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by Bill Gibron

19 May 2009

Addiction is a terrible thing. Not only is it damaging physically and psychologically, but it destroys aspects of one’s life that they barely have direct control over. Families suffer, as do friends, careers, and acquaintances, and while the person under the spell of their own individual affliction has no real connection to said reality, the repercussions can be powerful and last forever. Of all the filmmakers poised to make a profound statement on such a compulsion, Giuseppe Andrews would be king of the shortbus list. By utilizing a cast of trailer park residents, some of whom have their own battles with the bottle to contend with, he has an authentic source of real human misery to work with. So what does he go and do with his examination of addiction, Monkey? He makes the most literally symbolic statement on the subject ever attempted.

Apartheid has been ordered to Green Hockers Rehab Center for excessive drinking. His habit is so bad that his life has become one continuous case of the DTs. As a matter of fact, a disembodied old man with the same initials seems to be controlling his attempt at sobriety. Forced to wear a monkey around his neck to highlight his problem, said simian comes with two bags of rocks around its legs. The longer Apartheid stays, the more rocks will be removed and the less weight he will have to be subjected. Of course, DT doesn’t help. He offers disquieting visions of smiley faced stones that punch people out, remote control apes that choke people to death, and others with equally oppressive addictions of their own. As he battles with the bottle, losing most of the time, all Apartheid wants to do is get away from this abusive clinic. Little does he know that, just like Hotel California, he can check out any time he likes, but he can never, ever, ever, leave.

by Joseph Kugelmass

19 May 2009

I’ve done a bad bad thing
Cut my brother in half

—Little Dewey Cox in Walk Hard

The new millenium has been kind to biopics of musicians. We have, most of us, seen the blockbusters, including Walk the Line, Ray, and Notorious, and these have been accompanied by more minor films like Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, Cadillac Records, and Jenna Maroney’s unforgettable Sing Them Blues, White Girl: The Jackie Jomp-Jomp Story. Some of the recurrent themes of these films, such as drug abuse, became so predictable that they were easily satirized in Walk Hard.

But in thinking about how these films diverge, after finally reaching the (somewhat confused) end of Notorious, I realized that in both the earlier film 8 Mile, the semi-fictional story of Eminem’s life, and in Walk the Line, the white performer comes to a moment of emotional overload that threatens his very ability to get on stage. In Cash’s case, this is because he is re-living his brother’s death; in Eminem’s case, it is because he has to face a hostile, mostly African-American crowd as a white rapper.

By contrast, in their respective films, neither Ray Charles nor Biggie experience this kind of stage fright. Instead, particularly in Notorious, there is an utterly natural transition from the private work of practicing and writing to the public arena of performance. This is even the case despite Ray’s having undergone, like Cash, the death of a brother while very young.

by Sarah Zupko

19 May 2009

Eminem - Relapse
To say the record industry is hoping for big things from Slim Shady is an understatement. The music biz is in freefall, rather like print media, and Eminem is one of the few bonafide platinum disc movers left these days. Undoubtedly this one will sell well, but the truth is Marshall Mathers’ routine is growing pretty stale. Relapse is full of more violent fantasies, drug tales and moping about his screwed up family. Eminem has one of the best flows in the game and it would be nice if he would start using it to actually say something beyond self-indulgent rhymes.

Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Amos continues her multimedia approach to creativity with this compelling 17-track album, each song to be accompanied by a video “visualette” as something of a documentary accompaniment to the music. Amos still defiantly creates “albums”, full works of art with strong conceptual underpinnings. This is not music for the easily distracted. Sit down with the headphones on and give a solid hour of your time and stay away from that “shuffle” button.

by L.B. Jeffries

19 May 2009

From Grim Fandango, by Lucasarts

From Grim Fandango, Lucasarts

For as much as video games revolve around making choices, it’s funny to consider how much games must also rely on choices that are illusions. Although a game may give you an alternative, like telling the villain you don’t care or being able to backtrack, many times the game doesn’t really validate this option. Nothing happens, you’re blocked off, or you’re just told to try again. What is the nature of an illusionary choice? The question is surprisingly philosophical because the nature of choice is invested in the player, not really the consequences of the decision. Put another way, freedom of choice is a state of mind, not a mechanical problem with multiple outcomes. Your perspective of the decision and what you know decides whether or not it is a free choice as opposed to something forced or arbitrary. That’s the very reason so many games have fake choices in the first place, you can validate the experience of choosing without actually giving them a choice. How do these quirks of game design work?

by Kirstie Shanley

19 May 2009

It’s nearly impossible to understand why the Dears aren’t bigger than they are. Not only do they exude the same intense passion as their fellow Canadians, Arcade Fire, the group’s large membership allows them to create something powerful that is similarly rich with instrumentation. It’s a tour de force sound that could easily fill an arena.

While lineup changes over the past few years—including the unfortunate loss of guitarist Patrick Krief—may have hindered the group’s progress, they are back touring with members of indie band Pony Up and have gained a cohesiveness to support the strong songwriting and musicianship. The result is a live sound that translates the sense of desperation in their songs into something that is transcendent and powerful.

Over the course of the past decade, through four studio albums and two EPs, the one constant has been couple Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak. There’s always been an on stage chemistry between the two, but this time around it was even stronger, with Yanchak leaving her keyboards to sing central next to Lightburn at one point during the set.

Lead singer Murray Lightburn clearly drives the songs and began by entering from the back of the stage in darkness, a sort of disembodied voice floating above the audience. As the set wore on, however, he made a more physical connection with the audience, at times even embracing various audience members.

Lightburn’s lyrics have always been wrought with conflict and though the Dears are touring to support their most recent 2008 release, Missiles, they made sure to acknowledge some of their older favorites such as “Lost in the Plot” and “We Can Have It” off of their treasured 2003 release, No Cities Left. Murray also acknowledged the matched fanaticism of the crowd by playing an encore to his 90-minute set. Though the band deserves to be playing much larger venues to more people, it’s clear their fans are an extremely dedicated bunch who understand how important it is to support them wherever they tour.

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The Moving Pixels Podcast Looks at the Scenic Vistas and Human Drama of 'Firewatch'

// Moving Pixels

"This week we consider the beautiful world that Campo Santo has built for us to explore and the way that the game explores human relationships through its protagonist's own explorations within that world.

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