Cinemaaaah, cont’d

I’ve been doing my best to take notes on as many films as I can, but for now I’ll just compile a list of those watched in the last fortnight…

  • The 39 Steps (d. Hitchcock, 1935)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (d. Kubrick, 1999)*
  • OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies (d. Haznavicius, 2006)
  • The Artist (d. Haznavicius, 2011)
  • Fargo (d. Coen, 1996)

Planned viewing for the next seven days…

  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (d. Fleischer et. al., 1970)
  • L’Appartement (d. Mimouni, 1996)
  • Manhattan (d. Allen, 1979)

* – Rewatch

Destiny breaks many indie records

I’ve been spending the odd hour or two mucking around with Bungie’s latest reasonably small indie game Destiny*. In a combined play time of about 4-5 hours I’ve managed to ascend to level 5 – hopefully this will increase with some more free time over the next couple of weeks.

Destiny, despite being a small indie offering, has garnered a great deal of critical attention, with gamers and critics alike being very quick to point out its shortcomings. From the lack of discernible story, to what story there is being full of gaping chasms, to problems with mechanics and the integration of RPG elements, to problems with its being a not-that-great shooter, people love taking potshots at small releases like this one.

In my small engagement with the game, I don’t really have a problem with it. My review of the game is a resounding slight shrug, but playing the game is a joy, and I’ll keep playing, and it’s hard to understand why. The game plays like a pared-back Halo, with the integration of some pared-back elements from Skyrim and Mass Effect, set in a gloriously detailed and rendered solar system that’s just damned fun to fly around.

The game markets itself as a sci-fi shooter with some RPG elements. And, lo and behold, the player is required to shoot things in a sci-fi environment in order to level up and choose some bonuses. Hardly groundbreaking, but I’m not sure what everyone was expecting from a low-budget, indie developer like Bungie.

* Irony. In point of fact, Destiny cost exactly US$72.3 bajillion to make over its 279-year-long development (No One, 2014).

Michel Chion on film analysis


“The right way to work on a film – to avoid too closed an interpretation – seems to me to be to watch it several times with no precise intentions… As in a police enquiry, one should not set up any hierarchies or look in any particular direction. One should not banish emotions and projections, but rather bring them to light, formulate and be aware of them, let them float.

“A film is a system, not of meanings, but of signifiers. We must go in search of these signifiers … and we can do this only by means of a non-intentional method; for in cinema, that art that fixes rhythms, substances, forms, figures and all kinds of other things onto a single support, the signifier can sit anywhere.”

Chion, M. (2013). Eyes Wide Shut. London: British Film Institute, pp. 37-8.

It Boy (2013)


I have a big soft spot — a cultured gooey centre, if you will — for French farces. Often romantic comedies, though also often full of slapstick and cases of mistaken identity, I’ll watch the lot.

Unfortunately, this habit is dependent on whatever French films period — let alone any from a specific genre — are imported to Australia (and adequately subtitled, etc.). To this end I’m incredibly reliant on the likes of Hopscotch and Madman.

Thankfully, Madman saw fit to include the charming little Parisian It Boy in its 2013 catalogue. This light, breezy, highly improbable comedy sees a 21-year-old become infatuated with a much older woman based on a bumpy plane ride. Perfectly reasonable.

Virginie Efira is delightful in the main role, with excellent support from the rumpled French Matt Smith aka Pierre Niney. The girl called this the French Devil Wears Prada, which I guess is kind of apt. Suitable acting, beautiful location, and perfectly-executed comedy cinematography. A solid and contented three stars. More of this, please, Mr. Madman.

Hit/Miss: Evolving Narratives and the Semiotics of the Blockbuster


The high-budget, visual-effects-laden Hollywood blockbuster film is among the most popular entertainments of the modern era. While viewing practices continue to change and evolve, the major studios still push out some twenty or thirty films each year with budgets exceeding US$10 million. The blockbuster film is often pushed to the boundaries of film studies as populist escapism. This paper seeks to position the blockbuster film as the ideal indicator of cinematic trends, demonstrating that these films are changing the very nature of narrative. Continue reading “Hit/Miss: Evolving Narratives and the Semiotics of the Blockbuster”

New site launched

In the hopes of keeping things a bit more contained, and drawing in my various websites, presences and so on, I’ve set up this site. For those of you who haven’t encountered me before, I’m Dan, and I’m a writer, producer, and researcher from Sydney. My primary research focus is film studies, and I’m interested in the links between cinema and other media, particularly video games and literature. I’ve published on cinematic representations of D-Day and the changing nature of film narrative.

This site will be populated with a CV, publications list, filmography, and more, over the coming weeks.