Big drums and soundscapes

First off is a giant drone piece (at about 18 minutes) for all of you out there looking for long pads for placing under things.
Tranquility Base
Next up, deep texture:
Mind Scrape
And finally – a piece where I was playing around with a new sample set “Evolve” from Heavyocity. After a few hours of playing with the giant percussion – I ended up with a piece that sounded like a Blue Man Group performance piece. Way too much like them, actually – I was a little scared that I had inadvertently covered one of their pieces… I did some research, and checked with my local experts. It is not a Blue Man piece. (whew!)
Neo Western
Cheers, all!

9

It looks like I forgot the rest of the title, doesn’t it? Released on 9/9/09, showing at my local theatre in auditorium 9, and it cost me $9.00 to get in, because my local theatres aren’t showing matinees anymore. Okay, technically they are, but at times that are so inconvenient for me they might as well not be. They did sell me a largish box of SweetTarts for only a dollar, but still.
Anyway, this is only a 79 minute movie, which seems weird. When you remember, though, that it’s basically a 79-minute-long special effect, you get some glimmering of how long and complicated the making of this film might have been — it took between three to four years. And it is based on an 11-minute-long short film, so it’s already been expanded quite a bit.
It’s the future, or maybe the present; but either way, it isn’t the world you’d recognize. Somewhere around 1934, technology took a weird science sort of turn, and a war broke out between man and the very machines meant to help him. (But what can you expect when people build “machines of peace” that are mostly just giant walking guns?)
Like in Terminator, things don’t go so well for the humans. So when 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood of Lord of the Rings fame), the tiny rag doll of the title, finally wakes up, he finds a desolate world that he doesn’t understand at all. Luckily for him, he meets 2 (Martin Landau, from Sleepy Hollow and at least 157 other things), a rag doll gadgeteer who reinvents things like lanterns in micro-size. After encountering a freaky mostly-machine thing called simply The Beast, 2 is carried off and a wounded 9 wakes up again to find himself in a cathedral, hiding place for others like him.
There’s 1 (Christopher Plummer, of Up and at least 175 other things), the fussy, cautious leader; 5 (John C. Reilly, The Aviator, but that wasn’t his fault), 2′s assistant; 8 (Fred Tatasciore, apparently a popular voice actor), the muscle of the group, who must be at least a whopping five inches tall; and of course 6 (Crispin Glover, who also voiced Grendel in Beowulf), the crazy one who nobody likes to talk about, or to.
Whew! And I haven’t even mentioned Jennifer Connelly as the voice of 7, the ninja of the bunch; or the twins, 3 and 4, who don’t talk but read up a storm. Since the humans died, it’s only been them and The Beast, and though it’s only the size of a housecat, when you’re maybe three inches tall, that’s huge. Plus it’s very freaky looking. Did I mention that? It’s got half a real skull in its metal head, and it’s disconcerting. Anyway, 1 encourages a healthy fear of The Beast, and no one dares to disobey.
Then 9 comes along and screws everything up.
When a friend of mine, new to roleplaying, was learning the GURPS system, she thought it would be fun to take the disadvantages Curious and Impulsive. Yes, they’re just what they sound like. As you might imagine, it didn’t take long before she touched the wrong thing, set off a trap, and killed more than half the group — not including herself. Well, 9 has Curious and Impulsive, too, and that’s what sets off the second part of the movie — and believe me, the second part is a huge, awful mess. And no matter how many times the others ask him what he was thinking, 9 never gives any real answer. It’s like climbing Mount Everest because it’s there, I guess.

9light.jpg
If you find yourself facing an evil AI that’s at least ten times your size, armed only with a flashlight, then you, too, probably have both Curious and Impulsive.

It’s a fascinating movie to watch, even though it lacks any real plot. The look of it is amazing, with all the details that go into the characters — the texture of the fabric, the different fasteners each of them have, even the individual little stitches holding them together. The machines are scary. They’re all dark and spooky, ranging from the size of largish spiders that swarm everywhere; to giant bird-things that are basically just a lot of very sharp metal objects attached to black wings; to the Machine itself, the one that started it all.
But it really is just one long special effect. It raises some metaphysical questions at the end, so even if you don’t think it’s too scary for the under-thirteens (it is, though, trust me), don’t bring them if you don’t want to have to answer a lot of questions about souls and whether or not little walking, talking dolls go to heaven.
So it gets three idols. I hate to go higher — once the technology progress and the novelty wears off, this will be a cute, quaint little film at best — but it was entertaining, so I hate to go lower. It will probably lose something on the small screen, though, so best to catch it in the theatre unless you have a really giant screen TV. And that right there is probably the most telling argument for not going any higher than three idols.

Gamer

The title refers to video gamers, not the role-play variety of gamer like me. Yes, I am a geek, and yes, I am a girl. But I’ve never quite understood the attraction of a first-person shooter sort of game, and after watching this, I understand it even less. Of course, I’m sure that if you play Halo 47 you won’t be treated to the graphic images of legs flying through the air without bodies attached or of heads being blown off, so at least you don’t end up feeling faintly queasy like I did here.
If you remember the 1980′s, you’ll feel right at home here. It is set in the future, but the computers are the only things that have actually advanced. Everything else — especially fashion, though I use the term loosely — has regressed back to about 1984, which is perhaps the filmmakers’ hideously unnattractive way of reminding us of the book 1984. Because Big Brother isn’t just watching us, he’s in our headz, stealing our brainz.
A guy named Ken Castle, Ubergeek (Michael C. Hall, of “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under”), has usurped Bill Gates’ title as the world’s richest man by inventing two games: the first, Society, gave everyone a chance to control a Sim that was actually a real live person. You dress them in little outfits that look like they belong on extras in a bad eighties music video or low-budget sci-fi flick, force them to walk into raves filled with similarly unfortunately dressed people, and make them trade ridiculous one-liners before crawling off to bed together. The hapless Sims, you see, are being paid to let Castle’s little nanite things run around in their heads, replacing brain cells with an interface that lets anyone with the cash dance inside your skull. I hope it’s at least good money, but I’m not sure that it is.
Castle’s second brainchild is Slayers, billed by him as the solution to prison overcrowding. Take one death row inmate, offer him the chance of freedom if he can just survive 30 death matches against other equally desperate inmates, add lots of guns, exploding things, and a few half-destroyed city blocks to play in (I’m sure no one was using them anyway), and you have the ultimate cash cow, apparently. Sadly, it probably would be just that profitable in the real world, if we only had the tech for it.
But there are some characters besides Castle! Kable (Gerard Butler, 300, and all I can say is thank heavens this film didn’t slow down to “bullet time” nearly as often as 300 did) is the only man to reach a whopping 27 matches and live, and the world is watching anxiously to see if he’ll be the first to collect on that free pardon. In his case, it’s okay, because he’s not quite the usual cold-blooded murderer you’d expect to find on death row, but I don’t quite get why everyone’s so excited at the idea that someone slated to be executed, who got the chance to fine-tune his murdering skills thirty times over on live TV, will then be released out into the world at large where he can kill anyone who looks at him funny.

gamers.jpg
Just a small sample of the hideousness that is the wardrobe for this film.

His wife, Angie (Amber Valetta, who was in Premonition), waits faithfully for his return, crying every time she sees her husband’s plight advertised on all the giant billboards and video screens on the buses and such. She’s also one of the unfortunate Sims for Hire, and has fallen into the clutches of an especially greasy and awful gamer who seems to have the worst dress sense of all. The poor woman has to spend half the movie running around in turquoise short shorts and the most dreadful pair of platform boots imaginable — with gym socks with red stripes on besides. Seriously, those Sims all deserve hazard pay themselves. Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes is even there as a particularly horrible specimen of Sim, who got thrown out of the Rave. Thrown out. Of a place specifically designed to let you fulfill all your weirdest and wildest fantasies. Clearly he’s trying to avoid being typecast as a good guy.
Anyway, there’s a tiny group of Robin Hoods (the Humanz), also living in the eighties with their air hockey table and Galaga video games, who are working to stop Castle under the leadership of Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (also in Max Payne, but we’ll try to forget that); a rapacious news reporter named Gina Parker-Smith (Kyra Sedgwick) who wants the real story at all costs; and a teenage Ubergamer named Simon (Logan Lerman), who is the head to Kable’s hands, as Kable himself puts it.
All added up, it comes out to about three and a half idols. It’s way bloody, but you have to expect that, though I nearly docked them a quarter idol just for making me look at all those awful clothes. There are a couple of other fun guest stars that I won’t mention so you can have the pleasure of spotting them yourself; it’s got techy stuff for the geek in all of us; and lots of death and explosions for those who want a little mindless violence in their Labor Day weekend flicks. Not exactly a movie for the whole family, and the ending is way too pat, but not a bad way to spend your movie-going dollars this week.

Former Incompetech Intern runs for City Council

For Immediate Release:
Former Incompetech intern Waleed Ovase is running for Rockville City Council, Maryland, USA.
If you’re among the 200-ish people from Rockville who visit my site, consider lending your support and voting for him this upcoming election!
Waleed’s campaign for Rockville City Council.
If you can’t vote for him, you can still donate to him from anywhere!
He’s also available on the Facebooks and the Twitters.
If I can’t have him working for me, might as well get him working for the people. :-)