November 20, 2005

Three Extremes - Cut

Just saw the short movie "Cut" from the collection "Three Extremes" where three directors from Asia make three short [horror] movies. All I can say is "WOW!", good stuff. I was very confused by the ending, but I think this thread [SPOILER!!!] on IMDB got it right. I'll definitely have to watch this again to try and see if I got it right. Korea's Chan-wook Park directed this episode. Hong Kong's Fruit Chan [Dumplings] and Japan's Takashi Miike [Box] were the other two directors [and their episode titles]. The DVD won't be out till February, but it sounds like a must have, especially with the Dumplings ep being expanded to full-feature length.
Just watched "Dumplings" - ewww! Not sure if I'd want to see the full length version. That was pretty demented!
Three extremes site [flash]

Posted by Fungii at 09:52 PM

November 19, 2005

MoH - Jennifer

This week entry in the Masters of Horror series was Dario Argento's "Jennifer". Not bad, a million times better than last week's embarrassment by Tobe Hooper. The story was a little pedestrian, at least in the way it went exactly the way I thought it would. Not much in the way of surprises. And there weren't many cinematic flourishes that Argento is known for, the cinematography was mostly unremarkable. On the other hand, Jennifer's makeup was appropriately gruesome and some of the "dinnertime" sequences were quite effective. So I guess you could say I was mildly disappointed, but reasonably entertained. Hoping next week's ep shows a little more originality though.

Posted by Fungii at 09:42 PM

November 12, 2005

Masters of Horror - 3

I just finished watching the 3rd episode of Masters of Horror, directed by Tobe Hooper. Holy shit! That has to be the most unwatchable, putrid piece of shit excuse for entertainment I have ever seen - I can't believe I managed to sit through the whole execrable thing! The acting was bad, the story was vapid, none of the dialogue was at all interesting, the camera work was simply irritating with the constant "jittering for effect" assaulting my corneas. Robert Englund was as obnoxious as ever. So, so bad. Next week is the Argento episode, oh god I hope it's better than this thing.

Comparatively, last week's "rat" episode was ok. Not as good as the first one, which really rocked, but at least it was mildly entertaining. I just wished it would have added up to more at the end. It was one of those show's where the end leaves you scratching your head, as in "that story went absolutely nowhere!". But at least it didn't make you want to smash your TV in with Robert Englund's fat, ugly face like tonight's EP did.

Posted by Fungii at 09:27 PM

TCM - Charade

Watched a few movies on TCM since it got added to Shaw. I tried watching "Farenheit 451" last Sunday, but the picture kept cutting out with "bad signal" and horrible digital artifacting. Since it's an analog channel, I assume this problem is occuring between Shaw and TCM. I hope they fix it soon, this is the best channel in Shaw's lineup by far.

I did get to watch "Charade" last Friday for the first time. What a great movie! Pretty hokey, but what the hell, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn were so good together. Having Walter Matthau, George Kennedy and James Coburn in your supporting cast doesn't hurt either. I so want to get the DVD for this title, but the Criterion edition is pretty expensive with few extras and there's about a hundred other editions of this movie out there of dubious quality. [I guess it was in the public domain for awhile]

I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else.
Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.

Posted by Fungii at 06:02 PM


I finished the AOEIII [Age of Empires 3] campaign yesterday and while it was fun, much funner than slogging through Dungeon Siege II [which I still haven't finished], it's hard not to think that this game could have been a hell of a lot better. It's very much like the previous games in the series, so if you've played the previous games you'll know what you're in for with this one. I found the graphics merely OK, not spectacular like some people have claimed, though that might have something to do with my older Ti 4200 graphics card.

New stuff with this iteration:

  • villagers don't have to go back to the town center to drop off their gold, wood or food [which is nice, a welcome development]

  • you accumulate experience points that you use to buy upgrades between scenarios and customize your city

  • you get to use those upgrades in the form of cards that you can play during the scenario for extra goodies

  • hero units with special abilities

  • when you move from age to age it opens up new cards you can play plus a bonus for each age

  • you can build trading posts with the natives and build native units

  • railway stations that help accumulate XP or resources

The main innovation in this game is the home city screen where you get to play your bonus cards. The problem with the home city thing, as far as I'm concerned, is that you just get more "stuff", stuff that's already more than easy enough to get through the usual game mechanics - resource gathering, building units via barracks etc... I played on medium, so maybe I would have appreciated the home city concept more if I played on hard? And to be fair, a few of the cards were unique, like having my hero use balloons. Some cards help your units build faster, collect resources faster, some give you a bunch of new military units or a new town center wagon. They were a nice bonuses, but you could easily play the game without them. And the "customize your home city" thing has to be one of the most useless features to ever be introduced in a game. Between scenarios you get points you can use to unlock upgrades to your home city in the form of new buildings and city dwellers and such. Effect on gameplay? Absolutely zero. The only difference you see is in the way your city looks on the main menu screen. Utterly useless.

Like most RTS's, the pathfinding AI is pretty pathetic. I built a wall around my city in one scenario, leaving a gap in one spot for my army to get in and out from. After building up an army within my walls, I tried to send them out through the gap. They bunched up on the wall and stayed there, no amount of clicking would get them to move out beyond the wall. The only way to get them to move was to select a small group, send them out away from the wall, then grab another small group, send them out etc... I eventually destroyed a larger section of wall to get larger groups out, but of course that meant enemy armies had an easier time getting into my city. Another common RTS bug is still in this game - when you build a wall close to a building that produces units, the units can get stuck between the building and the wall, where the only way to free them is to destroy that section of wall, leaving another weak spot for the enemy to attack. They could easily solve this problem by leaving a buffer around each building for units to move around freely. But they don't, fuckers. In another scenario, I built up a very large army away from my city, then went back to do some maintenance at my town center. When I went back to my army, it was almost completely destroyed! WTF! I rebuilt my army, and then just watched it to see what was going on. The enemy would send a single unit out to draw off a handful of my men, then return to its city where its large army and the city's defensive buildings would utterly annihilate my small group of wayward units. Then it would do the same thing, again and again, until there was nothing left of my once formidable army. There is no "hold ground" option for your units, all you can use is a "defensive posture" which doesn't protect you from this tactic. The solution? Endless, tiresome micro-management. And it is tiresome; I can remember a small group chasing a bait unit back to the enemy, I lassoed them and sent them back to the main army. As soon as they got back to the main army, they turned right around and attempted to race off to their deaths once again. Aaaaiiieee! Little bastards! You can't change the way your army faces, like in Rise of Nations or Rome: Total War. Large battles turn into large chaotic blobs, all you can do is keep clicking and hope your side comes out on top. And you need to keep clicking, if you don't half your army will decide its heart isn't in it and quit fighting. I found the hero unit's special powers pretty useless, combat is too fast and chaotic, by the time I tried to use it, the battle was over.

The default interface on this game takes up way too much of the screen, you have to go into the options screen to get the minimal interface and turn on a bunch of options that should have been turned on in the first place. The game is zoomed in too far, even zoomed out all the way, it still feels cramped. When you load a saved game, it starts off paused. How do you unpause it? After hitting every key on my fucking keyboard, I found out it was the "Pause/Break" button. Since they don't let you control the game speed in any way, the pause key is used more than any other, so I remapped it to the spacebar. There is no way to change keymappings in-game, so you have to exit the game and edit some text files. You can issue orders when paused, but they don't give you much feedback usually, other than the "click" sound, so I found myself issuing orders when paused, unpausing to be sure they took effect, pausing again and moving to the next area that needed attention. Then there is the whole Windows 2000 fiasco. I choose to use Win2K because some of my hardware won't work in XP, plus I'm fucking lazy and poor. Anyway, when the demo came out for this game, it wouldn't install on Win2K systems, saying it wasn't supported. Of course, a workaround was found and it worked perfectly fine on Win2K systems. Then Ensemble, the makers of this game, promised that the full game would let you install on Win2K, but they wouldn't support it. Well, the full game comes out, and the install routine does an OS check and refuse to install on Win2K. By simply using "setup.exe /a", it will install on Win2K and plays perfectly fine. Although I think you need to do some registry hacking to get online play to work. What a bunch of crap, it's like MS is blackmailing you to upgrade to XP just to play their fucking games. Bastards!

Anyway, a good game, but nothing spectacular and doesn't move the genre forward one iota.

Posted by Fungii at 04:35 PM

November 02, 2005

TCM on Shaw!

Yesterday I noticed the channels on my set-top box were all screwed up, apparently Shaw decided to shuffle the channels around a bit. But it was for a good reason, as they added Turner Classic Movies to Channel 42 in Calgary. This seems like a pretty wicked channel too. First of all, they show the movies uninterrupted, no commercials! Another thing, it seems to have been added to the basic service, no extra cost. Also, they don't seem to have the constant "station identifier" thing in the bottom, right corner, it just pops up for a few seconds every once in awhile. And the movies are pretty good and varied. Last night they showed "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "Asphalt Jungle", "The Maltese Falcon" - the list is endless, really good movies that I've always wanted to check out. Makes the money I spend on digital channels seem a bit of a waste - they have nowhere as good a selection of movies, plus they ruin them with commercials and those shitty "station identifier" things. The only reason I got the digital channels was for Scream, which has turned out to be a big disappointment.

Posted by Fungii at 06:14 PM