Top 100 SNES Review: #12 – Secret of Mana (1993)

Reality of Teamwork.

Like a group project in college where two people do all the work and the rest are worthless, Secret of Mana is a reminder that you can still get things done on your own. 

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Louise, Bear and Diego.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #12/100
Developer: Square
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Early games gave you only four letters for the protagonist’s name, and in keeping with the spirit of the role playing genre, I wanted to insert myself into the story as much as possible. Thus began Bear — short for Barrett, but far more intimidating (my Spanish, intimidation name is Oso Peligroso, but I only use that when I’m really in a bind).

Secret of Mana was another chance for me to live out my fantasies of being a youthful adventurer that leaves his small town to end up saving the world, so Bear was naturally the only name that made sense. This time I did not have to go it alone though: I had Diego (played by the really-real human Tanner) and Louise (played by an algorithm of 0s and 1s).  How would the three of us fare?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #60 – Super Double Dragons (1992)

The Knife!

An electric-blue, phallic symbol of power is all that matters in this beat-em up adventure.

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A cyclone of samurai swords is nothing in comparison to the throwing knife.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #60/100
Developer: Technos
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The Lee brothers are at it again. The last time I got familiar with Billy and Jimmy, they taught me that life is not fair. In this reincarnation, they really don’t teach me much of anything: there is no plot, no story, no instructions. You are just dropped off in a world of baddies, smashing your way without a care in the world…

JUST WATCH OUT FOR THAT KNIFE. 

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Top 100 Movies Review: #4 – Gone with the Wind (1939)

The Epic & False Historical.

A combustable mixture of Classic Hollywood with Southern Glorification, Gone with the Wind provides insight into the Lost Cause narrative. 

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American Film Institutes Ranking: #4/100
Awards: Nominated for thirteen (13) winning eight, including Best Picture, Director and Actress.
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This movie has a lot of angles to consider. It requires an ability to shape shift, consider all the different frames of reference, and sift through what you find.

It needs to be blasted for being a racist, vile attempt at creating lament for an unjust society, falling into the category of propaganda. It’s cultural significance also cannot be denied; across all releases, it is estimated to have sold 200 million tickets in the US and Canada. This view of Southern Gentility was a widely-accepted technique used by many Southerners to help reinterpret and redefine their society, however false the narrative. Then, you have the actual story of Scarlet O’Hara, a 1930s feminist-infused protagonist dropped anachronistically into an earlier time.

This leaves this Hollywood Golden Age film, with the symphonic music, gorgeous sets, and memorable cinematography, held in abeyance: what place should it hold now?

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Top 100 Movie Review: #33 – High Noon (1952)

Realtime Drama.

Time passage in the story is synced with realty, making the clock a constant motif and reminder — time is running out.

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Will Kane (played by Gary Cooper) goes to church to recruit help against outlaws in this Western Film.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #33/100
Awards: Nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning four (Actor for Gary Cooper and then some editing and musical stuff).
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This movie has a handful of things going for it, but I’m not sure where they stand against the test of time.

The backdrop of the movie was McCarthyism, and the film is supposed to be a representation of someone willing to stand up against evil when all others wilt. The film runs in real time, with every shot including a clock corresponding with the correct amount of time that has passed in real life. It flips the Western on its head, having an ending that is somewhat counter to what would be considered traditional.

Putting it all together, enough happens where it produces an average film, enjoyable albeit hard to recommend to others.

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Top 100 Album Review: #40 – Forever Changes, Love (1967)

Hippie Odds and Ends

A college apartment personified, Forever Changes is a collection of scattered furniture and decorative knickknacks that coalesce into an uneven presentation punctuated by occasional gem. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #30/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star

If you never knew what being a hippie was like, I’m assuming this is it: disjointed, psychedelic, sometimes smart, drug inspired, bizarre. If I have to give Love some credit, it would have to be in the style. It’s a unique mix of guitar riffs, mariachi horns and lyrical content that suites the hippie era.

While sometimes this all comes together to be brilliant (Such as in ‘Alone Again, Or’ and ‘A House is Not a Hotel’), more often than not I feel like I’m listening to the generic, hippie scrawl that regulates itself to weird background noise.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #67 – Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Old Movies Can Still Thrill

This movie might not have action in a contemporary sense, but neat ideas and slight of hand can cause immense thrill — proven by this classic.

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Old Blue eyes himself as the main character, Captain Bennett Marco

American Film Institute Ranking: #67/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for best supporting actress (Angela Lansbury)
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Old movies are better, so the argument goes, because they had to be creative: they didn’t have the get-out-of-jail-card of special effects like today, so they had to rely on the innovation that came from imagination alone, making magic out of thin air.

Evidence Exhibit A: The Manchurian Candidate.

This movie is a political thriller, but there is very little “action” within the frames. What grips you and keeps you interested isn’t the flash and sizzle of shoot-outs but the tension and puzzle of what is real and what isn’t.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #30 – Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Case Study of Greed

Humphrey Bogart’s character epitomizes what can befall us all: the complete perversion of our sensibilities by unchecked avarice. 

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Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), and Howard (Walter Huston).

American Film Institute Ranking: #30/100
Academy Awards: Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Jim Huston and Walter Huston — a father-son combo.
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

It was obvious early on what this movie was going to be about: Greed = Bad.

By showing the cards early, I didn’t know if I would be interested, especially if the moral teaching was going to be heavy-handed. My concerns were ungrounded and the movie addressed them with a counterintuitive solution. Instead of using fast-pace or subtlety, Jim Houston takes the approach of a staggered walk, slowly allowing Fred C. Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) descend into is madness over the course of a couple hours.

What this does is make you experience every slow, twisted turn into immorality. This slow-train wreck of a nose-dive makes you squirm, really understanding what greed can do, exceeding my low expectations of what I thought would be an after school special delivery.

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