Games and Gadgets
Lately we've been buzzing about how good video games are again. Here are our favorite picks from various consoles:
For the XBOX360, we live out all our zombie killing fantasies through Left 4 Dead 2. Clearly the best part about Left 4 Dead was the cooperative action, and the series returns with creepier settings, more enemies, and the same fantastic co-op gameplay. The best part about Left 4 Dead 2 however is the improved AI director, which changes the weather, pathways, and enemies to make each time you play the game a unique experience.
For the PS3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: With even more fantastic multiplayer modes than the original Modern Warfare and an epic solo campaign following the events of the first game, Modern Warfare 2 provides the most realistic and nail biting shooter experience available. Best first person shooter since Golden Eye! The result of many a droopy and bleary eye around the office.
For the Wii, we love the New Super Mario Brothers; finally you can explore the world of Super Mario Brothers with Mario and Luigi together, with up to four players simultaneously saving, or sacrificing each other to save the Princess.
DS gamers will love The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, a puzzle solving masterpiece in which Link finally has a partner! Use the Phantom, a giant suit of armor that Link can control, to help get through dangerous paths and obstacles. Traverse the world with Link as your train conductor, combining real time and puzzle elements to plot the safest route.
At last the PS3 hit Little Big Planet goes portable with the PSP, in an all new Sackboy adventure with over 35 levels, plus the same level creation and sharing systems that made the game so fun in the first place.
Cinephiles and gamers alike can use a great viewing set-up, thus, we give our recommendations for big-ticket gifts: DVD players and TVs. The Samsung LN40B650 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV delivers top knotch color saturation, ideal for movie-viewing and priced just right for the quality of product. For a blu-ray player that will serve all of your media needs and will play the crap out of any format (Blu-Ray, DVD, DVD-audio and SACD), we love the OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player with SACD & DVD-Audio. The price tag (about $500) is right for the the quality of picture you get from even regular DVDs with the upconversion, sturdy metal construction, and inclusion of a high quality HDMI cable (1.3 cable with gold-plated connectors). For more on this player, peruse this detailed review by avrev.com. At a smaller price tag ($127) we dig the Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray Disc Player; though it comes with little in terms of extra features, it will play your Blu-Ray and existing DVD collection beautifully, and we like the price tag, too. And for the gamers, the Play Station 3 is still a solid Blu-Ray player, plus, have we mentioned Modern Warfare 2?
Part 3: Comics and Oddities!
These are just a sampling of comics that we can't get enough of. Flip to any random page of The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack and we guarantee you'll either laugh, or scratch your head in amused puzzlement - it's a great treat for your friends who enjoyed the humor of The Far Side. The Walking Dead tells the tale of a rag tag team of zombie apocalypse survivors - it's fraught with dramatic tension and surprising twists; volumes 1-4 are collected in this paperback collection, our preferred method of comics consumption. Tough-to-impress hipster friends will enjoy The Beats: A Graphic History, which chronicles the life of famous beat poets/authors Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, and their lesser-known friends. Even those familiar with their biographies will love the stellar black-and-white art work and critical look at the beat movement's flaws, reprecussions, and moments of brilliance.
For lighter fare, Hack/Slash, Vol. 1: First Cut will appeal to those looking for a kick-ass anti-heroine. In this series you'll follow Cassie Hack and her monster-in-crime Vlad as they track down slashers across the country to confront the killers in the most ridiculous, hilarious situations (Vol. 2 takes them to a comics convention and lovingly pokes fun at nerd culture). It's as much fun as watching the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. Fablesis circulating around the office like wildfire, and general consensus is it's our favorite epic multi-volume series since Y: The Last Man. Fables follows the lives of story-book characters after they've been driven out of their homelands by a powerful and unnamed adversary. Now they live in upstate New York, doing their best to hide their magical character from the "mundane" world. The fun of the series is reimagining and revisiting characters from Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf to the Frog Prince, living together and tackling everything from every-day dramas, love triangles, who dunnits, to drafting plans to return to their beloved homelands.
Strictly for the ladies: "I, Vincent Gallo, star of such classics as Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny have decided to make myself available to all women. All women who can afford me, that is." For $50,000.00 you can give your lady friend the time of her life - Vincent Gallo, weekend escort. Score bonus points by paying the $1,000,000.00 fee for his sperm. Talk about a stocking stuffer (zing)!
The YooStar entertainment system looks like a load of fun. From the product description: "The Yoostar Entertainment System gives you everything you need to turn your home into a movie studio -- studio-grade web cam, portable green screen and stand, wireless remote, Yoostar software for your PC (Mac version coming soon), plus 12 movie scenes and 2 bonus scenes to start." So you can pretend to be John Malcovich, in the movie Being John Malkovich. How very meta!
Few standup routines have made us laugh harder than Patton Oswalt's bit on the KFC bowl, so naturally we'd include his latest audio CD My Weakness is Strong in our gift list for lovers of stand up comedy. And if your weakness is bacon, find strength in bacon jam, from skillet street food. It's delicious.
When we receive Oscilloscope Lab DVDs for our rental customers, we love to "oo" and "aah" over the beautiful and environmentally friendly packaging and wonderful content inside (see our reviews for Treeless Mountain and Unmistaken Child). You can give a loved one that same warm feeling by signing them up for an Oscilloscope Labs subscription. For $150 they'll receive the next 10 DVDs they release a week before their street release date (about 1 a month) and the ability to purchase the back catalog for 50% off. Another DVD of the month club we love is Film Movement - for as little as $11 per month they'll eceive an award-winning independent film, like GreenCine favorites The Pope's Toilet and The Window. Another great gift for the indie film lover are these adorable pillowcases from Miranda July, available at the Wexner Center Store.
We first noticed the Flip Video devices back when they worked with the Auteurs to have a short-video format Flip Film Festival in Cannes. They've upgraded the device since then to shoot in HD, and uploading videos to social networking sites is a breeze, and it's compact site is perfect for portability. We recommend the new Flip Mino HD.
Print isn't dead! And to prove it, send your friends these high quality, visually stimulating and thought-provoking magazines. N+1 covers politics, literature, and culture - but we love it for the film essays, of course. It's only published twice yearly, and you can send gift subscriptions at their website. Cinemascope is compiled by some of our favorite film writers and bloggers, and is a wonderful mix of interviews, critical essays, reviews, columns from regular contributors like Jonathan Rosenbaum, and plenty more.
Happy holidays from the GreenCine Team!
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