The Rear-View Mirror: Lemmings (1991)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

I’ve been playing computer games for… well, it’s been a while. My parents got a C-64 when I was about nine years old, back in the Cold War-and-neon days of 1983. Many of my fondest gaming memories go back to the time when pixels were the size of your fist and anything more than 16 colours on the same screen was not just luxurious but simply not possible. Later, when I was a teenager, I upgraded to the next Commodore model, the Amiga, but it never felt as iconic as the good old ‘breadbox’ did. When I think of the games that I grew up with, I think of the likes of International Soccer, ParadroidWizball and World Games, all of them on the C-64. Sure, I had some fun times playing Amiga games, but they didn’t have that ineffable thing that the technically more primitive games on the older, slower, less capable machine did.

There are a handful of exceptions, though. And the one that comes to mind in an instant is best described by the sound of a squeaky voice going “Oh no!”

Lemmings

Continue reading

In living, dying and killing colour

We all know what the past looks like. Go back a hundred years, and the world was black and white, sped up and weirdly jerky. People talked in ornate title cards – which was lucky, because how else could you hold a conversation over the din of a dramatic piano score? Philip Larkin once wrote that sexual intercourse began in 1963; it seems that sound and colour began before that, but not by all that much, compared to the history of the world. It is strange to think that two entire world wars were fought entirely in monochrome.

They Shall Not Grow Old

Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Jackie Brown (1997)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Car trunk shot, bare feet, vintage tunes, Samuel L. Jackson: Jackie Brown is clearly a Quentin Tarantino movie, there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, while all the telltale features are there, the film is an odd one out in Tarantino’s oeuvre. Where Tarantino’s movies often have a jittery, adolescent quality in their characters, language and use of violence, Jackie Brown feels like a more… is “mature” the word? … a more mellow film. Compared to the excesses of Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds and Death Proof, there’s a grown-up quality (for lack of a better word) to Jackie Brown that is sadly underestimated by some of the director’s fans. At the same time, it would be a huge mistake to think that because of this Jackie Brown lacks the exuberance of Tarantino’s other films – and this is shown beautifully, in miniature, in the movie’s title sequence.

Jackie Brown

Continue reading

A fishy tale

Disney princesses they most certainly ain’t, even if like good old Ariel, the little mermaids of the (wait for it…) Polish horror fairy tale pop musical The Lure by director Agnieszka SmoczyƄska are based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. In spite of their fish-like tails they are decidedly different beasts from Disney’s red-haired teen heroine.

The Lure Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: GTA V (2013)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

If I ever were to write a GTA-themed memoir of a gamer, it’d have to be titled Driving in Cars with Criminals.

GTA V

Continue reading

They Create Worlds: Device 6

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Video games are so good at creating highly detailed, interactive worlds these days, it’s easy to forget that you can do the same using much less hi-tech means. For most of us, the first worlds we found, explored and enjoyed were created using much simpler building blocks: words, words, words.

Device 6

Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Anomalisa (2015)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

In a better, fairer world, Charlie Kaufman’s IMDB page wouldn’t indicate that the director hasn’t had any films in development since 2015. There are kazillions of dollars around for the likes of Michael Bay, surely it wouldn’t be too horrible if a bag of cash ended up on the doorstep of Mr Kaufman, right?

Anomalisa Continue reading

Death in Stockholm

Talk about serendipity – there I was in Stockholm on 14 July, the day that would have been Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday, and they were showing The Seventh Seal. What better way to enjoy a hot summer afternoon on vacation than to spend it in the company of a knight undergoing an existential crisis and the Grim Reaper himself?

Continue reading

What did you do in the war, Dad?

For many people, the 1982 war between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the archipelago known by one side as the Falkland Islands and the other as Islas Malvinas is little more than a historical footnote, or at best a handy conflict used by the leaders of both countries as a means of drumming up nationalist support in the last years of the Cold War. (Well, the original Cold War, not the off-brand sequel that seems to be fomenting these days.) It’s not the thing that comes to most people’s mind with respect to the early 1980s. They remember E.T., Ronald Reagan, Eye of the Tiger and Chariots of Fire, Dallas and Dynasty – but the Falklands War rings very few bells.

Campo Minado / Minefield

This is decidedly not true for the Argentinians – and, more so, for the soldiers who fought during those absurd 74 days. The Falklands War happened almost forty years ago, yet it is still very present.

Continue reading

They create worlds: Assassin’s Creed Origins

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

I have have climbed the cathedral of Acre. I have swum in the canals of Venice. I have prowled the streets, and the roofs, of Renaissance Rome. I have hobnobbed with the Borgias and with Robespierre, I have fought alongside George Washington, plundered with Blackbeard and listened to Charles Dickens tell tales.

And, just lately, I’ve added to my repertoire: I have run away from an angry hippopotamus – straight into the jaws of a Nile crocodile. Oh, and I’ve slid down the Great Pyramid, but it’s the tussle with the crocodile that sticks in my mind, much like I stuck in its teeth.

Assassin's Creed Origins Continue reading