Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats

As I just wrote, I’ve been binging Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and my favorite character on the show is the one played by Chelsea Peretti. Over the weekend I was reminded that she had done a Netflix comedy special, so I went and watched it, and I’m glad I did. What she does in Brooklyn is not unlike her stand-up style of comedy, and I love it. She also plays around a bit with the tropes of stand-up comedy specials, with sequences that are mostly weird and surreal, and that’s a kind of comedy I like. This special definitely turned me into even more of a fan.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I finally decided to give Brooklyn Nine-Nine a try (from season 1, on Netflix) and I gotta say that it’s really growing on me — to a point where I binged close to the entire season this weekend. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as The Good Place or The Last Man on Earth (my two favorite comedies from recent years, and I’m still devastated that the latter was cancelled), but it’s a solid Parks and Recreation-like. The cast is fantastic, and that’s pretty much how you get drawn in and addicted to the show. I’m sure it won’t take me long to blast through the other 4 seasons.

Jane Got a Gun

After Red Sparrow, Terminal, and Proud Mary, I capped my evening off with this movie, which I’d been wanting to watch for what feels like forever. This ended up being my favorite film of the bunch. I’ve been watching a lot of westerns lately, and this is a very good one, made even more interesting because it puts a woman in the lead role. A simple story, but one that was quite entertaining to watch.

Proud Mary

After Red Sparrow and Terminal, it was on to Proud Mary. This film has its moments, but they are far and few between. I basically wanted to see a movie in which Taraji P. Henson is kicking ass, and there’s a scene towards the end that’s terrific, but it’s only 5 minutes long (it’s the action sequence that has the “Proud Mary” song playing). Unfortunately, most of the film gets caught up in the drama of rescuing a young boy, and I just didn’t find that to be particularly interesting.

Terminal

Following Red Sparrow, my 2nd film of the night was Terminal, and this is a weird one. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was attracted by the stylish visuals that I saw in the trailer. In the end, that’s pretty much the main reason to watch it, as it has some incredible lighting throughout. For that alone I would probably recommend it, even if the story itself is a bit all over the place, and not as clever as it seems to think it is. As for the actors, Margot Robbie is definitely great, and the main draw here.

Red Sparrow

A week ago, on a Saturday night, I ended up watching a quadruple-bill of films all lead by women, and I kicked it off with this. I was actually expecting something that was more action-oriented — something more Atomic Blonde, for example — but instead found it to be more on the dramatic spy thrillers side of things. I liked it fine, but can’t say I was especially wowed by it, and it did feel long at times — but I was pretty into it for the last 30-40 minutes, as it started heading towards the climax, which I didn’t see coming (I had guessed something different).

Vertigo

After Bond and Indy, I’ve started a new weekly film series (something to watch on Sunday nights) and I’ve decided to re-watch Hitchcock (not all, but my favorite movies of his). I’m a big fan of his films, and I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve watched most of them, so perfect time for a revisit. I kicked it off last night with Vertigo, and still found it to be very entertaining. Luckily, I didn’t remember the twist, so it was fun to see how exactly the film heads towards its ending — and what an ending, definitely not the type of thing you’d see in a movie nowadays. As for the series, I don’t plan on watching them in any particular sequence, but rather whatever I’m in the mood to watch.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I’ve always loved the original Indiana Jones trilogy — outside of Bond, I used to consider them my favorite movies. About a month ago, after I was done my most recent weekly Bond re-watch (this time I only re-watched the Connery and Craig films), I decided to re-watch the Indiana Jones movies, as it had been a while since I’d last seen them. I was actually even looking forward to re-watching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, not because I really like it — I don’t — but because I actually hadn’t re-watched it since it originally came out, and was curious about it, having pretty much forgotten the entire story. It’s such a weird thing. It does have some fun moments, some good action sequences (like the truck chase in the jungle), and it’s great seeing Marion again and her interacting with Indy, but the biggest problem is just that it’s not really fun to see an old Indy trying to do Indy stuff (and that’s why I’m excited at the prospect of a new Indy movie with a new actor). That also means it’s not the time period we want. And yeah, no one wanted to see extra-terrestrials in an Indy movie (and famously, nor did Ford and Spielberg, but they were forced into it by Lucas). So as much as I still love the original films (Raiders and Temple of Doom pretty much tied as favorite, followed by Last Crusade), it’s a bit of a shame that they ended things on Crystal Skull.

Planet of the Apes

The thing that really strikes you here is just how over-the-top Charlton Heston’s acting is throughout, although I guess it’s of the era. It was a fun watch — I’m sure I must have seen it ages ago, but didn’t really remember much, other than of course the famous ending. In fact, I imagine it must have been a much more interesting experience when you didn’t know that part. Also, I hadn’t realized it was co-written by Rod Serling — but when you think about it, it does feel very Twilight Zone-y.

Game Boy 011 – Ebb and Flow

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

I was going to start sharing my GDC thoughts this week, but there’s Japanese gaming in the air. This weekend marks the 6th edition of the BitSummit indie gaming festival in Kyoto, and that’s pretty much all I’m seeing on my timeline right now — people taking in cool indie games, and enjoying (drunk) social outings around town.

I won’t lie, it’s making me pretty fucking homesick right now (when you lived in Japan for over 15 years, it’s hard not to consider it one of your “homes” for the rest of your life).

But on top of BitSummit, this week also marks the release of Ebb and Flow, a fantastic new documentary from the team at Archipel. Archipel, composed of Anne Ferrero and Alex Zabava, is the duo that for the past few years has been producing the Toco Toco series, which I’ve highlighted and recommended on this blog countless times because I think it’s terrific — each episode focuses on a Japanese creator, and although quite a few of the episodes focus on the games industry, they touch on all creative fields. They also produced the excellent documentary Branching Paths, that takes a look at the growing indie gaming scene in Japan.

Archipel as a label was launched fairly recently, and is to be the home for all of the duo’s future videos, including more Toco Toco, and even more excitingly, what looks like more long-form videos.

Ebb and Flow — with the subtitle “Conversations on the recent momentum of Japanese games” — is a great exploration of the recent resurgence in popularity of Japanese games on the world stage (they point to the start of 2016 as a milestone date). It features interviews with the creators of all those games (Nier: Automata, Yakuza, Monster Hunter: World, Rez Infinite, Persona 5, and lots more), and I of course loved seeing my friend John Ricciardi (co-founder of the Tokyo-based game localization company 8-4) be included as well, to offer some context.

It’s easy for me to recommend everything that Archipel produces — every time I talk to Anne, I tell her I’m her biggest fan — but at the very least, if you have an interest in Japanese games, you really need to watch Ebb and Flow (and follow that up with Branching Paths, to see a similar story from an indie perspective).