27 March 2010

Faux Audiolog 3

The third (but not final) installment in a series of faux audiologs for a game that never was.

I'm not all that happy with this one, and it may be as good a time as any to delve a bit into my "methods" for acting.

I'd been planning on doing something like this for a while, so the idea was always mulling about in my head, but never fully sure when to start. Then, one day, I woke up and decided that now (operative word: now) was as good a time as any, so I recorded, right then and there, the first episode. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I made myself sound like I'd been hiding in a storage locker for three days with absolute hell breaking loose outside; by the simple virtue of not being a morning person. At first, I was worried about being able to recreate those circumstances for episode two, but I realized there would be a sort of natural progression in terms of composure anyway, hence the line in part two, "I'm a little better now." In any case, I recorded part two lying down, just like before. For the third one, I just did a dry read-through to determine the length. I re-recorded a few times, but albeit it was rough, the first take really sounded the best. That is to say, I disliked it the least. I knew as well that if I kept re-recording, 1) I'd never be happy with it and 2) I'd get far too comfortable with the lines so it would lose its naturalistic quality.

I don't know if the fourth one will be the last (for this particular character/story arc), but if it is, it'll probably be the longest. At first, when I thought this would be exactly three parts, they were going to be increasingly longer with the first being around 30 seconds, the second around 60, and the final nearly a full 90 seconds.

24 March 2010

Nope, just a demon.... (Paranormal Activity)

First things first, I hate the word "mockumentary." In fact, let that be the only time the word is mentioned forthwith. The problem is that the term implies connotations of humor and parody (This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, et al), which gives other and especially more recent films of this style (Faux Amateurism?) a very debilitating handicap right out the gate. Luckily, The Blair Witch Project came out like a bolt from the blue and breathed fresh life into the style (Diegetic Archive Footage?) by applying its stylistic principles to the horror genre, where it's made itself surprisingly at home with works such as:

The Last Broadcast
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
The Blair Witch Project
Amateur Porn Star Killer
Paranormal Activity
The Fourth Kind

As a filmmaker, I'm naturally attracted to the concept; I appreciate its grassroots, guerilla sensibility married perfectly to lofty goals and a wide vision. At the same time, it's got this fragility, a kind of precariously teetering insecurity best analogized to The Emperor's New Clothes. Basically, once you acknowledge the "realism" as "frugality," disbelief becomes unsuspended and suddenly you realize that you're watching a talented filmmaker stretch a budget in ways that seem more underhanded than clever. Whichever intention rings true, it's being given more attention than necessary. If you can manage to avoid the pessimistic outlook of "cheap and dirty," the outlook we're left with is that it's just another way to tell a story, like first vs. third-person perspective in a novel.

To that end, the best way to think of these films (whatever name we decide upon for them) is as the visual equivalent of the epistolary novel. It has all the strengths: a more relatable perspective, a more naturalistic approach to characterization, and a heightened sense of realism. Sadly, while it may not exactly have all the weaknesses as well, it's got a whole new set of them to overcome.

The biggest point of contention that's probably going to arise during a viewing of Paranormal Activity is one of scale and subtlety.

This leads to the inevitable comparison to The Blair Witch Project. Yes, it seems unfair to hold every "Found, First-Person Film" to Blair Witch, but that's because there's a lot of things that Blair Witch does right, and a lot to admire as well. Chief among these is its ambiguity. While the film ultimately speaks for itself, so to, er... speak, it really doesn't have a lot to say. Is it a witch? Is it a cult? Is it an elaborate hoax? Is it a conspiracy to commit murder motivated by a sexual power struggle? The point is, it's open to interpretation, and we're really not sure just what it is we've seen.
With Paranormal Activity, there's no question about what's happening. I won't spoil it, but I'll tell you the exact moment in the film when several things happen, among them getting a clear and solid sense of this movie's "reality," and myself nearly bursting out laughing, ready to dismiss the film as cheap and gimmicky.

The scene in two words: Ouija Board.

That'll be the extent of the description, but you'll know the moment when you come to it, and hopefully you'll see what I mean when I'm talking about subtlety and a sense of scope. At first, I honestly found myself fighting back a laugh, along with an overwhelming sense of disappointment. It's my own fault for expecting ambiguity and instead getting something that very clearly and blatantly spells out just what type of horror movie this is. It is not, in fact, a psychological thriller as these "Discovered Video Diaries (Hmm, DVD...?)" might lend themselves to, but something more straightforward. Don't let that deter you; again, we won't spoil it, but just because we know what is causing the hauntings doesn't make it any less effective.

To sum up, the best way to describe just what kind of horror movie Paranormal Activity is in relation to other horror films you might have seen is this: on one end of the spectrum is Poltergeist with The Blair Witch Project on the other, and Paranormal Activity is exactly halfway between them.

NOTE: If you rent this movie on disc, you're presented with two menu options at the start, one being to see the film with its original, theatrical ending, the other to see an alternative ending, which, in the film's complex production and distribution history, is more akin to the director's original cut of the film. While you're probably going to watch both endings anyway, I strongly recommend seeing the theatrical cut first before checking out the alternative ending.

22 March 2010

Faux Audiolog 2

Second installment of my bogus audiologs for a game that never was.
Also, on a quick note, I'm re-watching Krapp's last tape for about the third time; it's really good, and I'm trying to work out an analysis. I've also been watching a few of the other adaptations, namely "What Where," which is this wonderfully bizarre sort of tone-poem in line with "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread" or something like that.

17 March 2010

Faux Audiolog

Bad attempt at acting by yours truly. Everyone's probably done these by now (especially The Science Officer), but I still thought I'd give it a try.

Today, and on a related note, Netflix is supposed to deliver disc 2 of Beckett on Film, which contains Krapp's Last Tape (recommended by Missy Tannenbaum of Dork Stitch), so I'll definitely be writing something on that one, even if it spends more time dwelling on my personal connection to Samuel Beckett.

13 March 2010

Weblogs, V-logs, A-logs?

this is reposted from my Gamespot weblog. I decided to post it here as well for two reasons: 1)It involves a weblog I found here on Blogger and 2)The topic actually harkens back to an entry I wrote all the way back on Yahoo!360 (archived on Multiply), where the awesome phenomena of Cryptomnesia struck me and caused me to re-discover podcasts (which I called "A-Logs" in my ignorance of the obvious).

I have my PSP.

I still have my PS2.

There's also my roommate's Gamecube and the XBox a friend of mine gave me.

The only next-gen console I have is my roommate's Wii, to which I've contributed over half the games.

Suffice to say, I'm a little behind.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Wii, but I'm not totally in love with the motion control scheme (though I can't wait to play Dead Space: Extraction). At the end of the day, I'm all about kicking back on the couch with a controller in my lap, an experience the Wii makes me feel guilty for indulging in, especially considering most of the games I play the most on it are available for other consoles like the XBox360.

My present financial situation prevents me from buying an XBox360 (The only thing that makes me interested in the PS3 are Linger in Shadow, The Last Guardian, and Valkyria Chronicles... and that last one's getting a sequel for PSP anyway). There's a shortlist of games I'd want for 360, but the more I find out about them, the less inclined I am to make that wanting justify indulging myself. It's not that I find the games disappointing (not in each case, at least) but I definitely look upon this new generation of game consoles and think, "what am I really missing out on?"

The worst part of the answer I get, really, is that what I'm missing out on isn't even all that innovative. In fact, it's incredibly primitive to such a point that I've experienced them before in PC games, Myst and Marathon to be precise. To be more precise, the "missing element" I'm referring to are audiologs. In Myst, they took the form of little holograms or pieces of correspondence left on desks or bookshelves. In Marathon, they took the form of the on-screen text of the computer terminals scattered throughout each level. Similarly, Final Fantasy X-2 had you gathering spheres, which showed little video clips of bygone times and places. Metal Gear Solid had Snake's video briefings (which made me fall in video static and grainy video images in a way I didn't think was possible). Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has you cataloging various alien species you encounter and collecting logbooks and journals from past explorers long since passed on, survived only by their... er, echoes.

Some time ago, on The Escapist, I thought I'd started the perfect forum thread: "What was your first gadget?" I shared my first gadget to get the ball rolling, an RCA microcassette recorder. I did all the typical things that kids do with tape recorders: sing silly songs, do interviews or impressions, divulge thoughts and rants, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't start at least one recording with "Captain's log, stardate..." and so on. Anyway, time went on, my little handheld studio faded from memory, and I ended up giving it to my parents to help them get some recordings for a little legal trouble they were having. Suddenly, a few years ago, I was in a computer store when I suddenly started to miss my little RCA and found myself buying a Sony IC Recorder (ICD-P320). Now, I've got a small collection of digital voice recorders, at least five. I keep them scattered about and in different pockets of different jackets. I use them for everything and anything imaginable from grocery lists to driving directions to rough drafts of stories that float around in my head.

More recently, after the release of Bioshock, and all its subsequent discussions and reminisces of System Shock, made me aware of these funny little things called Audiologs. I'd never heard this term before, even though the items themselves have existed since the beginning of gaming, right down to the books on library shelves in any a number of RPGs. At first, I thought it was just referring to audio recordings. Under that narrow definition, the only past-gen experience I'd had with the things were the various audio cassettes scattered about the house in Fatal Frame. Of course, now I've learned that audiolog need not refer specifically to audio recordings, though those do seem the most interesting, the most recent to fully develop, and, in a way, the easiest to produce. Obviously, written text is the easiest in technical terms, but given that CD-ROM technology got its start back in the early 1990s, it's surprising that only a scant few games released in that era (namely System Shock) employed audio recordings as part of the game's atmosphere. Sure, Myst had sound-based puzzles, but they didn't aid the narrative backstory in any way.

Audiologs also seem like they'd just be flat out fun to make. They don't need to be long, they can be fragmented, and they needn't even be of the highest fidelity as, even in the far future, crackly static gives that extra added layer of authenticity to the game's atmosphere.

Although my forum thread didn't get many replies, The Escapist did lead me to an article written by Graeme Virtue, who I found out is the author (and principal actor) of a series of "sketches" for the One Life Left podcast, entitled "Science Officer Logs." Taking a cue from Dave Hollins, Space Cadet (the Son of Cliche radio sketches by Red Dwarf's Rob Grant and Doug Naylor), the Science Officer's Logs parody not only the concept of an audiolog, but also several gaming conventions, from ice and lava levels, to even damned escort missions. They can be found here.

In addition to that, I've just spent the past few minutes watching YouTube videos of people collecting the audiologs from Halo: ODST. I stopped out of guilt, thinking, "No, no, I should play the game, or at least own it before I go cheating like this."

So, here I am, an audiolog junky with no real way to satisfy my habit. I really hope I can afford an XBox 360 soon.

07 March 2010

Back in front of a camera

Well, I'm still sick and I'm sick of being sick. So, I decided to make a video whether I felt like it or not, just to give myself a boost and help win a little moral victory over this damn cold. The results are slightly better than I thought they'd turn out. In any case, I don't have to look at that "time since last" counter on my YouTube channel continually adding up as I kept waiting to get well enough to sit in front of a camera or record a voiceover. If I want that YouTube partnership, I have to stick to my promise of a consistent output, even if the format changes slightly. I like doing the reviews, but I don't want to get stuck doing them. DeviantART and Flickr Video will still be my main jumping-off point for my more artistic pieces, whereas YouTube will always be a little more candid and personal, with video-logs and opinion pieces.

06 March 2010

Well, THAT happened... (Elektra: The Hand & The Devil)

I was a rather avid comic reader in the early 1990s, an era now known in comic book enthusiast circles as "The Dark Ages," a time when exaggerated anatomy, darker stories, morally ambiguous new heroes, and unwelcome overhauls to heroes of yore were the norm. In short, I wasn't seeing the medium at its best. As such, from 1995 onward, my two longboxes of polybagged publications saw no new additions and about as much time outside of my closet. In fact, it wasn't until at least the year 2006, when the special features on the DVD for the Daredevil movie introduced me to David Mack, who would become my favorite comic artist. Also, I rather liked the Daredevil movie (enough to buy up anything with Mack's name on it, from Parts of a Hole through Echo: Vision Quest). I can't say the same for Elektra, and it seemed neither could aspiring director Chris Notarile; In searching for information on Frank Miller's Xerxes, a purported prequel to 300, I came across this short film, presented in full on IMDB:


Chris Notarile, on his own time, with his own money, created (almost singlehandedly) this 11-minute short film dramatizing the death, past, and resurrection of Frank Miller's red-clad assassin.

Rather than do a full, scene-by-scene breakdown (which short films tend to lend themselves to) I want to go into detail on what is quite possibly the weakest scene in the film, which is saying quite a bit given that the film is only 11 minutes in length. After Elektra is killed by Bullseye, there is a flashback to Matt Murdock's days at Columbia University, where he meets the lovely Elektra Natchios and becomes entranced by her. After trying to get her attention by dropping some of his books near her as he walks past, Matt realizes that he's not going to have a chance unless he does something about Elektra's omnipresent bodyguard. He takes out a multi-colored hackey-sack (which, it should be pointed out, is not made of rubbery materials and is therefore not bouncy in any way) which he then ricochets off two railings before knocking the bodyguard unconscious. What follows the shot of him putting this plan into motion by hurtling the ball off-screen are three long and drawn-out shots that no small budget and no brief filming schedule can excuse. The first shot is the first ricochet, the hackey-sack bouncing off a railing. Of course, not being a rubber ball at all, it doesn't so much "bounce" off the railing as much as it hits it and then falls to the ground. The exact same thing happens in the next shot, which is meant to be the ball bouncing off another railing, but since the ball didn't bounce off the first railing (instead, falling to the ground) the subconscious mental connection that's supposed to form ultimately fails to do so and causes a jarring break in the immersion. At first, I thought he just threw a second ball, as if working on his aim before launching a third ball at the security guard. is that however poorly constructed and edited the previous two shots were, they don't hold a candle to the debacle that is the shot of the supposedly-ricocheting hackey-sack "soaring" in front of Matt's face, depicted by the camera slowly panning left to right, with the hackey-sack resting at the bottom of the frame. The last shot is the sack hitting the security guard on the back of the head, thankfully bringing the sequence to its much-delayed conclusion.

It may not seem fair to say an entire film, however short, is brought down by a singularly weak scene, and that's not the case. This is overall a very bad short film, with the rent-a-cop knockdown just one of several examples of poor editing, mismanaged production values, and a total lacking of clarity of vision by its director.

If I had to say something nice about the movie, I could only point to a single frame, a shot of Daredevil crouched upon a ledge surveying the streets below. It's a brilliant image, but it's not cinematic in any way. It's certainly a far cry from the shot of Batman leering down on an alleyway in Sandy Collora's much-acclaimed fan film Batman: Dead End. Granted, that director's demo reel had a bigger budget, and Mr. Collora had far more experience in filmmaking than Mr. Notarile, but both directors take a more down-to-earth approach and give iconic heroes costumes that don't look like they came out of Stan Winston's studio yet rise above the look of cheap Halloween costumes.

The costumes look rushed and try way too hard to resemble their print-media predecessors. To top it off, Bullseye's costume is this ludicrous compromise between his original blue bodysuit and the trenchcoat-over-tanktop ensemble from the movie. It just begs the question: why pattern 2 of the 3 total costumes after the comics, but pull back on the third? The only upshot to these costumes is that they probably make it much easier for the actors to move around in during the fight scenes.

The fight choreography was horrendous and the camera seemed to wrestle with the dilemma of either zooming in tighter and risk looking like it's trying to disguise the actors' relative inexperience or keeping the shot wide and expose all the pauses and breaks that out the fight as staged. Instead, the camera stays at this odd middle distance that cuts off heads and legs and tries to center square on people's backs.

This is where I field defenses of not what film is so much as what it is trying to be:

"It's not trying to be Citizen Kane."
"They're just students."
"They had no money and barely enough time."
"No one told them to do this."
"It's a labor of love."

True, but despite these shortcomings this film can't even rise to the level of mediocrity.

Yeah, I should probably read fully the interview where Chris Notarile details the 40USD budget (spent on "materials, metrocards, and hot chocolate") so I can potentially get a better appreciation for what this film is and what it's trying to do, but this ignores something fundamental about filmmaking and perhaps about art in general: The end result must stand on its own.

I may not be an executive for a major studio, and my own skills as a director may be questionable at best, but I don't think I have to be in order to make a sound prediction for Mr. Notarile. Much like his Maniac Cop short (which I haven't seen, but don't feel all that enthusiastic about remedying), he's exhibiting his skills to try and land himself a major directing gig. If I were looking through demo reels, trying to handpick a director to helm my latest project, this wouldn't even make it into a "maybe" pile.

I'm not going to say "I could make a better film" because it's a bit of a faux pas for directors (aspiring or otherwise) to bash each other's work. That said, I do feel like I should re-enact the hackey-sack scene and present the video as a sort of critique-in-motion. Maybe that's mean, but I just can't overlook the shortcomings of this piece, low budget or not. The bar on fan films was raised years ago, long before Batman: Dead End, and Elektra: The Hand & The Devil misses it by a mile.

04 March 2010

Talking Art Deco Vase

I just had the worst fit of sleep since I got sick just before my return from Albuquerque.

It really hasn't been a great past few days. I won't go into all of it, except it's more than just being sick.

Anyway, I realized it's not going to help my application for a YouTube partnership if I'm not delivering on my promise of a consistent output of about one video per week, so on my way back from a quick drive across state today, I got a little idea for a kind of "filler" video that would, once again, take advantage of my new favorite little distraction: video annotations. I'd thought about doing an entire video made up of them, but this idea of doing a completely silent video (as opposed to a kind of annotated podcast) just kind of came to me, so I ran with it (after a restless bout of half-sleep).

03 March 2010

An Updated Video

I'm not sure if this shows up in embedded videos, but I've recently added annotations to my 2004: Digital Backlot Cycle video. Because of the ten-minute time limit, I had to make a few cuts to preserve what I had, including full and proper credits, which I'm normally really good about making for all of my videos. Like I've said before, YouTube might be growing on me, and while I neither confirm nor deny this, I maintain that the annotations and notes are the best feature of video hosting on YouTube.

Oh, and an update on Revver. Revver has finally made my videos live after sitting on them for over 3 weeks. However, they might as well be inaccessible like they were before. Every time I try to access each video's respective page to get the "embed" code to post them in my various weblogs, I get their painfully annoying "500 error, or something broke" message. Maybe it's because of my connection, but that website is so clunky, buggy, and unruly that I can't access my videos to make changes like preview thumbnails (if I manage to select one, I get that stupid "500 error" message when I click "save"). I can't even enable comments because it won't let me check the box to say so. I'm starting to see why Channel Awesome (producers of That Guy With The Glasses) moved their content from Revver to Blip.tv. I mean, I really can't believe this site was ever popular. Maybe it's just current events and goings-on that have led to the site's current state, but really they can't even rise to the level of YouTube or Vimeo despite their claims to be superior services. The only reason I even gave them a chance was because a tutorial video about the Creative Commons mentioned them and I found out they have a Shared Revenue program for the advertisements they attach to videos. By contrast, Youtube has a Shared Revenue program, but it's only following an application process, whereby your channel is arbitrarily judged as worthy or otherwise, depending on how many views you receive as well as a number of non-specific criteria. Anyway, I think I'll just hold out for that instead of trying to get Revver to work for me. There's always Blip.tv, but I had such a problem figuring out that site's tools it just didn't seem worth it. I'm all for Open Source, but would it have killed them to streamline their interface? Maybe I'm just too dumb for it, but I really can't believe anyone uses that service with any proficiency.

01 March 2010


Okay, so I took down the Twitter module upon my return, but I didn't offer an update right away. Granted, I did write a rather long journal entry on my DeviantART page wherein--I think I overuse that word--I detailed my return trip (recently-caught cold and all), which I didn't feel like simply copying-and-pasting into Blogger (albeit I transferred part of it to my Gamespot weblog, which sees even fewer updates than Blogger). Anyway, I'm back and I thought I'd do a little "return to form" and give a few quick movie reviews. Granted, I'd already seen Watchmen, but my Dad hadn't, which I knew would make for an interesting experience. Movies by their very nature are meant to be self-contained and not requiring prior knowledge of certain subject matters, so it's nice to see how well adaptations fare on this front.

As it happens, he really liked it despite no prior knowledge of Watchmen whatsoever. Then again, I think that's the appeal; the characters of Watchmen, as many know, are essentially parodies of Golden Age-era Charlton comics characters, among them The Blue Beetle, a noted inspiration for Batman. I think Zack Snyder is a really under-appreciated director (previous film 300 is, without question, my personal favorite of the post-2004 Digital Backlot films). If it sounds like I'm pigeonholing or demeaning him by describing him as a "poor man's Paul Verhoeven" (extreme gore, social commentary, sensational sex scenes) believe me, I'm not; I'm genuinely looking forward to his next film, even if it's an animated feature about owls. I mean, even if that one turns out bad, at least I can look forward to Xerxes, the supposed prequel that Frank Miller is currently writing.

We also watched District 9, which had a few editing issues that make me question its nomination in that Oscar category, but otherwise was thoroughly enjoyable. Some people might be turned away by its seemingly light-hearted tone, but those people are missing the point. The film is very ambiguous, in that we're not sure who we're supposed to want to see win, and we're never sure if we're supposed to laugh at something or not. It's kind of like American Psycho; you'll laugh, but you'll feel guilty for it because every shred of decency and humanity in you will be crying out in horrified protest. The violence and gore in the film is on the level with something like a cartoon or a comic book, but the subtexts and social commentaries they frame are on the level with the likes of Good Night And Good Luck, Munich, Hotel Rwanda, or Three Kings. In short, it's a schizophrenic mess of excitement and intelligence... and it's beautiful. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a flawed diamond. It may not have much in the way of luster or clarity, but it'll still cut glass.
To expand on what I said about having problems with the editing, I mean the way in which the movie presents its own "reality" via various camera techniques. For starters, let me get it out of the way that I absolutely hate and despise the word "Mockumentary." It's just such a hideous word, and was so before it became dreadfully overused. What strikes me as strange about it is that I'd never heard the term before The Blair Witch Project and I honestly don't think anyone ever used it to describe Rob Reiner's This is Spinal Tap, so I feel safe in chalking its origin up to the same modern yet ignorant newspeak that gave us "blog" "lawl" and even "pwn." District 9 ultimately presents itself as a documentary, filmed in typical "cinema verite" style with unsteady camera work and talking head interviews. In film, there are essentially three styles of narration, much like in books:
1st person. Films like Russian Ark, Cloverfield, or even Blair Witch Project fit this category, wherein what the audience is seeing is essentially what its main characters see. As such, the cinematography is distinctly "amateurish" and the narrative is ultimately of a limited perspective as we're only, at best, over the shoulders of our protagonists. This exemplifies what's known in literary circles as "metafiction," that is, fiction that is self-aware. The characters are aware that they're being recorded, and are in full control over what does and does not get seen, whether they turn the camera off voluntarily, lose power, or get eaten by some hideous monster attacking them.
3rd person limited. This one's a little tough to peg down because it's extremely broad and describes a great many films. In District 9, we don't so much get Third Person Limited in the sense of a disembodied film crew that follows the protagonist yet never interferes with the goings-on as much as we get a real live film crew that interviews various characters and even follows our "hero" (at the risk of spoilers, I'll just say that the "hero" is "anything but" one most of the time, and characters you wouldn't think to have any merit or values end up showing more humanity than 99% of the humans in the film) around on his little "errand" to evict a group of aliens from a slum that's risen up around their derelict ship. Think of it like the show Cops; there's a film crew but, while the officers occasionally break the fourth wall and talk to the camera, they go largely unnoticed but can only see as far as the officers they follow around.
3rd person omniscient. This throws out the distinctly "meta" qualities of the first two. No film crews following the characters around, no personal video records, no "found footage" or anything to indicate that what you're seeing is any kind of firsthand account of an event. The best way to think of this is "God's-Eye-View" in that the "camera" is invisible to the characters and unaffected by events unfolding around them, as well as being able to move anywhere and even to any point in time in the film's progression. Dramatic irony is basically gone as any event or occurrence is front-and-center, setting the audience a comfortable distance from our lead characters.
The problem I have with District 9 is that it is not very good at distinguishing between these different perspectives. It breaks the immersion when we have to stop and think, "Okay, is the FILM CREW shooting this, or is this just what WE'RE seeing as it happens now?" Given that the film starts off showing interview and archival footage, we'd expect more of a break when the "prerecorded" footage stops and the "presently happening" footage begins. Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows may not have been a great film, but it had a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sensibility when it came to its own internal logic of truth and reality when it comes to film and video. It was not distracting or heavy-handed in its delivery, but not subtle enough to be missed or overlooked on even the most casual viewing.
I really hope District 9 doesn't get the Oscar for Editing, but I hope it wins the other categories. I doubt it'll win Best Picture; it's just not the kind of film that Hollywood goes for, it's all over the map in terms of its tone and message, and while that ambiguity is what I love about it, it's not what the Academy generally looks for.

Okay, that turned out longer than I thought it would, and now I've got to try and get some sleep despite not only still being a bit sick, but also getting a rather disturbing bill from the electric company which basically says that they did not receive my most recent payment. I'm going to call my bank later and see if that withdrawal was ever made. If it wasn't, then shame on the Post Office for losing track of an envelope mailed the last week of January. If it was withdrawn, then the electric company will be shown no mercy. Anyway, my roommate has forbade me from even thinking about it anymore, and to just give the bills to her mom for her to handle. This isn't the first time the company has royally messed things up for us. First, a ridiculous deposit they never tell you the amount of up front, followed by a surprise bill from my roommate's previous account that they basically sat on for four years and six months before making the connection between that old account and our new one. Ugh. Anyway, I've had enough of it; I'm seriously going to start looking into solar panels.