Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy

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I first experienced the power of Twine during the opening of Campo Santo’s Firewatch. The stirring combination of text and sound reduced me to tears in moments. Who knew a videogame could capture the weaponized emotional power of Pixar’s UP?

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Across the Internet, there exists a man I only know as Nelson. I first came across him while he was mixing videogames and the Bible. Now, he creates games in Twine.

Nelson’s latest game is titled Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy. This interactive work of fiction is an invitation into the surreal. A late night experience in a place both foreign and familiar.

Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy demonstrates the power of the Twine platform. Allowing the player/reader to transcend the text and share a brief moment with a friend. I was surprised at how personal the game is; how quickly I was sucked in.

I want to invite you to take the journey too. You can do so here.

Wave Splinter* Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy was reviewed using a code provided by Nelson.

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Chump Change

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On June 24th, Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2 skids into theaters. This time, Lightening and Mater have accelerated past Radiator Springs on their way to a road trip around the globe. The movie’s trailer (found here) exhibits racing, travel jokes, and a spy-theme overlay. Will Cars 2 signal the end of the Pixar-touch?

Take a look at Pixar’s current release schedule:

  • Cars 2 – June 24, 2011
  • Brave – June 22, 2012
  • Newt – 2012 – Cancelled
  • Monsters University – June 21, 2013
Notice that there is only one new storyline/ concept being offered. The other two films are sequels. For awhile now, Pixar has seemed to be interested in delving deeper into the sequel goldmine. Perhaps they have found a rich vein of creativity they think they can tap into? More power to them. However, who made the decision to make a sequel to Cars? Cars, which is an average Pixar film in my opinion, was not deserving of a sequel. Especially when the previous film released by Pixar, The Incredibles, almost screamed for one. I personally think that Pixar is not being driven by creativity and imagination anymore; No, I think that Pixar is being driven by the almighty dollar. Do you disagree? Check this out:
Estimates from the New York Daily News indicate that sales of Cars merchandise two weeks out from the release of the film amounted to US$600 million. Estimates put out in November by the Walt Disney Company peg total sales for the brand at around $1 billion.[27] 
Cars merchandising is huge! Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on such a thing? In the midst of all this branding and merchandising business, who is profiting? Disney. So, is Pixar really the driving force behind the sequel-itis it seems to suffer from or is it Disney? Either way, on life’s highway, I can only hope that Pixar doesn’t lose it’s soul.

UP

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Sat down last night and watched a bit of Pixar’s UP with my son. Ever since I first saw the movie, I have been wary of watching it again due to its emotional impact–yeah, UP makes me cry, I admit it–. Watching UP with my son, I cried so hard when the couple found out that they couldn’t have children. However, I was reminded that my wife and I have been blessed with a little boy. In that moment, I hugged him tight and told him that I loved him. Thank you Pixar for reminding me of what I have and to treasure the boring moments in life.

A Pixar Afternoon Revisited

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Today I bring you a follow up to A Pixar Afternoon, this time written by my friend Jacob. Enjoy!

Greetings, My name is Jacob Ingalls and I’ll be telling you why Bryan is wrong about his Pixar Reviews. The following list is compiled in order of what I think the best Pixar movies are:

1. Up

When historians look back at this time period in Cinema in the United States and the chapter is written on the studio that is Pixar. Up will be considered the Everest of this fantastic studio. The range and depth of up is un-parallel by almost any film in any genre. Coming out in the same summer that included Star Trek and Transformers 2, the cartoon character of an 80 year old man was the best action hero of that summer.

2. The Incredibles

Intense, Philosophical, Dark, Beautiful, Imaginative and a great leap of faith, these things are what makes Pixar’s The Incredibles the second (and an extremely close second) best Pixar movie ever. The Incredibles is a bit of Ayn Rand for 12 year olds, it deals with being different, being better and the absolute mortality of fame and getting old. More so than any Pixar film, The Incredibles examines the human condition and the want to be normal in an un-normal world. “Remember you are special, just like everyone else”.

3. Wall-E

I’m not entirely sure where to begin or end with this movie, butWall-E is a masterpiece, an amazing work of art that will stand the test of time for generations. Pixar has never been a stranger to taking risks and this one was their biggest. Wall-E is almost completely silent but manages to tell one of the purest love stories ever. Even though it was wrapped in a kids film wrapper it really strikes the most chords with the 20-something generation.

4. Finding Nemo

A great story about a Father and his boy, Finding Nemo never ceases to make one smile and ponder what it means to be a parent or a child for that matter. In my opinion one of the funnier Pixar movies Nemo manages to incorporate a beautiful love story has a side plot while also seamlessly integrating a coming of age story alongside a letting go story. So much is packed into this 90ish minute film that it’s hard to absorb it all in one sitting.

5. Ratatouille

My personal favorite Pixar movie, this movie take dead aim all that those who point fingers and blame just to feed their ego (odd that it’s also the villian’s name? I think not). Remy is one of the most accessible characters in all of Pixar, his dreams might be simple (to be a great chef) but seem so out of reach because of him being a rat. This movie is for all the dreams and all those who wanted something that seemed so out of reach.

6. Toy Story 1-3

Let’s look at this franchise as whole, From the first Toy Storythat changed movies forever, not just animated movies, but movies as a whole forever to the third that put an amazing end to the franchise. Toy Story is great for many reasons, but one of the biggest and one of the most over looked reasons is its ability to deal with death in such an amazing manner. Woody’s character in particular struggles with his own mortality throughout the films and with the “inferno” scene in 3 that mortality is brought full circle from fighting to acceptance and is one of the most powerful moments in all of Pixar.

7. Cars

This movie is simple and fun and extremely well written. It’s what I consider to be a second rate Pixar are movie but it’s still Pixar which means it’s better than 99% of the animated movies out there.

8. Monsters Inc.

Another truly funny movie from Pixar, While the main characters are nowhere near human you can’t help but connect and fall in love with them. Pixar does a great job of setting up the world in this movie.

9. A Bug’s Life

The second Pixar film was their look into the dystopian through the lens of the oppressed ants and their struggle against their overlord grasshoppers. All in all probably the worst Pixar film, it’s cute and fun and funny but borders on not being worthy of carrying the Pixar name.

To follow Jacob on twitter, click here.

A Pixar Afternoon

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Ah yes, Friday afternoons. After a busy week, things are finally winding down in the office. What better time than to take some time and compile a list! A list you say? Aren’t those a bit cliche? Why yes they are good sir or madam. However, this will be no ordinary list. For the list we are to compile today chronicles one of the top animation studios on the planet. Dreamworks Animation? No. Walt Disney Feature Animation? Nope. The studio I am hinting towards is none other than Pixar Animation Studios. This list of personal favorites could be hard…onward ho!

1. Wall-E – Showcasing what I believe to be one of the finest depictions of love in a movie (and its silent!), Wall-E is an absolute masterpiece.

2. The Incredibles – This movie has a special place in my heart as it was the first movie that I ever took my wife (then girlfriend) to. The pacing, realistic depiction of family, and overarching rant against a society that insists that everyone is special makes this movie top notch in my book.

3. Ratatouille – This Brad Bird film never lets go of the accelerator and never allows itself to fall into normal movie cliches. And I thought the movie was going to linger on the paternity issue, bah!

4. Toy Story 2 – My favorite Toy Story movie. I should note though that I do think that Jessie’s sad song is a bit over-done.

5. Toy Story – Full of great quotes. I will never forget the look of shock on Buzz’s face when he discovers that he really can’t fly.

6. Toy Story 3 – A perfect end to an amazing series.

7. Cars- “Speed.” This movie never fails to make me smile. Although, the pacing can drift a bit into the slow lane at times.

8. UP* – UP takes the award for making me cry, hard. I enjoyed its bittersweet story of an old man who learns that he still has much to contribute despite his advanced age. This movie showcases the emotional depth Pixar can infuse into its stories.

9. Finding Nemo – I find this movie long and poorly paced. Sue me.

10. Monster’s Inc. – Clever. Perhaps too clever? Multiple viewings have killed this movie for me. Be happy I even mentioned it.

11. A Bug’s Life – Perhaps I need to watch this again (its been years), but I found this film boring.

Favorite Non-Pixar Movie: Meet the Robinson’s (woo hoo!)

*Note: UP is certainly in the same category of Wall-E in terms of quality, storytelling, and pure emotion. However, I do not find it to be a movie that I want to watch time and time again.

Common Class Movies: Top 9 of 2009

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Top 9 of 2009

(reposted from Jacob’s www.commonclassmovies.com)

Tis the season to make top X lists of the year and I would be remiss to not add my list of the best movies of 2009.

#9: The Box
The latest offering from Richard Kelly, the director of Donnie Darko, did not disappoint for all the people looking for the spiritual son of Donnie Darko. Kelly does an amazing job of creating the other worldly feel that he is most famous for and delivers a serious mind raping by asking the question “Would you let someone die for $1,000,000?”. The acting in The Box is incredibly well done and takes the audience for a very, very weird trip.

Most reviews have panned this movie, and has a RottenTomatoes score of 45%, but as for the people here at the Common Class we highly recommend seeing it.

Reviews:
Screen Rant
Rolling Stone
RottenTomatoes

#8: (500) Days of Summer
(500) Days of summer is possibly the most unique movie that is on our list, because it is a non-linear movie (see definition) and the movie pulls it off wonderfully. As the viewer we get to see snapshots of the relationship of Tom and Summer as it is being remembered by the narrator. What this movie does well is it follows the thought process of the heart broken Tom as he tries to figure out what went wrong with his love, by jumping around in the story, one scene will be day 42 and the next will be day 208 and so on. Anyone who has every gone through a heart crushing breakup will immediately recognize the pattern that they see on the screen. (500) days of summer, does an incredible job of showing just how much a relationship can go from high to low and back and just how brutal a relationship can be.

Reviews:
Rolling Stones
New York Times
RottenTomatoes

#7: Taken
Number 7 takes us way back to January, and the dusty streets of Europe. There’s a lot that could be said about this movie, but as for my 2 cents, all you really need to know is Liam Neeson is awesome. Taken offers, good action, great pacing and a decent enough story to keep you entertained. Do yourself, go rent this one, pop some popcorn and enjoy

Reviews:
MovieBob
New York Times
RottenTomatoes

#6: The Hangover
The Hangover might also take the prize for “Biggest Surprise Movie” for 2009. I walked into this movie expecting stupid humor that would have funny moments but would be altogether boring and forgettable. I was dead wrong, The Hangover is one the funniest movies of 2009 with so much packed into that you barely have time to catch you breath. The biggest surprise for me is that the movie was pretty intelligent and did not involve too many cheap tricks to get laugh; I did not feel dumber for going to see The Hangover. I generally do not get excited to see a movie a 2nd time, but The Hangover is worth multiple viewings

Reviews:
Roger Ebert
Hollywood Reporter
RottenTomatoes

#5: The Blind Side
The latest offering from Sandra Bullock may be one of her bests, The Blind Side should be near the top of everyone’s feel good movie list. This movie is very well acted, and actually portrays a Christian family, who you know are actually Christians. The Blind Side has generated a lot of buzz, both good and bad. The bad mainly focuses on the race issues and basically states that this is just a way for white people to feel good about themselves. All I can say to that is the only way you see a race thing in this movie is if you are looking for it, the family in this movie genuinely wants to help the character not because he’s black but because it’s the right thing to do. The race bating critics need to get off of themselves and let us move past race and focus on a truly good story of human helping human. This movie is hated by the critics and loved by audiences and by Common Class Movies.

Reviews:
MovieBob (disclaimer, does contain profanity. I also generally love MovieBob’s reviews but he was incredibly wrong here)
Huffington Post
RottenTomatoes

#3/4: ZombieLand
The number 3 and 4 movies where so hard for me to pick that I decided not too. Zombieland is a movie that plays into every cliche’, every gimmick and every must have in a zombie/survival horror movie and it does them all perfectly. Zombieland is pure gold from the opening sequence, to the most amazing surprise I’ve seen in a movie, to the final credits. We enjoyed this movie immensly, and if you haven’t seen it, fix that, tonight.

Reviews:
MovieBob
ScreenRant
RottenTomaotes

#3/4: Inglorious Basterds
To continue me being to lazy to pick an actual a real number 3 and 4 we have the newest picture from Quienten Taritino. Generally, that would be more than enough said about any movie, but with Inglorious there’s much, much more to say. This could be Taritino’s best film since Pulp Fiction, if not better than Pulp Fiction (I can handle the hate mail, bring it on). This movie has everything you come to expect from a Tartino flick; long, amazing dialogue sections, lots and lots of blood, several wonderfully done over the top actors and a big scene where almost everyone dies. The almost 2 and half hour movie seems to fly by because of the amazing pacing and entertainment packed into Inglorious and if you don’t love Brad Pitt’s character you simply have no soul

Reviews:
RottenTomatoes

#2: Up
Possibly the best Pixar movie ever made. I have grown up with Pixar and have loved all of them and Up is possibly the best that has ever come out of the studio. Up delivers on every level; the deep dark sadness of love, the overwhelming joy of triumph and everything in between. I have never in my life seen an animated, or many other movies in general pull such a wide range of emotions out of me before, if you have a soft heart you will cry your eye’s out in parts and stand up and rejoice in others, if you are heartless creep, you’ll come very close to crying and at least give a fist pump in excitement. This is not just one of the best movies of 2009 it’s easily one of the best of the last 5 years.

Reviews:
Roger Ebert
New York Times
RottenTomatoes

And Finally

#1: Watchmen
Watchmen is a masterpiece, plain and simple. I could go on and on about how amazing this movie is, and how big the ideas are and just how grand and epic it is, but I won’t. I’ll just say this, it’s the best and if you didn’t see it, you missed out. The only problem with the movie is huge amount of massive smurf wang there is in it, if you don’t know what I’m talking about go see the movie and you’ll understand.

Reviews:
Moviebob
Roger Ebert
RottenTomatoes

Thanks for reading

-Jacob
jacob@commonclassmovies.com

The views expressed in the above article are not necessarily shared by JBG. (This mostly includes the use of “massive smurf wang”.)