Virginia Review: Memory Walk with Me

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Virginia Review: Memory Walk with Me

505 Games

Virginia Review: Memory Walk with Me

Anne Tarver stares at herself in the mirror, then reaches into her purse to apply some lipstick. She nods, perhaps approvingly, at this familiar mask she wears and then walks down a corridor. Something in Virginia's soundtrack, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, hints that something is “off,” as does the ominous glow of an emergency exit as Tarver—and the players who control her—wait in line for whatever it is that lies just around the corner. Just as quickly as this foreboding dread is summoned, though, it vanishes, and Tarver simply walks across a stage: She's graduating from the FBI, and this is the ceremony at which she receives her badge. And then, just as abruptly, that eerie sensation returns: a jump cut empties the auditorium of people and a previously unseen cassette player broadcasts the out-of-place sound of a beeping hospital monitor. Where is Tarver, really?

Rive Review: Emulating Cool

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Rive Review: Emulating Cool

Two Tribes

Rive Review: Emulating Cool

Those overwhelmed by Rive's unapologetic difficulty can't say they weren't warned. From the game's title, which means “to tear something apart violently,” to the start menu, which only offers you the option of a Hard Mode, or even the opening level, redolent of a steroidal Gradius, there's rarely a moment in which the multidirectional machine gun mounted atop the protagonist's Spidertank comes to rest. And should an underwater area temporarily disarm that tank, rest assured that enemy turrets can be hacked to provide additional firepower. There's a reason Rive's scavenging hero is named Roughshot, just as the carefully designed set pieces serve to justify the fact that you aren't allowed to freely roam Galaxian Service Vessel #6.

Hue Review: An Experiment in Color

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Hue Review: An Experiment in Color

Curve Digital

Hue Review: An Experiment in Color

At first, Hue seems all too familiar, with a minimalist black-and-white aesthetic that suggests a cross between Limbo and Apotheon. A sudden, unexpected splash of color quickly dispels that notion, and before long, Hue's investigation of his missing mother's “annular spectrum” gives him the ability to swap between eight different prismatic dimensions.

The basic overlay of each is identical, save for the fact that certain blocks literally fade into an identically colored background; an orange obstacle, for instance, will be invisible in the orange spectrum. In a world of all-too similar platformers, then, Hue is a literal palette cleanser.

Diamonds and Pearls: Prince’s Underappreciated Gem Turns 25

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Diamonds and Pearls: Prince’s Underappreciated Gem Turns 25
Diamonds and Pearls: Prince’s Underappreciated Gem Turns 25

Consider Prince in the early 1990s, not yet Formerly Known As, coming off two soundtrack albums, 1989's Batman and 1990's Graffiti Bridge, neither of which registered as substantial expansions of the artist's very individualist persona. The latter shared a set list with everyone from funk godfather George Clinton to soul icon Mavis Staples, while the former pit his Purpleness against one of the very few pop-culture symbols more ubiquitous than his own. Prince's previous studio album, 1988's Lovesexy, had been well received by critics, but less so by the general public.

Toronto Film Review Walter Hill’s (Re)assignment

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Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Walter Hill's first feature film since 2012's Bullet to the Head is, like much of the finest pulp fiction, designed to shock. To wit: Did you hear the one about the rogue surgeon who turned the hitman into the hitwoman? What a hook! And what a lurid, tattered paperback it would make, though Hill treats the story more like an underground comic book, complete with transitional sequences featuring exaggerated thought bubbles and garish splash panels.

Sensitivity, at least of the calculated sort, doesn't enter into the proceedings. The film's as steely as Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Rachel Kay, a sort of Hannibal Lecter by way of Marlene Dietrich who liberally quotes Shakespeare and Poe, and has a monomaniacal disdain for most of humanity. But as she tells the smug head psychiatrist (Tony Shaloub) of the mental hospital where she's imprisoned, the main target of her ire is assassin Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez), who murdered her brother (Adrian Hough) several years before. The doctor's elaborate revenge culminates in the bearded, virile Kitchen given forced gender reassignment surgery. And then the counter-revenge begins.

Toronto Film Review Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

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Toronto Film Review: Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

However you feel about Denis Villeneuve, you have to hand it to the Quebecois director: He knows how to start a film. His latest, Arrival, balances two significant, image-driven arcs in its first few minutes. The first concerns the tragically brief motherhood of linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who we see in a montage giving birth to a daughter and raising her all the way through the girl's death as a teenager from a rare disease. The second shows the sudden appearance of UFOs in various corners of the globe, kicking off a worldwide frenzy of fear. Louise finds herself deputized into service by the military's attempts to deal with the situation, brought in to try and decipher a language of guttural roars and hisses to facilitate communication between humans and aliens.

Richard Nelson on The Gabriels and the Hunger of Politics and Family

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Richard Nelson on The Gabriels and the Hunger of Politics and Family

Joan Marcus

Richard Nelson on The Gabriels and the Hunger of Politics and Family

Earlier this year, playwright Richard Nelson launched a unique three-play cycle at the Public Theater which sets out to track, in real time, the lives of an American family during this tumultuous election year. Each play takes place on the day of its opening night: the first, Hungry, which opened in March, introduced us to the Gabriel family of Rhinebeck, New York (the playwright's own home for the past 34 years); the second, What Did You Expect?, opens tonight at the Public Theater, while the final play in the cycle, Women of a Certain Age, will premiere on election night, November 8.

This isn't the first time that Nelson has undertaken a project that comprised a set of contemporaneous plays. His last venture at the Public, The Apple Family Plays, was a cycle of four intimate plays that premiered over a period of four years. The Apples, like the Gabriels, also lived in Rhinebeck, and each play was designed to open on the evening of a significant moment or event in American life and politics: That Hopey Changey Thing on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections; Sweet and Sad on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; Sorry on election night 2012; and Regular Singing on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Toronto Film Review Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal

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Toronto Film Review: Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal

Nacho Vigalondo has a knack for making movies that feel simultaneously apiece of their attendant genres while flush with mordant, if not schizoid, self-awareness. So it goes with Colossal, which stars Anne Hathaway as Gloria, an alcoholic writer who somehow finds herself telepathically linked to a scaly monster on the other side of the world, laying waste to Seoul and killing hundreds of innocents during one blacked-out evening.

Gloria has relocated to her tiny hometown after bottoming out in her posh New York life (SoHo apartment, Brit boyfriend, infinite chances to screw up), putting her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), in position to help her get things back in order again—and, predictably, make good on his unconsummated lifelong crush. After she's shared her secret with him, he steps onto the same patch of earth (an innocuous playground) and finds himself controlling a towering kaiju right beside her. For much of Colossal's runtime, the symbolism is irresistible: Vigalondo archly deploys a bogus premise to interrogate alcoholism and entitlement, making the monster and robot into stand-ins for the long post-9/11 hangover of the American id.

Toronto Film Review Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight

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Toronto Film Review: Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight

A24

Toronto Film Review: Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight

Barry Jenkins's Moonlight, the director's first film since 2009's Medicine for Melancholy, is an ambitious account of the life of a closeted black man from a rough childhood gripped by bullying and poverty to a hardened adulthood built on self-denial. At its best, the film mines much from the faces of the actors who play protagonist Chiron at various points in his life (Alex Hibbert as a shy child, Ashton Sanders as an awkward, searching adolescent, and Trevante Rhodes as a cynical adult), bridging these time periods through incredibly specific body language that each performer manages to share.

Toronto Film Review Jonathan Demme’s Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

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Toronto Film Review: Jonathan Demme’s Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Jonathan Demme’s Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

To witness Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, which captures the final performance of Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is to be in pure bliss. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Jonathan Demme’s history as one of the premier documenters of musical performance, though his previous subjects, like the Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense), Neil Young (Neil Young: Heart of Gold), and Robyn Hitchcock (Storefront Hitchcock), often tended toward niche more than mainstream embrace. So what happens when the director trains his uniquely empathetic eye on a bona-fide megastar? He finds, happily, the potent heart and soul underneath all the rehearsed glitz and glamor.