Steam Summer Sale 2019 Recommendations

It’s that time of year again and here are some games I’ve played in the last year that I would encourage you to check out during the annual sale.

Sometimes you want to resource grind without all the annoying narrative in the way. Forager is just the game for that and brings together core elements from other games like Minecraft and those clicker style games. You are a little guy who is just trying to build things to get to the next thing, so you make the bigger thing. I guess you could say the purpose of playing Forager is, so you don’t have to play Forager anymore. The more you develop, the more automated your resource gathering becomes. There are lots of satisfying sounds and flashing things on the screen so that your dopamine centers will be lit up continuously. If you want an easy pick-up and play for a couple of minutes style of game, then Forager will scratch that itch.

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Movie Review – Black Hollow Cage

Black Hollow Cage (2017)
Written & Directed by Sadrac González-Perellón

Ambiguity in media is often the point of frustration for many audience members. I can remember in college where classes read texts that left all the answers up in the air encountering students who would get red-faced with anger over the lack of finality. I was always the opposite; I cherished stories that left me hanging; they would linger in my mind for a long time. These texts were worth going back to and analyzing deeper. This comes down to two different ways of looking at life. Some people get very upset if they feel they don’t have a handle on the way the universe works and seeing it not correspond to their values. Other people accept the mystery of the void and keep going, knowing there will be blank spots and bumps in the road, that a lack of meaning is inevitable. I fall into the latter camp and so too does this film.

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TV Review – Dark Season 2

Dark Season 2 (Netflix)
Written by Jantje Friese, Daphne Ferraro, Ronny Schalk, Marc O. Seng, & Martin Behnke
Directed by Baran bo Odar

You know how when a serialized show in American starts a new season and they sort of ease the audience back into the story, maybe using new characters to reintroduce the cast? Yeah, Dark just says, “Where did we leave off last time? Yes? Let’s go” This show does not let up for these eight episodes, and it is all the better for that. By the time you reach the prophesied final moments of Winden, your brain will have been stretched and tied into a knot. Yet, the showrunners throw a curveball that sends your mind hurtling into questions about what the third season could possibly be. This is science fiction on a human relationship level done oh so right!

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Movie Review – Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper (2016)
Written & Directed by Olivier Assayas

When they were children, Maureen and her twin brother Lewis made a promise that whichever one died first would send a message from the afterlife. Now in her mid-twenties, Maureen has come to France where her brother succumbed to their shared genetic heart condition. She works a day job as the personal shopper for a demanding model named Kyra and spends her evenings in Lewis’ old house hoping to make contact with him. One night a presence makes itself known to her, something angry and raging. The following morning she begins to receive text messages on her phone from a blocked number. The person on the other end of the phone appears to know a lot about Maureen, and she begins to lose her grip on her insanity.

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Movie Review – The Love Witch

The Love Witch (2016)
Written & Directed by Anna Biller

We find Elaine speeding down a California coastal highway, running away from the death of her ex-husband Larry. She starts a new life in Arcata, taking an apartment her friend Barbara used to live in, still decked out in the witchy paraphernalia that links these two women. Elaine has one focus in life, the attainment of the love of a man. Using magic, she begins seducing local men who end up overwhelmed by the feelings that bubble up inside them. Unable to process all of this love they meet their ultimate fate and Elaine shrugs it off and move onto the next guy. However, the police are investigating, and it’s only a matter of time until this witch is caught for her crimes.

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Movie Review – Certain Women

Certain Women (2016)
Written & Directed by Kelly Reichardt

I was drawn the short story form in college. I think what excited me about this mode of storytelling was the urgency of the moment and way this specific event reveals a profound depth to a character. Authors I enjoyed when first discovering the short story were Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Steven Millhauser, among others. Today I still get no better satisfaction than from a well crafted short story collection, leaning more into fantastical writers of horror and magic-realism. However, if the stories don’t center on character, then they lose any potential magic. Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt loved the short stories of writer Maile Meloy and has taken three of them to weave into a meditation on a variety of women in complicated situations.

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Movie Review – Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship (2016)
Written & Directed by Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman has made a career of writing and directing comedy of manners films, so it feels like an inevitable match to have him adapt one of Jane Austen’s novels. The book is Lady Susan, a lesser known tome, and Stillman strips away the romantic notions associated with Austen and focuses in on the social manipulation and interactions. In movies like Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco, Stillman spends large chunks of times on characters in conversation, and these exchanges are packed with wit and suspense. You may find yourself unsteady in the opening scenes, but once you get your footing and see the flow of the dialogue, you cannot help but find yourself cracking up.

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