Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I love this movie so damn much — after my first viewing I came out feeling like this was my new favorite Star Wars film in the series, and after a second viewing, I loved it even more (noticing and appreciating more the dialogue that pointed to where we were heading). I truly enjoy it from start to finish, and both times I watched it I never felt any lulls or scenes that felt boring. It’s a joy to take in, from the fun tone, to the explosive and visually stunning action, and the insanely iconic sequences (Rey/Kylo in the throne room, Luke’s showdown). I’m just saddened that it won’t be Rian Johnson directing the next one (J.J. is back for episode 9), but I am that much more excited for the new trilogy he’s been announced to make.

Wet Woman in the Wind

I caught this recently when it was on Mubi (no longer available), an entry in Nikkatsu’s rebooted “Roman Porno” series, in which they’ve gotten interesting directors to make soft core films, given lots of freedom as long as they stay on a relatively tight budget. I quite enjoyed this, as it’s a sort of surreal black comedy featuring characters that, well, want to have sex in odd circumstances. I see that Mubi also has another film in this “Roman Porno” series, Sion Sono’s Antiporno, that I want to watch as well.

The Toys That Made Us

This is a very enjoyable 4-part documentary series on Netflix about the toys from my youth — G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and He-Man (and although I didn’t play with Barbie dolls, I did find that episode interesting to watch). My favorite toy when I was a kid (not counting LEGO) was G.I. Joe, and so that’s the episode that I had the most fun watching, and loved that they included Larry Hama as part of the interviews — I loved his G.I. Joe comic, as well as the animated series (which he wasn’t involved in). Great fun if you’re around my age and these were the toys you played with back in the day.

Blade Runner 2049

After finally watching it last night, my biggest regret is that I didn’t go see it when it was in theaters (I only watched two movies in theaters this past year, Thor: Ragnarok and The Last Jedi, twice for the latter). I’ve said many times that Denis Villeneuve is currently my favorite director, and this is just another example of what makes him so great. Not only is it a fantastic film on its own, but it really does feel like a direct sequel to the original, and I mean that on every level, like story, pacing, visuals, style, etc. Yet, it manages to feel current, with smart updates to the world that was presented back in the early 80s. I just wish we got more intelligent and mature sci-fi films like this.

Skyrim (Switch)

I’ve never been able to get into the Elder Scrolls series. My first try was with Oblivion, which I played for a while but far from completion. I then tried playing Skyrim when that originally came out on PS3, mostly caught up in the hype, and after about 7-8 hours I called it quits. On top of just not really being attracted to this drab world, I also very much disliked the combat. And so now it comes out on Switch, and I’m again hearing how good it is to play, and so I decided to give it another go (renting it from our studio’s game library). I play most of my Switch games on the TV — I don’t really bring out my Switch much — but for this, I decided to try playing it exclusively in handheld mode (figuring it wouldn’t really look great on the TV anyway), and I’m finding that I enjoy the intimacy it offers when played that way. I’ve only played about 2-3 hours, and I still think it’s a drab world to be in, and I’m still not crazy about the combat, but I’ve found myself enjoying the time I’ve spent with it so far. For the next week I’m going to be visiting my parents in my hometown, and I think this is going to be a fun thing to play on my Switch while I’m there.

Once Upon a Time in the West

I recently had the chance to check out the current show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that focuses on the history of westerns, a genre I have always loved, and it of course put me in the mood to re-watch a bunch. My favorite westerns are Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” (or “Dollars”) trilogy, but I decided to start by watching his Once Upon a Time in the West, which I (embarrassingly) think I’d never seen. It’s a fantastic film, and I’m just so in love with all of the close-ups he does of the characters. I don’t think anyone does epic quite like Leone, and this movie is just another fantastic example of how he creates mood and iconic setups like it’s nothing. And the Ennio Morricone music, oh my. Also, to my great surprise, in the credits it shows that the film was written by Leone AND Dario Argento AND Bernardo Bertolucci. Wow. I also think Charles Bronson has the best western face ever.

City on Fire

Of all the Chow Yun Fat movies from the 80s, this one got mentioned a lot because Tarentino said it was inspiration for Reservoir Dogs — and it’s kinda funny that Reservoir Dogs is basically a sequence that happens for 5-10 minutes towards the end, but blown up into an entire movie. But City on Fire isn’t that great, until the last 20 minutes or so. I much preferred all the Woo stuff from that era. I didn’t mind re-watching it — especially since I didn’t remember what most of the movie was about — but I can’t say I really liked it that much.

Reigns: Her Majesty

This has quickly turned into one of my favorite mobile games of the year. I enjoyed the first one, but I feel like this sequel is really superior, with a mix of terrific writing and a few little extra gameplay elements that get added to the choose-your-own-adventure base. Well worth getting.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Yeah, I know, it’s about time I get to this. I’d always been wanting to play it, but just didn’t get around to it when it came out, and then the continuous release of other things I wanted to play kept pushing it back. But I finally got around to playing it this week — better late than never — and yes, I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. I’m only about 3-4 hours in I think, which yes, is a drop in the bucket for a game like this, but I think it’s given me a good taste of the overall experience, and I quite like it. I think having watched the Noclip documentary episodes on the game have even helped me better appreciate what I’m seeing and experiencing — I wasn’t really worried about spoilers, since I’ve already forgotten anything story-related that was said in those episodes. With all the games I still want to play, I can’t really say if I’ll be able to finish it, but I am looking forward to playing it a bunch over the coming weeks.

Sonic Forces

I need to start by saying just how much I dislike the character designs in this game, and the overall messy story. Every character is just so damn ugly, and it’s painful to watch. So what’s good about this game? I will say that I enjoy playing through the 2D levels, just like I did in Sonic Generations, which is the last Sonic game I enjoyed playing. The regular 3D levels are a mixed bag, and can still be fun at times, but I just don’t generally like controlling Sonic in a 3D space, especially from behind. To me, what the series needs is to ditch all of the 3D stuff, and just stick to games that are entirely built on 2D/2.5D levels — while at the same time getting rid of all of the ancillary characters, and just sticking with Sonic (alright, and maybe Tails). I’m probably going to finish it (I’m almost there I think, since it’s not an especially long game) mostly because I want to play through the 2D levels, but this is definitely not a return-to-form for the series.