Ikaruga

From cult video game-maker Treasure (the same folks behind Gunstar Heroes, one of my favourite video games) came this unique arcade vertical shooter. I would never play this (‘cos I’m a psycho-motor moron and would doubtless die a terrible death in 34 seconds) but I recall seeing Ikaruga in a Japanese arcade and liked the concept and game design right away.

The simplicity is clever. Unlike other games in its genre, Ikaruga has neither a confusing array of weapons for you to cycle through, nor power-ups for you to grab along the way. Instead, in a simple, elegant twist, you reverse polarities, making your ship flip between black and white colours. While white, you can absorb and store white bullets; while black you can absorb and store black ones. Store enough and you can unleash a wave of homing beams. Get hit by a bullet or enemy of reverse polarity and you blow up. Likewise, hit an enemy with reverse polarity and it takes twice the damage.

I also like the Japanese Buddhism-inspired aesthetic. But see the lyricism of the game for yourself:

Also note that this guy (VTF-INO) is playing 2 player-mode on his own. Amazing!

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Alfonso Cuaron’s comments on the Guardian film blog

A nice companion piece to the NYT article I posted earlier today. Alfonso Cuaron asserts that the popularity of his and his friends’ films (you know which ones) are not some kind of legitimisation of Mexican cinema.

I have a huge appreciation of backgrounds. What I have a problem with is borders. The language of cinema is cinema itself: it doesn’t matter whether it is filmed in Spanish or English or French or Japanese. The same goes for the people who make it. Yes, I’m a film-maker from Mexico. But I also belong to the world.

Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – film: Film-makers without borders

Hear hear.

On a side note, I thought Babel was overhyped. Just because you chop up a narrative and mix up the sections to mess with the chronology doesn’t make you brilliant. Most of the edits destroyed the pacing of each section and distracted the audience. Sections were juxtaposed but without informing each other. The result? Audiences who know what’s going to happen already and have little incentive to be interested in watching characters they don’t identify with suffer.

The Tokyo sequence is the sole exception. Having the audience follow deaf-mute Chieko (played by Rinko Kikuchi)’s desperate search for communication helps save the film from falling apart under its ambition.

NYT – The Mystery of the Missing Moviemakers

The NYT asks where some promising filmmakers of the ’90s went after much-lauded debuts.

The Mystery of the Missing Moviemakers

(If you can’t access the article, it’s also available on SGFilm.)

Towards the end of the article, it suggests that Hollywood’s lack of artistic rivalry is to blame:

More than any other factor, though, Hollywood veterans cite the absence of the kind of creative ferment that coursed through the Hollywood of the 1970s, the challenge that one cinematic triumph posed to other artists.

At least that’s what Cameron Crowe, the writer and director of “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous” and the more recent critical disaster “Elizabethtown” suggested, as he was leaving a recent tribute to his hero, Billy Wilder.

“There’s no community,” he said. “We need to encourage one another.” He cited the rivalry between the Beach Boys and the Beatles in the ’60s, when one group’s innovative album spurred the other to do it one better. “It’s like ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,’ ” Mr. Crowe said. “It becomes a cycle that feeds on itself. One great work leads to another.”

There is powerful evidence of that dynamic in three ambitious, critically hailed movies in 2006 that were, in no small way, the fruit of mutual challenge and frank criticism. The films — Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Babel,” Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” — were constantly reviewed and critiqued among the three directors, who are all Mexican.

“These films are like triplets, they are sisters,” Mr. Cuarón said in a telephone interview from Mexico. (In the middle of the conversation his cellphone rang, with Mr. Iñárritu on the line. “I am trashing you as we speak,” Mr. Cuarón told him in Spanish.)

Sounds right.

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