Nostalgic exploration galore!

Opinion: Gone Home
A short but very satisfying game, both visually and emotionally

I just finished playing Gone Home and wanted to recommend it here. At first glance it looks like a typical haunted house thiller but Gone Home definitely is not! The game is great and the main story is quite touching and more like a subtle teenage drama. It only takes 3-4 hours to complete at most but I’d say it was a perfect length for this game.

The are plenty of optional objects, notes and magazines to examine and all of it is beautifully detailed. Since it’s set in 1995, we get references to many awesome things from the early 90’s. Like the main characters I was in my late teens back then so I felt quite the bit of nostalgia while playing! Here are some examples:

* Grunge Rock
* Beverly Hills 90210
* Street Fighter 2
* Pulp Fiction
* X-files and more familiar title on VHS!

There are some punk rock tracks in it too and they play quite an important part in the story. My favourite track was Cool Schmool from Bratmobile!

If you get the game from their site,  you get both a DRM-free copy and a Steam key:



Ryan Gosling Performance #2

Review: Blue Valentine
A fantastic drama! It feels like an authentic portrait of a troubled marriage, where no one is to blame.


Last week we saw a more action oriented Ryan Gosling in Drive. But where Drive went for surrealism, Blue Valentine goes for total realism. It is an emotional drama about a troubled relationship between the two main characters Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). Everyone involved comes across as real and no one is without faults. Dean is a kind-hearted person and a great father for their daughter. On the other hand he also has a slight drinking problem and can be childish. Cindy is more mature and works harder but doesn’t seem to be satisfied with anything in her life. They come from very different backgrounds and have different personalities. Despite all this they both try as hard as they can to make family life work. The film very cleverly interconnects events from the past with current events. These flashbacks serve the purpose of explaining Dean’s and Cindy’s backstories, how they met and why they are in their current situation.

The acting ensemble is excellent all around. Both Gosling and Williams do Oscar worthy performances. Except for a certain scene at a hospital, everyone acted as I would expect normal people to do. The script is very good with many memorable lines. There are also some lovely scenes spread throughout the film that makes it easier to cope with the depressing theme. Not many films deal with getting older. Here there are some gripping moments at a nursing home, where Cindy’s grandmother stays. Blue Valentine really took me by storm and I can’t recommend it enough!



Ryan Gosling Performance #1

Review: Drive
Drive is good, but not as awsome as Blue Valentine. They are totally different films though. Drive is an old school action movie with some new tricks. I will review Blue Valentine next week.


Recently I saw two films back to back: Drive and Blue Valentine. Not only were they as different as two movies can get. They also both starred the amazing Ryan Gosling. As an actor he is very much a chameleon. I Drive he plays the old-school silent action hero as the nameless Driver while in Blue Valentine he never stops talking, to quote Michelle Williams’ character Cindy.

First, let us talk about Drive. Story wise this is quite ordinary fare. A silent hero with no name and superhuman skills saves a girl from evil mobsters. However, there are a couple of things that make this film stand out. Firstly, the surrealism! When fleeing from a robbery, one would expect there to be a big adrenaline rush with panicked shouting and the like. Here, the robbers and the Driver are just silent. Of course this feels unrealistic but it is also very beautiful to watch. It’s not always beautiful though. There is some brutal gore but it only adds to the unrealistic feel and is not purely for shock value.

Except for the well-filmed action scenes, I really like how everything is not spelled out. There is very little dialogue. Especially the Driver is a mysterious character. Ryan Gosling feels like a modern Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson and one can always sense the tension behind his silent facade. Carey Mulligan is good as the love (?) interest Irene. But the character I felt for the most was Irene’s husband Standard, played by Oscar Isaac. His part is small but very memorable. Standard comes across as a real human being, which can’t be said of the Driver.



The Great DiCaprio

Review: The Great Gatsby
A good movie, even if it is not as good as Baz Luhrmann's previous efforts


I very seldom watch a movie more than once. There are just so much fantastic stuff out there, so whenever I watch something a second time I can wonder which fantastic gem I’m missing by just sticking with something familiar. But some masterpieces simply have to be watched at least two times. Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann is one of those masterpieces. I watched it first by myself and then I took my future wife to watch it and then I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again. Now when I think of it, Moulin Rouge could very much be the reason why we had “Your Song” at our wedding song! Baz also captivated me with his version of Romeo and Juliet. It was both lavish and gritty at the same time, making it irresistible. With Moulin Rouge he then went into psychotic overdrive with the lavish part and it was an absolute pleasure!

But this post isn’t mainly about those two movies. It’s about Mr. Luhrmann’s latest blockbuster, The Great Gatsby. I really looked forward to watching this, due to the pure awesomeness of the director. My only memory of the novel is (to my great shame) from The Man on the Moon. Andy Kaufman (played by Jim Carrey) reads The Great Gatsby in its entirety to punish his audience. He’s being stiff and pompous on purpose and people start to leave and fall asleep. This has left me to think of it as a boring classic not worthy of my time. But was I correct in my assumption? A little, but not quite. It takes some time to hit momentum but in the end I liked this mysterious drama. If you want a Baz Luhrmann movie, you will get a Baz Luhrmann movie here. The parties thrown by Gatsby are possibly more lavish than in Moulin Rouge! The Great Gatsby is beautiful movie and very much over the top, mostly for the better.

Unfortunately there are many small elements which leave me disappointed. Like in Moulin Rouge, there is a lot of CG here but I don’t think it works as well. The Great Gatsby is a period drama that maybe doesn’t need all those special effects. It felt like overkill with some of the panorama shots. The JAY Z hip-hop is completely out of place and doesn’t work at all. The rest of the soundtrack is good but not great. The party scenes are awesome but they don’t feel as novel as they did before. It is hard for me to get as immersed and impressed as I was when watching Luhrmann’s earlier work.

Instead, my favourite scene is when Gatsby is going to meet Daisy at Nick’s place. It’s a very funny and charming moment, where Leonardo DiCaprio gets to show his range as an actor. He truly delivers an impressive performance as Jay Gatsby. I can understand if many actors want to play Gatsby, since he’s such an interesting character. Unfortunately the other characters are not nearly as captivating. His neighbour Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire, is very bland and mostly there to tell the story between Gatsby and Daisy (Carey Mulligan). After watching this, I can at least understand why the novel is such a classic. It is a great allegory of the American dream with all its pluses and minuses. Is Gatsby a hopeless romantic, a psycho, a hero, a villain or all of these things?! It’s very much up for us to decide.