Ferguson: A Report From Occupied Territory (2015) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

This review appears to be shadow-banned on letterboxd, so I’m porting it over here.  Originally reviewed October 4, 2016.

 

“For example one teacher said that she felt that Darren Wilson wasn’t wrong, that she felt that he should’ve shot him.”
“And that’s what she said?”
“Yeah.”
“Verbatim?”
“Yeah.”
“What was the first thing y’all said in regards to how she felt?”
“My exact words were, ‘Man did you hear what she just said? She must be crazy.’ Those were my exact words. Like, when she said it, I couldn’t believe it like, i- it all saw makin’ me feel like, makin’ me wanna stay more distant from those teachers. Like, we can’t really relate so, how can you sit there and talk to me, like, I don’t understand.”

“If they catch us, we don’t know what could happen. We could be the next Mike Brown, for real. They wonder why we just take off running. It’s not that we doin’ anything bad, we scared to be around them. If they see young black kids, trouble, that’s what they think right off the bat, trouble.”

“Black folk are seen and thought to be innately criminal. Innately terrifying. More powerful, more strong, beastly. Which is why you can have a recording of Darren Wilson referencing Mike Brown as something other than human, as an ‘it’. And if that perception is guiding our engagements with folk, the biggest problem is not about the use of weapons alone, as in physical weapons, but as in the ideological weapons we need to rage war against.”

So I went in this documentary expecting to get pissed off. At the bias. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about the Black Lives Matter movement over the past several months, it’s that the cases of police brutality they base the foundations of their cause on are horseshit. Case in point, Michael Brown. It doesn’t take long to debunk the whole, “He was an angel who did no wrong to the officer or to anybody,” theory. A video here, a video there, and you realize that the officer was in fact within his legal and logical rights to shoot that guy. But no matter. Once it made headlines by the biased sack of shit news media that chose to spin the story in the most racially-motivated way possible (as they continue to do to this day), the riots began.

Justice for Brown. Hands up, don’t shoot (a situation that didn’t happen at all, so even that is built upon a lie). So let’s also loot and burn down some buildings while we’re at it. The court house? The police station? No, that’s too dangerous, let’s take out the easy targets.

The riots were bullshit, and anyone who loots stores that had nothing to do with the events are sacks of shit, I don’t care if they’re crackers or niggers.

And of course the documentary didn’t cover any of that. Because the poor suffering black community has to be held in a shining light. It’s bullshit manipulation.

That being said, the documentary did go into a direction of understanding that I wasn’t expecting. Because the black community in Ferguson was (is) poor, the black community in Ferguson was (is) suffering. But it’s not because police are discriminately killing black people left and right because their racist emotions got the better of them. Oh no, it’s more logical than that, though no less anger-inducing. The city of Ferguson (and a portion of the city of St. Louis from what I understand) initially had a housing plan that developed in the 60s. Long story short, it fell through, and the city began doing horribly financially. And what’s the best way to generate income for the city if there is a sector of Missouri that isn’t offering a source of income due to failed businesses and minimum wage housing where the black community lives paycheck to paycheck (how and why the housing plan initially failed is left out of the documentary)? By ticketing the shit out of them. Get police to patrol areas and target low-wage earners for citations and ticketing, at which point they will go to court, where they can’t afford a lawyer, and they will most likely plead guilty to it, and they will be stuck having to pay off the fine, which is anything but cheap for them. Add onto that fact that there are more tickets that citizens living in the city, and you’ve got yourself a very bad state of affairs. But it got the city the money income it was looking for to keep itself going. And to make sure the process got more effective, they would hire more and more police officers.

“You need so many police officers that you start getting to a point where the quality of those police officers I think is being compromised, to say the least.”

This explains perfectly why there is such disdain between the black community and the police force. So why isn’t this in the news more often? Because it targets the higher ups? Top officials? Well if there’s any good that came out of this, it’s that ever since the riots and protests, despite how misdirected they were, something happened as a result of this.

“On March 4 [2015], the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report of the Ferguson Police Department. It confirmed that officers violated constitutional rights by disproportionately targeting African-Americans and exploiting them as sources of revenue.”

As a result, the mayor and the police chief and a few others stepped down from their positions. Now one can only hope that progress will be made. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how. What is an honest and legal alternative mean for the city to generate income and not go bankrupt? Is progress being made towards such a goal? I don’t know. I’m not an expert on the subject, and I just don’t know. What I do know is that, if there’s to be protesting, it would go a lot better if they picked their spots and methods for protesting more logically. Such as in front of the court house where they are given their fines to pay, or in front of the police station where the cops are at who hand out these tickets, or at the mayor’s office.

There is an injustice being done in similar towns with similar black communities, but this isn’t a nationwide epidemic as far as racism is concerned. Believe me, if they could pull this off on a white community, or dare I say a mixed community, they would. And they do. Because I’ve lived in and been to such communities. It’s nothing new for the police force to seek out giving tickets to citizens, because that generates their paycheck and is what keeps the courts going and generates revenue for the city. There needs to be a better way than that. This is something to focus on, on a city by city basis. So why can’t something like that be the focus of the media as opposed to this racially/viewership-motivated cherry-picking those fuckers do?

Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter, Hand up Don’t shoot, those are built on lies. The anger built from mistreatment by the police and the city government is not. Can we find some common ground here?

The Witcher 3 (2015) review

Rated: 4.5 / 5

Nudity ahead.
Sex ahead.

Exhausted.  Weary.  Done.  Finished.  I first played this game when it first came out; finished my first playthrough after roughly 80 hours.  I enjoyed the experience, though I was glad to see it end.  3 years later, I got back into it again, knowing that there were expansions to play, updates that polished the rough edges (reducing the number of bugs and annoyances), and graphic enhancements which make the game look spectacular (something only the modding community provides, but CD Projekt Red is a beast of a game company that truly cares about its customers and its product, so they did the enhancement themselves with the update).  With the expansions, I think I clocked in at over 100 hours, maybe 110.  And I don’t intend to get back into this for a long time.  I started this up again soon after I finished a playthrough of The Witcher 2, which was several months ago.  I thought I could plough through this and then play on New Game+ and take that into account for this review.  But I don’t have the willpower.  I don’t think I can invest that many hours into something like this without taking so long of a break I forget some story elements.  I don’t intend to get back into this game for a long time, even though I enjoyed the experience.

Make no mistake, this game is a masterpiece. The gameplay has improved that found in Witcher 2.  They did away with Quick-Time-Events thank God (combat in of itself should be its own natural sort of QTE; come to think of it, aren’t all non-turn-based videogames QTEs in their own way without having to be obvious about it?  Press this button now or you die?  Jump now or you’ll fall?  Shoot this enemy or he’ll shoot you?  You know what, QTEs suck.).  The leveling system is as good (if not better) than it’s ever been.  The (open) world is more immersive than its ever been in any other Witcher game.  The diversity of choices and the short/long-term consequences they entail are numerous to the point of mind-boggling (there’s like, what, 20 different endings you can get with just the main story, never mind how the side quests can turn out.  And no rational individual will complain about the game being too short or lacking in content (as if they could bitch about that with the other 2 games).

While the story isn’t as good as that of its predecessor, it’s a solid enough conclusion to this game trilogy, and easily ranks among the best game franchises that has ever existed.  And it went out with a bigger bang than Mass Effect 3 (I’ve been comparing the Witcher games to the Mass Effect games so far, why stop now?).  The characters are all as memorable as ever, and some of the side quests are just as memorable, if not more-so, as the main quest itself.  And like the other Witcher games, you will be faced with decisions that will challenge you on an ethical level.  Many players have different experiences with the story due to the decisions they made, due to their thought processes, and it can be a real conversation-starter when discussing why they chose one path or another.

So why do I give this only 4.5 / 5 rather than 5 / 5 like I did the 2nd game?  It’s not because of the bugs and glitches, though they are there (no open-world game this large is ever going to be bug-free, not in this day and age).  It’s not because the gameplay is worse (it’s better).  It’s purely for selfish and personal reasons.  There are two reasons, and both have to do with the narrative (what can I say, the narrative is the main reason I play these games).

1.) The main story gets docked a partial point.  Why?  Because of Ciri.  Don’t get me wrong, her character is fine, the motivations she has and everyone has for seeking her out is fine.  But the whole, “She has powers greater than anyone else,” element got on my nerves at a couple points, especially when the Wild Hunt lays siege to Kaer Morhen.  Once a significant character gets killed, and it looks like the Hunt will finally get Ciri, she all of a sudden goes apeshit and scream forever (arguably to the point where it gets comical) and emanates this power that the Wild Hunt can’t take and are thus forced to retreat.  That’s the big eye-roll moment for me.  I was willing to take her powers of fast movement and exceptional strength.  She was strong, yet still vulnerable.  But once that bit happened, it just comes off as a deus ex-machina.  And the whole, “She can’t control her powers,” excuse just makes it worse.  I hate this shit of pulling magical saves out of your ass at the last minute.  The other two Witcher games had magic, but kept them firmly grounded with their strengths and weaknesses.  But that moment reminded me of the most irritating elements many animes contain.  Thankfully, this only happens once, maybe twice, tops.  But since it impacts the story, I can’t ignore it.

2.) The side-quests and in-depth lore.  Again, the side-quests are fine and all, and the lore is great.  But I can only stand delving into them for so long before my, “Can we just get this fucking over with already!” personality gets unleashed.  Perhaps I am to blame, I don’t tend to play these games in small doses.  I sprint through them for consecutive hours on certain days.  But just because I do that doesn’t mean I’m not invested and interested in all the little details the world has to offer.  But there was too much for me.  And the side-quests get monotonous after a while, despite the differences ins stories and characters, and the way some progress and how occasionally they throw a curve ball at you (like how taking on a monster contract usually has you tracking and killing a monster and going back to the one who posted the offer for a money reward, but sometimes something happens along the way the links to another quest, or takes an unexpected yet refreshing turn).  Patterns begin to emerge after playing for a while.  I suppose this is inevitable for any game that runs this long.  And I shouldn’t complain since the secondary quests are optional.  But some of them can have an affect on the game ending, including the choice of ignoring some specific side quests.  It’s what I call too much of a good thing.  Many won’t mind that the game has all this, and that’s fine, to each their own.  But I base my ratings on my personal experience and on my own personal tastes, and that’s just how it is.

It makes me compare this to Skyrim.  I enjoy all the side-quests much more in that game.  I can’t get enough of them.  So at some point, I had to ask myself why that is?  Why do I enjoy spending just as much time (if not more) in Skyrim (modded, mind you) than I do in The Witcher 3?  Then I figured it out.  It’s not because one is primarily first person and the other is primarily 3rd person.  It’s because Skyrim is more of a true RPG experience, where you have more control over your character, how he/she/it levels up, and what they do in the world.  You have more control, more customization, and aren’t playing as someone else so much as you are playing as yourself, or playing as someone you want to be in that world.  With the Witcher, you’re playing as Geralt.  You can decide which choices he is going to make, but ultimately it’s still Geralt making those choices rather than you.  Geralt will always act and talk in a way that is appropriate for that character and his personality, and no choice made in the game will contradict that.  In Skyrim, it doesn’t matter as much because you have more control, it’s more about you.  It’s also more immersive when comes to how you play and what your lifestyle is like.  Being a sneaky thief, a sneaky assassin, a blunt-force warrior, an all-powerful spellcaster who shoots fire/lightning, a spellcaster who heals, a chemist, a smith, a mixture of any or all of the above.  It’s a more personalized experience.  With Geralt, you can only play a Witcher.  Sure you can determine if you want to focus more on sword-based combat, magic-based combat, or being an alchemist who makes the swords or magics stronger due to alchemy, but you’re always going to play the same way in terms of fighting enemies in the open and slaughtering them in order to get things done (though some dialogue choice could prevent a couple battles from happening).

Because of those intentional limitations, the game is more narrative-based.  The narrative is good, but it’s long.  It’s not perfect, but it’s not disappointing either.  Too good to say it’s terrible, not good enough to justify the game length.  I felt a bit guilty when I stopped caring about what some of the books were telling me about the world and its history.  I felt I was missing out when I stopped reading every letter I got.  Because ultimately they all resulted in the same thing, go to point A to get this or kill that, then go to point B to see the resolution or see how to get to point C.  In Skyrim it’s not much of a problem because you can see yourself as a character who goes through the world not giving a shit.  But in the Witcher, it seems like you should give a shit.  And it’s exhausting to give a shit for that many hours, even with the breaks, because it gets monotonous.

So this will make the game experience different for some people.  Some will relate more to Geralt and the world, and will thus stay invested no matter what.  Others who don’t relate as much will eventually grow tired of this and start ignoring some books/letters, and start skipping through various dialogue conversations in many parts of the game just to get through it faster.

I sort of had that issue with the first Witcher game, had much less of an issue with that in the second Witcher game (probably because it’s the shortest, though 30 hours is nothing to scoff at; plus it had the best story that I can always get invested in), but began to have that issue again with this game after about 30-40 hours.  It sounds like I’m being ungrateful that there’s so many hours of content, but I would prefer to have every hour investing and enjoyable rather than just a certain percentage of those hours be enjoyable.  And that’s the risk of having so much in a narrative-based game like this that isn’t as personalized as Skyrim; the monotony becomes more apparent faster.

But regardless, when those great investing moments are there, they hit hard, and make it worth playing through to the end.  And the endings are a gut-punch in their own way.  Some are satisfying, others a bit more devastating.  It encourages replay to see how different decisions result in the different outcomes.  But considering how exhausting this game can be, I’d rather just see the alternatives played out on a YouTube video by players who are more into this game than I ever could be.  The two times I played, I was perfectly happy with the outcome (if you ask which ones I got, I’ll answer in the comments).  And yes, the outcome was different for each playthrough.

The rating is one of respect and admiration.  I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I gave it anything lower than a 4.5.  I feel bad enough not giving it a 5.  But a 4.5 is nothing to scoff at.  This game is a masterpiece in it’s own right, and it’s made by people who are passionate about it and who give a damn about their fans (because of that, I pre-ordered this game, and I never do that; and I will do it again when Cyberpunk 2077 comes out because CD Projekt Red has earned that much of my respect).  The game may be a labor at times for me to get through, but it does feel worth it in the end.

 

Mods!

Oh, right, there are mods for this game.  I’ll only mention the ones that I used for my playthrough.  There are others, but I don’t feel like re-researching through them all again to recommend what are considered the best.  Keep in mind, the ones I’ve downloaded aren’t likely the latest versions.  Some might have made mods that are similar but better or easier to implement with less work.  And I’m not going to lie, I thought the gameplay was pretty much fine without the mods.  The weight limit seemed right, combat was fine, the graphics were good, everything seemed perfect.  Except for the nudity and sex.

Ciri Bath Bandage Removal

I didn’t use this mod just because I’m a pervert (though I am).  It just always felt off going into a sauna covering your private parts.  Kind of defeats a bit of the purpose in my opinion.  Though this does relate to another issue I had with the non-modded version of the game.  Compared to The Witcher 2, there’s an awful lot of covering up and hiding the sex scenes and nudity.  Which brings me to…

Background girls nudes 0.4

Just seemed like some of the women in the brothels and whorehouses needed to be skimpier, or just altogether nude to advertise their assets.  But that’s just to see those you come across as you journey through some cities (and no, I don’t use the “all nude” version, just the version that alters specific women types).  It’s more for immersion, I swear.  But the nude mods don’t stop there…

The Wild Nudity Project and Vagina’s For Everyone and Naked With Genital and Naturally Bushy

I don’t remember if I used some or all of these mods, but at least two are needed to work together to overcome removing the bra and panties during the sex scenes.  There’s a few versions of these mods.  But because I’m only a half-assed pervert, I didn’t opt for the whole, “All females are naked everywhere,” version.  Just the one where it removed the undergarments.  I went for this mod after dealing with that one witch who sought a plague and/or cure for the plague.  The cinematic with her at the lake, it didn’t seem to fit the dialogue while she was wearing bra and panties.  They talked like she was fully naked.  It lead me to do a little research, and I found out they censored the game a bit to make it internationally friendly, mainly because some assholes in the Middle East won’t accept a game with that much nudity and blatant sex.  But I’m a fair man.  I believe in equality.  No anti-game-censorship would be complete without…

Naked Geralt

Finally, a proper naked Geralt mod.  Unlike the version in The Witcher 2 which made him dickless and without balls, his whole man-package is on display for everyone to see.  And there’s one last thing to take into account…

…which contrary to some opinions doesn’t require a mod.  It’s clearly obvious with the way the sex scene went with Triss that the camera angles got altered to the point where it’s distracting that there’s more going on than with what is being shown.  Too many close-ups and weird cuts.  If you don’t want to track down a video showing how raw they can get, you can enable Free Camera.  To do so, you need to edit a file titled user.settings.

[General]
DBGConsoleOn=true

Once you type that in under the [General] section (assuming you don’t just need to switch it from false to true), you can press the ‘~’ key to activate the camera, fiddle with where it’s aimed at, and try to capture the good moments.

So, yeah, those are the mods I use.  Feel free to do the same if you want more adult content (plus making it closer to the intended uncensored version that those pansy Middle Eastern people can’t handle).

Ah, but there is one non-adult mod I use, and it’s a simple but necessary one in my opinion.

 

Open menu during dialogues and cutscenes

This allows you to go to the menu during cutscenes, in case you need to answer a phone call, take a shit, or actually interact with real non-digital people (just in case you have a real social life).  This is a lifesaver mod.

 

And, so, there it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ending on full-pervert mode.

The Voices (2015) review

Rated: 3 / 5

“Being alone in the world is the root of all suffering.”

Warning, this is one of those movies you should see before reading this spoiler-filled review.  So if you haven’t seen it yet, I would strongly advise watching it before reading this review.

I watched this film 3 times.  The first time I was a bit out of it due to being high, the second time I was still high but starting to come out of it.  The third time I rewatched it was because I wanted to make sure I caught as much as I could.  Because this is one of those films that is deceptive in what it shows.  One of those films where the point of view is from the perspective of the protagonist, who is a bit crazy, and doesn’t always see things as they are in reality, thus what we see from his view isn’t necessarily how things actually are.  Basically like David Cronenberg’s Spider, except, well, more deceptively cheerful and definitely more colorful.  Plus this whole film has the dark humor thing going for it.

Continue reading

Baskin Review

“Hell is not a place you go.  You carry Hell with you at all times.”

What do you get when you mix The Blair Witch Project with Silent Hill and Jacob’s Ladder (though Silent Hill did rip off the latter film)?  The many flavors of Baskin, presented by Batman’s sidekick:

  1. Red
  2. Blood
  3. Bloody Eggs
  4. Roadkill
  5. Singing in the van
  6. Frogs
  7. Cult
  8. Mansion
  9. Evil
  10. Nightmare
  11. Chicks with dicks
  12. Buttfuckers galore
  13. Meat twig balls
  14. Dumb polis
  15. Fucking bodies
  16. Fucking meat
  17. Cutting meat
  18. Blood gushing dreams
  19. Stool
  20. Eye cutting
  21. Intestine pulling
  22. A key to the head
  23. Goat skull
  24. Panic attack
  25. Turkey
  26. Naked in the woods
  27. Lock the back
  28. Birth
  29. Ugly fucking baby
  30. Ugly mansion dwellers
  31. Orgy

Anyway, the film basically revolves around this group of police who talk dirtier than the gangsters in Reservoir Dogs.  The film starts off with them talking about doing anal with transgenders and some such stuff, while meat is being cut very very slowly.  Very slowly, that slow seesaw of the knife going through that meat which could’ve come through anything.  Did I emphasize how slow it cuts?

Any decent chef would know that that’s a shitty way to cut meat, not to mention that it’s so fucking slow it’s going to piss the customers off and drive the business into the ground. And it’s bad form. A respectable chef would cut the meat properly to give it better texture, less rips in the meat, and would have a nice sharp knife to get the job done.

But I get it, it needs to be slower and less efficient for the sake of atmosphere.  Because that is something this film relies heavily upon, atmosphere.  Especially during the second half when they visit the haunted mansion.


Image uploaded at fuckyeahdisneygifs.tumblr.com

But before they get there, there’s all sorts of foreshadowing the prepare you for the unexpected, which I guess doesn’t make sense, but neither does some of the shit in the movie, so…

As I said earlier, the cops talk of fucking chicks with dicks, while a chef is cutting up meat.  Yeah, that actually comes into play later on.  Then there’s eggs filled with blood, a bunch of frogs, balls of twigs with meat on or in them.  It’s like a more fucked up version of the 10 plagues of Egypt.

And like most horror movies, there are times when the main characters act like fucking morons, mainly during this one moment where they panic and run during the second half of the film.  Nope, they’re not hardened tough as nail cops.  They turn out to be wimps.  I mean, to be fair, a lot of what they encounter later on would make anyone lose their mind and shit their pants, but still, it’s bothersome.

I suppose I should discuss the themes and message of the film.  The whole thing is a nightmare that gets worse as it goes on.  Something to do with childhood trauma, probably a sexual childhood trauma thing, fucked up versions of sex, treating people and women like meat to be butchered and burned to a crisp.  Oh God, did this film take inspiration from A Serbian Film?  Don’t worry, there’s no newborn porn, as far as I know…

Do I recommend this film?  Eh, sure.  I didn’t get all that invested in it until they arrive at the mansion, which occurs about halfway through the film.  But there’s enough content to hold you over until then, and certainly enough to get you through the rest after the halfway point, if you have the stomach for it.  If it wasn’t obvious before, this is not a family film.  It gets extremely violent, and very disturbing in several ways.  Good luck eating any flavor of ice cream while watching this film.

Rating: 3/5

Edit: Oh yeah, and I’m surprised I didn’t catch on to the Lucio Fulci influence.  This has The Beyond, and City of the Living Dead vibes all over it.

Other good blog reviews of this movie:

maxrennblog

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