Category Archives: Other People Telling Liz Stuff

Sometimes, Liz needs a break.

Jeff Tells Liz What Happend In “NXT Arrival”

Hey Liz, long time no Tell You What Happened In Stuff.

As you know, I am a fan of wrestling, specifically the WWE, the biggest wrestling company in the US. The WWE is a maddening company, capable of weaving excellent, nuanced storylines right along with pandering, misanthropic garbage, often on the same show. The quality of the actual wrestling in WWE right now is about as high as I’ve ever seen it, but the stories on the WWE’s flagship shows, Raw and Smackdown, are all over the map. However, recently there’s been one oasis of excellence in the WWE lineup: NXT, currently airing on the WWE Network. Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “Endless Love”

Dear Frank,

endless-love-poster01Look who’s back! That’s right, our dear friend John Ross is back to continue his anthropological survey of what teenage girls seem to be into these days. His dedication to science is a blessing to us all.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

Scott Spencer, the author of the novel Endless Love, really, really regrets selling the movie rights to his book.  In this devastating op-ed in The Paris Review, he equates viewing Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 movie adaptation to being stabbed in the heart, and predicts that the 2014 remake will be a “Valentine’s Day massacre.”

My reaction to the new remake was somewhat similar in that it also involved stabbing.  That is, during the film, I wanted to stab myself in the eyes and ears, and when it was over, I wanted to go to a crowded place and see how many people I could stab before the police shot me.  That might maybe cancel out the experience of watching the new Endless Love remake.

Spencer himself describes the book as an “unhinged novel about the glorious destructive violence of erotic obsession,” and from what I’ve read of it, that sounds about right. Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In The New French Extremity Movement

Dear Frank,

As you know, our good friend John Ross usually tells me about properties related to or derived from female-skewing young adult literature. Today, he’s taken a… different path. But it should be an interesting time!

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

Cat FrightenedIt’s the most wonderful time of the year…for most people. But for many, the holidays have the potential to be the most depressing time of year, a time of “unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection.” To make matters worse, everything pretty much shuts down — you can’t go to work, you can’t go out, everyone’s gone home to be with family or loved ones — leaving you with not much to do but sit there and dwell on how single you are, how little you’ve accomplished this year, how it’s dark at 4pm, or whatever.

This is also true of the characters in many of our most beloved Christmas movies. Scrooge in A Christmas Carol is subjugated to intense self-reflection, forced by ghosts to relive the most shameful moments in his life and even visit his own grave. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey reviews all the missed opportunities in his life that eventually drive him to commit suicide. In the end, however, they always wake up reborn on Christmas and proceed to go bug nuts insane, running down the street, hugging everyone, throwing money around and shouting elatedly.

But this catharsis is only possible after a dark night of forced purgation by an inescapable, seemingly omnipotent entity. Only after they’ve reflected on their sins and faced death can they truly appreciate life.

Wait a minute… That sounds familiar… Read the rest of this entry

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 3)

Dear Frank,

What a fun genocidal journey we’ve been on, huh? But now, it’s time for Eric Miller‘s thrilling conclusion to the video game “Spec Ops: The Line.”

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

Spec_Ops_The_Line_cover…nice long kitten break. Back to Dubai!

Something that I should make clear to you, Liz, is that Spec Ops is not the best game I’ve ever played. At the moment, that title belongs to Mass Effect 2 (with some grumblings about how many of the problems with ME3 can be traced back to ME1 and 2 over promising…). It wasn’t even my favorite game of last year, which goes to… Mass Effect 3, because of everything that happened before those last 15 minutes…

Point is, the game’s not perfect. There’s clear padding in areas, Act 1 goes on too long (it’s almost half the game), I hate the In Medias Res beginning (hence why I didn’t mention it at the start), and the fact that there’s no way to progress in the White Phosphorous attack without using it and killing all the civilians undercuts the message a bit in the end (although many disagree).

Compared to Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops isn’t even close. Apocalypse Now is just about perfect, the writing, the directing, the cinematography. Really, the only problem is that the early battle scenes are too exciting and entertaining, and thus make it easy to miss the point of them.

But what Spec Ops does well? It does phenomenally well. Read the rest of this entry

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 2)

Dear Frank,

Here we go again, into the “Heart of Darkness”! Get it, because the video game “Spec Ops: The Line” is like “Heart of Darkness” but in Iraq and super-horrific! Here’s part two of three, courtesy of Eric Miller.

Love,
Liz

Heya again Liz,

So, where were we?

image 14

Ah, right. Read the rest of this entry

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 1)

Dear Frank,

SPECIAL TREAT! Eric Miller (yes, of the Los Altos Millers, AKA my brother) recently played a video game! He found it a bit traumatic! So his solution: To tell me what happened in it. In enough detail to justify three whole installments! Not to mention a whole bunch of cat videos.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

Spec_Ops_The_Line_coverThe question “Are Video Games Art” has become, thankfully, a dying question. One film buff, after asking himself that question at the start of a video in giant, bold letters, simply responded “Of course they are, that’s not even in question”. There will always be naysayers, of course, but the gamers of the world are starting to tune them out, because there’s a more interesting question in mind: “What kind of art are video games?”

The medium is everything in art. The finest movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings keeps the soul of the original, but changes most everything else in an effort to keep the three films under 20 hours. Stories you can tell over a 26 episode season are impossible to translate to a 2.5 hour movie, and the ability to frame a shot, cut it, take multiple takes and add in CGI can give film a splendor and weight that even the grandest opera could never hope to achieve. Every medium has its own upsides and downsides based on its mechanics, and the skilled creators have to find out how to enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses to create their work of art.

And that’s the reason why video games have gotten the short stick for so long. Too many try to tell a cinematic story, which means trying to take something that worked in a movie and cram it into a different medium with different rules. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to work as well, because it takes time, is TAKING time to figure out how this medium really works.

Which is why I’m telling you about Spec Ops: The Line here. Read the rest of this entry

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