The Perils Of Modernity
Technically, the PS2 is for both me and Meg, as it was a wedding present. But the truth of the matter is that it was a consolation gift given to me by our friends, because they knew that nice as the other wedding gifts would be, I would have no interest in them at all, and that they would be "for" Meg, rather than me. Yeah, the silver cutlery is lovely, but I could get plain steel cutlery for a fraction of the price and spend what's left on something more fun. See the psychology at work here?
Anyway, even though the PS2 is "mine", I've felt bad that Meg never plays it. We occasionally have a two-player bash at Timesplitters 2, and we've played FIFA 2003 together a couple of times, but Meg doesn't have a game of her own. So tonight she bought Final Fantasy X for herself (ironically, I was just about to buy Alundra for her off eBay, since she'd really enjoy that). She'd heard wonderful things about the storyline, and decided she just had to have it. For my part, I went off the Final Fantasy games after the badly flawed Final Fantasy XIII, but this one looks quite good. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to start playing it myself until Meg's got a decent way through it!
Still, never mind. I've dusted off the Mega Drive emulator now that we've got a decent PC, and I'm currently working my way through Shining Force, a game I never got around to playing back when it first came out.
We saw Tom Cruise's latest tonight. The Last Samurai is okay. It reminded me of Saving Private Ryan in that it seemed to want to be a number of different films all at once, but didn't mesh as a whole. Like Spielberg's film, it worked as an action movie, and it worked as a moral-social-political drama, but it didn't work as both combined. It did a good job on the historical accuracy, and it portrayed the samurai heroes as legends, but these are inherently incompatible ideas (as an aside, there was a trailer for the upcoming Troy, and I wonder how they're going to meld these two ideas in that film-is Brad Pitt's Achilles going to be literally indestructible, or will he be just bloomin' tough?). There were many good elements (it has ninjas!), but they were ruined by the film's disjointed style, as well as heavy-handed symbolism and a number of very trite moments, particularly towards the end. Cruise was fine, as he always is, and this really isn't the "Oscar-always-denied-to-him" movie that people think it is. Ken Watanabe is excellent as the rebellious samurai leader Katsumoto, and he either carries or steals the film. I'm not sure which, as it's quite unclear whether he or Cruise is supposed to be the lead. It was nice, but strange, to see Billy Connolly and Tim Spall turn up too.
The worst thing about it, apart from the disjointedness, is that it's very conventional. If you were to knock out a random movie about an American learning the ways of the samurai while simultaneously learning about his true self, it would probably be exactly like this. The only unexpected move in the entire film was the decision to have it be 75% in Japanese.
For a better samurai movie, just pick up any Kurosawa movie(although I'd recommend The Seven Samurai(of course!) or my personal favourite Throne of Blood). For a better film about the struggles between tradition and modernity, that also features samurai, watch the excellent Princess Mononoke. The Last Samurai was alright. It'd be a good DVD for your dad.