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Personal opinions and commentary.

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Sagas of Sundry and the Art of a Perfect D&D Setup

So, real talk. When it’s gaming night, it’s about more than having good dice — we want our setup to be awesome. We decorate the table to suit the campaign, we pick drinkware reminiscent of everyone’s characters, and we’ll put together a playlist that fits the evening’s adventure. We may even show up with costumes or accessories if we’re feeling extra fancy.

Sadly, no matter how hard you go, your ambiance will never top what Ivan Van Norman has in store for his players. The Geek & Sundry host has gone to insane lengths to make his campaigns as immersive as possible… and it’s giving us a serious case of Gamer Envy.

How does he do it? It’s a crazy combination of high-end sets and pared-down rules that makes for the truly tense adventure known as Sagas of Sundry.

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Petty Villainy : Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

When one thinks of Indian cinema, one’s thoughts may conjure images of Bollywood dance sequences or deep introspective art films by the likes of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. This perception is highly reductive — the country is replete with profitable and popular regional film industries: Bollywood, Bengali cinema, the Tamil film industry (Kollywood), Punjab films (Pollywood), the Malayalam movie industry, etc., etc.  Of course, Bollywood is still king, yet by the early 2000’s as technology made cameras ever smaller a renaissance in the indie film scene began.

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What Do I Know About… Lupin the 3rd?

Well friends, it’s that special time of the month again—the time when I take a look at an anime I’ve never seen before, try to guess what it’s about, and then write about it.

Just like last time, I gave Twitter three choices. And while in the first installment of this feature I easily guessed what the outcome was going to be in advance, this time I was pretty surprised! Sorry, DARLING in the FRANXX, maybe next time.

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The (Stephen) Kings of Horror Anthologies

Horror anthologies hold a special place in my heart. They’re rarely perfect; sometimes they’re almost uniformly messy from beginning to end. Yet there’s something unique beating proudly within them all. There’s a true love for horror and the understanding that even the most bite-sized of thrillrides can be incredibly effective in its allotted time. Still, it takes a certain level of skill to get them right, so it should come as no surprise that some of the best out there involve the handiwork of one of the longstanding masters of the genre: Stephen King.

Whether you’ve watched them a million times or never seen ’em in your life, there’s nothing quite like blowing the dust off a classic anthology or two. If you have a hankering for a couple multi-course meals of the macabre, I now present the agonizing wails of Cat’s Eye and Creepshow for your approval.

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Midnight Void: Raw Force

Never trust brochures. Don’t open them, and if you do open one, don’t read it. If you see one lying in the street, just leave it there to be run over. Why this hatred and distrust of brochures? Let me tell you about Mike from the Burbank Karate Club. He read the brochure for this place called Warrior’s Island, which claimed to be where “monks raise dead martial artists from the grave.” What the brochure failed to add is that the only reason these monks have this power is because they lock nude women up in bamboo cages, slather them in BBQ sauce, and eat them. It also neglected to mention that the women come from a man with a Hitler mustache who sells them in exchange for wicker baskets full of “uncut, AA-grade” jade.

But back to Mike and how his belief in brochures ensnared him and his fellow karate clubmates in a web of cannibalism, kung fu, and kung fu zombies. It’s a story for the ages. A story depicted in the film Raw Force, one that could only exist here, in the Midnight Void…

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Bringing the Drama: What’s New About the New “Boys Over Flowers”?

Boys Over Flowers is a contemporary shoujo classing for fans of both manga and anime. It’s such a fan favorite, in fact, that there have been five live-action series based on it! The most recent, from 2009, hails from South Korea and features all the same characters you’ve come to know and love from the original series and all its iterations.

But just how close does the K-drama come to the original? Surprisingly close… with a dash of surprisingly different.

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Of Gods and Despots: An Analysis of Stargate’s Goa’uld

Back in the 1990’s, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were a very successful writing/directing team. Though their output then, beginning in 1992 with Universal Soldier, has been criticized for being schlocky, heavily reliant on special effects, and ridden with clichés, one project they did still continues to inspire such fervent admiration, Stargate (1994). A box office success in spite of the lukewarm reception by critics, and responsible for spawning several TV shows and a couple of TV movies, the franchise is pure sci-fi pulp: a mix of Star Trek idealism, Flash Gordon-esque villains, and a healthy smattering of pseudoarcheaology. Reduced to its most basic premise the story is about a round metallic structure, the eponymously named Stargate, discovered in Egypt in the early 19thcentury and, when turned on by dialing in a set of coordinates, allows beings to travel to distant planets and galaxies.

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Faded Family Portraits: Exploring Father of My Children (2009)

Depression, famously defined by Sigmund Freud, as “anger turned inwards”, is a tough subject to address for many filmmakers due to the difficulty in portraying such an internal conflict cinematically. Oftentimes, it is played for histrionics. At other occasions, the drama is reduced to pure mawkish tropes. Mia Hansen-Løve, a French filmmaker who has been garnering a lot of praise in cinematic circles for the last ten years, has devoted her entire career to telling low-key psychologically complex tales. For her sophomore feature, Father of My Children (2009), she turns her eye towards telling a family drama.

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Midnight Void – 1990: The Bronx Warriors

The film scholars who have long touted neorealism as Italian cinema’s golden age are nothing more than the perpetrators of a lie. The masterminds behind a grand deceit meant to distract you from the true golden age of Italian cinema: the age of the rip-off. From roughly the late 1960s through the 1980s, a shameless wave of sleaze-coated copycats splattered the silver screen.

For Conan the Barbarian fans, please allow me to (not) recommend Ator, the Fighting Eagle. Did Jaws make you afraid of the water? Well, Cruel Jaws will make you afraid of ever watching Cruel Jaws again. The late, anti-great Bruno Mattei — agent of chaos that he was — once directed an Aliens knock-off and called it Terminator 2.

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Gary and His Demons Tackles the True Horrors of Life

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (‘n Goblins) are totally terrifying in their own right, but many of those shocks and shivers start to lose their punch when you place them next to some of life’s greatest challenges. Likelosing those you love, or dealing with the death of a beloved pet. How about holding a steady job, or even trying to get rid of a job that’s a little too steady? These are the real horrors of humanity, and they’re on full display right past that split-in-twain specter in Mondo’s new animated series Gary and His Demons.

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Get a Quick Cartoon Fix: The Top Five Titles from Go! Cartoons

Need more cartoons in your life but don’t have time to get married to yet another running series? Go! Cartoons was made for you.

The short anthology series features 12 stand-alone episodes of new animation, each only around five minutes long. That’s plenty of time to meet the unique cast of characters and get a sense of the setting, but still short enough to fit into your watch list without too much fuss. The only down side? You may find yourself getting attached to some of the characters and wishing for more!

Watching the entire series will only take you an hour and some change, so we highly recommend it. But if you’re gunning for an extra quick fix, allow us to introduce (in our own opinion, anyway) the top five shorts Go! Cartoons has to offer.