Gearing Up With Trials Evolution


I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about one of 2012’s most underrated gems. Underrated by whom, you ask? I don’t know, but what I do know is that Trials Evolution is a game which deserves to be praised each and every day until the end of time.

For those not in the know, Trials Evolution is a physics-based puzzle game set on a motocross bike. Using just two buttons and an analog stick, players must carefully navigate their rider to the end of each level, which is easier said than done. As the levels (which are closer to obstacle courses than race tracks) ascend and descend, players have to carefully shift their rider’s weight on the bike. An uphill straightaway requires the rider’s full weight on the front of the bike, for example, while a perfect landing necessitates the back tire landing ever-so-slightly before the rest of the bike. The game is a literal balancing act, and while the concept seems simple enough, the execution will leave you in a controller-throwing rage. The good kind, though.

That’s because every failure is the fault of the player, not the game. Though you may be able to stumble through a course with dozens of mistakes (or “faults,” as the game calls them), the physics of Trials reward the more precise player. The mechanics are a thing of beauty, impressively deep and rewarding. The game never seems cheap, but instead forces players to learn and improve at the game, resulting in one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. “One more try” turns into hours lost in front of the television, all for that elusive perfect run that may be as short as twenty seconds. But you can do it in nineteen point five seconds, goddammit, and so the cycle starts again.


And unlike its predecessor, which took place solely in a squalid, rundown warehouse (the size of which put the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark to shame) Trials Evolution features a wide variety of track environments, from beautiful outdoor forests to post-apocalyptic cityscapes and everything in between. The variety truly is amazing. Where one level may be a cross-country jaunt through a peaceful countryside, another is a surreal, mind-bending excursion through a constantly shifting world.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Trials Evolution is its track creator, a mode so sophisticated and adaptable it would make Little Big Planet proud. An admittedly niche mode, the track creator allows particularly creative individuals to craft and tweak their own levels. It may seem cliché, but the mode is limited only by the player’s imagination. Some of the developer-created “tracks” include an FPS shooting range, a Frogger clone, and even a Splosion Man inspired minigame. Fully utilizing the track creator requires a familiarity with a dizzying amount of options and a massive investment of time, but the end result is a mode that, if shipped separately, would be more-than-worth the $15 price tag of Trials Evolution.

Not a track creator yourself? Then jump into Track Central, where the world’s top-rated user tracks are freely available for download. So even after you’ve exhausted Trials Evolution’s 60 tracks (which is an achievement in itself), there are literally thousands more just waiting. Even a year after release, tracks are still being uploaded to Track Central with astounding regularity. The active player base is a testament to the game’s longevity and addictive nature.


And as a random aside, Trials Evolution also has the distinction of being the first game in years to make me physically move my hands and body while playing. I suddenly identify with my parents. Not since I was five have I done such a thing, yet I find myself unconsciously straining to make a particularly long jump or to keep my rider balanced. It’s a strange reaction to have, and I attribute it to Trials’ immersion factor, which completely pulls you into the game. When that jump is barely out of reach, you actually feel as if a bit of fidgeting can save you. It never can of course, but a quick press of the B button allows you to instantly reset and try again. And again, and again, and again.

When players boot up Trials Evolution, they’re greeted with a rap/rock intro song performed by Brandon Dicamillo of Jackass fame. The song has been criticized to hell and back since the game’s release, but I found it to be tongue-in-cheek, self-aware song that set the tone for the rest of the game: a Jackass-esque carnival of pain, absurdity, and fun. Yet the trailer-park, hillbilly atmosphere of the game belies a complex and refined experience. It may be hard to believe, but like an old motocross bike, there’s sophistication buried beneath Trial Evolution’s rusty, redneck exterior. Sophistication and fun like you wouldn’t believe


Star Trek Into Darkness

In 2009, director JJ Abrams showed how it was possible to update Star Trek into a fun, entertaining film while still remaining respectful of its source material. The film was a hit, and after four years, Into Darkness arrives in theaters. But while Star Trek was a fresh, new experience, Into Darkness is already showing fatigue under its shiny gloss.

Into Darkness takes place where the previous film left off. The young, charming, and rebellious James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is the captain of the USS Enterprise, boldly going where no man has gone before and boldly defying Starfleet protocols. But when a threat emerges back on Earth, the Enterprise and her crew must do whatever they can to protect Starfleet itself.

Just like with the previous film, Into Darkness’ cast is a treat to watch. Pine plays Kirk with a swagger and cockiness that channels William Shatner without being parody, and Karl Urban’s portrayal of Leonard “Bones” McCoy is a treat to watch.


Zachary Quinto is good, too. Logically.

The action, likewise, is exhilarating. Ships burn and crash through the atmosphere, and Abrams provides great set-piece action sequences that take full advantage of his cast’s youth and energy. Abrams has updated Star Trek for a more modern audience, and although it loses some of its intellectual nature, the rebooted franchise moves at a quick pace.

However, Abrams seems to have concentrated too much on delivering exciting action sequences than crafting an intelligible story. Into Darkness requires prior familiarity with the original movies in order to function as a cohesive experience. As a stand-alone feature, the movie fails to impart even the most basic information to the viewer, and leaves the uninitiated viewer feeling lost and confused.

One of the big “reveals” in this movie comes as the movie’s villain, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), is being held prisoner aboard the Enterprise. Talking with McCoy and Kirk, Harrison dramatically announces that his name is “Khaaaan,” complete with foreboding and ominous music. But the film never bothers to explain why this is such an important reveal. It assumes the audience has at least heard of the villain Khan, and assumes that that knowledge is enough to satiate the audience’s questions. Even McCoy and Kirk look wary and unsure in the light of this new information, but in reality they should instead be asking, “uh…who?” For an audience member who has never seen Wrath of Khan, this reveal is meaningless, and the movie never deigns to explain who or what Khan is.


“Guys, it’s all explained in this 1982 movie. You do have a VHS player on this ship, right?”

Even Khan’s back-story is senseless without prior knowledge of Star Trek canon. Into Darkness takes place in the 23rd century, but Khan is said to have been frozen for 300 years on one of the first sub-warp starships. After awakening, his superior intellect and strength were used by the Federation to design new weapons and starships. But to the average audience member, this information makes no sense. How is Khan from the early 20th century if that technology didn’t exist back then? Where does his superhuman strength and intelligence come from? The movie never bothers to explain these apparent discrepancies. Though these questions were answered in The Wrath of Khan, a reboot shouldn’t require outside knowledge in order for its basic narrative to work.

Moreover, Star Trek Into Darkness is disturbingly self-aware. Callbacks to the original series and set of films are so frequent and obvious that it feels less a Star Trek film than it does a parody, almost like it’s going down a “greatest hits” list of Star Trek pop-culture knowledge. Characters say their catchphrases within minutes of appearing on screen, tribbles make a random appearance, Klingons are here because, well, people have heard of Klingons before! The movie feels like a hodge-podge of classic Star Trek moments the writers desperately wanted to include in the new film, but had no real idea of how to organically work them into the movie.


After such a fun and successful first film, it’s frustrating to see Star Trek fall into the same safe pattern laid out in its predecessors. One of the benefits of a rebooted franchise is that it allows the characters and story to start from square one, no longer beholden to byzantine plot threads or decades of convoluted canon. But Into Darkness is content to tread familiar ground, throwing reference after reference at the viewer at the expense of its own identity.

It seems the writers are at a point where good, original stories are not on their agenda. There’s literally a universe of possibilities they could take Star Trek, but instead we get more of the same. The effort of creating an alternate Star Trek timeline will go to waste if the new films simply repeat storylines from the past.

With such a great cast and talented director, the new Star Trek films deserve better. As it stands now, the film not-so-boldly goes where many others have gone before.

Player agency and determinism in BioShock Infinite

Two months ago, Irrational Games released BioShock Infinite, the long-awaited follow-up to the 2007 title BioShock. The sequel shared similarities to the original game: both titles feature fantastic cities in strange places and contain nearly-identical superpower-plus-guns combat capabilities. More importantly, however, is how BioShock Infinite further commented on ideas and themes presented within the original BioShock; themes involving player agency, freedom, and determinism. Interestingly, both games attempt to say something about the nature of video games and the medium itself. In a medium where player choice is tightly controlled by developers, BioShock and BioShock Infinite managed to subvert and comment on these themes, hopefully leaving a lasting impression on players.

When it was released in 2007, BioShock was met with critical and commercial success. The game was a revelation. It hit all the right notes, but most surprising was its narrative and how it used a natural limitation of the video game medium to its advantage: specifically, the lack of player agency naturally inherent in video games. By tying this message directly into its narrative, BioShock managed to comment and critique on how video games are ostensibly static experiences; linear enterprises where “choice” is merely an illusion. Because no matter how much freedom is given to the player, he or she is always on a constrained and tightly-directed path. Any deviation from this path exposes well-worn video games tropes: an overturned chair or waist-high rubble blocks a player’s progress, or locked doors create a dead-end. To the outside observer, these roadblocks are absurd, but to players, these conventions are so common that we don’t even recognize them anymore. The game is directing players away from these locations, and the audience readily accepts that, oftentimes without even realizing that they’re being directed.


If only there were something a superpowered human with a shotgun, rocket launcher, and explosives could do to get through this flimsy gate.

BioShock, however, directly addressed the lack of player agency in its narrative. Halfway through the game, it was revealed that your character, Jack, was subconsciously being controlled through mind control. Through the simple keyphrase “would you kindly,” your character was being directed to unconsciously perform certain tasks. Refusing to do these tasks was impossible, as game progression was dependant on their completion. Basically, unless you had no desire to finish the game, you had no choice but to follow orders, regardless of what the order was. Thus, the game was making an on-the-nose comparison between the player’s character and the player himself.  The result was a meta-commentary on the current state of video games, where “control” and “choice” were nothing more than buzzwords; façades which tricked the audience into believing in false substance. A type of digital Potemkin village.


This enslavement to game design was reflected at multiple points throughout BioShock. Perhaps the most memorable example was when the player finally came face-to-face with Andrew Ryan, the antagonist of the game. A brutal and unforgiving ideologue, Ryan directly acknowledges how player choice is actually nonexistent. When he commands Jack using the aforementioned keyphrase “would you kindly,” Jack, as well as the player, is slavishly forced to perform certain actions, ultimately killing Ryan in a brutal fashion. In essence, control is stripped from the player, and the illusion of empowerment disappears. The player himself is violated. In a medium which purports to be a non-passive storytelling experience, BioShock shows the true nature of video games: they are tightly-controlled experiences in which players are slaves to game design. “A man chooses, a slave obeys,” Ryan says, referencing the player’s status as nothing more than thrall, bound to the whims of others. Whereas Jack is a slave to Ryan, the player is a slave to the game designers.

It was a clever perversion of “the man behind the curtain,” but instead of a third-party being exposed as a fraud, the player himself became aware of his or her impotence. It was a brilliant deconstruction of the medium, and its nearly-perfect execution cemented BioShock’s status as masterpiece. It’s no wonder that its follow-up, BioShock Infinite, takes many thematic ideas—and adds a few new ones—from its predecessor. But instead of only critiquing player control in games, Infinite also focuses on the fatalistic nature of games.

Set in 1912, BioShock Infinite puts you in the shoes of Booker DeWitt, a retired Pinkerton agent who has accrued a large debt to the wrong people. In order to repay the debt, DeWitt must travel to the floating city of Columbia and rescue a woman named Elizabeth, the daughter of Zachary Comstock, founder and ruler of Columbia. Much like BioShock’s Andrew Ryan, Comstock is a man dead-set on his ideals. But instead of being an objectivist dictator, Comstock is a religious radical. An ultra-conservative self-proclaimed prophet, Comstock rules Columbia with an iron fist, and his racist and nativist views are infused throughout the entirety of the city. Jingoistic posters litter Columbia’s walls, and the Founders, the ruling class in the city, encourage eugenics and racial purity. All in all, it’s a pretty shitty place for a non-white person.


He may be a megalomaniacal asshole, but Comstock has a magnificent beard

As Booker (and the player) travels through Columbia, he discovers many mysteries, but few are as engaging as the Lutece twins, a brother-sister duo who can bend reality to their will. Throughout Booker’s quest, the twins appear (seemingly out of thin air) and tease Booker with enigmatic riddles, hinting that perception and reality are two separate—yet paradoxically related—aspects of the same coin. It’s all a bit heady, but the Luteces also serve a much more practical purpose: they are Booker’s guides to Elizabeth, the imprisoned daughter of Comstock.

As players progress through Columbia, Infinite’s fatalistic themes become more and more apparent. As a prophet, Comstock claims to have seen visions of the future, visions which come to fruition right before the player’s eyes. Not even NPCs are free from this fatalism. “I have seen their future in the glory,” Comstock tells Booker, explaining why Columbia’s guards are so willing to follow Comstock’s orders, even if it means their death. Comstock’s prophesies and visions create a sense of futility for both Booker and the player, for what free will is there in a world governed by determinism?

Comstock sets his sights on Booker, too. As Booker creates more and more of a disturbance in Columbia, he draws the attention of Comstock himself. “Prophecy is my business, Mr. DeWitt,” Comstock says. “This will end in blood…it always does with you.” In a way, player empowerment has again been taken from the player, but this time in a more metaphorical way. While the player can still control Booker and guide his actions, it all begins to feel hopeless and in vain. In BioShock, the lack of player agency in video games was addressed directly in its narrative. Likewise, Infinite reminds you that you’re on an ultimately linear path with a clear beginning and end. Even if you get to fiddle with the stuff in the middle, you can’t control or change the outcome at all. This is represented in the game’s narrative by Comstock’s visions of the future, visions which are concrete and presumably set in stone.

The deterministic nature of Infinite is again displayed at different points within the game, where you, the player, seemingly have the chance to make meaningful decisions. At one point, Elizabeth asks you to choose between two necklaces: one has the image of a cage, representing captivity and servility; the other, a bird in flight, representing freedom and boundless possibility. Like Pavlov’s dog, gamers have been trained over the years to expect consequences from in-game decisions. Hell, entire genres have been created in which branching story narratives are controlled by player choices. Though obviously smaller in magnitude, the choice between a bird and a cage in Infinite ostensibly exists to provoke a change in story direction; after all, why else would the designers present this dilemma? But throughout the entirety of the game, the payoff for this decision remains elusive. It never comes, making the player’s decision meaningless and continuing the theme of player disempowerment. It is a subversion of a classic video game trope (if the developers take the time and effort to create a unique decision within the game, there will be consequences to said decision) and serves to highlight the theme of futility presented within the game. Players are no more in control of their fate than Booker.


“Choose carefully, Mr. DeWitt. I think this may be a very important decision. Or not. Let’s just get back to killing guys.”

Another example of fatalism and lack of control occurs early in the game, when the Lutece twins first appear to Booker. With coin in hand, the male Letuce is wears a sandwich board divided into two categories: heads and tails. Tick marks show the results of previous coin flips. Apparently the Luteces have asked this question many times before, because there are twelve marks for heads and none for tails. They ask Booker to choose heads or tails, but players have no say in the matter. The choice is automated, and player agency is again removed from the player. Regardless of what the player wishes, the game seizes control and implements its own will onto the in-game universe.

Booker’s choice proves to be inconsequential, however. The coin will always land on heads. Like the bird or cage “choice,” this decision proves to be meaningless. Neither Booker nor the player can change the fate of the coin flip, just like how neither Booker nor the player can change the course of the game. Furthermore, as the male Lutece turns around, players see an additional hundred and ten tick marks in the “heads” category and none in “tails,” calling to mind the fatalism theme found throughout the game. Things that are meant to be will be. It is the first – but not the last – time the game calls attention to the futility of player actions.

One of the most extreme examples of player agency (specifically, the lack of it) occurs near the end of the game, after Booker has finally confronted Comstock. Players walk into a peaceful garden to find a gentle Comstock dabbing at Elizabeth’s wounds with a cloth. Soon, however, Comstock becomes increasingly belligerent to the point of abuse. He grabs Elizabeth’s arm and forcefully yanks her toward him. At this point, players are given the prompt to “intervene.” There are no other options, and the game won’t continue until players accept the prompt and watch Booker’s actions play out. But instead of merely putting a stop to Comstock’s abuse of Elizabeth, the scene ends with Booker repeatedly smashing Comstock’s head onto stone and drowning the man. The escalation is quick, violent, and most importantly, unexpected. Few players could have predicted how their “simple” intervention would have dire, fatal results, but the results serve to remind players of their lack of control in the game.

While I don’t believe this scene to be an intentional subversion of player agency by the developers, it nevertheless fits well within the framework and mold BioShock Infinite takes great care to cultivate for itself. Players have no control over Booker’s actions and are powerless to stop Comstock’s murder. By happenstance, this just so happens to fit within the fatalism and determinism themes presented in Infinite. No matter how many times a player replays that section, the end result is always the same: Booker will always kill Comstock, and players will always be incapable of stopping him. They are powerless to change or affect the outcome at all, much like how Booker is ultimately powerless to change his own fate. Because while he managed to kill Comstock, seemingly undermining Comstock’s prophesies in the process, Booker is still unable to stave off his final fate.


As BioShock Infinite progresses to its conclusion, Booker’s history and his relation to Columbia and Comstock become clear. The aforementioned Lutece twins, the quirky transdimensional-hopping brother/sister duo, were studying quantum mechanics, allowing them to jump at will through the multiverse. Through their journey, they discovered something amazing:  there is an Infinite amount of parallel universes, all sharing common threads yet diverging in important ways. In one universe, Booker might turn left instead of right, or he may choose one action over another, like, say, accepting a baptism instead of running away from one.

A baptism isn’t merely a random example, but one integral to the story of the game. Before the events of BioShock Infinite, Booker was a soldier who fought at The Battle of Wounded Knee. After committing war atrocities during the battle, Booker sought salvation through religion. However, he ultimately couldn’t go through with the baptism, and he ended up becoming a drunk, a gambler, and a father to a young girl. An ignominious end for a former hero.

In another universe, however, Booker does accept the baptism, and he begins his life as a new man, with new ideals and a new name: Zachary Hale Comstock. Booker – now Comstock, a religious zealot – builds Columbia and founds the Lutece’s physics research, but too much contact with the machine impairs Comstock’s ability to reproduce. Eager for an heir of his own blood, Comstock uses the Lutece’s transdimensional machine to anonymously coax a reluctant Booker to sell his child, whom Comstock raises as Elizabeth.

It is here where BioShock Infinite’s fatalistic themes are most evident. Booker’s baptism becomes the fulcrum on which the outcome of his life is balanced, and Booker’s life diverges into two possible paths. If Booker accepts the baptism, he is destined to become Comstock, a racist megalomaniac despot. If he doesn’t accept the baptism, Booker becomes an alcoholic who’s willing to sell his own daughter to pay off his debts.  Neither are desirable options, but neither are malleable in the slightest. Booker is captive to the demands of his fatalistic universe, much as how players are captive to the natural constraints of the video game medium. The analogous nature between fatalism and the innate linearity of video games is a link that Infinite makes explicit, much as how BioShock drew a comparison between player agency and Jack’s lack of true operative abilities within that game.

Although Booker is not able to change his fate, he is able to avoid it completely by nullifying his entire existence. It’s a strange workaround that gives Booker a modicum of control over his fate. By dying at the baptism, Booker never becomes Comstock and never builds Columbia. Therefore, the events of the game never take place. Booker chooses to preemptively stop these events from happening at the expense of his life. It’s the only control Booker truly has in Infinite’s narrative, and it is mirrored by the player’s own choice to play the game at all. Booker’s reset button stops the game’s events from happening, and like Booker, players are ultimately given the choice of whether the narrative exists when they put Infinite in their console’s disc tray.

At the end of the day, Booker and the player both exhibit the exact same amount of control in BioShock Infinite. No more, no less. The intrinsic connection between player and character is subtly referenced throughout the game, and the mere act of experiencing the game creates an underlying connection between Booker and the player.

In both BioShock and BioShock Infinite, Irrational Games managed to elevate critical discussion about video games. By directly referencing things like player agency, lack of control, and linear paths within their game’s narrative, the studio was able to break the fourth-wall in a very interesting way. It would have been easy to make a straight parody on the ridiculousness of video games, and we’ve seen it before with games like Duke Nukem, Eat Lead, and the much more recent Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, but Irrational Games chose to go down a much more daring route. The resulting BioShock series is a commentary on the video game medium as a whole: how it’s a tightly-controlled, static art form with only the illusion of control and choice. It is not a damnation of the medium; on the contrary, the BioShock games wouldn’t exist in their current form if it weren’t for these strict, yet natural, limitations of the medium. But it raises questions on alternative ways to play and create games. And as we continue to see many games franchises iterate rather than innovate, it’s interesting to wonder if BioShock and BioShock Infinite’s messages will continue to remain relevant for years to come.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Since its premiere at the Sundance Movie Festival in 2010, Exit Through the Gift Shop has been surrounded by doubt and controversy. Is the film, which presents itself as a documentary on urban street art, an elaborate hoax, or is it sincere in its portrayal of Thierry Guetta, a peculiar but genuine fan of street art?

Exit Through the Gift Shop follows the exploits of French amateur filmmaker Thierry Guetta as he records the actions and art of various graffiti artists across the globe. Guetta, with a camera always in hand, looks like a modern day anachronism: his wild facial hair is arranged into mutton chops and a handlebar mustache, and his personality is equally bizarre. An aspiring but fairly clueless filmmaker, Guetta owns an urban clothing shop which he uses to finance his many trips around the world, all to record the processes of several well-known graffiti artists. Among those featured in Exit Through the Gift Shop is Shepard Fairey, the young man responsible for the iconic “HOPE” poster used in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. But though he meets an array of eclectic and interesting street artists, one particular individual remains out of Guetta’s reach: the mysterious and elusive Banksy, an English artist whose stenciled works became the subject of international news after he created a set of images on the West Bank wall in Israel.


“I hearby dub this West Banksy. That’s not lame, right?”

Through some rather convenient and fortuitous circumstances, Guetta eventually comes into contact with Banksy, who, shadowed and with a modulated voice, provides commentary interspliced into the documentary. After meeting and befriending Guetta, Banksy encourages him to use his thousands of hours of film footage and turn it into a documentary about street art. Guetta obliges, producing “Life Remote Control,” a “film” that consists of little more than quick cuts of street art accompanied by nightmarish audio. “It was at that point that I realized that Thierry wasn’t actually a filmmaker but maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera,” Banksy says. Soon after, Banksy encourages Guetta to become a street artist himself and makes plans to open an exhibition featuring Guetta’s original art. Banksy takes over Guetta’s documentary and has it feature Guetta himself, with the end product being Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Because Guetta is focus of the film, and its only real “character,“  it is important that the audience comes to empathize with him and his actions. Though bumbling and oblivious, Guetta is presented as a genuinely caring and motivated individual whose obsession with filmmaking is rivaled only by his obsession with street art. The last half of the movie deals with Guetta’s astronomical rise to stardom in the Los Angeles art scene, and how he deals with his newfound (and some may say undeserved) fame. As art enthusiasts flock to Guetta’s exhibition (under the pseudonym Mister Brainwash), Banksy becomes increasingly surprised at Guetta’s level of success, and the lack of experimentation and failure he faced in attaining it. After all, Guetta’s art is pastiche of other artists’ work, only not as thought-provoking or fresh as the originals. Despite his newfound fame, Guetta never comes across as jaded or ungrateful, but as someone overwhelmed by his current situation.


It’s like Ron Jeremy and Wolverine had a lovechild

Whether or not Exit Through the Gift Shop is a true documentary isn’t important. The issues it raises and questions it asks have no bearing on the true intention of the film itself. The film is an exploration, and at times exploitation, of the urban art scene. Though many talented artists are shown, the film also documents artists who “art” has no message and no real creativity, but is instead a blight on the urban environment. “Sorry about your wall,” is one such message, written sloppily in spray paint. By juxtaposing this with legitimately interesting and provocative artistic statements (such as those by Banksy), Exit explores the difference between mere graffiti and art. It is a complicated and highly controversial subject, but Exit manages to carefully avoid generalizations and condemnations, all while staying entertaining to the average viewer. The film doesn’t tirelessly dwell on “what is art?” but merely poses the question to the viewer. How much this seed germinates depends entirely on you.

Much like the street art it documents, Exit Through the Gift Shop manages to be entertaining, funny, clever, and thought-provoking. Guetta, resembling a real-life cartoon character, charts the escapades of various street artists, climbing and shimmying up buildings alongside them like a fearless madman. Many times, Guetta is caught up in the legally grey area street art occupies; a fateful trip to Disneyland with Banksy provides the film with real tension and an interesting view of the Magic Kingdom. Banksy’s occasional quips give the film some levity: after all, he’s as incredulous at Guetta’s success as we are, and he doesn’t pull any punches when describing Guetta’s eccentric personality. Real or not, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a fascinating look at the culture of street artistry, as well as a great character study of the…unique Thierry Guetta. Perhaps a few years from now we’ll see a follow-up documenting Mister Brainwash’s level of success, but until then, Exit Through the Gift Shop succeeds in providing a highly interesting and compelling look into two forms of art: street art and filmmaking.

A modern day horror

It has finally happened. The unthinkable has become believable: my blog is back.

Like a modern day Frankenstein’s monster, my blog has risen from its premature grave, stitched back together by a merciless creator who knows not what horror he is about to unleash unto the world.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but the fact remains that this is an event worth remarking upon. I originally started a blog on blogspot way back in 2008, while I was still attending college as an English major. My updates became more infrequent until they stopped altogether, mostly due to the increasing demands of schoolwork. When your degree is on the line, college takes precedence over all other writing, no matter how enjoyable it may be. Unfortunately, my brief stint away from my blog turned from weeks, to months, then finally years. It eventually faded from my memory, like an evanescent dream in the light of morning (though obviously my hoity-toity English lessons haven’t suffered the same fate).

Just this morning, however, I managed to stumble on my old blog, and my eagerness to start writing “publicly” again was palpable. So here we are: a fresh new beginning, and hopefully the start of an entertaining, fun blog enjoyable for all.

Until next time.