New this week on Popshifter: Jeff starts some Metal Mayhem with Night Ranger and Mötley Crüe (more installments are coming throughout the month); Luke reviews the “brilliant” cooperative game Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine; Brad gets transported back to childhood through Jason Lapeyre’s new film I Declare War; and I am impressed with ChristCORE, a new documentary on the Christian hardcore scene seen through the eyes of a nonbeliever.
There are two groups of people in the world: those who love Manborg and those who just haven’t seen it yet. (Too pompous?)
Let’s try this: anyone with only a cursory knowledge of Mystery Science Theater 3000 knows that there is an audience for bad movies. Although some of the most famously bad bad movies have escaped the comic commentary of MST3K (Troll 2, The Room), it doesn’t make them any less beloved in their awfulness. Yes, screenings are organized for fans to openly mock these movies, but if it brings people so much joy and it isn’t really harming anyone, is that necessarily a bad thing? Especially when it comes from the heart.
By Paul Casey
When Science Fiction reaches a large, mainstream audience it frequently stumbles. There are those out there, we are reminded until we expel body liquid, who are not particularly enamored with the idea of bizarre imaginings or Dystopian re-purposing of real events. These unreal things must be shrouded or hidden or compromised to meet the exacting standards of a public that drives Michael Bay pictures to earn hundreds of millions of dollars. They simply will not accept things that cannot happen, unless they get something tangible in return. “Gimme that walking arse shot or allusions to ear-fucking Megan Fox, whatever; just make sure that those grinning mugs don’t get their sense of reality altered! We’re running a business here. Don’t go abstract. Don’t make bold statements.”
When Irrational Games did Bioshock, it seemed to me, and some other folks, that here was a legitimate, big-budget step towards a new philosophy in video games. One that did not insist that the bare mechanics were the only thing worth evaluating. It made a powerful argument for world building, art direction, and quality writing and acting being able to do more than give finely tuned aiming and shooting a pretty wrapping. In Bioshock these things impacted the player’s experience to such a degree that evaluating one without the other seems foolish. That game had its issues, but its issues were a result of its ambition.
Bioshock Infinite is what happens when that ambition finds larger public, creative, and financial support. There is a storytelling depth here that very few games have approached. More importantly, it is a braver and more challenging piece of work than any of the other narrative successes in recent years. Its politics are not easily identifiable—though I am sure there are some lining up to suggest it fails because it contradicts some ideology or other—and its examination of human flaws leads the player to bad, honest places. If there is any clear message to be taken, it is probably that people who seek power are invariably the people who should not possess it, regardless of how righteous they appear.
New this week on Popshifter: Luke encourages us to stop complaining about gaming and raves over Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance; Paul is righteously indignant about the sexist responses to Anita Sarkeesian’s first Tropes vs. Women video; Cait says Bowie’s The Next Day has “an urgency, an energy and intensity long missing;” Hanna calls Alasdair Roberts & Friends’ A Wonder Working Stone “truly remarkable;” Lisa feels Oz the Great and Powerful is “too flawed” for a popcorn movie; Chelsea encourages SXSW attendees to check out the rock en español of Café Tacvba, Bajofondo, and Molotov; I think Girls Names’ The New Life is “damn fine,” am impressed with the “outstanding performances” in Jack & Diane, get my hackles up about “mocktresses,” talk about upcoming horror film Lord of Tears, and give an overview of Canadian Music Week Film Fest 13.
New this week on Popshifter: My review of the “gently sobering” film California Solo; an exclusive first look at the second semester of Toronto’s lecture series, The Black Museum, and a retro new video from Purling Hiss; Chelsea admires new releases from Helado Negro and Bajofondo; J thinks that Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ Push The Sky Away is a “beautiful record;” Emily recommends the new compilation of Otis Redding soul music, Lonely & Blue as “essential listening” for music fans; and Elizabeth gives five reasons why you really should ditch your cable TV subscription in the latest installment of “TV Is Dead, Long Live TV.”
Andrea Subissati and Paul Corupe
For hardcore genre fans in the Toronto area, last year’s The Black Museum was a dream come true: an interactive lecture series on horror and cult films that didn’t require waking up early or writing papers.
Luckily, curators Paul Corupe and Andrea Subissati are presenting another season of The Black Museum, and this time, it’s personal! (Not really, but I couldn’t resist that joke.) Season Two will feature five more lectures on genre themes that will be both fun and educational.
Kiss of the Damned (full poster)
New this week on Popshifter: I reveal a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the upcoming What The Brothers Sang album by Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy and weigh in on Suede’s new single and video; Paul praises Spotify but has stern advice for Prince; Cait has the scoop on the terrific new Omnivore Recordings George Jones United Artists singles compilation; and Elizabeth reassures us we can still call television “television.”
Europa Report, photo from the film’s Facebook page.
New this week on Popshifter: Chelsea finds Richard Thompson “still relevant” on his new album Electric and introduces us to the beautiful protest music of Víctor Jara; Cait praises the “warm, intimate solo collection” of songs on Chris Stamey’s Lovesick Blues, calls the two new Townes Van Zandt discs of demos and rarities “close to perfection,” and says Mary Gauthier’s long-anticipated Live At Blue Rock was “worth the wait”; Emily describes Hayden’s Us Alone as “recommended listening”; I suggest Goblin’s The Awakening box set for fans and not-yet-fans, and review this Wednesday’s wonderful Ty Segall show in Toronto.
New this week on Popshifter: Paul examines “Wrestling’s Dark Heart” and reviews the game Cart Life; Maureen recommends The Sessions as “a gem of a film;” I get excited about new music and videos from Parenthetical Girls, Iceage, and Jesca Hoop and review the excellent but troubling film Compliance; and Elizabeth talks about Netflix, Wall Street, and why televangelism means we can’t have nice things like a la carte cable in this week’s installment of “TV Is Dead, Long Live TV.”
By Paul Casey
Bioshock, released in 2007, is in my estimation, the greatest video game of its generation. My feelings on that game and its importance are documented elsewhere on Popshifter. As we approach the release of Bioshock Infinite on March 26, it seems prudent to expand on why Irrational Game’s new work has a good chance at taking that title from its predecessor.
Those who value Bioshock above most or all other video games are proponents of a different value system. The thought that the first-person shooter mechanics are not the most important part of the game is alien to most who spend their time playing competitively online with Halo or Call of Duty. That horrendous cliché of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” is wielded in these instances with folded arm assurance. Bioshock, along with other games like Uncharted, Heavy Rain, and most recently The Walking Dead, shows, though, that all of the other things around those core mechanics matter just as much, if not more, to a fair heft of people.
Bioshock Infinite has a good chance of being the definitive game of 2013, and the end of a console generation that has gone on longer than any before it. Much talk has been spent on the delays of the game. There has also been chatter about the exits from the company, including art director Nate Wells who left last August. There are, however, some good reasons to think that Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games will still hit their mark.