At long last, this unpaid gig as film critic for Tablet is finally paying off–they’re sending me to see a flick I’ve been looking forward to! (The gig has actually been great, but I’m excited about this film.) It’s Brotherhood of the Wolf, a French werewolf thriller set in 1765. I saw the trailer for it on the web last spring and have been following news of it here and there since then. You can read more about it at imdb.com or see the trailers at the excellent aggregate-review site rottentomatoes.com. I’m seeing it Thursday night and will post something here when I get a chance.
I spent much of the day at Flying Lab working on the Delta Green game. I’m having a blast. Today I spent the afternoon brainstorming with Joe, the lead developer/programmer, about pathfinding and AI. Pathfinding is the procedure by which a character moves through an environment towards a destination. Let’s say your character is in the kitchen, and you tell her to go to the living room. Between her and her destination are several rooms, hallways, and obstacles such as furniture and people. Pathfinding is how she figures out where to go to get to the living room without bumping into anything, getting stuck on corners, or taking a path that is counter-intuitive or just plain dumb. It’s interesting stuff. We’ve been talking from the start about how the game is going to have a lot of interesting AI in it, and the rubber is finally meeting the road on that score. Joe begins coding basic AI stuff tomorrow.
We haven’t even begun talking about the story yet. At this point we’re just working on gameplay and design issues to ensure that we can really do everything we want to do. I expect we’ll get to the stage where we’re working on story by spring.
I reviewed Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films Seance and Cure during the film festival last spring. They were both very good, and Cure was amazing. Pulse is a ghost story full of frightening imagery: blurry internet video of grim events, ordinary rooms transformed into forbidden spaces by outlining the doors with red tape, moody skyscapes of a haunted world, and some of the best ghosts I’ve ever seen. It owes a debt to Ring, another favorite of mine, but where that film was about horror and menace, this one is much more metaphysical. Its focus is loneliness, both that of the living and the dead. It’s not as streamlined and satisfying as Cure, with some odd leaps in story logic that you just have to go with. But it’s got Kurosawa’s trademark style in spades, which means dim lighting, decaying urban landscapes, slow camera movements, and a deep focus that makes the background as important as the characters. He even took the spectral bus shot from Cure–one of my favorite shots in the film–and repeated it here twice. I guess you do that when you make three films a year, as he does. (That doesn’t seem to be unusual in Japan, where movie budgets are routinely under $500,000 and usually top out at $2 or $3 million, with shooting schedules of under one month.) Beautiful work, and an appropriately haunting film. Available on Japanese DVD only at present; if you’re in Seattle and have a multi-region player, the indispensable Scarecrow Video has it, Seance, Cure, and a fourth film I haven’t seen yet, Charisma, in their new releases section.