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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007

It’s not often that first person shooters combine elements of pulpy 1950’s science fiction, 1920’s art deco design, and the fiction of Ayn Rand, but Bioshock is an Xbox 360 game like no other. The “shoot everything in sight” style action may be standard stuff, but what sets 2K Games’ masterpiece apart from the rest of the crowded genre is the stunning graphics, fascinating setting and a plot that resembles an Aldous Huxley cautionary tale about a utopian society gone wild. Bioshock is set in an underwater city called Rapture. There, a scheming industrialist named Andrew Ryan has created a libertarian paradise that goes horribly wrong when gene technology that allowed people to change their genetic code begins to drive people mad. The substance called ADAM may have been bad for the now murderous people of Rapture, but on the other hand, it grants you superpowers like the ability to shoot fire or lightning out of your fingertips. Bioshock may not quite deserve the breathless hype it’s received by the media, but if you can look past the fact that it’s probably not the best game ever made, it’s an epic sci-fi/horror/first-person shooter you don’t want to miss.


Bioshock (Xbox 360) Gameplay Footage



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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007

The Lips are like Fun Dip for the senses, top to bottom. Having continuously ramped up their unique brand of psychedelia, it’s no surprise that Lips founder Wayne Coyne has finally tried the impossible: To capture on film the sound and the fury that is a Flaming Lips show. Loyalists will rejoice, as this is the band’s first ever live release—and it’s a good thing, since Coyne, now 46, is graying like a man who hasn’t slept in months.


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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007
by Kai Bandele

While they aren’t the first to explore the notion of a formula for “cool”, marketing maverick, Noah Kerner and fashion visionary Gene Pressman, may have the most comprehensive analysis of the elusive subject to date. In their new book Chasing Cool, Kerner and Pressman take the reader on an insightful journey revealing the most fundamental reasons why some brands, companies, gadgets, ideas hit the “cool target”—while others fall drastically short. Making for a more colorful and poignant chronicle, nearly 100 celebrities and successful “brand-persons” are interviewed and the insight they provide is often simple, sometimes comical, but surprisingly almost always profound. Popular artists, retail chain managers, magazine editors, restaurant and nightclub owners, fashion designers, and more, give personal testimonies on how they are able to “stand out in a cluttered marketplace”.


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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007

This British debut crackles from top to bottom with nervous energy, confident songwriting, and hopeless confusion over girls, girls, girls.  The band built on the current UK indie rock scene, taking its wearying routines to new places and infusing its sounds with much-needed energy. Watch out Franz Ferdinand. Keep up, Belle and Sebastian. Your fellow Glaswegians the Fratellis are here to play. [Amazon]


The Fratellis - Flathead



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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007


For the long holiday weekend beginning 21 November, here are the films in focus:


The Mist [rating: 8]


The Mist is destined to go down as a modern horror classic.

The indirect partnership of author Stephen King and writer/director Frank Darabont remains one of film’s most fascinating. Somehow, after crafting several genre scripts (for the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, the Blob remake, and the Fly sequel), the soon to be cinematic savoir hooked up with George Lucas, working on the heralded Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Yet Darabont never forgot his earlier experiences crafting a short film out of King’s least supernatural story, the autobiographical cancer tale The Women in the Room. From there, he was determined to tackle another obscure tale from the fear master’s canon- the prison drama Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. The results, considered by many to be a mid-90’s masterpiece, cemented his status as the ultimate interpreter of King’s work. Even the slightly bloated Green Mile couldn’t undo his reputation. read full review…


Enchanted [rating: 7]


Enchanted is a sugar spun delight. It’s as fluffy as a bunch of newborn bunnies and as cute as an entire collection of buttons.

It’s amazing that the House of Mouse never thought of this before: taking one of their signature, slightly saccharine animated heroines and tossing her – pen and ink pell mell – into the modern world. Via careful character matching, or the company’s patented cartooning techniques, this forlorn beauty could come in contact with some real metropolitan beasts. Even better, the anthropomorphic world of 2D fantasy could come crashing into the realities of a 3D world, with lots of satiric hi-jinx ensuing. And just imagine if, for once, Disney had a sense of humor about it all. Instead of lording over its legacy like a deranged demagogue, it could use the effort as a knowing nod and wink to all the critics and complainers who’ve labeled the studio out of touch, both in its aging artistry and its lack of contemporary commercial appeal. Handled properly, you’d be looking at a monster hit – and a celebrated return to form. Well, get ready audiences, because Uncle Walt’s wise men have indeed devised such a stunner – and it’s called Enchanted. read full review…


August Rush [rating: 3]


Heavy-handed, undeniably saccharine, and about as magical as a clown at a kid’s party, August Rush is an implausible, pus-covered pixie stick

Music is given credit for a lot of things. It forms the soundtrack of our lives, has charms to soothe the savage breast, and expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent. It’s our heartbeat, our sense of spirit, and exposes the depth of our very soul. It is also a callous and cruel mistress, messing with us when we don’t want to be manipulated and infusing us with aspirations we may never attain. Because of its excruciatingly personal and private nature (one man’s Beethoven is another’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard), it makes for a rather tenuous cinematic base. While your story may be sublime, the songs or sounds you use to accent it can come across as atonal and discordant. Oddly enough, the exact opposite happens in Kirsten Sheridan’s disastrous August Rush. The melodic moments are some of the best ever captured on film. Too bad the rest of the narrative is as nauseating as a boy band ballad. read full review…


Hitman [rating: 3]


Hitman overstays its welcome from the moment the ammunition starts flying, and never finds a satisfying way of winning us back. It’s dry and dour, so full of itself that you’d swear it was a college athlete.

Come back John Woo – all it forgiven. Sure, Windtalkers was a waste of time, and anything for a Paycheck didn’t demand you lower your standards to brash Benifer levels. No, the adrenaline rushed crime thriller needs you – and with the newly released Hitman ready to louse up theaters worldwide – it’s not a moment too soon. All the lessons you taught us about re-imagined action, about giving the standard fire fight a sly, slow motion significance, have been ignored in favor of big guns, big bangs, and big disappointment. Only you could make this feeble foreign intrigue work, and with the sloppy script and underwhelming cast, it would be a Herculean task. You weren’t sitting in the director’s chair, unfortunately. As a result, the so-called shoot ‘em up turns into a snoozefest.  read full review…


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