The House


Review: The Room

The Room

Few video games so directly encapsulate the notion of "being a toy" as The Room, a popular iOS title now boasting a high-definition PC port, upscaled graphics, and touch controls substituted with a mouse. While the majority of games flooding the iOS marketplace feature little but simplistic gameplay and cartoonish 2D visuals, The Room made a mark with spectacular 3D graphics and moody ambience, establishing itself as a more mature and highbrow experience involving Hellraiser-style puzzle boxes tackled with Apple's intuitive touch controls. Solving each puzzle reveals more of the game's narrative involving the fates of past adventurers who would dare attempt the puzzle boxes, shades of Lovecraft permeating its storyline and complimenting the thick atmosphere that the visuals and sound design create.

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TAGS: fireproof games, hellraiser, the room, year walk


Ferguson

1. "The Coming Race War Won't Be About Race." Ferguson is not just about systemic racism—it's about class warfare and how America's poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

"Dystopian books and movies like Snowpiercer, The Giver, Divergent, Hunger Games, and Elysium have been the rage for the past few years. Not just because they express teen frustration at authority figures. That would explain some of the popularity among younger audiences, but not among twentysomethings and even older adults. The real reason we flock to see Donald Sutherland's porcelain portrayal in Hunger Games of a cold, ruthless president of the U.S. dedicated to preserving the rich while grinding his heel into the necks of the poor is that it rings true in a society in which the One Percent gets richer while our middle class is collapsing."

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TAGS: charles p. pierce, elijah wood, ferguson, flashdance, kareem abdul-jabbar, nacho vigalondo, open windows, pitchfork, rolling stone


Sleeping Giant

There's a brief shot in Andrew Cividino's short film Sleeping Giant that's very similar to one in The Dirties, the self-aware comedy by Cividino's fellow Canadian Matt Johnson, which debuted at Locarno Film Festival last year. Premiering in the Pardi di domani competition at this year's edition, Sleeping Giant also shares with the other film themes of bullying and peer pressure. In the shot in question, two young boys fire flares into the air, and then at each other—and that it primes such a comparison reveals one coincidental link between last year's and this year's edition of the festival. Certainly, continuity is paramount at Locarno Film Festival, whose host town has a population of less than 16,000—small enough to feel like an intensely surreal bubble of stability, while the festival itself is paradoxically colossal, making for an atmosphere all its own.

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TAGS: amos angeles, andrew cividino, ernst karel, j.p. sniadecki, kookaburra love, locarno film festival, matthias von gunten, sensory ethnography lab, single stream, sjoerd oostrik, sleeping giant, style wars 2, the iron ministry, thule tuvalu, veli silver


Mind: Path to Thalamus

Mind: Path to Thalamus isn't a subtle game. The title and in-game chapter labels reveal that you'll be traveling through a person's mind, specifically toward the thalamus, which essentially bridges and processes the brain's information, leveraging this between your sleeping and waking self. The narrative doubles down on this, too, needlessly explaining with a heavy hand (and heavy intonation) that ever since a tsunami claimed the life of your beloved Sophia, you've been in a coma. (Note: About a week after playing, the audio was patched to remove some of the more redundant/obvious parts, and there are plans to rework it entirely in a future update.) But life isn't subtle, and sometimes it blows you away—as does Mind, right from the very opening sequence in which a raging storm rips apart your quiet world. The following three hours (or longer, depending on your pace) are filled with similarly beautiful, trippy imagery—as well as some fiendish Portal-like puzzles that help the game rise above walking simulators like Dear Esther or Proteus. (The closest parallel is probably the similarly themed Trauma, though that's a more simplistic point-and-click adventure.)

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TAGS: carlos coronado, dear esther, mind: path to the thalamus, proteus, Trauma


Need for Speed: Rivals

For about as long as there have been video games, there have been video games about cars. It's a natural extension of the technology: We sit in front of a machine to be transported, virtually, behind the wheel of another one. Like fighting games and first-person shooters, driving games put us in command of experiences too dangerous to enjoy for real, liberating us from concerns of safety and responsibility and inviting us, all too gleefully, to push the limits of what can be done. Maybe you drive every day—a commute to work, an errand to the corner store. Driving games take that experience and amplify it, transforming the banality of the car into something extraordinary: an object to steal, to race, to destroy. Games do a lot with a four wheels and an engine. In life your car is bound to the rules of the road. In games it can go anywhere, do anything.

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TAGS: burnout revenge, crazy taxi, daytona usa, desert bus, gran turismo 3: a-spec, micro machines, need for speed: rivals, pole position, star wars episode i: racer, super mario kart


Let's Be Cops

1. "Let's Be Real." Wesley Morris on Let's Be Cops, cop movies, and the shooting in Ferguson.

"This would just be more flushable summer waste (and, please, don't let me stop you from jiggling the handle), except Let's Be Cops somehow doubles as a fantasy that knows its social limits, limits that connect it to the turmoil in Ferguson, and those limits ease on down the road of race. The movie doesn't want to make a big deal about this, but Justin is black and Ryan white, which is newsworthy in that, despite one guy's annoyance with the other, they appear to have been friends long enough for racial osmosis to set it. Justin speaks the way black comedians—like Wayans's father, Damon Sr.—do when they're impersonating an uptight white guy. Ryan occasionally twists and spikes the cadences of his speech so it sounds comedically black. Justin says 'dude' a lot. Ryan likes 'bro.' Permeable racial identity becomes a kind of running gag, especially once Key and his impersonation of a loopy Mexican gangsta shows up."

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TAGS: communism, consumed, david cronenberg, Diego Luna, doom, emmy awards, ferguson, film international, gael garcía bernal, let's be cops, Madlib, madvillainy, orange is the new black, red hollywood, richard brody, shane joaquin jimenez, sherlock, the criterion collection, true detective, wesley morris, y tu mamá también


The Leftovers

"Cairo" begins with a song, climaxes with a poem, and concludes with a whisper, but it's what each of these leaves unspoken that captures the testy relationship between faith and doubt at the heart of The Leftovers. As the opening montage augurs the coming collision between Patti Levin (Ann Dowd) and Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), suturing her arrangements for the Guilty Remnant's next radical act to his preparations for dinner, the music we hear is excerpted from "I've Been 'Buked and I've Been Scorned," an African-American spiritual. Left out when Patti closes the church door, however, are the lyrics that traditionally come next: "Ain't goin' to lay my 'ligion down," the hymn resolves, "no, Lord." "Cairo" is a dark night of the soul, but the power of conviction is omnipresent at its margins.

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TAGS: ann dowd, cairo, carrie coon, charlie carver, chris zylka, Christopher Eccleston, Emily Meade, he bids his beloved be at peace, Justin Theroux, liv tyler, margaret qualley, max carver, Michael Gaston, Michelle MacLaren, recap, the leftovers, the second coming, w.b. yeats


Horse Money

After dipping into relative, perhaps unavoidable mediocrity in the aftermath of the sublime formalist treats offered by Lav Diaz and Matías Piñeiro, the Locarno competition got back on track and then some with the arrival of Pedro Costa's long-awaited Horse Money. This fourth feature-length installment of his ongoing Fontainhas series retains Colossal Youth's heavy stylisation and rangy protagonist, Ventura, only to turn further inward. Grown old and unable to control his ever-twitching fingers, Ventura has been committed to a psychiatric facility, whose shadowy, spectral corridors double up as passages through the mind. These halls can lead anywhere—a snaking labyrinth whose endless connections bridge past and present, Portugal and Cape Verde, Fontainhas and the forest, a dilapidated factory, and a harshly lit elevator where all things flow together.

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TAGS: alive, antoine boutet, exit, frère et sœur, hold your breath like a lover, horse money, jacob riis, la creazione di significato, locarno film festival, los ausentes, los hongos, navajazo, nicolás pereda, oscar ruíz navia, park jungum, pedro costa, ricardo silva, songs from the north, sud eau nord déplacer


The Knick

The lurking anti-subtlety of The Knick's pilot picks right back up in "Mr. Paris Shoes," which leads by intercutting a day's first stirrings at two polar-opposite corners of New York City: the mansion of hospital proprietress Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) and her filthy-rich parents, and the just plain-filthy flophouse where Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) is bunking. Waiting in line for the bathroom, he's teased by another African-American man for the fanciness of his leather shoes. In juxtaposing Algernon's basic struggle to get to a bathroom without being harassed with the pedantic musings of Robertson's father, August (Grainger Hines), director Steven Soderbergh is able to unleash a barrage of socioeconomic tensions, but it happens with such manic energy it almost feels like he's having too much fun with it. (Things are oversimplified, again, by the dialogue: The elder Robertson leads off by allowing, over the morning paper, that "They call our money 'new'—hmph—but it certainly does attract a crowd." As if wealthy people spend their leisure hours talking about nothing except how wealthy they are.)

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TAGS: andre holland, Cara Seymour, chris sullivan, clive owen, Danny Hoch, Eric Johnson, Eve Hewson, grainger hines, jeremy bobb, Juliet Rylance, mr. paris shoes, recap, steven soderbergh, the knick


James Baldwin

1. "Jess Row: Native Sons." A straight white American man on loving James Baldwin and learning to write about race.

"When Another Country was published—at the very peak of Baldwin's public stature as a civil rights activist—it was taken as a document of a very small slice of the present: the Greenwich Village and Paris of the late 1950s and early 1960s, where interracial couples and gay people were able to live openly, mostly but not entirely out of the omnipresent shadow of violence. But Another Country is also an intensely prophetic book, in which Baldwin glimpses a world much more like the one we inhabit today, where overt, legal racism and homophobia is inexorably falling away, and what we have to look at, instead, is the face of the person we've feared and misunderstood and avoided. It's a plural world, a world of unstable pronouns, multiple identities, and overlapping narratives. Which is not to say that anyone in the book ends up happy: this is a novel, after all, that begins with one man's leap off the George Washington Bridge and ends with a series of betrayals—profound and petty—among his survivors. It's out of that traumatized state, Baldwin seems to say, that the most important realization occurs: our offenses, our intertwined histories and mutual obligations, are more like love affairs than legal cases—love affairs that are never really over. 'It doesn't do any good to blame the people or the time,' one of his characters says, 'one is oneself all those people. We are the time.'"

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TAGS: another country, biophilia, björk, björk: biophilia live, garden state, guardians of the galaxy, james baldwin, jess row, jezebel, jonathan beller, lindy west, lucy, mike leigh, nick pinkerton, queens, tim grierson, Zach Braff






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