Another silent film from 1927, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is directed by F.W. Murnau and starred George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor. It was adapted from the short story “The Excursion to Tilsit” by Carl Mayer and went on to win two of the first Academy Awards, both Best Actress and Best Cinematography. At this point, I’m beginning to think of Janet Gaynor as my 1920s bae.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Luckily for me, Sunrise was also available on YouTube which I noticed after it appeared on my “Recommended for you” videos. I was initially worried since I remember reading that the film’s negatives were destroyed in a fire and that it might be one of those “lost” films, but luckily someone was able to make a copy for the masses to enjoy. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when I began this movie about a sordid affair between a married farmer, The Man, and a floozy, The Woman from the City.
Right away, I was stunned with how hot George O’Brien was- A touch of Ryan Gosling mixed with Chris Evans. His character lacked any sort of spine and had zero concern for his wife, but his trysts with a pretty flapper from the city on vacation were saucy, and it wasn’t long until she pleaded with him to go back with her. While he objects because he has a wife, Margaret Livingston’s lustful city girl demeanor gets dark as she encourages The Man to kill his wife. “Just take her out for a boat ride and throw her over,” she coos at him. The Man’s faces are perfection during this scene, as are the dialogue cards while he struggles with what do. Cue the perfect, delicate flower that is Janet Gaynor as she agrees to a boat ride with the husband she loves dearly while the town’s old maids gossip about how unhappy their marriage is. Surely this is a chance for them to reconnect! Her happiness is beyond infectious as she all but skips to meet her husband for their daylight boat ride, but it’s not long as she realizes something is afoot. The acting is just phenomenal as The Man’s inner struggle comes to a head and he cannot bring himself to toss out his dear wife.
While F.W. Murnau’s sets aren’t particularly laden with details, his direction, especially with the lighting details, adds much to the atmosphere between characters. It’s also worth it to note this is the first time where the camera is in motion during a film, and at times it’s shaky, but a different touch from “7th Heaven.” The moviefone score was perfect. It crescendos at the most romantic of moments between our main characters, and added a blissfully sinister overtone to the early interactions between The Man and The Wife.
While I felt every second of the movie, my favorite scene is where The Man takes The Wife and kisses her good and well. It’s a dizzying, beautiful kiss, as they cause traffic jams, scenery to change, and it’s like the whole span of their love exists in just those few moments. It’s a fucking beautiful piece of film.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans was enjoyable, but as the pacing felt slow in places, I’m not sure it’s one I’d watch again. You can definitely find the film on Amazon or at your local video store!
SCreenings is a series of movie diaries from our staff, currently being monopolized for the daunting task of watching every Oscar nominee by one of our editors
Initially released in 1927 as a silent film based on a play, “7th Heaven” was among the nominees for the first ever Academy Awards for Best Picture. While it didn’t win, it made it’s mark on cinematic history. Starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, who went on to become America’s Lovebirds, and directed by Frank Borzage, the film did score awards for Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Writing.
I should begin by saying the only silent film I can remember seeing is “Nosferatu,” which renders my expertise in this genre of movie completely nonexistent. I had no idea what to expect from a vintage story at 1:00 AM on a Monday, but as someone who enjoys the experience of a movie, I can say with certainty that there is a certain kind of magic here.
I watched Janet Gaynor’s petite and classically beautiful Diane live a miserable life at the hands of her abusive sister only to be left for dead when the devastatingly handsome Chico, played by Charles Farrell, intervenes. Like seriously, if you had told me I would be lusting for a man who has long since left this world, whose very existence I JUST learned about…well, I’d probably believe you! His tussled hair and strong face probably set many hearts aflame in the twenties! I’m assuming Diane and her bitch sister were “ladies of the evening,” based solely on a couple of vague context clues. Honestly, I’m unsure where they found money to live if they weren’t selling themselves in 1920’s era Paris. Either way, the slow buildup between Diane and Chico was touching, and the ending devastating, demonstrated by the large amounts of tissues I filled with the tears of my ugly sobs. My expectations were low, and to say this movie went above and beyond is an understatement.
Diane’s development from a timid waif to a strong willed person in charge of her own destiny was beautiful, and I found it very interesting that she was the one who inspired Chico to be okay with his feelings, and she was the one providing the backbone to this couple. Gaynor’s range of emotion for Diane is really something to behold. I genuinely can’t wait to see more of her acting. Chico also undergoes a character transformation. His first appearance shows him to be haughty, and proud of his disbelief in “Bon Dieu,” much to the chagrin of the local priest, but with a yearning to be more than a lowly sewer cleaner. It’s only through his relationship with Diane that he sees that there could be more to life than a bitter disregard for everything.
I am pretty sure there are a couple other Frank Borzage directed movies on my list, and if his eye for storytelling remains just as wonderfully paced and framed, I’m really in for a treat. My favorite, favorite scene has to be where Chico leads Diane up seven flights of stairs to his heaven, a rooftop apartment. Borzage’s set allowed the vertical use of a camera in order to shoot the ascension of the stairways in one take and it made such an impression on me. It was romance at its finest as Chico shows Diane the view, delivering an iconic line:
“I work in a sewer but I live near the stars.”
I would absolutely watch this movie again, if just to dream about star crossed lovers. I found the movie on YouTube, but it’s also available on DVD, unless you wanna spring for an expensive ass box set with a bunch of 1920’s films on it!
SCreenings is a series of movie diaries from our staff, currently being monopolized for the daunting task of watching every Oscar nominee by one of our editors
Readers, I won’t lie. My favorite Baldwin isn’t Alec or Stephen and it certainly isn’t Adam. No, my favorite Baldwin is Welcome to Night Vale‘s own Cecil Baldwin.
I’ve been a fan of listening to podcasts for a couple years now. There is something zen-like about heading out to shovel snow, going for a nice long walk, setting in to clean the house, or going for a long drive and at the same time listening to others talk about a topic you’re passionate about with the same amount of passion that you have, if not more. It says “Hey, you know that thing that others think you’re a little weird for liking? Well here’s a place where others are just as weird as you, and proud of it”. A nerd’s dream, if you will.
One of the podcasts that I never fail to miss an episode for is Welcome to Night Vale.
If you’ve never been introduced, then bare with me as I try to awkwardly describe it for you in an attempt to do it justice. Welcome to Night Vale is a recording of the community radio station of a small fictitious southwestern US desert town. One that has a Lovecraftian horror bend, but in ways that instead of triggering the fear reflex of your brain triggers the humorous. It pulls at that part of you that wants to laugh at horror movies instead of cringe from them. The sometimes disturbing imagery, but presented in a way that makes it relatable, entertaining, and thoughtful. It’s a subtle genius.
At the forefront of the show is its host Cecil Palmer, played by the silken-tongued Cecil Baldwin. This is not a euphemism. His tongue is actual silk.
But now imagine that instead of thin black wires directly connecting your head to your smartphone, imagine having the ability to see this sublime crossroads of horror and humor live, on stage, with a drink you may have overpaid for but you know the proceeds are going to keep a beautiful historic theatre in the black so you don’t mind. Awesome, right? I was lucky enough to do so, and it was certainly awesome.
On April 24th, 2016, this past Sunday, I and a good friend of mine made the easy trek out to Glenside, Pennsylvania, to the historic Keswick Theatre, where we had pretty good seats for Welcome to Night Vale‘s latest live show “Ghost Stories”. Wearing a shirt to honor the show, my Night Vale Spiderwolves baseball tee, we had no idea what to expect. I’ve listened to every episode and every live performance they had put out up to that point, but wondered how it would all be put together live. Was it going to be as good? Better?
In the end, it was exactly what I expected it to be, which made me very happy. It was an episode in format, like all the others, with it’s humorous asides, fantastic one-liners, entertaining weather, and poignant monologues. Although it was made all the more special because, like the beauty of live theatre, the audience was an integral part of the performance. So integral that when they tell you to silence your cell phones, you better do it. You don’t want it making any noise and possibly ruining any good moments. Trust me.
The show opened with the show’s musical guests, Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, a couple from Austin who had quite a few thought provoking and moving songs to share with the audience. My favorite of the bunch was easily Danny Schmidt’s “Standard Deviation”, a song which has inspirations in quantum entanglement. His “This Too Shall Pass” was also quite moving, and you really should give it a listen.
After the opening act came Meg Bashwiner to introduce the show proper, followed by the star and host Cecil Baldwin. “Ghost Stories”, without giving too much away, is about Night Vale’s annual creative writing competition where the citizens submit a ghost story to be judged by the powers that be. It mainly focused on Cecil’s entry, but also included interviews with Deb, the advertising sentient patch of haze played by Bashwiner; Steve Carlsberg, Cecil’s not-so-favorite brother-in-law played by Philadelphia’s own Hal Lublin; and Melony Pennington, the town’s talkative computer programmer played by Molly Quinn. The show’s prolific creators also made their own appearances with Joseph Fink portraying Dr. Teddy Williams, manager of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, and Jeffrey Cranor as Station Intern Jeffrey Cranor. Surprisingly, Intern Cranor lived until the end of the show. All of this was underscored by the phenomenal Disparition, with weather by Schmidt & Elkin.
Along the way Cecil also brought fan favorites such as the Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner and the ever popular Horoscopes. Intern Cranor may have lived to see the end, but it wouldn’t be a live episode without some station intern not making it, now would it? All this, and only a minimum of New Jersey bashing. When seeing any show in Philadelphia, a little Jersey bashing is mandatory.
Overall, if you have a passing interest in podcasts, I heavily suggest looking up Welcome to Night Vale. If you have an interest in Welcome to Night Vale, I highly suggest looking up a live performance. And if you have an interest in Welcome to Night Vale‘s live performances, then… well, I don’t have much else to suggest. Good job, I guess.
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. But, because of distance, not for millions of years.” – Proverb, Episode 66.
P.S. – Danny & Carrie, Congratulations! If you ever read this, might I suggest Tamika if it’s a girl or Dylan if a boy. :)
P.P.S – Full disclosure, I support Welcome to Night Vale financially with a small donation every month. I am a “Weird Scout”. I also suggest supporting the art that you love as well, if you can. We need more great art in this world.
Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Wolf-blooded. Wild. Arya Stark is many things, and across these videos, we will explore several paths our assassin in training could take. Our “A Song of Ice and Fire” theories (NOT HBO!!) on the youngest Stark girl continue with a closer look at Arya’s mentor at The Gate in Braavos, Izembaro. Could he also be the master armorer of King’s Landing, Tobho Mott?
Got a favorite theory you’d like to see us tackle? Let us know in the comments below! Or come join the conversation on Twitter! Find us @Sub_Cultured with the hashtag #GameOfTheories!
Jaqen H’ghar Voice Over: Schieffer Bates (https://www.youtube.com/user/ScheifferBates)
Kimmie Britt (http://www.facebook.com/KimmieBrittPage)
Written By: Kimmie Britt (@kimleesi)
Kaitlyn D’Agostino (@deadrabbit92)
Leia Calderon (@ladyvader99)
Intro: Jenny Lorenzo – (http://www.facebook.com/JennyLorenzoFAN)
Intro Theme: “Game of Theories” by Guthrie Lowe
Additional Music: “A Song of Ice and Fire” by Ross Budgen –
Got an idea you’d like to see us tackle? Let us know in the comments below!
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We Happy Few
If you made a sauce of two parts Bioshock to one part Alice: Madness Returns, then poured it over a bed of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, you’d have We Happy Few. The game takes place in England in a village called Wellington Wells where everyone takes medication called Joy to be happy all the time. They can instinctively sense people who aren’t on it and are incredibly violent toward them. You play, of course, someone who’s gone off his Joy. The game features an interesting story and points you toward your goals, but everything between point A and point B is procedurally generated. So you may only have to go a mile away, but everything in that mile changes every time you play.
The game features a large degree of freedom, allowing you to explore buildings and sneak about, or be rowdy and really wreck everyone’s day with a pipe wrench. The more happy, outgoing, and well dressed you are, the harder it is to detect you’re off your Joy. But the second you do something to tip them off, god damn you’d better run. They are not screwing around in Wellington Wells.
The game is still a bit rough around the edges, but it’s coming along beautifully. There’s even a basic needs function where you need to drink, eat, and sleep just to keep going, which adds to the strategy of how long to stay out, when, and what to do.
We Happy Few is coming to Xbox One and PC June of this year.
MOBAs have really taken off in the past few years, with the clear victors being DOTA and League of Legends. The concept has been wildly successful, but rarely iterated on effectively. Paragon hopes to do that.
Instead of having a top down view of the map, you play as a third person hero attacking and capturing bases. The mechanics, power ups, and design are no different than most MOBAs — each team has bases that can be captured, minions spawn from the bases, you try to take the last base to win. The over the shoulder perspective is interesting and makes it feel less like a MOBA and more like a team shooter.
That being said, the biggest problem Paragon has is how long it takes to play a game. League’s average game length is just over half an hour. This length is great — just long enough to fit in around 2 matches an hour. If you have an awful team or just can’t get it done, it’s over and you’re in another game relatively quickly. A match in Paragon, on the other hand, took 45-50 minutes in my experience. Not only was this painfully long to wait for at a demo, but if your team is dragging you down, that’s an extra 15-20 minutes of agony when you know you won’t win.
The improved mechanics are interesting and succeed in making it feel less like every other MOBA, but that average match length has to come down if it wants to take on League and DOTA.
Paragon will be out later this year for PC and PS4.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force
Nintendo has a lot of great series, Metroid Prime being one of the most incredible. Those three games are intensely satisfying, intriguing and took the series to a whole new level. When Nintendo announced Metroid Prime: Federation Force, everyone was a little wary. No Samus, on the 3DS, featuring Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass level graphics. But it’s a Prime title, maybe it’ll surprise with quality.
Nope. Sure doesn’t.
You know Warframe? How you and your friends take on baddies, explore spaceships, fight stuff then escape? Okay take out the wall running, downgrade the graphics, make the aiming mechanic halfway broken, and put it on a console without another thumb stick so you really can’t aim the camera properly and that’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Playing this game is an exercise in frustration as the game on a whole is slow, it has the “can’t aim up” problems that FPS games on the DS had before and never overcame, and overall feels like a cheap imitation of a Metroid game, let alone a Prime game.
If this game had come out under the name “Space Marines: Explore ‘n Shoot” and was marketed at 8-12 year olds with an accompanying cartoon show, it would make total sense to be mediocre. But it’s a Metroid game and it’s a horrible trick to deny gamers a proper game and rather give them what appears to be a mostly finished game that had some Metroid skins plastered on it.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is out August 16th of this year for Nintendo 3DS, though after this preview, you probably don’t care.
Sometimes, all it takes is good art to get you sucked into a game, and if there’s any game that can do that, it’s Jenny LeClue. You take control of Jenny, a bespectacled detective that you honestly don’t learn much about in the demo. It’s a relatively standard point and click adventure game where you snoop for clues and try to solve a mystery. The demo has you sneaking about someone’s house trying to find some intel. The demo was only 10 minutes, which is a shame because that was just enough time to get to the main puzzle in the demo and stop playing.
Though we couldn’t play much at the show, we’re going to play the demo online and you should too.
Jenny LeClue is out later this year for PC, PS4, iOS, and Android.
Continuing the trend of visually beautiful games is Hob, a third person top down puzzle platformer. The game seems to have a story and character development, but it’s definitely slow building. The game features no dialog, no voice acting, and no text, just interacting with the environment. It’s a bold choice that doesn’t always pay off. For the duration of the demo, it was totally okay and had the effect of making the demo even more interesting and intriguing, but it may get old for a whole game. That being said, with the visual style of the game, there’s a good chance you’d be too busy looking at the environment to notice the lack of text.
Hob is coming soon to PS4 and PC.
I Am Setsuna
When Square Enix announced Tokyo RPG Factory as a dedicated developer for JRPGs, it was pretty exciting. Their first title, I Am Setsuna, was available for demo and so far, the game looks promising.
It has all the elements you’d expect from a JRPG — world map traversal with locations to explore, Chrono Trigger style enemies on the field that transition into battle, and tons of NPCs to interact with. That being said, the game is definitely rough around the edges. Tokyo RPG Factory really puts a statement out there and parts of this game just doesn’t live up to that. The music is okay, but not great. The demo showed off almost nothing comprehensible of the story, the battle mechanics weren’t terrifically interesting, just standard turn based combat, and the environments were kind of bland. It could just be that this doesn’t show well (most RPGs with the exception of Ni No Kuni don’t), and maybe the company’s name got the expectations up a bit too high, but this seems like a B+ RPG.
When the game fully releases in July of this year, we’ll see whether or not it was just PAX that made it look less good than it is, but at the moment, consider our excitement tempered.
I Am Setsuna is out July 19th for PS4, PS Vita, and PC.