unremarkable work

@unrmrkble

occasional 100-word reviews, but soon to be a monthly newsletter, maybe?

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Ziggurat (2015)

Ziggurat is the best Heretic-esque, Binding of Isaac-ish, first-person roguelike I have ever played. It is also the only one — that’s what makes it so compelling.

The story is nonsense, sitting backseat to the real reason to play: leveling up while fighting through ridiculous baddies and bosses in randomly-generated catacombs.

With seven floors to complete per playthrough — each more challenging than the last — I usually complete two before dying. The rooms that makeup each floor treat you to upgrades, new weapons, or monster closets. Creatures range from floating skulls to deranged carrots; all present unique challenges.

I kinda love this stupid game.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Recently, I learned how closely this movie sticks to the book, and I’m surprised, though I don’t know why. Fincher and co. worked hard to maintain the cold, dark, depressing atmosphere Stieg Larsson created, while keeping the characters true to their written selves; they thoroughly succeeded, making Sweden look cold and feel dark, while the characters and their situations remain depressing.

Daniel Craig is a spot-on Blomkvist, and Stellan Skarsgård makes an excellent Vanger, but the show belongs to Rooney Mara, who owns every scene in which she appears.

As it is with most Fincher films, it’s highly recommended.

Men in Black 3 (2012)

The introduction of time travel to the Men in Black franchise has done it a surprising favor: it brought the world Josh Brolin doing a spot-on impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K.

It also ripped open a giant hole in the fabric of the series, however, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Will Smith’s Agent J would have had to've been memory-flashy-thingied many times over the course of his life so as to not be aware of Agent K, since K saved J as a kid, right?

Hole aside, Brolin makes the movie. Period.

Blue Star Donuts (Portland, OR)

I’d imagine that, when one visits Portland, they're told to check out Voodoo Doughnuts. While I don’t disagree that Voodoo is worth checking out (once, for kicks), Blue Star Donuts is the better of the two, possibly offering the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. The dough is light and airy, but the doughnuts are still substantial.

And flavorful! Suggesting that the flavors are more complex or adult than Voodoo doesn’t mean that they’re less fun/playful, but rather less gimmicky. Cereal and cookies aren’t necessary here, as the flavors truly speak for themselves.

I’ll have another Meyer Lemon Lime, please.

Voodoo Doughnuts (Portland, OR)

Ever been to Dunkin’ Donuts and thought “I would love if this were topped with stale cereal,” “Crushed Oreos would make this better,” or “This’d look perfect if it was neon blue and pink?” If so, then there’s no reason not to go to Voodoo Doughnuts, a staple in the eyes of Portland tourists.

But that’s just it, the eyes see a lot of awesome looking treats, but the mouth just tastes a Dunkin’ Donut. With a twist, sure, but that twist doesn’t always work.

Regardless, I’d still recommend visiting Voodoo — just know that there’s a better Portland doughnuts destination.

Jurassic World (2015)

I'm unable to, in my heart, give this movie a pass because the last 30 minutes are awesome. The other 90 minutes are pretty boring, made worse by the fact that the two brothers — sent to the titular theme park by their folks to vacation with their busy-working-at-the-park aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard) — are super-annoying.

Ignoring criticisms pitched at the film for failing to provide a realistic portrayal of a strong, independent woman, I found Bryce to be the best part of the film — I'd say even more as badass than the uncharacteristically uncharming Chris Pratt.

In conclusion: The movie's only just fine.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In is set in cold, dark Stockholm — a fitting locale where one can imagine a tale filled with vampiric terror taking place. This story, however, is less a terror than a tragedy.

The immortal Eli (eternally age 12), and the mortal 12-year old Oskar (eternally bullied), befriend each other over a Rubik’s Cube. They end up falling for and supporting each other through the darkest of thick-and-thins.

I love the subtle implication that Eli's been through this before. We needn’t know her past in order to understand it, nor her and Oskar’s future.

A definite must-see.

Journey (2012)

Journey is beautiful to look at, listen to, and play. It’s peaceful, melancholic, joyous, and comforting.

Journey‘s multiplayer is the best. Make the trek with a stranger you might randomly encounter, or go it alone — either is fine. And seamless! And free of negativity since there’s no voice chat, just the sing-songy chirping of a button press, conveying… something… that someone else will, hopefully, interpret.

Journey gives one a sense that there’s something greater, either “out there” or “among us,” but it never aims to make one feel (completely) insignificant.

Journey is perfect, and I just might have cried at the end.

The Beguiled (2017)

I haven’t seen the 70’s original, nor have I read the book. Makes me wonder if Sofia Coppola’s take on The Beguiled might be better on subsequent viewings. Reason being is that the trailer led me to expect a paranoid, erotic psychological thriller period film. And I suppose the film is kinda that, but only in the very lightest of senses. Expectations had me waiting for and wanting something more.

What was on screen was still some great acting from the three female leads, and Colin Farrell being Irish. Not Coppola’s best, but not her worst either.

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015)

The VVitch is slow and the dialog is challenging — it’s set in the 1630’s, after all. First-time writer/director Robert Eggers’ strict attention to detail and adherence to staying true to the period guarantees that it remains this way.

The movie opens as a colonial governing body shuns a family from their plantation. The family then suffers tragedy after tragedy. They experiencine loss of crop, family, and faith. Their sanity dissolves as an unknown entity gnaws away at the lives they’re trying so hard to rebuild.

Never-ending gloom encompasses them and, for 92 minutes, I'm beside myself.

This movie is perfection.