RS PREDICTS WHO'S TAKING HOME THE GOLDEN MAN
RS Road to the Oscars
Here we are again. The red carpets are rolled, the paparazzi ready and the world waiting. On the 26th, all the stars are going to dress up for a party that decides which ones were able to make people cry the most. 84th Academy Awards is one of the biggest events of the year, whether we like it or not, and people are going to talk about it for days. RS wants a piece of the action as well, and being the critiques that we are, we have our own pick of who's going to win and who is going to fake smiles at the camera when winners are announced.
With Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Gary Oldman, the best actor category is filled with great looking men this year. Apart from them, Damien Bachir for A Better Life and Jean DuJardin for The Artist also made the list. Brad Pitt was very good, and so was Jean DuJardin, but George Clooney is the leading horse in every bet. He has been unafraid to pursue whichever role he was given in the past few years, and The Descendants showed how brilliant an actor he really is. Clooney is our pick.
Every other year, actresses try hard and harder to get the cherished nomination for the Oscars, and then Meryl Streep comes and takes all the nominations. This year's Best Actress category was a no-brainer even before the academy released the nominations. Meryl Streep played Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady - who is going to go against that? Michelle Williams was apparently very good in My Week with Merilyn, but like we said, it's Meryl Streep. The Academy loves her.
Best Director Category is star studded this year, with Scorsese, Alexander Payne and Woody Allen nominated. Although The Tree of Life looks good, we don't think Terrance Malick is in anyone's top three choices. Midnight in Paris was great, but it's not even in Woody Allen's top 5 movies. Scorsese's Hugo is a crowd favourite, as well as an excellent movie. This leaves us with Alexander Payne for The Descendants and Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Hazanavicius and Scorsese are pretty close, but we are going to pick the former one, because it takes guts to make a silent movie in this time.
Last year, Fincher's awesome The Social Network had been the front-runner from the beginning, but failed to get recognition at the Oscars, where The King's Speech became winners in almost every group. This year Hugo and The Artist lead with the nominations, although Moneyball and The Descendants were initial favourites. RS's money is on The Artist, and we think it is going to do what Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech did in previous years: swipe everything away.
Our pick for the foreign film category is A Separation from Iran, and Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids for the Best Supporting Actress. We are outraged that Tintin was not nominated in the Best Animated Film category, and we hope no one wins this year.
RS readers, cancel your plans on 27th, since you are going to watch the red carpet at six in the morning. Because why the hell not?
GENRE(S): DRAMA, MECHA, ROMANCE
VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR
By Qazi Mustabeen Noor
RUNTIME: 25 MINUTES (SINGLE EPISODE FEATURETTE)
AGE RATING: 13+ BUT SHOULD BE OKAY FOR ALL AGES
Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Terao were happy in their carefree little world, and dreamt of a fulfilling future together. This inseparable pair of star-crossed lovers spent every little moment of joy in each other's company. But one lone planetary disaster changed it all.
In a futuristic world of 2048, the UN has gathered forces to hunt down Tarsians - a barbaric alien race that ambushed a human space convoy in Mars. Among those chosen to form the advance party is Mikako, chosen because of her outstanding academic and athletic performance. While she sets out to save humanity, Noboru is left alone to fight each day's solitude and the painful absence of his beloved. She often sends him text messages from outer space, but the distance that separates - the weeks, months and years in between - begin to take a toll. The uncertainty of their next meeting is obvious.
The story may sound typical, but the sheer brilliance of the execution makes 'Voices of a Distant Star' a work of art. 'Voices' is a one man show - created, produced, voiced-over and animated all by a single man Makoto Shinkai. He is also the creator of 5 Centimeters Per Second.
The most interesting aspect of the anime is that viewers are drawn in to the story almost instantly. The show makes optimal use of the full 25 minute runtime to develop the characters. Subtle and restrained use of dialogue makes the story come to us in waves, and every word is meaningful.
The best part however, is the simplistic animation; nothing is overdone. But what we really look at is the sheer magnificence of the background settings. Most arresting is the masterful use of lighting that brings to life every detail in the most realistic way. Elegantly portrayed are scenes of sparkling stars, the cold isolation of space and the warmer, happier days back on earth - reminiscent of a distant past.
Action junkies may not find the space battles all silky-smooth like a Sunrise production, but that is only a little glitch in the system. A tear jerking storyline, spot-on characterisation, beautifully honest dialogue, pacing and focus - everything is phenomenal. To complement all this, we are rewarded with a beautifully delicate and understated piano score.
But the only disappointment is the English dub where critical details are carelessly omitted, even the script is re-written in certain places. As a result, the English dub misinterprets Mikako's innocent confidence as arrogance complete with fresh new curses! Such liberal changes in the script provide for a much less fulfilling experience than the original, hence yours truly suggests that you watch the subbed version instead of the dub.
If you have ever experienced a long distance relationship or any sense of bereavement at all, you can perfectly relate to every emotion the anime explores. A must-watch in this season of love.
TV SHOW REVIEW
By Munawar Mobin
When yours truly heard that Kiefer Sutherland has returned to TV, there was only one thing left to do. Hunt, track down and download all the episodes of the TV show.
The pilot episode of Tim Kring's Touch premiered on the 25th of January and it was quite brilliant. The show is about a widower, Martin Bohm (Sutherland) whose wife dies in the Twin Tower tragedy leaving him with some money and their emotionally challenged and mute son Jake. Jake has a knack for numbers; the pilot starts off with Jake's monologue where he says that we are all connected in ways we don't understand. He brings up the string theory and tells us that there are a certain patterns to everything in the world and it's all connected; patterns which are visible to him only.
Sutherland's character is no Jack Bauer, which makes him a lot more interesting to watch. He plays the father who loves his son regardless of the fact that he does not like human contact (literally) or doesn't speak a single word. His obsession with numbers start to make sense to the father when he realises that each and every number the boy writes down is connected somehow.
The most interesting aspect about the show is that it takes place all over the world. The pilot has perspectives of a father in Japan, a potentially amazing singer in London, a terrorist in Baghdad (clichéd much?), and all the while they are all connected by one simple lost phone passed around the world.
The surprising bit was that there was a scene, a two minute scene which brings on an extremely emotional reaction; tears aren't exactly what you don't expect after forty minutes of a TV show about the mathematical connections between everyone all over the world.
The only thing to be sceptical about here is the creator of the show, Tim Kring. He has a knack for starting out with fireworks but often ends up crashing and burning. Remember how awesome Heroes was before it became all spiritual and weird? That was Tim Kring. The other thing is that it is difficult to see is how he or anyone could make this work as a TV show when such a narrow storyline is obviously perfect for just one single movie. However, one can only hope that they can keep up the pace.
Watch the pilot. It really is amazing.
DRIVER SAN FRANCISCO
By Shaer Reaz
If you're looking for a story behind Driver San Francisco, let's get this straight from the start: there is none. What might seem like a story is an utterly ridiculous premise for you to be driving like a maniac around a free roam map. I won't talk about the story here.
What I will do, is tell you how much fun this game is, even with the absence of logic in the storyline. As far as car games go, this is the closest relative to the classic Midtown Madness. Ubisoft wants us to believe this is a serious offering for serious gamers, but take Driver too seriously and you'll ruin the fun.
The game has a new feature over other racing games and previous Driver titles: the ability to Shift. Shift basically allows you to switch to any car on the free roam map, no matter where it is or what it is doing, without ever getting out on the streets. By any we mean ANY car. Or bus. Fire truck. Police car. Anything you want, anytime you want. Sounds fun?
With Shift, you can create unique scenarios where you use the traffic around you to your advantage. If you're trying to make a getaway, you can switch to the leading cop car and block the road temporarily, switch back to your old car, then simply drive away. If you're extra bored, find a fast car to switch into, and then launch it off a car transporter's ramp onto oncoming traffic, switching at the last moment and watching the ensuing chaos from a better view. The Shifting mechanism is quite easy to use, even easier to get used to.
Car handling is not this game's best point. The handling model is too jerky, requiring excessive use of the handbrake and things are unstable in a straight line. It's way too easy to drive straight into a crowd of people (with all of them miraculously surviving, because you're apparently a good guy in the “story”) even if you're trying to stay in a straight line.
When you brake normally at low speeds, all cars will careen to the sides, absurdly, considering you might be in an underpowered FWD Fiat.
There are over a 140 cars to choose from, and although the majority of the inclusions are too biased towards US manufacturers, the list has enough weight to work for almost anyone. Unlocking cars and upgrades are a bit confusing, but completing challenges and stunts successfully play a vital role in career progression. Car customisation is absent, but you almost don't notice it.
The map is loosely modelled after San Francisco, featuring landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and other sights and scenes of the Bay Area. Graphics isn't too shabby, but besides the car models, everything else feels a little cartoonish. A major highlight is the sound tracks. A mix of 70's funk and rock make up the bulk of the songs, almost all of them brilliantly suited to the muscle car hooliganism that ruled the streets of San Francisco in that period.
Multiplayer is insane with the shift mechanism. Your friend is up ahead, winning the race easily. You can shift into a car in the oncoming traffic and crash into him head on, only to find that he has shifted somewhere else and is still ahead in the race.
By now you've probably noticed I managed (mostly) to not mention the story. Better to keep it that way. 120 taka will get you a fun game that'll keep you occupied for hours without worrying about what on earth Ubisoft was trying to do with the story. Do what I did: skip the cutscenes, save yourself over an hour of useless head scratching and raised eyebrows. If possible, have some friends come over. Enjoy.