October 16, 2005

Finish line

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 16, 2005 8:47 PM

Finished! Our team took about thirty hours overall. My last leg was great, running through the redwood forest in the hills above Santa Cruz, and then opening up to a view of the ocean. It was a bit hot, but mostly downhill, so I was able to maintain a good pace.

Tags: Phone Post, Running
Comments

Congratulations on the run. I have been hung over today, so I'm afraid that I haven't really been up to as much exercise as you have.

In lieu of my exercise, though, I can give you a delayed movie review that you requested of your readers. There will be no spoilers.

Mirrormask is slow. I should tell you that right off the bat, and as many people criticized Neil Gaiman for a style-over-substance approach to the movie (the source of many bad reviews), those of us who read the Sandman can relate to that part of Gaiman and know that Mirrormask will not, in fact, be fast-paced.

That's pretty much the only down side. The actors are incredibly charming, the music is intensely ambient and evocative of the setting. I think of who I can compare it to in terms of applying atmospheric soundtracks, and my first answer would be Motoi Sakuraba's Star Ocean: The Second Story. Many numbers in the middle are just background music and fit the bill, but the ones that are meant to stand out are stunning. I need to download... er, buy, some of them.

Of course everyone who knows Neil Gaiman and David McKean's visual sense of magic, or has just seen the preview, wants to know about the visual setting as well. This may seem like a no-brainer, and every review said it was beautiful, so I'll use hyperbole to emphasize how good-looking the movie is. Here it is:

Mirrormask is twice as beautiful as Spirited Away.

Not just in a visual sense, though it is true in that case, but in the atmospheric sense of the Alice in Wonderland genre of storytelling. With these three movies (Alice, Spirited, and Mirrormask), I want come away with the world around me feeling more beautiful and more alive, and Mirrormask was no exception to that task. That was definitely important in making the movie a success.

Posted by: Josh | October 16, 2005 6:50 PM

Travis, congrats! It sounds like you had a great weekend!

Posted by: Mason | October 16, 2005 7:19 PM

Josh: Thanks for the review--maybe I'll get out and see it sometime soon.

Mason: Yeah, I was a bit skeptical going in but the relay turned out to be awesome. I'll write a follow-up post when I've had more sleep.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 16, 2005 9:30 PM

How about seeing Mirrormask when you're down here for the Cthulu game? I've yet to see it and really want to, but Tim and Mike saw it already.

-Z

Posted by: Zifnab | October 17, 2005 12:22 AM

I'd totally see it again by then too.

Posted by: Josh | October 17, 2005 2:35 AM

I saw some big vehicles with "Runner Ahead" signs taped to them while leaving Cruz yesterday and thought of you. Good job! Now if only you had finished a little earlier, you could have gotten some D&D in while in town!

Posted by: Chris L-S | October 17, 2005 9:03 AM

Josh:
I'm afraid I've gotta disagree with you there. The movie was gorgeous, I'll give you that, but I found the washed-out and frequently blurry visuals occasionally detracted from the experience. They did a great job setting up the mood and whatnot, but after a while it just made me squint and wish I could get a better view. Not to mention the color palette that's noticably better than, *sigh*, Quake. They go through all the trouble to create this fantasic looking world, and then make it hard to look at...

Of course, I'm exaggerating a little bit. Their choice in visual style was nice for some things, I just think it cost them a bit more than they gained by it--you probably disagree, and that's cool. I forgive you.

Really, my biggest gripe is just with you saying it's "twice as beautiful as Spirited Away." It's a shame I'm not a violent man, because I'm rather, um, zealous in my love for that particular Miyazaki movie. Spirited Away is a flawless presentation of it's chosen visual style--Mirrormask is not.

Ah well. You're still a gimp if you don't see it. It's a good movie--probably even a great movie--but it's not a ten.

Posted by: Lemming | October 17, 2005 11:14 AM

Zifnab: Good idea, let's do that.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 17, 2005 11:49 AM

Oh yeah, and:

1) I'd certainly be up to see it again
2) Kudos on the race!
3) ZOMG WORK! I rolled a nat-1 on my craft: c++ a while back, but I think I just made my will save. Hopefully it works out. ^^;

Posted by: Lemming | October 17, 2005 12:07 PM

Congrats on the run, Travis!

Posted by: Jolene | October 17, 2005 2:00 PM

Lemming:

In all fairness, I should admit that I used "twice as beautiful as Spirited Away" only for effect. Since every critic in the world basically said "Yeah. Mirrormask was pretty," me saying it seemed redundant, so I figured a little hyperbole was in order. Those that know me well enough know that I love Spirited Away to death, and I used the comparison to make a point about the immediate effect Mirrormask had on me.

As for your concern about the visuals, I really dug the unfocused nature of it all. It was chaos and it was fake and it was all meant to be that way, which is why it worked in my book. When ludicrous things appear in a ludicrous way, it works for me. On the other hand, when people try to make that sort of thing look and feel TOO real, you get Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Ugh.

Plus, the lack of focus of it really went well with the hangover I was nursing. There are other thematic reasons I could go into, but I think for the sake of not spoiling it for people who are reading, I won't delve into them now. Perhaps a discussion will be in order once we get Arcane and Zif up to speed.

Oh, one last thing... it's a shame you're NOT a violent man? Are you saying you really wish you were so you could do violence to me about what I said about Spirited Away? Threat to myself aside, I'm pretty happy you're not a violent man, especially if it takes a different perspective on a movie to make you want to do violence! ;-)

Posted by: Josh | October 17, 2005 4:59 PM

Dangit Josh, why you gotta be a punk and make it hard to keep arguing with you? In other words, yeah, I pretty much agree with what you said, but it irked me a little at the same time. Not enough to ruin the movie, just enough to distract me a bit on occasion. The visual effects are put to good use to set the mood and setting, yadayada.

It's a shame I'm not a violent man because then the question of, "how to I voice my extreme disagreement with that statement?" would have obviously been, "HULK SMASH!" Hulk doesn't want to hurt people, he just wants to be understood!

Posted by: Lemming | October 17, 2005 6:31 PM

As in, the visual style of the movie irked me, not you.

Posted by: Lemming | October 17, 2005 6:33 PM

Count me in on Mirrormask. I haven't seen it yet either and would like to.

Travis, what days precisely are you in town again?

Posted by: Mason | October 17, 2005 7:19 PM

I really liked Mirror Mask. Sandman is a story about stories, and Gaiman certainly has enough practice by now that he can tell stories really well. Looking back at the movie now, I can say, "Yeah, it's not a fast-paced movie," but I didn't notice at the time. Mirror Mask takes its time to explain things fully, to give the details the time they want, and the result was that I got caught up in the slowness, and instead of feeling like it was dragging on, it just kept going when I was expecting it to end. Sort of like when it feels like everything's wrapping up and then you get "Please Insert Disk 2".

I suppose Alice in Wonderland is a good comparison, but I've never seen a film version of it that really meshed with my impressions of the book. The comparison I'd make is to The Neverhood, which was a surreal claymation puzzle/exploration game in the Myst vein that I stumbled across in highschool. (I actually found the CD for it recently, I think... I should make that my midterm-procrastination project.) Of course, it's not much of a comparison if you haven't played it, but it's got a similar (kooky? zany? ...wacky?) style that Disney's Alice doesn't.

It's kind of a good thing that Serenity came out so recently, because normally I'd feel bad about giving Mirror Mask a 9 out of 10. I'd wave my hands around vaguely and say "I mean, it's good, it's really good, but it's just not... I just don't feel right saying that there couldn't be a movie that was better at what it did." Instead, I can feel confident concluding with: I think Mirror Mask is very good, but it's not quite as good as Serenity. Which isn't a bad thing. 9/10.

Posted by: Mike^2 | October 17, 2005 7:42 PM

Mason: Ha, the use of my blog as a scheduling tool continues. My current plan is to arrive in LA the afternoon of the 28th and leave the afternoon of the 30th.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 17, 2005 9:07 PM

ok :) Among other things, I was trying to figure out if I might go to see a Depeche tribute band on 10/28---you know, amidst all the euphoria of the new album that comes out tomorrow (although I think I will need to wait a week or so for my Amazon order to come; I ordered it in the same order as something that comes out on 10/25) and in preparation for seeing the real deal (for the first time ever!) on 11/11.

Anyway, 10/28 or 10/29 for Mirrormask are both fine with me (and for more Cthulhu madness, of course).

Posted by: Mason | October 17, 2005 9:26 PM

Lemming:

It's probably hard to argue with me because while you were studying the useful sciences of life, I was taking theatre and film classes and learned, if nothing else, how to bullshit why I like something well. So I'm no stranger to the effect pure taste works, too!

Oh, and speaking of the Hulk... remember that violence isn't his only solution. The Hulk was once out at the movies, and decided to use his background in film to bullshit about what made the movie work... HULK BALDERDASH!

Mike: A movie Roger Ebert compared Mirrormask to, that I have not seen, is called "Paper House", directed by Bernard Rose. I haven't seen it, but from his description it sounds similar and he gives it a very good rating. It might be a better movie to use than "Alice in Wonderland".

Posted by: Josh | October 17, 2005 10:40 PM

Josh: you were hung over?

Posted by: JSpur | October 18, 2005 5:26 AM

Josh: Awesome, I've been dying for a new HULK joke!

JSpur: I've been waiting for you to catch that. Is this the part of the sitcom where "hilarity ensues"?

Posted by: Lemming | October 18, 2005 8:50 AM

Lemming, I'm not sure about hilarity, but it is the part of the sitcom where I indulge myself in the hope that my own mother has long since concluded that reading this blog could potentially damage in a fundamental way her carefully maintained and cherished image of her grandsons as perfect young gentlemen patterned after her nearly perfect oldest son, and accordingly no longer finds occasion to come surfing by.

It is, after all, too early in the day to start drinking. Even on the East Coast.

Posted by: JSpur | October 18, 2005 10:30 AM

JSpur: I don't think she's ever seen the blog. I mean, she still talks to me.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 18, 2005 12:00 PM

If you were in Europe on the day of a soccer match, the drinking would have started long before 10:30 am. (And if there weren't a soccer match, maybe they would have pretended their were one.)

Posted by: Mason | October 19, 2005 11:29 AM

If it makes anyone feel better about my descent into debauchery, I may or may not have been drinking in the same bar that Lindsay Lohan was drinking in.

Posted by: Josh | October 21, 2005 12:43 AM
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