Saturday, 31 October 2015

007 - Moonraker













Moonraker rises above the rest of the Roger Moore dreck by dispensing with any pretence of plot, or even reality. Moonraker is a malfunctioning gag generator, spitting out wild, expensive situations with zero tonal care. Brutal scenes of a secretary being savaged by two slavering Doberman are swiftly followed by 007 driving around Venice streets in an air-cushioned gondola. Moore is no longer called upon to do anything quite so outmoded as acting; instead he's a geographical reference point in a never-ending succession of action.

Bad-guy Hugo Drax challenges Bond with a plan that somehow manages to combine the pliant doe-eyed dumb-dumbs of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom with vast, Gerry Anderson trumping Supermarionation. Good for him. Michael Lonsdale plays Drax as a fascistic, high-functioning autistic who somehow holds sway over an army of Sea Org morons who can't wait to die in space. Drax's elite soldiers pile out into the void to be vaporised by NASA's death-ray commandos, hundreds of lifeless goons frozen in the kind of laser-scorched tableaux that will be now be stamped all over 1980s toy packaging.

Richard Kiel's Jaws is back by popular demand, hurrying Bond forward in lots of violent, exciting ways. A welcome change from the leaden plotting that ruined the last two 007 films. Thanks to an outpouring of support from the world's schoolchildren, Kiel's gigantic, silent brute is thrust into the role of second-lead. His popularity is such that Moonraker bends over backwards to assure us that Jaws and his diminutive bride will be able to survive piloting space station debris through an uncontrolled atmospheric entry. Moonraker is a Saturday-morning cartoon.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Call of Duty: Black Ops III - NUK3TOWN



Perennial pre-order bonus Nuketown is back! This time with an even fresher coat of textures! Not to mention a runny around bit on each flank just so you know the developers were sort-of, kind-of thinking about the new game's mechanics. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is out in about a week.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Keith Murray - This That Shit (Blunted Remix)

007 - The Spy Who Loved Me













Director Lewis Gilbert invests The Spy Who Loved Me with the light touch he brought to You Only Live Twice, which is handy because they're both basically the same film. As with James Bond's Japanese adventure, The Spy Who Loved Me revolves around an improbable leviathan swallowing up state-of-the-art Cold War technology, in this case nuclear submarines from both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Roger Moore's 007 is joined on his investigation by Agent Triple X, a Soviet spy played by Barbara Bach who would rather be slipping a stiletto between Bond's ribs. The couple start off competing for information in Egypt until Richard Kiel's assassin clamps down on their leads. There's a germ of a great thriller in The Spy Who Loved Me, two antagonistic secret agents fighting like hell to stay one step ahead of Kiel's massive slasher killer. Unfortunately Bond knows he's invincible, Bach is reduced to a wet t-shirt and Kiel disappears for long stretches while the film churns through formula.

Gilbert gets the most out of Spy's increased budget, drafting Ken Adam back into service to create a massive futurist submarine hanger that was so difficult to light that the production designer had to call in a favour from his pal Stanley Kubrick. Second unit director John Glen stages some excellent skiing stunts for the pre-credit action, culminating in an insane jump from Rick Sylvester.

Cameraman Willy Bogner Jr, an Olympic skier himself, keeps Sylvester dead centre of the frame all the way down. We see a tiny little man disappearing completely into a white, shapeless void. It's terrifying. There's absolutely no sense of up or down. The ground and death could arrive at any moment. Then a Union Jack parachute unfurls, Monty Norman's theme blares, and the film cuts to a bored looking Roger Moore.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

007 - Spectre


















Viewed deep in a recap of the series, Spectre's strengths are obvious, Daniel Craig can really move. Director Sam Mendes zeroes in on this fact, constructing an entire opening gambit around Craig's lumbering, percussive danger. Set to a chopped and repeated drum roll from Mexican group Tambuco, Bond forces his way through a Day of the Dead throng, the kind of hotel that charges by the hour and, finally, an obstacle course generated out of rusting rooftop machinery. Every step falls like a hammer, every exertion transformed into an opportunity for 007 to readjust his suit.

The screenplay, credited to John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth, is less assured. Spectre plays like the middle portion of a trilogy that doesn't exist. Craig's last three entries are retroactively organised into a sweeping vendetta motivated by jealousy. Christoph Waltz's Franz Oberhauser is inelegantly slotted into Bond's history, their feud referred to in oblique, unsatisfying asides. Although Spectre is too glacial to resort to anything as gauche as a flashback, it's difficult to shake the desire to see a pre-teen Bond stirring up this animosity.

At times Spectre seems to be reaching for the same generational iniquities that powered the Harry Potter series - Bond and Léa Seydoux's love interest Dr Madeleine Swann are explicitly organised as children standing on the ruins of their parents. Skyfall pushed into Bond's difficult, personal areas finding a phantom born out of a cold, empty house. Spectre isn't so intrusive. Despite the personal threat, Bond doesn't fracture. Raoul Silva's feud has both prepared and completed him. 007 can now respond to these identity assaults with a confidence born out of routine. So what if Cain has resurfaced? Bond is too busy wriggling around WWF wrestlers and trashing Aston Martin's DB10.

WoodysProduce - Fuck Western Digital Hard Drives / Talking to Astronauts



Fallout 4 - BOP



Since Fallout 4 is just under two weeks away from releases, Bethesda has seen fit to begin teasing their in-game perk system. Big Leagues is a melee damage modifier that allows you to turn the head of your enemy, or really any poor sod you meet out in the wasteland, into a chunky, red mess.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

007 - The Man with the Golden Gun















Nine films in the James Bond series is running on pure cynicism. Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun was a slight, unfinished novel that saw a compromised 007 shipped off to Jamaica on a suicide mission. Since this is only Moore's second adventure, obsolescence doesn't really fit the bill so Fleming's story about a KGB sanctioned pimp is reorganised into a dreary, unconvincing travelogue that occasionally allows Bond to peck at a dark twin played by Christopher Lee.

Scaramanga resides in a pocket universe of tropical islands accented with nightmarish carnival violence, his residence a gaudy mash of low-art and new money living. The big idea being that this would be Bond if he gave into avarice and auctioned off his talents to the highest bidder. Scaramanga is 007 tracked to a terrifying conclusion as an undead monster residing within a state-of-the-art mausoleum. This concept is good but it would work a little better if Lee's pistolero was reflecting off a particularly virtuous interpretation of Bond but, unfortunately, he isn't.

Screenwriters Tom Mankiewicz and Richard Maibaum have written a Bond so indistinguishable from his enemy that when 007 starts sniping at Scaramanga for his amorality it registers as sanctimonious. Perhaps that's the point? Regardless, Golden Gun's Bond is a sadistic control freak who delights in his ability to dominate women both physically and mentally. In a series not exactly noted for its chivalry, Golden Gun still manages to stand out with a hero that threatens to snap a helpless women's arm one minute, the next he's breaking out the bubbly to seduce her. Moore's performance manages to be both smarmy and robotic, a man so completely drained of charm that his see-sawing mood comes across psychotic rather than rakish.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III - SLIDE



Call of Duty: Black Ops III is out in a couple of weeks so here's jackfrags sliding around on the PC version, winding everybody up by using a shotgun whilst also being extremely difficult to hit. As far as I'm concerned this is the ideal way to play a Call of Duty game. Beating the competition is one thing, but really what you want to do is make your opponents so angry that they send you incoherent, rambling hate mail.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Tetsuo by Chris Faccone


Dark Souls III - TECH DEMO



Digital Foundry take a quick look at Dark Souls III's network stress test demo, nosing around the game's pre-release technical specifications as well as taking the time to show off From Software's latest fallen kingdom.

Friday, 23 October 2015

007 - Live and Let Die















Live and Let Die is a 70s remix of Dr. No, with Bond arriving in another nation shaking off the shackles of colonialism then promptly murdering his way to the top. In Roger Moore's debut Bond finds himself staring down Yaphet Kotto's softly-spoken Dr Kananga, a Caribbean super-criminal so successful that he can eat a billion dollar heroin loss and still have every black male in the Western Hemisphere on his books.

On the surface it appears that Live and Let Die is an overlong action film that trades on an alarmist racial paranoia, but it is more of an apocalyptic death match between two distinctly defined consumption Gods. Most obviously, Baron Samedi is a Voodoo loa synonymous with cigars, obscenity and rum. He's a bony figure that hovers between the realms of the living and dead, greeting the recently deceased and chasing after mortal women.  















James Bond exists because of a kind of conceptual animism, he was willed into being by an ailing Empire desperate to remain vital after a financially crippling world war. 007 embodies everything Britain purports to love - ingenuity and clear-headedness - as well as everything we actually do love - violence and incessant crudity. Moore's new Bond is resurrection incarnate, an invincible sexual magnet blessed with a selection of obnoxious technological gadgets concealed in his shaving kit. He's empty, abdicating his most basic gifts to electronics. Bond as overwhelming, arrogant machinery cursed to have a dick between its legs.















Bond clashes with Samedi during a choreographed ritual sacrifice. The ceremony is positioned in the film as a spot of casual brutality used by Kananga to conceal his headquarters and provide his subjects with a distraction. Jane Seymour's virginal Solitaire is the prize, the locals want her bitten and devoured by snakes while Bond wants to do much the same to her himself. Samedi rises from the grave to oppose 007 and is swiftly dispatched, thrown into a coffin filled with pythons. Samedi's mistake was to try and confront Bond on the secret agent's turf. Samedi's impromptu gathering is nothing compared to James Bond's million dollar annual rite.

It's interesting that the two most significant Bond actors share such a similar first adventure. Given the horridness going on in Britain in the latter decades of the 20th century it's tempting to imagine the whole process as some kind of Masonic power ritual: 007 is a spell cast by the rich and deranged to ensure Britain's economic prospects limp on a little further. George Lazenby strayed into the Bond role flanked by an army of filmmakers prepped to deliver their career-best. Turns out all he really needed was a blockbuster story about a rugged white man travelling abroad to kill lots of poor black people.

Visions of the Future by Rui Onishi


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

007 - Diamonds Are Forever













James Bond finds himself in Las Vegas for Diamonds Are Forever, a boozy caricature that depicts a world ran entirely on corruption. 007 is packed off to the states on behalf of a wheezing old goat who, via some asides set in Sierra Leone, is portrayed as profiting off some pretty grim mining conditions. In short, the (first) world-threatening worry concerns a phantasmic super-criminal who's stockpiling precious stones in such quantities that he could, theoretically, flood the market and threaten this elderly British gentleman's diamond monopoly.

Sean Connery is back as 007 thanks to George Lazenby's sudden departure and a lot of United Artists' money. Connery looks noticeably rougher, a lounging thick-set millionaire who couldn't care less about his greying temples. His suits no longer make him look like a well-dressed arrow either. James Bond finally has the body to match his boundless consumption. Diamonds makes it clear that youth and vim went out with Lazenby. Somehow we've ended up with a film that resembles the terminally cynical fantasies of a middle-aged banker.

Despite the rather vicious material, Guy Hamilton seems convinced he's making a comedy. There's a sense the director is hovering around behind the camera, imploring his actors to smile through the carnage. If the intense grinning is supposed to be a salve it doesn't work. Instead, it ends up lending the film a mood of real mania. Hamilton's anti-panache framing coupled with Bert Bates and John Holmes' slack fight editing invests every confrontation with a kind of ghoulish delight. It's as if Bond knows he's a character in a film and no harm can ever come to him.

Moondragon - Man and Machine

Judge Dredd by Paul Harrison-Davies


Monday, 19 October 2015

007 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service













We observe James Bond. We watch him wade into danger and delight in his triumph. Bond is separate from both the audience and the language of the films he inhabits. Sean Connery is a caged animal, trapped and colliding with the film's edges, desperate to be free. Peter Hunt's On Her Majesty's Secret Service takes a different tack. The cool distance we've been trained to expect isn't there.

Hunt opens Bond up to the audience with visual compositions designed to reflect and comment upon the secret agent's psychological state. These intentions are most apparent in the film's beautifully compiled fight scenes, each one a flurry of propulsive, fragmented information. Lulls and outright absences simulate the feeling of being under attack and knowing your life is in danger.













A climatic battle between Bond and Telly Savalas' barrel-chested Blofeld is a cascade of frenetic energy, power swinging back-and-forth between the two foes. The soundtrack is an unbroken track of wheezing and struggling, a consistent thread of sound that instinctively organises the unfolding visuals.

Hunt's emphatic approach to the material is complimented by George Lazenby's unsure, at times bolshie, performance. The actor is able to communicate an underlining uncertainty that his predecessor never had. Connery was dangerous but immune. Lazenby's deadliness is born of exertion, he isn't just clobbering stuntmen. Human failing is stressed, he doesn't defeat heavies with a well-placed strike, he brawls.













Lazenby invests his Bond with an emotional vulnerability, an essential quality if we are to believe that 007 has fallen in love. After a few run-ins with Diana Rigg's suicidal Tracy di Vicenzo, Bond is contracted by her father Marc-Ange Draco to, basically, fuck her out of her stupor. In return the secret agent expects fresh information concerning Blofeld's whereabouts. During the first stage of this courtship Bond gets to rescue Tracy a number of times, to her obvious chagrin.

Although intrigued, it's unclear if Bond is truly interested in the relationship or just playing the part until he can run down Draco's leads. Seconded in Blofeld's Piz Gloria estate Bond still cats about with the glamorous female patients, apparently out of equal parts arrogance and boredom. Tracy is out of sight and out of mind. It's important then that when she does return to the film it's at a dramatically crucial moment.






















Bond is tired, injured and pursued. He's lost his gun, his nerves are shot. For the first time on film 007 is visibly scared. The action pile-up he's just dragged himself through has taken its toll. He's cold and encircled, seconds away from forcing some suicidal confrontation. Then Tracy appears. Bond falls in love on the spot. He's never needed anybody so much. His expression is a mixture of surprise and awe. Tracy rescues and reinvigorates Bond, becoming the rare (only?) person he considers an equal in the process.

Lazenby's performance drips appreciation. As the couple speed away in Tracy's Mercury Cougar he can't help pecking her on the cheek, an incessant, affectionate little prod, as if he's trying to prove to himself that she's real. It's difficult to imagine the terminally cool Connery allowing himself to be this vulnerable or this sincere. His Bond runs on contempt. He may give Tracy an affectionate pat on the arse but he won't be catching feelings. Conversely, Lazenby's take is human, romantic even. Far closer to Ian Fleming's essentially chivalrous character than Connery's magnetic bounder.

Virtua Fighter by Gerald Parel


Tove Lo - Habits (Stay High) Hippie Sabotage Remix

Saturday, 17 October 2015

007 - You Only Live Twice













Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice concerns a heartbroken Bond drinking himself into oblivion before hiding in a bizarre suicide garden hoping, praying, for a shot at revenge. Since the book series had been adapted wildly out of order, the relationship between Bond and Blofeld hadn't yet developed into outright hatred - the pair still hadn't even met.

Given the book's despairing tone, the task fell to former MI6 intelligence officer-cum-children's author Roald Dahl to fabricate an alternative Bond adventure. You Only Live Twice is a bit of a best-of compilation then, taking the fantastical, constituent parts of the first four Eon productions and combining them into a 007 super-narrative. Every idea that has ever landed onscreen is shovelled in, the obvious manufacturing process assuaged by Dahl's sly wit.

You Only Live Twice takes the British superpower wish-fulfilment and dials it up into a knowing kind of absurdity. An opening conference in a frozen Norwegian radar station has Russian and American delegates at each other's throats, each blaming the other for their disappearing spacecraft. A well-spoken British diplomat sits in the centre and chides them both for being so short-sighted. It's a stance not that far removed from the one Japan was seen to take in films like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, an old colonial hand patiently reprimanding the up-and-coming world powers.

After faking his death in Hong Kong Bond goes undercover in Japan, posing as the kind of business executive who thinks it's entirely proper to carry a pistol. After 007's paper-thin cover is exposed he's whisked off to a fishing village and disguised as a local so he and his allies can nose around SPECTRE's latest extortion. This deception involves putting a noticeably older, not to mention thicker, Sean Connery in a lank black wig that makes him look like Deliverance era Burt Reynolds playing Frankenstein's monster. Somehow the actor carries it off with his usual louche aplomb.

Alfie director Lewis Gilbert continues the greatest hits vibe by deferring to a house style that cannibalises the most desirable aspects of Terence Young and Guy Hamilton's work. Gilbert's eye may creep over Ken Adam's beautiful ultra-modernist sets and the Toho starlets, but he never lingers coldly like Young. Similarly, although the new director's work has some Hamilton pep there's less sense he's reaching for some cosmic, structural joke. Gilbert is just a safe pair of hands.

Transformers vs GI Joe #11 by Tom Scioli


Street Fighter II': Rainbow Edition - HADOKEN



At its height, Street Fighter II was so popular that demand was outstripping Capcom's ability to manufacture cabinets. Unscrupulous types looking to score a cheap board quickly turned to the grey market for one of many Taiwanese hacks.

Street Fighter II: Rainbow Edition was the most common, a super sped up of version of Street Fighter II': Champion Edition full of gameplay tweaks that put balance in the ground. I remember getting a go of it in our local video shop, the appropriately titled Pirate Video. Ryu's deadly unfair criss-crossing fireballs was one thing, but being able to switch characters on the fly by smashing the player start buttons was absolutely mind-blowing.

Downwell - GUN BOOTS



Do you enjoy plummeting down bottomless 8-bit pits, firing deadly plasma out of your feet? If you do, Ojiro Fumoto's Downwell released this week on Steam and iOS! It's great. Douglas Wilson's article over on Polygon regarding his time as a beta tester is a good primer for the app, full of the kind of detailed thoughts and feelings you'd typically expect from a retrospective.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Fallout 4 - WANDER



Live action trailer for Bethesda's upcoming life-sucking abyss Fallout 4. Hey, do you know what the most exciting bit in this trailer is (well, for me any way)? The third-person action framing as the Vault 111 Wanderer gets into it with a gang of Super Mutants - there's just enough visual real estate available so you can clearly see the German Shepard speeding like a missile towards its quarry. It's like a beautifully coordinated sports play. As far as heart-tugging desperation goes, you can also do a lot worse than one man and his dog stuck in relentless, terrifying scenarios.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

007 - Casino Royale (1967)













Casino Royale is about how beautiful Ursula Andress is and precious little else. The film is a mess. Lacking any coherent dramatic thread, scenes proceed like a series of chain reactions. David Niven's prissy Sir James Bond is the catalyst, a stuttering bore dragged out of retirement to bumble around anointing successors and instigating a never-ending wave of digressive asides.

Niven's scenes, some of which were directed by John Huston, revolve around a well-dressed English gent breezing through highly dangerous situations. His incredulous presence is a sight gag that plays in any language. It's an idea the 'official' Eon films would return to when Roger Moore became the series' driving force.

This spoof Bond project began as a something of a follow-up to What's New Pussycat? with spendthrift producer Charles Feldman hoping that the lightning generated by pairing Sellers with Woody Allen might strike twice. Unfortunately, Sellers' idea of a farcical 007 is a smartly dressed man prone to random, ultra-violent outbursts, a shtick Sean Connery had long since canonised.

Lacking any particularly outlandish, or even humorous, character ideas, Sellers appears to actually be playing his Bond reasonably straight. Although he breaks out some terminally unfunny comedy accents for the film's climactic baccarat game (with Orson Welles, no less), earlier scenes spent romancing Andress reach for machismo. Perhaps sensing the damage he stood to do his career, Sellers duffed up director pal Joeseph McGrath then refused to participate in any more filming.

Feldman's solution to a half-finished film? Throw millions upon millions at the screen. Cameos! Extravagant sets! A mise en scene heaving with models, each and every one wearing the latest Paris fashions. This is the best of Casino Royale. It may not have even a basic idea of how to build a consistent tone or sense of character but it is, at least, amusing to look at.

Super Street Fighter II X - RED BITE



Komoda Blanka putting a charcoal coloured version of his namesake to work. In Super Street Fighter II X Blanka is considered firmly mid-tier, so it's exciting to see someone turn convention on its head and outplay God Tier characters like Balrog and Vega. Look out for a young Daigo Umehara getting rushed down towards the end of the video too.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - NUMBERS TICK UP



Chugging ever closer to a mid-80s completion percentage on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I started rooting around YouTube for some details on the hidden tasks I was expecting to be lumbered with. Instead I ended up stumbling on this video by Super Bunnyhop in which he talks about falling down Konami's resource management hole and how the game's optional tasks actually direct you to approach missions from unforeseen angles.

The Skulls Unit by witnesstheabsurd


Mazinger Z by Matias Bergara


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

007 - Thunderball













Terence Young's back in charge for a third and final pass at James Bond. Thunderball might be overlong and dramatically slack but at least 007 is calling the shots. As sumptuous and entertaining as Goldfinger is, that Bond comes very close to being a passenger. In Guy Hamilton's film the secret agent is a nosy parker swept up in events and reacting, rather than actively participating. Young's Bond is no such thing. He's a dark cloud, sweeping over the tropical landscape, foretelling ruin.

There's an element of mechanism in Young's take, a cold, remorseless calculation in everything he does. Other people don't quite register with him, they're just not equally important. Allies get thumped. Love interests are used up and manipulated, 007 employing sex as a kind of bullying coercion. In Goldfinger Hamilton's Bond was having fun, tripping his enemies up and thwarting their plots. It was all a game to him. Young's version wants, needs, to win. He's a shark. Even his kiss-off lines are delivered with spite, a victor pouring hate on top of murder instead of the usual levity.

Four films in we have an emerging franchise about a bad penny that fouls up the plans of the rich and psychotic. Terence Young tries to conform to this template but can't quite help making a Biblical epic length treatise on cruelty. An underwater action sequence, that could have passed in a perfunctory shuffle, ends up a terrifying, sustained leer at interpersonal jeopardy. Colour-coded divers stab and prod each other in a desperate, slow-motion struggle. Death piled upon death until Young is photographing an expansive, leaking vista filled with nothing but pain and termination. Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman wanted blockbusters, Young was better suited to thrillers that ran on pure nihilism.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

007 - Goldfinger
















Dramatically, Goldfinger hinges on the idea that James Bond is so charming that even his enemies can't bear to be without his company. The secret agent comes into Auric Goldfinger's orbit as a repeated annoyance - he ruins a card scam and embarrasses the criminal on his own golf course. 007 does eventually win favour with his foe by doling out oblique information at key moments, coupled with a little flattery.

Goldfinger takes a shine to Bond. Surrounded by mute henchmen and a troop of women who do very little to hide their disgust, Bond is at least someone to talk too. The secret agent is well educated in matters of sabotage, able to guess the particulars of Operation Grand Slam to Goldfinger's clear delight. Bond even manages to fluster the portly bullion thief with a well-timed compliment. There's that charm again. Follow it up with a petty snipe to keep your quarry guessing.

Bond's sexual magnetism is stressed into absurdity too. In the first fifteen minutes we see traces of four distinct seductions, each woman putty in his hands. Although it may not seem like it fifty years hence, this is actually a bit of a departure for the character. Dr. No's Bond was confident but brusque, one of his most significant conquests achieved through a kind of social hectoring. Miss Taro had to keep him in her apartment until her accomplices arrived so, in turn, she had to be seduced.

Of course, 007's irresistibility is built into the piece to justify Pussy Galore's abrupt allegiance switch. Galore overcomes an obvious, stated disinterest in men thanks to a spot of Judo. Bond hurls her about a stable until she agrees he's her physical equal. The tryst is violent, the dynamic unclear. Are Pussy's affections really won or does she simply relent when faced with a powerful, sexually aggressive man? After all, she's back piloting a private jet for the enemy not twenty minutes later. Perhaps Pussy is just a survivor who's learnt to play pliant whenever men start waving their weapons about.

Friday, 9 October 2015

007 - From Russia with Love
















From Russia with Love is a more luxurious proposition than Dr. No. The film is confident, stately even, not quite so rough around the edges. For a start Ian Fleming's alarmist world-view is softened considerably. The evil Soviet empire of his novel is deferred, with all the serial killer recruitment transplanted onto a stateless terrorist organisation that wastes its time murdering lookalikes.

The SPECTRE we saw in Dr. No was rooted in a kind of paternalistic panic. Theirs was an organisation filled with duplicitous, indigenous Jamaicans, lead by a Chinese super-criminal intent on scuppering the Mercury rockets. One part Red Scare to two parts Yellow Peril. In Dr. No self-determination, a starkly British concern, was treated as a very real threat to world stability.

If the Crown's ideals are stripped away, what will replace them? Heaven forbid, Maoism? These thorny little anxieties are absent from Terence Young's apolitical sequel. From Russia with Love's syndicate is instead firmly European. A trashy, moneyed collective with access to helicopters, Wehrmacht surplus and deep enough pockets to buy out card-carrying Communists. Incidentally, the Soviets themselves are dupes. Bond is too busy braining stuntmen in black polo necks to worry about an ideological clash.

From Russia with Love then is suffused with doubling. Like 007, SPECTRE's agents takes their orders from a well-educated British accent behind a grand wooden desk. Bond is given two doppelgängers, an ageing Turkish womaniser who heads up British operations in the East and Red Grant, a blonde phantom that trails Bond across Europe. Grant is 007's unhinged reflection, a less refined version of the dapper secret agent who hasn't quite learned how to match a wine to the food he's just ordered. When the two clash they are indistinguishable, a flurry of stamping legs and clasping hands, framed tight for maximum violence.

James Blake and Justin Vernon - The Sound of Silence

WORLD 1-1



Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka talk us through the design process when creating the first stage in Super Mario Bros. Miyamoto explains how they used a sense of weight and momentum to forge a link between the player and their on-screen character, as well as detailing how World 1-1's basic layout acts as a dynamic tutorial.

FRIEND TO ALL CHILDREN



Katsuhito Ishii's proof-of-concept trailer for an upcoming Gamera reboot has been screened at the New York Comic Con. Ishii directed cult fav Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, as well as contributing to both Redline and Kill Bill Volume 1's animated sequence. Based on this footage, Ishii is turbo-charging CG monster mashers with the kind of yucky detailing and dynamic destruction you'd expect from the very best apocalypse anime.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Star Wars Battlefront - BIG ROCK





Star Wars Battlefront looks set to be one of the all-time greatest virtual playsets. Can't afford to buy hundreds of Kenner figures? Even if you can, do you lack the imagination to dream up a compelling confrontation scenario? Let EA DICE do all the work for you!

If Battlefield YouTuber jackfrags is to be believed the third-person camera option, which best replicates the visual experience of playing with your favourite toy, grants a significant advantage. First-person aiming and zooming roots you to the spot, while third-person allows you to strafe from side-to-side, frustrating your opponents as you pour on the damage.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

007 - Dr. No
















Sean Connery's Bond stays interesting thanks to his relationship with violence. He willingly places himself in dangerous situations as if to test, or maybe even flaunt, his ability to turn the tables and do harm. There's a kind of savagery to the portrayal, helped along by the physical agitation Peter Hunt invests in his helter-skelter editing.

Whilst in London, director Terence Young shoots Bond in open, airy rooms. They're beautifully dressed but obviously sets. You get a sense of the parlour games to come, with Bond as the know-it-all detective breezing through soured social situations and righting wrongs. This assumption dies once Bond lands in Jamaica. Met by a nervous chauffeur, Bond gets on the phone to radio in with his superiors. No car was sent. Young holds on Bond's face, dark eyes fixed on his anxious quarry, a slight smile creeping up the corner of his mouth.

Bond's case arrives as a nonsensical waste of time - a radio operator in the colonies has run off with his new secretary. Dashed bad show. On site, the bolt upright Bond prowls around tanned officials with middle-aged spreads. He's louder than them, determined to take up as much physical space as possible. Bond's enemies start out as local lads with pistols before graduating to a mad scientist with metal hands. None register as particularly taxing for the lethal secret agent. Dr. No then is about the joy of overwhelming force, Bond as the house brick sent to smash an insect.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

BRUTAL DOOM



As well as adding a shotgun strap that sways around like a pair of pendulous testicles, Marcos Abenante's Brutal Doom mod also reorganises the game's levels, replaces the puny pistol with an assault rifle, and accents the action with zillions of repulsive new gore effects.

Cross-gen video game sequels tend to rethink their progenitors, taking the original idea back to square one armed with new tech. Brutal Doom instead uses current hardware to scale everything up into delirium. More enemies on-screen, moving faster, behaving with a greater intelligence. Doom Dash Turbo. In that sense Abenante's take on id Software's classic has a lot in common with Treasure's Bangai-O - why burn memory building highly detailed sprites when you can just cram two dozen Hell Knights into a tiny room?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Jackie Chan in the 1980s
















The 1980s was a period of great change for Jackie Chan. The actor-director began the decade re-working the bumpkin persona he had minted in the 70s under Yuen Woo-ping. Chan and his collaborators had been so successful in bringing comedy to the traditional kung-fu film that he was stuck replaying a formula; remixing the same basic format over and over again until it ended up the Hong Kong equivalent of a movie brat disaster.

A run-in with organised crime facilitated an ultimately disappointing attempt to break the American market. Chan was stuck with a string of disinterested, sometimes antagonistic, genre directors, bristling at his lack of control. The star bounced back by focusing on several collaborations with his Peking Opera School 'brothers' Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Borrowing the rough and ready approach of the Hong Kong New Wave, the trio worked together to devise an electrifying new action template that would end up making Chan the biggest box office draw in Asia.

Below are links to my thoughts on all of Jackie Chan's 80s output, ordered by their Hong Kong release date. Just click on the title to be taken to the review.

1980
The Young Master (1980) dir. Jackie Chan
Battle Creek Brawl (1980) dir. Robert Clouse

1981
The Cannonball Run (1981) dir. Hal Needham

1982
Dragon Lord (1982) dir. Jackie Chan

1983
Fantasy Mission Force (1983) dir. Chu Yen-ping
Fearless Hyena II (1983) dir. Lo Wei
Winners and Sinners (1983) dir. Sammo Hung
Project A (1983) dir. Jackie Chan

1984
Cannonball Run II (1984) dir. Hal Needham
Wheels on Meals (1984) dir. Sammo Hung

1985
My Lucky Stars (1985) dir. Sammo Hung
The Protector (1985) dirs. James Glickenhaus and Jackie Chan
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985) dir. Sammo Hung
Heart of Dragon (1985) dir. Sammo Hung
Police Story (1985) dir. Jackie Chan

1987
Armour of God (1987) dir. Jackie Chan
Project A II (1987) dir. Jackie Chan

1988
Dragons Forever (1988) dir. Sammo Hung
Police Story Part II (1988) dir. Jackie Chan

1989
Miracles (1989) dir. Jackie Chan

Nite Sprite - Strut (Perturbator Remix)