channel 4 format machine which says "Funny-presenter? *Ding* Panel show! Must call Jamelia." One minute there's a VT with the familiar Brooker wit (Brooker also likes to throw around terminology like 'VT' in complete disregard for the time-honoured 'me = presenter, you = idiot' dialect. It means videotape if you wondered. Which is wonderfully anachronistic in a show purporting to engage with new media like Twitter) the next moment the laughs have slowed right down while the nobodies play memory games similar to a child's English Comprenhension test.

Sarcastic persona or genuine disdain?

And while the latter is annoying ("Who the fuck is Rufus Hound?" tweets a nation) it's the former that is the genuine betrayal, because in there lied the promise of a Watch With Brooker 'TV club' where you can tweet along in the hope of pleasing his causticness (Yes, I was one of them) and so to subject an audience to watch The One Show is cruel enough but then to read out exactly one tweet from a week's worth of material is brutal. It seemed like a token gesture to excuse what seems to be an otherwise cynical publicity attempt. Sure there is still joy in the experiment on Twitter, and Brooker does well to reguarly update his every non-sequitor thought but Twitter is not a forum and so with all these @YHBWs knocking about the only people who get to read the finished conversation is the show makers, and by the looks of that one lonely read-out they're not sharing it

Perhaps this is more of a problem with the concept than the product. Ultimately the show is funny and fresh, and while it sometimes feels like a mixure of Mock The Week and that obscure Justin Lee Collins chestnut Flipside TV - C-lists stayed up to describe what was on the other channels - it still remains a full head and shoulder of controversy ahead of both (Cheering for the I.R.A - a whole series of Flipside TV still wouldn't have channel-hopped onto something as impossibly odd as Deadliest Warrior). It's just that what was promised isn't what you got. What sounded like Charlie Brooker hosts Points of View ended up being a slightly above par panel show.

It takes a lot of work to look this lumpy.

The fact remains that it is funny. It's the only panel show on my V+ and I'll still be watching on Tuesday. The problem is that what I won't be watching is this week's TV Club,
Torchwood: Children of Earth. With the best will in the world frankly the incredibly low odds of making it on the show or even getting a tweet from Brooker is nowhere near worth the cost of watching that shite.

In short,
You Have Been Watching begins to feel a little presumptious as well as sounding like the voice of the authority that Brooker is so vitriolic about. We can tweet to our heart's content, but they'll still be in charge in content, we're just here to watch it.

With friends like these... who do you shoot first?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Wii Motional Blackmail

"Oops, we missed a bit!"

So Ninty have came out with the Wii Motion Plus - also known as: 'Does what we said the Wiimote did on its own' - boasting enhanced movement perception and the ability to make owners of an expensive set of 4 wiimotes and nunchuks cry bitter, exploited tears.

What's impressive is the bold-faced attempt to make this seem like an achievement. Trotting out footage of Tiger Woods made impotent holding a tiny white toy instead of his usual phallic symbol they're trying to tell us they've made the Wii better, but the problem is how difficult this is to guage. I mean, we've never really had motion-sensor gaming to the level of the Wii or even beyond a little bit of tilting here and there and so when they say they've improved it we can only nod and agree this is progress. But nevertheless it's difficult to forget that when they released the Wii they were making the same claims. In fact I'm pretty sure they've reused the same Tiger Woods advert but superimposed an extra inch in his hands.

You can lead a child to music, but you can't make them play.

Now I'm sure these are just unbearably trite complaints from a bitter owner of the afforementioned expensive set of wiimotes (one already broken) and I bet a lot of work has gone in to that extra inch but it's hard not to feel like this is the kind of hardware problem that if it occured in software would be covered by a free patch. When the 360 had the red-ring-o'-death it didn't do what it was supposed to (as in: play) so Microsoft ended up shelling out free consoles, so why is it when Ninty finally admit the Wii motion sensor never did what it was supposed to (as in: sense motion) they get to charge an extra £25 a pop for their discovery?

The answers simple: Ninty have a monopoly. Sony and Microsoft may have thought they were mad to target a gaming console at people who don't play games and all props to them for making it work, but now that they've took the road less travelled by they alone can set the toll charges. Who can put a price on motion sensors? That kind of thing is unprecedented and without a second horse in the race they can set the precedent as high as they like. Like a bus driver who charges you to get on the bus and then refuses to let you off without paying again, Ninty have the power to charge their gamers everytime they make a minor improvement and gamers have to comply or get left behind (Actually, in the bus analogy the opposite would be true. Let's say the bus has stopped off at a rest stop and there's a charge to get back on - and the bus is being driven by Shigsy Miyamoto). In short, Ninty have got their gamers by the nunchuks - all four of them.