Readings & Workings at L. Rhodes <p>Exploring how art and games achieve their effects on the audience.</p> 2019-08-22T12:00:04-04:00 L. Rhodes Metalsmith On Guttable Books L. Rhodes 2019-08-18T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings08182019 Taking a tip from Mastodon, I've been reading about how to &quot;gut&quot; a book — a grad school hack for streamlining the process of extracting key information from academic texts. There's no fixed method, as far as I can tell, but you can get a sense the basics by comparing the variations detailed at Northwest History, or writer Anne Helen Peterson's blog, or Savage Minds A Sharp Blow to the Head L. Rhodes 2019-07-16T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings07162019 Ari Aster is adept at fostering dread. As with most things in cinema, it is a collaborative art. In both Hereditary and Midsommar, the tension is held at high pitch by the looping textures and ambient hums of composers Colin Stetson and Bobby Krlic, respectively, as well as by Pawel Pogorzelski's cinematography, which keeps the focus sharp and the depth of field long. Mostly, though, dread is a matter of patience, for which it helps to be both writer and director. In the first role, Aster spins long, dialogue-heavy scenes that wend their way to details that surprise (&quot;Are we not going to talk about the bear?&quot;) but rarely enlighten (&quot;It's a bear&quot;). Midsommar has been discussed as a dark comedy, but by emphasizing the characters' unsuitability to the circumstances closing in around them, that dry humor also creates dread. As director, Aster keeps them in the middle distance more than is fashionable. His cuts tend to be minimal and deliberate. Close-up he reserves for special occasions, like the Dreyer-esque shots that close both films. These choices position us as witnesses, and there are hints throughout, cryptic if not particularly subtle, that the act we are to witness is one of destruction. A Hunger for the World L. Rhodes 2019-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings04172019 A month or two ago, I decided once and for all to make a concerted effort to read Tolstoy's final novel, Resurrection, which had been sitting on my shelf for so long that the date had faded from the receipt. I must have bought it some time after bookstores started printing receipts on thermal paper, at any rate. Unlocking the World L. Rhodes 2016-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings05172016 Lately, I've been replaying some of the Zelda games Nintendo released for older Gameboy handhelds, specifically Link's Awakening and the Oracle titles. They're ingeniously designed, and part of what I find fascinating about them — particularly in light of the 15 years of videogame history since — is the way that they deploy the basic conventions of the franchise in order to build a sense of place. The original Legend of Zelda was all wilderness, and its sequel on the NES, The Adventure of Link, shifted perspectives radically to round out Hyrule as a kingdom, but the model for the world-building in that early Gameboy installments is A Link to the Past, first released on the Super NES in 1991. At the Edges of an Aesthetic L. Rhodes 2015-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings05132015 The first thing I learned about &quot;bumping tactics&quot; videogame Auro is that the lead artist is swearing off pixel art for future games. If nothing else, &quot;A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art,&quot; Blake Reynolds' post explaining the decision, is valuable for its exploration of what distinguishes good pixel art from bad. And, at first blush anyway, the reasoning he gives for his resolution is pretty convincing. There is, he says, a gulf between the intentions of pixel artists and the visual language to which most modern videogame audiences are accustomed. If players misunderstand the intent of a visual scheme built in low resolution and with a limited color palette — if, for example, they remark that a videogame looks &quot;pixelated,&quot; meaning unfinished or glitchy — that represents a breakdown of communication that does more to hurt the artist than the audience. Press F to Signify L. Rhodes 2015-02-27T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings02272015 Yesterday, over at Paste Magazine, Katherine Cross raised an interesting defense of a somewhat controversial convention in videogames: so-called &quot;quick-time events&quot; or QTEs. The heart of her argument is that, Phantom Interaction L. Rhodes 2015-02-24T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings02242015 There's much that I admire about Gone Home (Fullbright; 2013), but I didn't particularly enjoy playing it. While I certainly don't have for it the contempt you find in the user reviews section of Metacritic, I found the experience somewhat frustrating, which ultimately kept me from giving it the wholehearted love it received from professional critics like Polygon's Danielle Riendeau. Gangsters and Wolves L. Rhodes 2014-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings02202014 &quot;I think it's amazing somebody like Martin Scorsese is still making films that are vital and talked about,&quot; Leonardo DiCaprio told Variety back in January. &quot;We grew up watching his films and he's still making stuff that's punk rock.&quot; He offered that appraisal in response to criticisms directed at Scorsese's latest, The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio, who also produced, stars as the eponymous wolf, Jordan Belfort. A boom-era stock broker who defrauded thousands of investors while running penny stock boiler room, Belfort pissed most of his profits away on sex, drugs and bling before the FBI and SEC stepped in to seize most of what remained. Lost Lives L. Rhodes 2013-12-10T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings12102013 A brief war story: Though shy by temperament, Olivia finds confidence dancing in a traveling theater troupe. In order to protect herself on the road, she's learned how to handle a weapon — a skill that serves her in good stead when a neighboring state attacks. She falls in with a group of resistance fighters, among whom she meets a handsome professional soldier named Frederick. They fight alongside one another, companionship steadily growing into love. After the war, they marry. Frederick is promoted to captain. Olivia continues to dance, though now solely for an audience of one. Spoil Sports L. Rhodes 2012-01-08T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:readings-workings01082012 Assuming that you haven't already seen it, I'm going to spoil The Usual Suspects for you. According to psychologists at the University of California, San Diego, that's okay. In fact, it might help you appreciate the movie even more.