Roger Ebert

April 4th, 2013 input via mattcolville

If you love movies, and you love writing, eventually you start writing about movies and if you get paid to do it, they call you a critic. But really all you are is someone who loves movies, and loves writing.

If they publish your reviews in the paper, people who don’t love movies start to read them and they get a weird, twisted sense of what you’re trying to do. They’re not writers, they’re not crazy in love with film. They’re just looking for a way to spend a pleasant afternoon So they think, when they read your stuff, that you are telling them what to think. That you think your opinion and experience is objective truth, which is ridiculous.

But you probably don’t give a shit what they think. You audience is other movie nuts like you. Your writing is part of a dialog all those people are having with each other all the time. You don’t care if those people agree with you, you’re interested in the back-and-forth, you love reading new perspectives on films you love. You love going back to movies you overlooked and seeing them from a new point of view. (more…)

The Last Prometheus Post: Peter Weyland and Film as a Consumer Product

June 15th, 2012 input via mattcolville

Why would a team of hand-picked scientists act so wrecklessly? They don’t even really act like a team. Why rush in headlong into a certainly unknown, possibly dangerous, alien planet? Why open everything, touch everything? Why does your robot refuse to listen when you tell him to stop, don’t touch?

Peter Weyland.

This is not a movie about a plucky young scientist and her husband going off on a great adventure. The plucky young scientist thinks that’s what the movie is about, and says so. She explicitly tells the security team that this is a scientific mission and weapons are not needed.

Astonishingly, the audience appears to believe her. (more…)

Two Kinds of Prometheans

June 14th, 2012 input via mattcolville

The first Promethean we see in the film looks like this.

He’s naked, healthy, exposed skin everywhere. Tall, pale.

What does he do? He sacrifices himself to create life.

The Promethean we see on the alien ship look like this.

Take a good look. That’s not a suit that dude put on. That Gigergoop is part of his body. (more…)

Prometheus Explained

June 11th, 2012 input via mattcolville

“The king has a reign, and then he dies.”

At the beginning of Prometheus, we see an important image. A Promethean, killing himself to create life.

All the Prometheans we see are male. Or masculine. We see two of them in the flesh, and dozens off them via holographic CCTV, we see a Giant Head and a decapitated head, all appear male.

The Prometheans don’t appear sexless, or androgynous, they appear male. Their species is male. Creating life is something they can only do through sacrifice. It’s an act of will, of volition, and in the process, they die. For them, creating life requires death.

Furthermore, they need the Black Goop to do it. A Promethean drinks the black goop, dies, but seeds a new world with life. We don’t know where the Prometheans come from, we don’t know if they’re natural. Maybe someone else created them. Maybe they’ve evolved beyond sexes and mating. But they do not appear able to reproduce on their own. Maybe they can’t reproduce at all. Maybe each Promethean is the seed of life for an entire world. Maybe that’s their purpose.

Humans, on the other hand, can create life at will. Without dying in the process. How would the Prometheans view this? Would they think it natural, or dangerous? (more…)

The Prometheus Podcast

June 10th, 2012 input via mattcolville

David Padron is a cinematics producer, I am a writer/designer, both of us in video games. We talk a lot about movies and culture and games before jumping into a game of League of Legends or Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 or whatever.

This week, we talk a lot about Ridley Scott’s most science-fictional movie, Prometheus. Come by Facebook, let us know what you think.

The Prometheus Podcast

This post is part of a series. For which also see:

 

Prometheus

June 8th, 2012 input via mattcolville

David–by far the most interesting character in Prometheus, insightfully realized by Michael Fassbender–dyes his hair.

To me, this was one of the most striking and memorable shots in the movie. The one I’m still thinking about the next day. That’s not a knock on the rest of the movie, it’s amazing. But it’s Fassbender’s David that’s the crowning achievement of the film. His performance, and the filmmakers decision to make a movie about the android, to me, justify all the shortcuts the movie takes elsewhere. His performance is daring and exploring and challenging.  It’s a testament to Ridley Scott the storyteller that in and amongst all this high concept science-fiction and amazing design that I’m thinking about a robot who dyes his hair even when there’s no one to see it. (more…)

Popcorn Diet

May 11th, 2012 input via mattcolville

This post original appeared on my old site. It’s not the usual gaming/culture stuff, but variety is the spice of thing.

My doctorb (“The extra ‘b’ is for ‘bargain!’) is awesome. I love Dr. Brunner and I always look forward to seeing him.

I say this because, as a guy, going to the doctor is notable. There’s a difference between men and women. At least one difference. Possibly more, but for the purposes of this post let’s stick with this one difference: guys don’t see doctors. Not as a rule.

Women see doctors. That’s the difference. A friend of mine said “I don’t understand why none of you guys ever go to the doctor!” I esplained.

“Larra,” I said, for such was her name, “you have to imagine what it’s like being a guy and 18,” which is when most of us learn this.

“First, there’s nothing wrong with you at 18. You feel great. You can do pretty much anything, for pretty much as long as you want, and then eat whatever you want or, alternatively, nothing for days and you don’t notice either way. Why on Earth would you go to a doctor? (more…)

The Black Hole

May 6th, 2012 input via mattcolville

This movie came out in 1979. I saw it in the theaters but like a lot of stuff from the 1970s I was too young to wot of it. I grew up with my memory of this movie being deeply cheesy and mostly awful, but watching it again on a whim, I feel as though perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate it.

Let me make my point clear from the beginning; this is not a good movie. I am not a Black Hole apologist, because such a thing is medically impossible. Nor is it one of my guilty pleasures, like KrullIt’s OK if you like it uncritically, none of us are obligated to be critical all the time. But it’s certainly flawed and arguably a failure, if we had to grade movies on a pass/fail scale against the success of their storytelling.

Happily, we don’t have to do that! We’re free to notice all sorts of really interesting ideas in this movie, and perhaps detect a diamond in the rough, waiting to be polished in the 21st century. (more…)

The Dune RPG

May 6th, 2012 input via mattcolville

In 1997 I started working at Last Unicorn Games, a tiny little game company long-since defunct, on the Dune CCG with Owen Seyler. We went on to make the Dune RPG, one of the prettiest and now rarest and most expensive RPG books ever made. in 2000 we were bought by Wizards of the Coast and for a brief time, we were working on a D20 version of the Dune RPG.

The D20 version of the game never saw print, alas, but I’m posting some of my work from it for posterity. A very tiny amount of writing was done, it’s just a curio. And it’s my writing from 15 years ago so it’s amusing (Adventurons! The elementary particles of adventures!) and somewhat primitive. But it’s free! Worth every penny.

Download The Dune RPG (D20) Outline
Download The Dune Adventure (more…)

The 2001 Post

March 31st, 2012 input via mattcolville

Well, post. Podcast. Or whatever.

Listen To the 2001 podcast

I work with an amazing team of creative people across many disciplines and because it’s video games many of these people are younger than me and one of the things I’ve noticed about people in their 20s right now is that they don’t have all the bullshit cultural baggage that the Baby Boomers and their kids (my generation) carried around. 2001: A Space Odyssey is famous for being impenetrable and a lot of people my age have this “screw that movie” attitude. they resent being challenged, reset the respect the movie gets. Something to do with entitlement, I think.

But the guys I work with, younger guys, their attitude is “that movie was weird, what was going on?” They know something’s going on, they don’t mind saying “I didn’t get it” and they’re curious. I love that. No cultural baggage, no chip on their shoulder. Open curiosity. Intellectual curiosity, artistic curiosity.

One day someone asks me if I’ve seen 2001 and then, when I said I had, they didn’t say “did you like it?” They went straight to “what was that movie about? What was the Monolith? Why did HAL kill that guy?” and as I gave what I thought were my answers, this amazing dialog between me and a bunch of artists opened up and we all came away having noticed things and thought about things we hadn’t before.

So I figured, hey, why not write it all down. But that was boring. What was fun was talking about it. So I decided to do a podcast of sorts. I started by writing, I’m a writer, but after a couple of paragraphs I said “this is stupid.” It lacked the spontaneity of the original conversation so I just turned the mike on and started talking. That was surprisingly easy and this is the result.

Maybe someone will get a kick out of it, maybe someone will take it and do something interesting with it, put their own images to it, whatever. If there’s a positive response, maybe I’ll do more of these!

If you’ve got feedback, feel free to follow me on Facebook and post something.