Like many people, I had always thought that Pong was the first video game. With its simplistic beeps and boops and green bars, it was known as THE gaming experience of the 70s. There is much debate over which game wins the title of “very first video game ever”, but according to the documentary World 1-1, it was Spacewar!
I know next to nothing about the IRA and the conflict between loyalists and Irish separatists dating back to the 1960s. Wikipedia tells me that the conflict did not see resolution until the Belfast Agreement of 1998, meaning the struggle lasted a full thirty years. Over that span, 3,542 people were killed and countless more injured. I’ll admit to feeling a little embarrassed for not being more familiar with the details, but somehow its story never made it into local public school curricula, nor our general cultural narrative. It was with helpful ignorance, then, that I went to a screening of ’71, the debut film from French director Yann Demange that toured film festivals in 2014. Knowing nothing gave the film an opportunity to tell its story to me with optimal impact, and it accomplished exactly that.
High quality animated films have been the norm for quite some time now; but every once in a while, a non-Disney film manages to amaze and captivate us. Fox’s The Book of Life (written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced in part by Guillermo Del Toro) was out in theaters towards the end of last year, but it made its debut among a number of other hugely anticipated films. Smallest Thumbs and I never got out to see it during its run, but we were lucky enough to be sent a copy for review. The Book of Life’s gorgeous design and amazing sense of pacing delivers a compelling story in a world where people and gods walk almost in step with each other – and where lowly mortals can still inspire their immortal counterparts. If you have not seen this wonderful film yet, we highly recommend it.
If you missed the Twitter party for the digital release of The Book of Life (official page here), never fear! Thanks to Fox, you now have a chance to win a copy of the Blu-Ray, which is being released on January 27th! Fox had a trivia feature that they asked us to post, but we chatted with them and have agreed to shake it up a bit by seeing if you can guess the answers!
So, The Book of Life is out on Digital HD and Fox wants to have a little bit of fun with folks that have purchased it. Later today (January 9) at 20:00 ET/17:00 PT, there will be a Twitter viewing party hosted by the film’s director, Jorge Gutierrez. Folks that want to tune in can join @BookofLifeMovie and join a real-time conversation during the viewing with tons of fans and journalists! If you are participating, be sure to use the hastag (#BookofLifeFiesta) so you can make yourself heard and have fun!
For the record, this film is about a historical figure, and so anything written here will probably be a mild spoiler for those who are unaware of the history of Alan Turing. That being said, I feel that after what I have revealed here, readers will still enjoy the movie a lot. You have been warned.
If you are looking for a reason to go to the movie theater this holiday season, you should check out The Imitation Game, the story of Alan Turing. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly, the film tells the tale of the Allies’ quest to decipher the mystery behind the Enigma Machine, the device used by the Nazis to encrypt and decrypt all of their own communications before and during World War 2. The spotlight shines mainly on Turing’s efforts in this quest (working with the British military), but it also touches on his personal quirks and addresses his horrible treatment by the British government because of his homosexuality.
Sometimes we get invited to some interesting press screenings. Sharad’s review might be a bit on the short side – but it’s only because he struggled with not letting too many important details out of the bag. -ed.
A night crawler is a freelance videographer that goes out at night and trolls for accidents and/or crimes, captures them on film, and then sells them the next day to the highest bidder. Nightcrawler was released at the Toronto International Film Festival (with much acclaim) and was one of the hottest tickets and sold out almost immediately.