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Articles in the Playtime Archives Department

Cinema and Television, Headline, March 2011 »

[13 Mar 2011 | One Comment | 1,521 Views]
Don’t Eat Me, I’m Only the Cameraman, Part 4: <i>The Last Exorcism</i>

The Religious Right is also (apparently) a breeding ground for predatory hucksters, grinning matchstick men who Get Religion so long as it gets them into your wallet. What The Last Exorcism does with that stereotype is rather refreshing. Cotton Marcus’s journey of rediscovering faith by confronting the forces of darkness isn’t really anything new, but it is something special. What I think the film communicates, rather than these simple explanations, is that when the chips are down, people have a surprising capacity for nobility. Even people who make a mockery of faith or the credulity of their trusting flock can find the courage to hold a candle to the darkness. There’s heroism in that.

Cinema and Television, Featured, March 2011 »

[8 Mar 2011 | One Comment | 1,501 Views]
<i>True Grit</i>: Return of the One-Eyed Fat Man

Most Coen films are about characters who think they are smart, slick operators who are cleverly manipulating events to their own advantage. So it is with True Grit, in which Mattie Ross thinks she’s corralled the meanest bounty hunter in the Territory into tracking down her father’s killer for her, but once she’s wound him up, paid him, and sent him forth, she finds that the old bastard has a mind of his own. Nothing pans out the way the characters think it should. Not quite. Even within the confines of an established Western classic, the Coens find a way to emphasize the way even the most able, driven, and tough people don’t necessarily get what they want in the way they want it.

Cinema and Television, Featured, Julytember 2010 »

[30 Nov 2010 | One Comment | 4,466 Views]
Alonso’s Fantasma and Nikolaidis’s Morning Patrol

Lisandro Alonso’s post-apocalypse film of art-house demise, also known as Fantasma, climaxes with a lonely man in a movie theater. We spend one hour waiting for this image of a solitary figure watching a bright screen: a torso emerging from one seat among a row of seats and all the other empty rows extending towards the screen where the projected phantoms play. We view the film alongside or from behind the silhouette. He is eventually joined by a man and a woman, but the climactic image of the torso and …

Art, Featured, Julytember 2010, Literature »

[15 Nov 2010 | No Comment | 2,765 Views]
Playtime Featured Artists: Team Robo

In a world where adventure comics seem to consist of nothing but grim, tortured heroes fighting grim, tortured villains for grim, tortured reasons, Atomic Robo is a comic with the apparent – and unthinkable – goal of making its readership smile. Oh, there’s violence, and vampires, and Nazis, and all sorts of that kind of thing, but they’re there in service of excitement and thrills, rather than the battling of inner demons. Its creators have described it as “a combination of Indiana Jones, Buckaroo Banzai, and the Ghostbusters.” It’s the …

Cinema and Television, Julytember 2010, Subheadline »

[31 Oct 2010 | One Comment | 2,391 Views]
Don’t Eat Me (Part 3): <i>Paranormal Activity 2</i>

Paranormal Activity 2 is, for the sake of descriptive brevity, The Exorcist meets Big Brother. The new film is a Hollywood sequel, for better and worse. Bigger budget = more elaborate effects. For a couple scenes, that works in the film’s favor. Unfortunately, it also means that the craft of the first film has been largely jettisoned in favor of thuddingly obvious setups, a higher body count, and a much more crass sense of what is considered creepy.

Art, Julytember 2010, Literature, Subheadline »

[17 Oct 2010 | No Comment | 3,023 Views]
2010 In Comics: The Middle 48%

2010 (so far): The greatest year in the history of the comics medium? The nightmarish nadir from which it will never recover? The year when the whole industry, and our relationship with it, changed forever? Nope. But come with us nevertheless to yestermonth, for a look at some of the comic books, trade paperbacks, and funnypages/comic-strip collections of oh, say, the middlish part of the year.
Gorilla-Man #1
Creators: Jeff Parker (writer); Giancarlo Caracuzzo (artist); Jim Charalampidis (colorist); Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: Marvel
From a narrative point of view, part of the purpose of …

Cinema and Television, Julytember 2010, Subheadline »

[8 Oct 2010 | No Comment | 2,420 Views]
<i>Machete</i>: Trailer vs. Film

History will never be able to tell us for sure whether Robert Rodriguez was kidding when he originally made the trailer for Machete. Certainly, the other guys who made fake trailers for 2007′s Grindhouse were kidding; regrettable though it is, we do not live in a world awesome enough to ever see Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS, or Edgar Wright’s Don’t. But unlike these others, Rodriguez announced, almost immediately after Grindhouse‘s debut, that he intended to make Machete for real.

But this announcement didn’t come until after he …

Art, Julytember 2010, Literature, Subheadline »

[15 Sep 2010 | One Comment | 3,290 Views]
Cleavage, In A Crimefighting Sense

It was the announcement from a major comic book publisher that split the Internet in half. Or the one for that week, anyway. Actually, it was really the one for that month – the announcement was that big. We refer here, of course, to the announcement that they were radically changing Wonder Woman’s costume. The ever-shrinking strapless one-piece swimsuit that the Amazon princess had worn into battle for over half a century was to be a thing of the past. In its place, a red, striped shirt, a jacket, and …

Cinema and Television, Cultural Comment, Julytember 2010, Subheadline »

[25 Jul 2010 | One Comment | 3,811 Views]
Urban Life and Individuality: Boyz n the Hood

Any representation of urban life in Black cinema during the early 90′s would inevitably find itself contending with John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood. The amount of praise Singleton received was enough to make him the first of only two African-Americans to receive an Academy Award nomination for best director.  The rising tide of Black experience in cinema came at a time when African-Americans in poor Los Angeles neighbourhoods were suffering from the internal violence of gang warfare fueled by the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, as well as …

Cultural Comment, Julytember 2010, Literature, Subheadline »

[25 Jul 2010 | No Comment | 1,711 Views]
Video Games and Compulsory Learning

What happens when video games enter the classroom? For the past thirty years, video games have been mired in negative stereotypes. Considered revolutionary in the 70s, brainless diversion in the 80s, youth-corrupting entertainment in the 90s—attitudes towards video games have run the gamut. In the past ten years, there has been a palpable change. Games have gone from social pariahs to hotly-contested media seeking artistic validation. But it isn’t the conversation about the video game’s place in the artistic world that is radically changing the way games are used and thought of in our society. Thanks to the work of literacy and education researchers, video games are gaining prestige as powerful learning tools.