WW1

I had been procrastinating watching it for a long time, but got through 1917 last night and wow, what a film. There’s something to be said for movies with very simple plots, Dredd, The Raid, Mad Max, The Northman, the Lighthouse, that just open up tons of possibilities for world building and character development that cannot occur when the plot is dominating screen time.

While the constant non-breaking scenes in 1917 are astounding to watch, the best part of the film for me was the changing landscape and how abruptly the characters go from pastoral grasslands to claustrophobia of the trenches, to the devastation of no-man’s land, within less than mile or so in most cases. The landscape becomes one of the characters in the film.

The film got me thinking about WW1 quite a bit as well, and it’s a grim reminder that no one in the first few weeks knew just how the war was going to play out, there were hints, for sure, especially during the American Civil War where Napoleonic tactics were annihilated by rifles that could shoot 3X as far with accuracy and near the end of the war, repeating rifles (see Hoover’s Gap). Yet no one could have guessed the massive trenchlines, mega fortresses and dominance of artillery. It was the end of the days where armies on the march feared nothing until the battle itself. More than that, WW1 represents the biggest fundamental shift in the paradigm of Western thought since the Enlightenment.

“The whole world really blew up about world war 1 and we still don’t know why. Before then, men thought that utopia was in sight. There was peace and prosperity. Then everything blew up, we’ve been in a suspended animation ever since” -Dr. Walker Percy


“The last complete normal year in history was 1913. Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914” -Konrad Adenauer


“World War 1 was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive world war 2: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War 1 years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit.” -The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan


“Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in… Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end” -Harold Macmillan


“Historic events are often said to have changed everything. In the case of the Great War this is, for once, true. The war really did change everything: not just borders, not just governments and the fate of nations but the way people have seen the world and themselves ever since. It became a king of hole in time, leaving the postwar world permanently disconnected from everything that had come before” -G. J. Meyer

Spine of Night is out on Shudder

A while back I posted about a short film called Exordium which is quite an amazing bit of work for a mere 7 minutes of rotoscoped goodness. Now the entire film is complete and on Shudder!

https://www.shudder.com/play/46e286e8efcda9f8

Short Review:

I don’t want to spoil anything but this is about the closest film to Heavy Metal that I’ve seen. It’s a series of connected vignettes with connected characters. Most of them are quite good with just one that fell flat for me as it added nothing to the overall narrative and the characters weren’t in other parts of the movie.

The character designs are very interesting and if you have seen Exordium, that part is NOT in the film but fits in perfectly almost as a prelude. You get to find out more about the skull and the bloom in Spine of Night if you are curious.

As a criticism, some of the rotoscoped side/minor characters aren’t costumed up all that well. There was one dude that looked like he was just in a tshirt and jeans.

Of note, Lucy Lawless’s character is stark naked the entire film. While there’s not much in the way of sex-scenes, this may be enough to keep the younger kids away. I’d say 13+ on this one. The violence is nothing worse that a regular Rick and Morty or Metalocalypse episode.

If you love the Rotoscope, this has some amazing stuff. It’s not as artistically breathtaking as Fire and Ice, but it’s excellent to see a movie like this made and I want more!

2021 Movie of the Year – DUNE

This was the most predictable ‘best film of the year’ AFTER it came out. Before it came out, I was very skeptical that they would be able to pull it off and assumed it would just be MCU in space or worse. After all this Star Wars garbage we have been subjected to over the last 8 years (minus the Mandalorian), it’s refreshing to see a good character driven sci-fi movie that isn’t just a cascade of space piss into our open mouths. There have been notable series, such as the Expanse and Lost in Space, but no films of note in this genre worth bothering with for a very, very long time.

Dune is an atmospheric movie with amazing scenes, incredible interpretation of the technology of the both low tech and high tech societies. I’ve seen it three times already and will probably watch it again just because of thinking about it during this post.

If you would have told me that I would be posting this a year ago, I would have said no fucking guey dude but the sequel can’t come fast enough!

We already know what the film of the year for 2022 is:

Dune – let’s dive in!

Questions: Where was Feyd-Ruatha? Where was Count Fenring? Why did the Mentats get so little screen time? Why no banquet scene? (dammit)

The real question that this film tries to answer is whether or not Dune SHOULD be done in film format, or, like the sci fi channel did years ago, is better suited to a high end series. I will say that this movie felt like a really long, atmospheric episode of Game of Thrones but with less character development for all but the most important characters.

This is a story that I have carried with my my entire adult life and I’ve read the book more times than I can remember. It’s hard to give up the vision of what I had as a kid reading this for any film or tv version. Now that I’ve seen it thrice, once in the theater and twice on a TV (definitely see this in the theater!), I can say stuff before I go off and see it again in a few months. Despite some issues that I have with it, this film has grown on me a great deal since my first and especially second viewing.

Aesthetics

The previews did not do justice to the costumes and the set and spaceship designs which were surprisingly good. I think the armor for the Atreides looked stupid and for fuck sake in the scene where Duke Leto was taking control of Arakeen, they could have at least put a CLOAK on him. The rest of the costume design was excellent and the Harkonnen house troops, the Fremen and the Saurdukar looked amazing. It’s an easy comparison with the old sci fi channel series here– EVERYTHING looked better, but in comparison to the Lynch version, I think there were some better costumes in the old film for sure. Except for the Atredies armor, the soldiers on all sides looked far better in the new film.

Almost all of the architecture and ship designs in the film can be described as straight out of the Brutalist school with harsh angles and massive verticals that dwarfed the characters. They all harken back to earlier eras in sci fi and sci fi art when Dune became popular (60’s-70’s). There was only one scene in the film where I thought the set was shit– and that was the hallway where Lady Jessica was waiting for Paul to get the Gom Jubar. It just looked very tacky. The guild ships, the Harkonnen artillery warship and the ornithopters were amazing.

Long shots of characters barely taking up any screen space with amazing stuff in the background abound in this film, and if I can find it again in IMAX (hopefully after it wins some awards) I will be up inside to see it right away. This is going to be a ‘get stoned and watch movie for the ages.

Pacing

I was with someone that didn’t know the story and they were disappointed at the end that all the really good stuff will be in the next movie (which the director has himself admitted). They felt the beginning was slow and it really didn’t get going until it was almost over.

I felt the opposite, that they raced through some parts of the book they should have taken more time on and skipped a few scenes (or shortened them to almost nothing) that they should have left closer to the book.

In the Lynch version, I felt Feyd Ruatha needed to get more screen time, especially the scene where he was fighting in the arena. The arena scene in the book also had Count Fenring in it. Both films cut the ‘dinner party’ on Dune with members of the Lansraad that gave a sense of normalcy to the Atreides take over, like there was a chance that everything won’t be fucked, but in this film, they went from arrival to the big scenes (hunter seeker, wormsign, treachery) without very many interstitial scenes with character interplay. It just seems like neither director wanted to deal with the fact that there was someone that knew about Paul’s powers (outside the Sisterhood that is)— as they had similar ones–and were struggling with the need to kill him throughout the film.

Characters

The mentats, who were the masterminds behind a lot of the machinations between the houses got very little screen time or any description of what they were or there to do. That said, they were both cool characters. One a snivelling weirdo and the other an old soldier type.

Duke Leto was believable, though I think someone a bit older would have been better, but I liked the actor more the second time. Neither of the films hit exactly how I pictured Duke Leto, but I think the Lynch version had a more intimidating and formidable Duke.

Lady Jessica is not how I pictured her and seems so young to be cast in this role, but I liked it. I don’t think they sold it early enough in the movie that the Bene Gesserit were not to be fucked with in hand to hand combat, so when she beat Stilgar, it wasn’t set up well. This is the character that started this entire situation up, so she’s very important to get right.

The Baron is a critical character and the Lynch version was a loud crazy fat man, always yelling, which was not anything like the Baron I imagined, but worked within Lynch’s overall vision for the Harkonnens. The new movie’s Baron is much closer to the book and I think it was done better. The actors in both films were superb, but I prefer the new Baron to the old… a lot.

Feyd-Ruatha? Where is he? This was a miss. Remember, Jessica was supposed to have a daughter that was going to marry Feyd, merge the houses AND create the Kwizatch Haderaach. What happened?

Beast Raban. This is a minor character in the book and what it looks like to me is they merged Raban and Ruatha into one character– which I think is a mistake as Raban was just some lesser mean fatty like the Baron who fucks everything up.

Chani – the director seemed to be in love with this actresses’ face because it was constantly shown throughout the film to nearly a Meet Joe Black level. She seems too young but then one must remember that her and Paul were like 14 in the book! This is not how I envisioned Chani, but neither was Sean Young in the older version.

Paul – While I think the Lynch version had a great Paul Atreides, he seemed too old to me when I was a kid– especially when most kids read Dune when they are about 14 or so, the same age as the protagonist. Kyle did a great job in the Lynch version and loves the story/book, but definitely wasn’t an exact fit. The new movie’s Paul is definitely a kid and seems much more in danger almost all the time because of it.

The Reverend Mother – much less striking a character than in the Lynch version, but did fine. Seemed like she was relegated to a much minor character in this film (so far), but has the extra (non book) scene where she “pleads” with the Harkonnens to leave Paul and Jessica to the desert and we get to see Wanda Marcus…or what’s left of her.

Gurney Halleck – Turned out very well, I was worried about the superhero actors cast for the movie when I saw Thanos in the previews, but he was solid. Halleck is more important to the story than people may remember as he and Jessica are not fans of each other and it could have gone badly at certain points because of it, without the dinner party scene mentioned above, I’m not sure their conflicts will be a plotline in the second half.

Duncan Idaho – People that know the extended story realize how important this character is to Paul and the Atreides as they continue their journey through the books. I was glad they did MORE with this character than in the original film, and even gave him more scenes than in the book (?). The missing scene is his drunken rant the night before the betrayal. Again, they just axed the dinner party scene that could have been a better set up for the different Atreides character’s relationships to each other.

Dr. Yueh – not great. Not a good set up, not enough screen time, not enough at all of this character for it to even matter to the viewer who was the traitor. Didn’t go into the imperial conditioning at all, or any forshadowing of his loss of his wife,. The Lynch version did this part FAR better than the new movie, which was altogether meh with the Yueh plotline. There are certain scenes I just would have left in to set up future interactions.

The Guild / Navigators. Did not show any Guild leaders though in the beginning of the film it’s the Guild/Emperor vs the Harkonnens, Bene Gesserit and Atreides. I really liked the scene in the Lynch movie with the Guild Navigator and the Emperor. Maybe we will get that in later films.

The Emperor. Did not show in the film which I think is really cool as they talk about him a lot. It may be that both the Emperor and Feyd show up later in the story (and Count Fenring?)

Shadout Mapes. This was one of my favorite minor characters as a kid as it was the first Fremen Paul/Jessica encounter and added a lot to the mystery of the Fremen for me. I don’t think she got enough screen time during the hunter seeker scene.

Liet Kynes. A minor character in the film/book in the chapter/scenes, yet a big character in the overall story. Unfortunately, this version of the character’s dialog and lines were not great when they deviated from the book and frankly the actress just didn’t have any gravity on screen. Maybe people care that Kynes is played by a female, but it made no difference, the real issue was the line delivery and the lines she was given. Not great.

Jamis – a minor character, but this actor was awesome and carried the scenes he was in. This scene blew the one away from the Lynch version, which was cut from the film anyway and only shown later in extended versions. It’s a critical scene as there are more characters that rely on Paul because of it that would show up and not make sense otherwise. It also shows that Paul was trained from birth to be a killer even though he looks like a little kid.

Stilgar – I loved the Lynch Stilgar but the new one played by Xavier Bardem nailed it as well.

Captain Aramsham – This is who I assume is talking to Pieter in the already infamous Saduakar scene with the Mongolian throat singing. I think we’ll see this guy again at some point, but even with the small scene (one of my favorites in the film) they nailed it with this guy.

Dialog

The film deviated too much from the book and had far too many vernacular phrases and words for my tastes. Most of these characters are nobles and are trained to speak in a very specific way at all times, and this didn’t come out enough.

There were lines that I really loved from the book that were cut out of the dialog that made me sad. During quite a few scenes I was waiting for the actor to drop a key line, but… they did not. Who doesn’t want the new Baron to say “He who controls the spice, controls the universe?”

Finally, the ending

I was guessing the film would end when Paul saw Chani for the ‘first’ time or when Paul and Jessica started off into the deep desert. I did not think they would do the Jamis fight and then a bit after as well. It wasn’t a bad break point, but the very end of the movie with the sandworm rider was a bit cheesy. I did like the final line of the film though “this is only the beginning.” My buddy was immediately like ‘that’s it?’ as soon as the credits rolled. My kid said she didn’t understand anything at all in the film or what was happening at any point, so the end for her didn’t matter.

I liked a lot about the film and actually felt human emotion in some parts of it, a rare thing indeed! The visuals are just stunning, and it’s a different take on the material than I expected from modern hollywood. Did it “rape it with love” as Jodorosky planned with his Dune? Let’s save that verdict for the second part.

Does this film answer the question of whether Dune should be made into a series of movies rather than a high end Game of Thrones series? Yes. With it’s highly visual take on the material, this plants it’s flag firmly in the ‘this is an epic feature film and is best viewed as a theater experience.’ I saw Lawrence of Arabia on a tub television set in the early 80’s. I cannot imagine how differently I would have thought of it had I seen it in the theater.

Last question: what did Jodorosky think?

Movie: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Any Deadwood fan should check this movie out, as many of the show’s plots are identical to the plots of this film. This is a ‘northern’ western film interesting for not only it’s weather changes during the movie, but the fact that (like Deadwood) the set was built as the movie was filmed following the plotline of a tiny mining thorp becoming a small town.

The plot follows a gambler named McCabe who comes upon a mining ‘town’ that is nearly all men. He sets upon the idea to set up a whorehouse that begins as a row of tents (same as Deadwood) and then commences to invest in a building for gambling and prostitution. He is propositioned by a Mrs. Miller, a whore and junkie (though this is a secret to him) to help run his whores as he is having issues dealing with the women. He eventually agrees, and agrees to build a bath house to which all the men must go before setting to fucking allowing Mrs. Miller to bring higher class whores to the town, which she does.

This set up becomes profitable and (again like Deadwood) some stock company attempts to buy him out with interest in the mining area. There is ZERO law in the town and no government presence, so when he rebuffs the original offer from the stock company, they simply send three men to kill him.

The film is notable in a couple of ways. Given that this is a movie about whoring, there is nudity, fully naked women, but none of the scenes are sexual in nature at all to the point where I would say it’s not too bad for kids over 11 or so. It’s just ‘naked ladies’ and all the sex is implied or discussed only, usually in a humorous fashion.

Secondly, there are guns and killing in the film, but ZERO gun fights as Hollywood usually understands them. Every shooting in the film is either a back shot or a sneaky shot on someone tricked or unawares in some way. In fact, only three characters are shot facing their attacker! This is likely far closer to the reality of the old West than what we see in even other deconstructionist films of this era such as The Wild Bunch (1969).

While this film runs 2 hours, there are some long scenes that could have been shorter and some short scenes that should have been played out more. One of the whores goes crazy and slices up one of her customers– but the reasons and resolution of this are never touched on again. Everyone that sees this can easily notice the similarities with Deadwood, and even that with it’s gaps in some of the plots, that this may have inspired the creation of the series in the first place!

Executive Outcomes is back!

Remember this little game that you played HUNDREDS of hours on a tiny screen and made you get a CD drive for your computer?

Yes you do, it’s JAGGED ALLIANCE for me along with DOOM and Master of Orion, was the most influential pieces of media that I’ve ever consumed.

But this is not a post about Jagged Alliance. This is a post about what influenced this game from real life: Executive Outcomes. I was a history major in college, specifically due to my main Professor, Dr. Claude Sturgill, focused on low intensity conflict in American history. We studied Africa a bit as the West coast was having serious problems to put it lightly and while I was in school, Executive Outcomes, a mercenary company that spawned out of the dissolution of the South African Defense Force was heavily active. They work ONLY for legitimate governments and in their short time of activity, they settled two major disputes — until the UN forced those governments to stop using them and bring in UN ‘peacekeepers’ who got their asses handed to them and both countries went back into turmoil.

And now, after requests from African leaders, Executive Outcomes is back in business. It will be very interesting to see where they start operating first. “African solutions to African problems” to me says FUCK YOU to the UN who failed so badly in Angola and Sierra Leone (with catastrophic results) after EO was cut loose.

New website: https://www.executiveoutcomes.com/eo A good read (much better than the old one from the 90’s which was like 2 pages)

Journeyman Pictures film on EO:

https://www.journeyman.tv/film/6448/executive-outcomes

This is a deep rabbit hole to go down– I encourage you to read and weigh the issues as this is where matters become very grey and murky. While I definitely don’t think military contractors in general end up being the good guys– let’s see if EO is different.

….and time to bust out the Jagged Alliance!

Films of the Summer 2020

I watched some movies during our quarantine, which luckily didn’t last very long, and after as there was a week or so when I had to the house all to myself and could watch…. bad things. And so, I did.

I do not watch a lot of movies, and have very little interest in drama films because why not just go watch My Dinner with Andre again instead? My taste for films is definitely on the trash side and I think if you don’t enjoy trash films, you are rarely going to find anything worth watching. All of the films on this list are trash except the last one. There’s a vast amount of films that lie between amazing art films and trash that is not worth bothering with. Mission Impossible with Cruise are trash, and they are awesome films. Dredd, trash, totally awesome. John Wick, trash and amazing. I encourage filmmakers to make trash films above all else. In these films, humanity will find their redemption.

Let’s start out with a favorite out of the lot: TROMA’s WAR.

Within minutes I was absolutely hooked on this film. Shitty effects, tits right away, dead bodies, snappy dialog, cliche 80’s characters and then the killing begins and it is amazing. This must have been incredibly fun for Kaufman and crew to make, and they invite you INTO the fun with them. Absolutely highest recommendation and if you watch one movie off this list, this is the one.

Return of the Living Dead

To be perfectly honest, I wanted to watch this again to see the naked dancing part, which effected nearly all teenage boys in a positive way in the 80’s. The outfits and manner of speech seem odd these days, but when I saw it in the theater as a kid, they did not– at all. We can talk at length about Lena Quigly’s naked body and about how she is never fully dressed after that scene, but the rest of the film deserves just as much attention. When I first saw this, I think it was on HBO, I was a little depressed at just how nihilistic it was, but that grows on you, especially through the horror films of the 90’s that all seem to have some sort of happy ending. Just an absolute classic that should be watched every Halloween at least. Red Letter Media did a long retrospective on the movie and I don’t want to repeat them here. Despite it’s humor and that it is a basic zombie horror film, at the end of this you will feel great melancholy.


KUSO
KUSO is a film by Flying Lotus. He set out to make a film by a black writer and director that wasn’t about black folks rising up out of the ghetto in yet another cliche movie on that subject. He wanted to show that a black director could something different and holy shit he did. This is Naked Lunch 2, without anything held back. While this is harsh and quite grotesque, I really enjoyed this movie and I think you should give it a chance, it’s beautifully shot, the acting/casting is excellent, and all the individual parts are carefully directed. The only description of it I can give to try to make sense of it is that after an earthquake in L.A, rifts to different dimensions open up as well as cracks in the earth– letting loose cross-dimensional beings that seem just as lost, benevolent and malevolent as we are. I don’t want to say much more because it’s quite an experience (much like Naked Lunch). Lexington Steele should do more uhh…normal films. His speech cracked me up and he had the best line in the film. This is trash that becomes high art (ala Gummo). “Hello Dispatch.” At the end of this you will feel great melancholy.


LAST AND FIRST MEN
This is a film by Jóhann Jóhannsson, the guy who did the music for Mandy (which you should see as well), Let the Right One In, Sicario and the Arrival. If you like sci fi and Brutalist architecture, this is certainly a film for you. It has only narration by Tilda Swinton and no other actors or characters. Certainly a unique visual experience, interesting story and the music is fantastic. Everything Johannsson did was fantastic and his early death more tragic for it. Don’t do cocaine is a lesson here. The film is based on a book from 1930 by the same name, which now I have to go and read. At the end of this you will feel great melancholy.

More by Johann Johannsson if you’re not convinced yet:

Blood Machines – yep

This is a film of note, not because of story or dialog, but because of visuals, sound and ship design. This has spoilers, which does not matter because it’s the experience of watching what happens rather than what actually happens.

The characters are two guys —some sort of space scavengers (Vascan and Lago), one young, one old, and their ship which is a female AI (Tracy) that that apparently at least one of the guys has sex with. The AI doesn’t always let them do what they want (this doesn’t have a ton of explanation) and there is an admiral or something like that who is on a larger mothership that is giving them their orders.

The ship design is absolutely top drawer.

These scavengers shoot down a space ship that crashes on a planet. They have their ship land on the planet and the young one gets out of the ship to start retrieval and is confronted with some amazonian style women. The old man has a heart problem and is reluctantly saved by the ship’s medical system. The guy on the planet fights the amazons and the women get the drop on him and start some ritual on the destroyed ship that releases a naked woman with a glowing downside cross on her stomach and crotch regions who flies off into space. The scavengers escape the planet after capturing one of the amazons, and they follow the naked woman who flies off into space and heads into a strange warp. This leads to a spaceship grave-yard with some massive space ship/death star thing in the middle of it which the naked lady heads for and goes inside. The scavengers land on the planetoid and the young guy heads inside with the amazonian. He finds a room with the naked lady and the amazonian gets the drop on him in a strange sex scene (the only one in the film and it’s fully clothed the whole time) and kills him. Then a clone of the young guy goes back to the ship and tells the Admiral to come to where they are as soon as possible to capture this entity. This kills the old man member of the crew who has a heart attack after realizing that the young guy is a clone. The clone blows his own head off with a laser weapon. The admiral shows up and the amazonian woman puts on a glowing gas mask and conjures up a PILE of naked women ghosts from ALL the ships in the spaceship graveyard who then attack the admirals ship with pieces of their ships. The admiral’s ship is sucked into the planetoid and the whole mess morphs into, you guessed it, a GIANT NAKED WOMAN. The amazonian goes back to the scavenger’s ship and does something to the old man that died of a heard attack so he wakes up with glowing eyes. The other guy wakes up INSIDE the giant space woman trapped in her flesh. The end.

This film was made for about 100K and while it has issues with plot, dialog, some pacing problems it is undeniably visionary and really one huge horny trip out Flash Gordonesque music video for 50 minutes.

There are a lot of interesting shots and sequences in this film but my favorite one of them is where a ‘sun’ is rising over the ass cheek of the naked ghost girl like the beginning of G-force or any other sci fi film you’ve ever seen. I just laughed outloud at this. 50 minutes, recommended.

2019 – Favorite Stuff

Comics

2019 marks the end of the amazing career of Alan Moore with his final comic in the Tempest series of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s easy to make fun of the comic industry and the thousands of comics that are well produced but absolute dreck each year and in addition to that, what I think Moore was saying with Tempest is that the characters that people create are more real than reality itself and will continue on long after the society that created them has been destroyed. While everyone knows Watchmen, do check out his run in SWAMP THING, which was my first exposure to his work as a kid. Him quitting makes me feel pretty old.

Anyway, League was a very interesting series. I wish he had one more block of comics that were more the straight story (like the first two volumes) rather than getting super crazy (Tempest, Century and Black Dossier) or speeding through stories (Rose of Berlin, etc.). What I love most throughout League are the thousands of literary and comic references in each series. It’s almost too much to try to follow on your own, which is why the comics are fully annotated here. With Moore done, is there a reason to head to the comic store at this point? Not too much at the moment.

Films.

Lighthouse, Godzilla. Pretty much runs the gamut of my tastes right there. Godzilla was campy and awesome and Lighthouse was freak out like A Field in England, Mandy, and Valhalla Rising.

Star Wars 9 was interesting to see how they worked around all the problems handed to them from Episode 8 which, like Song of The South and for the same reasons, Disney should put in the vault. Yet it was not a great film and definitely had the ‘just fucking end it’ feeling. I enjoyed some parts, but it’s not worth watching again. Kylo Ren, the most interesting character played by the best actor in the series, had the weakest arc and stupidest outcome. It’s ok for Jedi, like the samurai and warrior monks that influenced them, to sacrifice themselves in battle! Fucksakes. As mixed as the series was, Adam Driver carried the team all on his own. Anyway, I’m getting pumped for sitting down with the Mandalorian though.

My favorite non-2019 movie this year was the LAST VALLEY. Never heard of it? of course you haven’t, but it’s got Omar Sharif and Michael Caine and set during the 30 years war. Among many excellent scenes, in one they play dice for a woman! 1971 had some awesome films.

I probably should have seen a lot more films this year, but just about everything seemed so boring, it’s more fun watching reviews than the actual films!

Board Games.

Root is my number 1 game for 2019. Played the shit out of it, forced everyone to play (many didn’t need it), ran a tournament at Gamehole con and I’m eagerly awaiting the expansion (though I did the print and play with the moles) which will spark up another frenzy of playing. This has killed so many games in my collection. I know this may sound strange, but it scratches the 40K and WFB itch as well.

Otherwise, my current favorites are the PAX series from Sierra Madre Games. I cannot tell you how much I love Pax Porfiriana– so much so that I haven’t even got around to Pax Pamir. Pax Transhumanity is good, but not compared to the other Pax games that I have (Ren, Pamir, Porf). Right now unfortunately for my gaming group (or fortunately if you also love these games), Pax is what I’m bringing every time.

Boardgames are in a really odd state at this point. There are amazing designs coming out, but there are so many design-by-the-numbers worker placement/engine/point salads games that are really all the same and, in general, super tedious. I don’t want to pick on Stonemier games, but they seem to be the Nickelback of boardgame publishers– just putting out the same thing: “multiplayer” solitaire, puzzle, tableau point salad games with a slapped on theme. I guess this is what people want these days. ZZzzzz…

While I’ve stopped doing boardgame kickstarters for the most part, we’ve had had some good times with Zombicide Invader but not enough to warrant the space it all takes up, so I’m on the fence with that one. My kids seem to prefer Massive Darkness anyway despite the fact that it’s much more complex. I like Invader with the kids because it’s NOT complex and I don’t have to explain tiny details all the time, or we get our ass kicked because they forget everything they have leveled up on their sheets.

I did NOT get in a bunch of games of Hate in 2019, which came out early in the year. I don’t know what to say about that one except that it is an absolute work of art from the rulebooks to the boards and especially the miniatures, which are the best that CMON has come out with by far. Seems like it may be a fun day to do a short campaign with 4-5 people, but hasn’t happened yet.

Video Games.

My game of 2019 goes to Samurai Shodown. I just got it, it came out this Summer and I should have picked it up on day one. My mistake.

The game I spent the most time on this year, which is incredible, was Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Simply an amazing open world game trying to be as historically accurate as possible. I really never expected anything like this to ever be a large, huge budget video game. Play it as soon as you can.

Lastly which is an honorable mention is RAGE 2. While the whole thing didn’t really come together, the shooting parts, as I noted in my review, are SUPERB and it’s a damn fun game with an uninspired story with the most unfortunate part being that the vehicle combat was uninteresting. I had a lot of fun with the game and will probably reinstall when there’s more DLC action.

Music.

Well there wasn’t an Aphex Twin record this year, and that’s OK because last year’s Collapse was all we needed for awhile, plus the live shows he has been doing the whole year have been incredible.

In 2019, I’ve been listening to a lot of Hadyn and some other random stuff, but I don’t think I listened to any new albums this year enough to comment. Nothing from Wisp (Dwallicht), Lord Huron, Squarpusher (he did a modern organ music thing that was pretty interesting but not on his own).

That said, I’m going to say my album of the year is Hadyn’s 64th.

This is from ’78, but also very interesting.

RPGs

Last and probably least are Role Playing Games. This year I pretty much put everything RPG on hold due to other real life stuff. Next year will be better as I’m a community leader in a certain youth paramilitary organization that’s taking up quite a bit of free time but won’t be next Fall. I did get to run DCC and Feng Shui 2 this year and played in a good Call of Cthulhu one shot, but that’s about it. Most of my RPG stuff is gathering dust so I’m probably going to shed a ton of it in 2020. My three favorite RPG’s as of now are Mythras, 13th Age and of course, Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition looks like it will have some awesome adventures coming out, including a redux of the Enemy Within, but after talking to some friends that played it extensively in the last year, the system has a lot of fundamental problems, which is really unfortunate in this day and age and especially after the mess that was 3rd edition by Fantasy Flight.