Monday, 30 April 2012

Flavours of the Month: April 2012...


Titanic (ITV) - Julian Fellowe's four-part drama was never going to be able to match the spectacle and scale of James Cameron's 1997 monster hit, so instead this televised dramatisation focuses on particular characters from the various classes of passenger aboard the doomed ship. The results are alright, but not memorable - a far more interesting story to tell would have been everything following the sinking of the ship itself. Dramatising the survivors coming to terms with what happened, their losses, and the ensuing legal battles and public fallout - that would have made for far more interesting Titanic-related TV drama.

Beavis & Butt-head Do America - a blast of nostalgia was the order of the day as it swung by on Sky Movies this month. I was flung right back to my teenage years in an instant.

Drive Angry (Blu-Ray)

Bridesmaids (Blu-Ray)

The Guard (Blu-Ray)

Craig Fergusson - as is so often the way when you're surfing around YouTube, you'll come across a clip of interest (e.g. Nerdist man Chris Hardwick appearing on the Craig Fergusson show in America) and you'll then watch a shed load more clips related to it. So I've ended up watching a ton of The Late Late Show With Craig Fergusson clips on YouTube as a result.

All Star Celebrity Bowling - as featured on the new-look Nerdist Channel on YouTube.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 2011 (Blu-Ray) - another tip-top, extras-heavy presentation for another spiffing David Fincher flick. On second viewing there is indeed not enough pairing of Mikael and Lisbeth on-screen (even though their stories are both strong separately) - they don't meet until minute 76 (of 158 minutes), and from then on it's not like they're inseparable either ... but then again to me it's a nice companion piece to the original Swedish film. Each do things their counterpart doesn't, and vice versa.

Continue reading below for what's been this month's soundtrack, and a lengthy look at some ways in which I'd like to see a possible L.A. Noire 2 go.


New Order "Blue Monday" - heard innumerable times on TV shows, movies, and adverts, and I've only just got around to finding out what it was.

David Julyan "Insomnia" OST - Christopher Nolan films always have great soundtracks. Insomnia is no different.

RJD2 "A Beautiful Mine" - otherwise known as the theme tune to Mad Men, a newly acquired obsession of mine.

David Lynch "Crazy Clown Time" - Lynch released a music video for the title track of his recently released album (which was a mixed bag for me - some tracks I really dug, others turned me right off). This track I wasn't keen on to begin with, but the video made me dig it some more, in a strange kind of way ... the vocals on this one are still like a cat being strung up, mind you.

M83 "Mirror" - I had no idea that this was a secret track you had to download from a specific website until the other day. I was wondering why that word was written on the track listing for "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming".

The Chromatics "Tick of the Clock" - it's all over the HTC phone adverts at the moment, but I know if from the movie Drive.

Jimmy Eat World "Sweetness" and "The Middle"
- it's curious how the latter track is all about feeling good about yourself and not worrying about those around you, but the music video features an endless parade of models, with unattainable bodies, strutting around in their underwear.

Guns 'n' Roses "Appetite For Destruction"
- I'm usually pretty rubbish at deciphering lyrics, let alone remembering them, but this is one of the few albums which I can almost entirely sing along with ... sing along in my head that is ... I can't stand unprofessional/untalented singing, just like I can't stand unprofessional/untalented dancing ... but that's a whole other thing ... this album rocks. That is all.

Velvet Revolver "Contraband"
- been a good while since I listened to this.


The Walking Dead: Volume 12 "Life Among Them" - waiting for season three to kick off in October, it's time again to catch up on some of the trade paperbacks.

The Walking Dead: The Game Episode 1 - Tell Tale Games' tie-in videogame is kind of like an interactive comic book mixed with point-and-click adventure, set in the world of The Walking Dead. It incorporates itself into the TV show/main story in the comics at a few points in subtle ways, but tells the story of a fresh band of survivors. I was unsure whether I'd enjoy it - having had zero interest in their Jurassic Park videogame (which got dud reviews), and their Back to the Future game (I had been hoping for something akin to The Ghostbusters Videogame from 2009), however I really enjoyed this and look forward to the coming episodes. There's a few rough edges here and there, but it's well worth playing if you're into The Walking Dead.

L.A. Noire - another spin through Team Bondi & Rockstar's videogame noir. Not as good the second time around (you've already figured out the mysteries, and your progress and detecting doesn't have much overall impact on the story), however seeking to do everything thing the right way (covering any missed questions etc from the first playthrough last summer) gives a bit more longevity. Besides, L.A. Noire is a world you like to live in - I'd love for there to be a sequel employing some changes, such as:

1) A more open world feel - Cole Phelps had a family, but you only saw his home once, barely saw his wife, and never saw his kids. You should have a home to go back to at the end of a case where you'll get more of your backstory, be able to read the paper, listen to the radio, learn more about the society at the time through your in-game wife and family, and add a few elements of RPG-like customising to your homestead. This would also extend to the outside world - you could visit the cinema, or a circus, with your in-game wife/family for instance. A greater range of weathers and times of day (even seasons) would be a nice thing to play with.

2) Have your investigations specifically affect the outcome of the mysteries. If you suck, you won't catch the bad guy (and this could then have negative consequences later in-game), alternatively if you're the golden boy, this further reflects in your success in-game.

3) Movement, motion, combat, and animation mechanics - there was a lot of focus paid to the envelope-pushing face-capturing tech, but the bodies were left quite robotic and clunky, which works against the immersion created by the brand-new face-recording jiggery-pokery (which would naturally benefit from upgrades itself). Physically handling the clues themselves also proves clunky at numerous points ... nothing terrible, but again, it tarnishes the immersion at times.

4) Mixing things up more - it's a fun game (particularly the first time around), but you need more variation in the actual cases. The street crimes helped to add quick doses of running/shooty/car-chasey goodness to spice up all the clue-finding and interrogating, but there needed to be a greater mix in the overall investigation process, e.g.
4A) Short cases on other desks (e.g. one case on burglary, that would specifically relate to the protagonist's personal story that would be placed in-between major desks such as traffic and homicide).
4B) A case that seems huge, might turn out to be far simpler, or impossible to crack, or gets suspended until much later in the game when it comes back to haunt you.
4C) Allow investigations to take place over a longer period of time - most of the time in the game you'd have the case wrapped up in the very same day. Spreading it out over a longer period of time would add to the realism.

5) A greater range of case-types. The homicide desk was the best (and longest) portion of the game, with each new murder providing a thrilling mystery to solve. However, I had hoped - being that it was set in Los Angeles (replete with "Hollywoodland" writ-large on the bordering hills) - that there would have been a greater focus on the movie-making system (e.g. investigating a case entirely on a studio lot during the production of a movie, for example). Investigating on the outskirts of the city would also provide a change of scenery - further to a greater range in the settings for cases, from the downright despicable to the high class of the high society.

6) The ability to play 'good cop/bad cop' yourself - you could be a bad cop (taking bribes, planting evidence, killing suspects because you like them for other crimes etc), or a good cop (refusing corruption, doing things by-the-book, being a respectable family man), or a mix of the two. In a way, a much deeper and infused version of the honour system found in Red Dead Redemption.

This all said, I've really enjoyed L.A. Noire, which has been a welcome breath of fresh air into the sandbox genre that had many tasks to tackle (you can't do everything at once, nor all of it perfectly), and as I said above, I'd dearly hope to see a sequel in the near-future.

No comments: